Holiness

  "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:9-11).

The Word is God. The Scriptures are not God but the spirit that breathes through the words is God. We must be transformed into holiness and from the patterns of this world by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), which is by hiding God's word in our hearts. We must set our hearts and minds on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-3). We are also taught to "put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). Colossians 1:21 says that when we were alienated from God, we were enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior. That is why the mind is a primary battlefield. The essence of who we are is in our thought life.

Each of us needs to stockpile in our minds as much of the Word of God as we can. We are called to abide in Him, not just visit with Him. Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you." It is important to not let the Bible take a back seat to devotionals or sermons. It is the "Word of Christ" which needs to dwell in us, not the word of man. We are ever learning but often not coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). It is the job of the Holy Spirit to "guide you into all truth" (John 16:13) and apply the Word of God to your life. The Word is like the manna, which was sweet to the taste, protected life, and needed to be gathered daily.

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). Once the Holy Spirit is able to break the power of deception in our lives and tear down the strongholds which are setup in our minds (2 Corinthians 10:4,5), He can break the power of sin. Remember, we are commanded to "put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it's deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). Sin is deceitful (Heb. 3:13) and it is a process whereby "each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin..." (James 1:14-15). That is why Jesus told us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). God promises that "when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). He "is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy..." (Jude 24). The process of deception can be hard to recognize. It is subtle and stealthy. The enemy's lie enters our minds in whispers, not shouts; it walks in darkness, not light. It is a lot harder to see things in darkness than in the light.

Sin is tempting because there is enough pleasure in it to make it attractive to you. It is also the pleasurable side of sin which deceives us. God is not the enemy of pleasure, He is only against the perversion of it. Who wants a perversion, a counterfeit, when you can have the real thing? Plus, the real thing is much better, costs less, and doesn't have all the consequences. In fact, you will feel better knowing you have the real thing and it pleases your Creator and heavenly Father. Don't be deceived, there are consequences for every sin.

Let me give you an example from my personal life and be very transparent. The area of greatest struggle in my life has been in the area of sexual sin. I was already well educated and knew about the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but I thought I was safe as long as I used a condom. I got saved at the young age of 16 and never had sex until after I was a Christian and knew better, yet I got talked into doing it by a girlfriend (another deceived Christian) and didn't think there would be consequences. I was clueless (as most Christians are) what I was really doing and what the consequences would be. Thankfully I didn't have those consequences (pregnancy or disease) but I continued to sin, and that sin opened me up to a whole host of other sins and consequences. Let me point out just a few:

  1. I struggled more and more with lust, porn, masturbation and fantasy the more I sinned sexually.

  2. The relationships I was in never worked out because it is impossible for two Christians living in disobedience to God to have a happy and successful relationship.

  3. I still have the consequences of my disobedience through memories, sexual thoughts and dreams, and have to be disciplined to "take captive every thought make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

  4. I have to continually crucify my flesh and deny it because I let it rule and reign too much and too long.

  5. I am now weaker in this area since I allowed myself to "sin against my own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18) and allow the disease of sexual sin to permeate my body, soul and spirit. This is regardless of being forgiven or even being a new creation with a new heart. When you give yourself over to a sin, especially sexual sin, you have to be very careful, recognizing you will be more likely to do it again than if you never had.

  6. I grieved the Holy Spirit and was "...crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace" (Hebrews 6:6) as the Bible declares. Can you picture Jesus crying over your sin? Perhaps you need to. Ask God to help you see sin as He sees it and you won't want to.

  7. I missed the blessings of God on my life.

  8. I didn't have the favor of God.

  9. He couldn't hear my prayers because my sin separated us (Isaiah 59:1).

  10. It was harder to hear His voice (Again, sin separated us).

  11. There was not a visible consequence such as pregnancy or a disease, but definitely a scar on my heart and soul which severely impacted my walk with Christ.

  12. I did not have the same umbrella of protection from the Lord.

But praise God He can keep us from temptation and when we are tempted he will always provide a way out. Praise God He gives us the strength to endure temptation and flee. Praise God for His Holy Spirit which guides us, teaches us, and gives us power! Praise God for His Word, which renews our mind (Romans 12:2).

There are reasons why God talks about sexual sin so much in the Bible. Did you know that Paul talks about sexual sin more than any other sin, and that he addresses sexual sin in nearly everyone of his letters? Why would God, spend so much time with this one sin? One of the reasons is because there are severe consequences! "All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have received from God? You are not your own: you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body..." (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). This is why it is satan's primary temptation. It will also always take you further than you want to go and cost you more than you want to pay. Look at what resulted from King David's glance at Bathsheba! (2 Samuel 11). It brought him down and ultimately led to even murder, yet David was a man after God's heart (2 Samuel 13:14), much more than you or I! David knew the Lord intimately and saw the miracles of God. He was full of faith in the Lord (remember his defeat of Goliath?). Sexual sin also caused the fall of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, someone who saw the glory of the Lord in His temple. So what makes us think we can't fall? And what makes us think there will not be devastating consequences for allowing this disease into our hearts and minds? The Bible says a lot about this. There is a reason why Job said "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl" (Job 31:1). Job continues, "For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does He not see my ways and count my every step?" (Job 31:2-4) Job understood the consequences and so should we.

Thus, we must diligently take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). The heart of the Lord toward sin is plain. We are commanded, "Confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16); our attitude must be to renounce "the things hidden because of shame" (2 Corinthians 4:2). Confession and exposure bring sin to the light. They break the power of deception.

We are not going to rule over sin and the devil until we are first submitting to God's rule over us. All victory comes from seeking God until you find Him, and once you find Him, letting Him rule. "He must become greater, I must become less" (John 3:30).

"Without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Are you having a hard time seeing the Lord or sensing Him in your life? I suggest you pursue holiness and if you do, you will see Him. God promises, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). But your heart has to be pure.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8).


© Todd Tyszka
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