Striving For Holiness

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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 the 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 Nicodemus when he said if you are born by water and the spirit, you will 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 springtime 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 (Read on air).

The baptism was repentance, meaning 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 means 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 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 or 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 the corruption of those who are weak.

Ephesians 6 – The Armor of God

Read on air. Put on the full armor of God. 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 100 times, 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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