The Essence of Holiness, Pt. 14
Holiness is a discipline of character that is only facilitated through the power of the Holy Spirit. It has everything to do with our choices, and holy decisions are cultivated first in a holy mind. Holiness is the result of radical transformation of character! If you have been in the church for over a year and cannot see how your character has changed, something is wrong. The Lord said, "Be holy, for I am holy." Is God increasing; are you decreasing? John the Baptist understood that as much as he baptized with water to repentance, having to do with works, Jesus was coming to baptize in the Holy Spirit with fire that would radically transform our natures and empower us to become holy (Matt. 3:11).
Unfortunately, while repentance is preached, we still see countless church members stuck in a cycle of sin who grow increasingly frustrated at their inability to break free. We understand repentance. What is sorely lacking and desperately needed in the church today is a baptism in the Holy Ghost that is not relegated to speaking in tongues alone but an infusion of life-transforming power that purges us of all that is of the flesh and empowers us to walk in freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. Please understand me. Speaking in tongues edifies and is a gift to the church. I practice it daily. The Holy Spirit, though, is not some "force" that enables us to speak in another language, and His job is done, but a person who desires us to be totally changed.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit releases so much more than we could ever dream imaginable. When we decide to release what is in our hearts to embrace what is in the heart of God and choose daily to walk according to the Spirit, He does more than we can ask or think. When Moses encountered the Living God's holiness, it transformed him. Formerly a murderer on the run, he becomes God's chosen vehicle to see Israel delivered and established as a nation. The lawbreaker becomes the great lawgiver, which would never have happened without an inward transformation of character.
Just a quick note, though. I spoke about God separating a place for us. He is constantly doing this and did so in Moses' life. We addressed how holiness exposes, and it did so in Moses' life. In His encounter with God at the burning bush, Moses had several questions:
· Who am I to deliver your people?
· Who are You? What is Your name?
· What if they don't believe?
· What if I can't communicate properly?
God answered all of these questions, removing every possible explanation Moses could give for not obeying (Ex. 3-4). Holiness removes every excuse. Perhaps that's why we tend to avoid preaching on the topic of holiness. People like to hide behind their excuses.
I would submit that these are the same four questions humankind is asking today, and God is still answering.
· Who am I? I will be with You. Ex. 3:12
· Who is God? I AM THAT I AM. Ex. 3:14
· What about the world? I will do signs through you. Ex. 4:1-9
· What if I don't do it right; what if I fail? I will be with you. Ex. 4:10-12
Notice, every answer God provides is not contingent on who Moses is but on God's character. The only thing necessary is that Moses obey. I go because God is able. This, more than anything, broke the heart of God and angered Him, when after all of their discourse, Moses told him to find another mouthpiece. God accommodated Moses' lack of faith in providing him with Aaron, but think of how God must have felt. The Creator, the King of the Universe, declares He will be with you, and then in response, you say, "No, You are insufficient; I need human help." The audacity of such a declaration! How insulting to the Lord!
However, we do this every time we choose fear over faith, disobedience over immediate action. Yet, without fail, God makes room for us while we are still in our sin! Jesus did the same. Romans 5:8 declares, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God's holiness makes a place for us before we ever realize we need it. He makes the way clear before us so that we can follow. "Be holy, for I am holy," has been made possible by Christ and achievable with the Holy Spirit, whose goal is not just to get weak Christians over the hump of sin but to transform us into a triumphant and holy bride for Christ.
Father, I know that in my own life, I have asked these questions over and over, and every time You have graciously answered me, providing room for me. Father, I don't ever want to ask these questions again. I desire to step forward boldly, knowing that it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with You. I want to trust You implicitly to accomplish Your will in and through me. Thank You, Jesus, for Your cross that made reconciliation possible, even while I was in my sin. Thank You, Holy Spirit, that You lead and guide me into all truth – the truth of who I am with and without You, the truth of God, and the truth of Your call upon my life. May Your holiness burn up every excuse I make for myself so that nothing hinders the work You desire to do in me. In Jesus' Name, amen.