Disclaimer: I really struggled to put this piece out, ironically because of how “unpopular” it would likely be. Not surprisingly, the Lord really had to deal with me and continue to remind me that I am a representative of Him and that His pleasure is my focus, not the happiness of those who choose to follow “my” blog. And, as my husband said best, it is never best to gain the world and lose my soul. So, here it goes.
In an age where people are inclined to follow their feelings and do whatever makes them feel best, it is unpopular to stand boldly and profess that God’s standards of holiness still remain and have not changed. Just as He is the same yesterday, today and forever, His standards for His people are also the same – yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8)
The deception of a day like today is that we can do whatever we want and still be in “right standing” with God. We are welcomed and encouraged to pursue what makes us happy, what appeases our flesh, rather than what God has spoken concerning us. Sex, lust, personal pursuits, and passions control and entire generation of people, and even self-professed Christ followers struggle with pursuing our own will or the Father’s. Based on the Word of God, we are called to be the opposite of the world – so different than the norm that we are clearly seen as the light. However, our light is often seen as a blending mechanism to get as close to the likeness of the world without losing our “safety net” of Jesus. We use Jesus as a convenient friend, used when needed and disregarded when not. We have fallen in love with the world and all it presents. Its rules have been adopted as our own, and God’s holy standards have gone to the backburner as an option to select when (if ever) they suit our current desires.
We have disguised the fact that “everyone isn’t perfect” as an excuse to not press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling (Phil. 3:14). We have misunderstood and misrepresented church attendance and participation for a relationship with God and righteous living. The enemy’s tactics and distractions have become our guides and checkmarks for how we should live in a Godless culture – as long as we are doing better than others, we must be okay.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (I John 2:15-17)
Our love of the world has separated us from a desire to please God with our entire being because, after all, a heart can only pursue one master at a time – our flesh or God and His Word. The pursuit of personal ambitions has all but muted a true and sincere drive toward the Kingdom of God. While we should be pursuing His Kingdom first, we fill our lives and time with so many other things and, if time and energy permit, we search for the “convenient Kingdom” for mere minutes. Society has made it acceptable to fit God and His plans into our schedules rather than conform or will and plans to His.
I have been very concerned over the past few months about some of the decisions of those who are in the Kingdom of God. And, it has caused me to think about holiness and what makes the standards of God “the standard of God.”
Let’s be clear. Holiness is NOT popular. It is not supposed to be, but it separates those who are in relationship with God and those who will reign in this life and the one to come from those who do not prioritize that relationship. Jesus said the way to life with Him would not be easy or well-populated, but that it would be endlessly rewarding. His guidance toward holy living silences the popular but erroneous belief that holiness is a common practice. It nullifies the notion that holy living is not an intentional journey to a “perfected” and continually striving life as a Christian (Matt. 5:48).
The life of holiness is a constant striving to align with the Word of God in every area of life. It is a genuine desire to lay down selfish ambitions to walk in God’s desires as provided in His Word.
You do not determine how to live your own life.
Holiness changes everything!!! It establishes a standard that says –
Abstain from the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:12). For example, while it is a popular and common practice by society’s standards, having a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend does not abstain the appearance of evil. Saving money on the bills by splitting the costs, while a smart fiscal practice, does not point an onlooker to be more like Jesus. And, quite frankly, sometimes for the HOLY approach and to keep yourself from falling into temptation, you may have to inconvenience yourself for the sake of Christ!!! You may have to pay more – not live with your boyfriend – keep yourself and your mind holy (free of even the opportunity to have sex before marriage – or the thought that you are)… just so GOD can get the glory!!! And, just to be real, even the most well intentioned people DO end up slipping when you just have to walk down the hallway or look to the left to fall into temptation. Why set yourself up?!
Do not let your good be evil spoken of (Romans 14:16). I know it is not a popular teaching, but when you are a Christian and a disciple of Christ, it DOES matter what others think of you. You are a constant witness to others, and how you live your life determines the type of witness you will be. Having a casual drink does not point others to Christ. Cursing along with friends does not point people to Christ. Participating in church while keeping every other habit of the world does not encourage others to pursue a relationship with the Lord. Creating soul ties through sex before marriage does not push others toward the standard set by God’s Word. Are we living lives that point others to Christ or lives that encourage people to push the button on holiness to see how far they can go?
Be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-15). We were never called to blend in. There should be a clear distinction between you and the world. What the world embraces cannot be the same things you embrace. When you walk into a dark room, you turn on the light to bring a resolution to the darkness. That’s what we are supposed to provide to the world – a difference in the midst of utter darkness. Yet, in many instances, because we live in the same ways they do, we do not make any significant impact. What ways is your life different than the world? What habits do you possess that bring brightness in the midst of darkness? (And, the mere act of church attendance just won’t cut it.)
Be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Salt adds flavor. It changes everything. You do not add salt to the meal for it to remain the same. Likewise, YOU have not been placed in the earth for the earth to remain the same. You can’t be the same as the world and still add the flavor YOU are supposed to add. Have you ever gone to a place where the food looked good but tasted less than appetizing? The modern church has created a habit of looking good but adding not holy authenticity to validate our Kingdom purpose in the earth. Rather than adding a unique flare and flavor activated by holy living, we flow with the world in its bland, lifeless mix. We must change and be the God-flavoring to a tasteless world.
Don’t allow what’s popular cause you to lose it all. This Christian life is NOT popular and, contrary to popular belief, you have to give up many comforts to follow Jesus with your whole heart. But, today and every day, it is worth it! Don’t be tricked by the enemy’s tactics – there’s a way that SEEMS right to a man, but the end thereof is destruction. Until next time, let’s all strive for holiness and God will lead us into the paths of righteousness!