Striving For Holiness

Holiness looks different for each one of us, but the one constant? We can strive for holiness. It is possible to work toward a goal of a deeper relationship with Christ.Striving For Holiness -Episode 180

Holiness looks different for each one of us, but the one constant? We can strive for holiness. It is possible to work toward a goal of a deeper relationship with Christ. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? That answer is up to you.

We strive for holiness every time we pray, and ask the Lord to become a part of our lives. We can learn about the Lord, study the Word and spend time doing the “right” thing – but an encounter with Christ is an experience and it is the only way that we will have the motivation to keep on when times are hard.

Jesus began his public ministry with Baptism. He gave us an example. He was baptized symbolically, but when we are baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, it is truly the initiation into the Christian life. We believe that it is a remission or forgiveness of prior sins and a clean slate. We are baptized with water, and the further explanation by Christ was in his conversation with Nicodmeus when he said, if you are born by water and the spirit you would be saved. It was a beginning not an end.

Many believe going through the Christian rituals or checking off the boxes of faith is all that they need. In my church—we believe it is a sacrament of initiation… that means the beginning. Yet many people think it is a get-out-of-jail-or hell card. No need to do anything else … they are saved. There is some truth in that… we can not do anything to earn our salvation, only Christ by his life, death and resurrection could purchase eternal life for us, however not working toward holiness is not recommended… if we do not move ahead and work toward a goal, if we do NOT strive for holiness then we cannot really say we are saved.

Leading a Bible study is good – going to a Christian focus or encounter group, sharing your faith with like-minded Christians, attending church, all good… but what is the result? It is a deeper relationship with Christ. It is that transformation that only faith can give you, and in this way, it pours out in all that you do. It is like looking outside after a rainstorm and seeing all the dirt washed away. Another expression is a new spring time when things are growing and spouting and looking toward the sun, in this case SON with an o.

Let’s look at what Paul said in Acts 19: Read all of it but I will stop at Acts 19:1-7

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

 

The baptism was repentance, meaning a forgiveness from sins… which is what we believe still today and laying hands on them and praying for the Holy Spirit is what we call Confirmation or a baptism in the Spirit in some churches. This infilling of God’s grace is the Lord giving us the tools we need to do the job.

 

Further on in Acts we read that Paul got frustrated with the people. He encouraged them that

when we make a commitment – being baptized and infilled with the Holy Spirit it mean denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him – Jesus, not Paul! Many who are less committed think, forget this, that is too hard. I shared in my earlier podcasts that this was me… I knew a committed Christian friend whose life was a mess. If it was bad, it happened to her…but she still praised God in all things and looked at life as a blessing. My thoughts back then were less than holy – something along the lines of… well I’m glad I’m not an over-the-top Christian. And, look at where I am today… an over-the-top Christian with a podcast talking about spending time with God and an entire Christian podcast network that I started several years ago… God can take a half filled vessel and make it whole, and what does it take? Being open to God’s will in your life and saying that yes. To cut myself some slack, even with those thoughts I had about faith I never once denied God or felt like I didn’t believe. I just thought I could believe on my terms.

 

Do you follow the Bible of whatever your name is? The Bible of Agnus, or the Bible of David, or John? The Bible of Jan or Frank? That means we follow the things that are easy. But that is not growing in holiness – growing in holiness is getting out of our own way, our insecurities and worries and allowing the Lord to infill us with His way – the way of truth and light.

 

When we allow ourselves to go through a process of purification, giving up that sin in our lives that is making us miserable anyway, we can more clearly follow the Lord. Read all of Romans 8 but here is Romans 8:1-4

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

Friends do not get confused by the church as in what people in charge are doing – the Church as I believe it was ordained with an unbreakable succession from Christ to Peter – and yet men mess up all the time and people lose their faith in the Creator God the Father, the Son – Jesus and the Holy Spirit because they look those who are fallible and say, there is no God. There is a God but there is sin and it is entrenched in our world – the enemy, the liar works overtime in corruption of those who are weak.

 

And then we have Ephesians And then we have Ephesians 6 – The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Again, read all of this book and you will see how this can help you to grow in holiness.

I wanted to end with a checklist for growing in holiness instead of starting with one, because this way you can make it your own after hearing this podcast – make it tailored to you!

1.     Make a goal. Take little steps. Is it prayer? Is it reading scripture? Is it journaling?

2.     Work on this goal each day.

3.     Repent each night before you go to bed.

4.     Wake up each day praising God.

5.     Ask the Lord daily for direction.

That’s it! No walking through fires or coal. No writing on the board 100x I shall pray, I shall pray. The love and joy that is available freely for all who believe, is a gift that keeps on giving, and through this giving gift to us – we can then pour into others. May God be blessed!

Let’s pray – Oh, Lord I want to grow in holiness but I am just not sure how you want me to approach this goal. I want to know you love you and serve you in a deeper way. Please show me how and bring me opportunities so that I can be a blessing to others, and grow closer to you. I pray for the following people in my life… and I pray this in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen!

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