Holiness & Sin Are NOT Compatible, Pt. 28
Yesterday I discussed the difference between holiness and morality, that the primary concern of holiness is the transformation of fleshly character to Spirit character – God's character. From the very beginning, I shared that holiness is inviting God back into the time, space, and matter which He designed specifically for us and making room for others in our lives, as well.
Genesis 1:27 states, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." We were created to reflect the image of our Creator. God is holy, so we are to be holy. God never acts contrary to His nature, but to say holiness is never acting contrary to our nature would be a fallacy. Our fleshly nature, the heart of man, is deceitful. Holiness can never be accomplished independently or by seeking our "inner self;" it is far removed from self. Looking to yourself is moving in the opposite direction of holiness. Since the fall of humanity, this has been true, and only divine intervention can change it. Holiness is a creative work that takes place in our lives as we allow the Holy Spirit free reign and rein to do as He desires in our lives. This includes dealing with sin in our lives. So then, holiness is thinking and acting according to the character and nature of God being developed within us.
This is far easier said than done. Everything within us screams against change that calls for death to our flesh. This is why as Christians, we must daily submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, no matter how painful. And trust me when I say it hurts. The Holy Spirit, given as a Comforter and Trainer, leads us away from walking according to the flesh and guides us to walk in the Spirit. This is a process that is so much easier when we allow Him His way in us. The tears we shed are wiped away by His hand. So the goal of holiness is to be an accurate reflection of the Father to the world around us. An accurate portrayal of Christ can't happen if the sin in my life screams "Hypocrite," every time I open my mouth.
Romans 6:15-23 states,
"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey when of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Three things, in particular, stand out.
1. Paul is emphatic that Christ's death has satisfied every requirement necessary to set us free from sin AND that the Christian has accepted that freedom in Christ. That's the Gospel message – we are no longer slaves of sin and can walk in total freedom from the enemy.
2. We now choose whether or not to continue in sin. If we sin, it is a matter of disobedience to God. When we forsake sin and obey God, our obedience bears fruit to holiness [without which no man will see God, Heb. 12:14]. We're now supposed to be slaves of righteousness to holiness. God desires holiness in us!
3. Sin leads to fruitlessness and death. We understand that Jesus cursed the fig tree because it wasn't bearing fruit, despite its pretty green foliage, Mark 11:12-14. We also know that Jesus spoke a parable regarding trees that don't bear fruit in Luke 13:6-9. The owner wants to chop it down and burn it, the gardener asks for one more year.
I want to be clear that God isn't sitting up in heaven with a thunderbolt ready to strike every time we give into temptation, but those urges should be decreasing as God increases in us. The Holy Spirit is a patient gardener. He lovingly walks us through the transformational process as we submit to Him.
It's amazing that once you start feeding yourself healthy food, the more your food choices change, and you no longer crave sugar and fat. The same is true spiritually. The more we divide out the space, time, and energy for God, the more we will want what He wants and become the healthy child of God who reflects His character and nature to the world around us. The goal is fruit to holiness.
What happens when we don't? We'll see what Scripture says tomorrow.
Father, I thank You for setting me free from the bondage of sin. I needed a Savior, and Jesus, you died to save me. Holy Spirit, will you please help me to understand the importance of my decisions? I don't want to sin any longer. I want to bear fruit to holiness. Thank you, Lord, for providing me the grace, Your overcoming power, to have victory in my life and be, not just an adequate reflection of You, but a truthful reflection of Your character and nature. I desire to be holy because You are holy, and I can think of nothing I can do to honor You more, Lord, than to become more like You. In Jesus' Name, amen.