Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiness: Chasing God's Heart

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the rules. Don’t drink wine, do drink wine. Don’t dance, dance. Only watch PG movies, Watch what you want.

But you know, holiness isn’t about the rules. It’s about living for a goal. It’s about living to please God.

Think about this: When you’re living to please someone, what must you first do to be able to please them effectively? Is there a set of rules you must memorize, or a code you must follow?

No. You have to know the person. You have to know their likes, their dislikes, their passions, and what will touch their heart. If you’re living to please yourself, it’s easy, because you can just do what you want. When you’re trying to please someone else, say a spouse, it’s not so easy, because although you may be very close your spouse, I’m quite sure you cannot read his or her mind. It takes work to study the desires of the other person and figure out what they want you to do. It’s the same way with God. In order to pursue holiness (which means making our lives reflect or imitate Godly qualities), we have to know the heart of God.

David pursued holiness. Often he cries out in the Psalms for God to help him be holy. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). David stumbled, he fell, he wasn’t perfect, and he made some terrible errors in his pursuit of holiness, yet he was called “a man after God’s own heart.” He knew God’s heart, and he pursued it daily. Like a young lover seeking to win the affections of a woman, David did everything he could to please God. It wasn’t because David kept all the rules that he was considered “a man after God’s own heart.” Sometimes, his flesh got in the way. Yet David overcame the temptations and sin in his life, because he had a close relationship with God and desired to follow Him.

There are monsters of temptation in the world that want to hinder our pursuit of holiness. They cause us to sin, but worse than that, they pull us away from our focus and keep us from pursuing God’s heart. They cause us to fix our eyes on what is temporary, worldly, and perishable—destined for death.

These temptations faced Eve in the garden. She saw the fruit was pleasing to the eye, good to eat, and desirable for gaining wisdom. She knew God had told her not to eat of them, and he had also mentioned a consequence. Then the serpent began his sequence of lies. She touched it. Nothing happened. Already, her eyes were off of God and onto the fruit. Instead of “how can I please God?” she was now asking, “How close can I get”? Instead of obedience for the sake of the relationship, Eve turned to obedience for fear of consequence. When the reality of the consequence became questionable, Eve was all too quick to give in.

True holiness can’t come from a fear of consequence. It has to come from the Lord. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. . . . Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-2,4 When we are focused on the relationship, we obey the command to “remain in me.” Then, the Father is free to prune us, working on one area at a time, teaching us more and more about His holiness.

Rules are nice guidelines, but if we’re following them for fear of lightning bolts from the sky or just to earn our way into heaven, that’s not holiness. Like children who obey their parents out of a desire to please them and be like them, true holiness comes from knowing and loving God. Are we obeying God out of our relationship with Him, or are we just following a list of rules? Let’s step into His presence, seek His face and experience the power of a life fueled by love.

2 comments:

  1. Amen! very well said! blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love your lessons. I think a reference to 1 Corinthians 8 would also apply here. When one becomes a believer, they are not at the same starting point as another person. So, what they see as wrong, may not seem like a sin to another. Obviously, the things that we are told are wrong are wrong. But, when a person had grown up sacrificing to idols and believing that the idols had worth, then eating meat from them was symbolic and affected their conscience. On the other hand, if one had grown up loving God, then the meat would just be meat and have no symbolic references in their mind. Over time, one may find that the things they do change to match the relationship that they desire. But, if we become focused on the rules, we can easily become like the pharisees who studied God's word and followed the letter of the law, yet without a relationship.

    ReplyDelete