OSWALD: “Never tolerate through sympathy with yourself or with others any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind – every detail of the life under the scrutiny of God. Holiness is not only what God gives me, but what I manifest that God has given me.” (SEPTEMBER 1st)
MY THOUGHT:Holiness. Not a terribly popular word in Christian circles these days.
We’d rather talk about mercy and grace; the forgiveness and tenacious patience of our Father who is “not willing that any should perish.” All wonderful topics and the bedrock of our Christian faith. And yet, if we insist on seeing only a loving God we run the risk of never experiencing the power of a life–changing God.
We are saved by grace alone, not by works nor any self-induced appearance of holiness. We could never be perfect enough to bridge the gap between us and God. That’s why Jesus had to come. That’s why He had to die.
But to stop at the cross and never enter into His resurrection and a new way of life would be a tragedy. For the same grace that saves us is also the grace that changes us. Sanctifies and purifies us. Sets us apart and makes us holy. Makes us more like Jesus and less like us.
But we have to cooperate with that grace. And therein lies the rub.
To choose holiness means we have to be willing to embrace certain limitations on our freedom. To allow certain restrictions be placed on our lives by the Holy Spirit, though we’re surrounded by others who seem to have no restrictions at all. Bottom line, if we want to be holy, we are going to have to call sin what God calls it. Missing the mark. Disobedience which not only separates us from His heart, but discredits our claims of love.
Holiness means no more sugarcoating our sin or trying to explain it away. Scruples. That’s what they used to call such convictions back in the 1900s. Now it’s called intolerance by the world. Rigid legalism by the church. Or another Christian label which really bugs me, “a religious spirit.”
Since when is having moral absolutes a “religious spirit”? Since when is following God’s call to holiness “rigid legalism” and living by His commands suddenly “intolerant”?
To be honest, even as I write, I’m convicted of black-and-white areas in my life which have grown gray over the years. Scruples that I used to live by which have slowly become muddied. Certain behaviors and past times I partake of that I had a strong sense of conviction against – a conviction brought by the Holy Spirit not a set of rules and bylaws. Covenantal guidelines that determined what I would watch. What I would read. Activities I would forego simply because I knew they grieved His heart and quenched His Spirit’s work in my life. Forgive me, Lord.
I don’t want to “tolerate through sympathy” with myself “any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God.” A call to holiness may not be popular right now but that doesn’t mean it is no longer valid. Though we may have changed our mind about how we should live, God hasn’t.
In fact, now more than ever, we need to be LIGHT as Christians founded upon the ROCK of God’s Word. Not occasionally nice people made up of mixed shadows and shifting sand.