God has your best interest: holiness
Sometimes, because of God’s intellectual superiority, it is hard to comprehend why things are the way they are. Why does this happen or that happen? Why did God cause it to be this way?
In our feeble attempts to explore answering these questions we can, quite honestly, deem some things unfair. The word shows us, however, that this perception is skewed. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (KJV).
God truly has our best interest at heart. When he tells us to do something, it is not to harm us but is for our own benefit. Our “good,” though, is firmly rooted in his “purpose.” If we want to be partakers in what good things the Lord has stored up for us, then we have to choose his agenda—over our own.
Second Timothy 1:9 makes reference to God’s purpose, positing, “[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” Not only was it by the grace of God that we have received salvation, but it was also God’s purpose.
We all fill a specific role within the plan of God, likened as keys cut to fit a certain lock, having a specialized area of service within the kingdom of God. Though these roles are diverse and very much distinguishable, our call to holy living is uniform across the board.
Admittedly, living a “holy life” is not the easiest thing in the world. (I would even suggest that it can sometimes seem like the hardest thing.) This is especially true when we receive one of the great perks of being a Christian: persecution. Second Timothy 3:12 declares, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Added to this is society’s message of sex, materialism and pride that comes in direct conflict with the word of God. The funny thing is as horrible as society’s message sounds, we, on many occasions, teeter on the brink of embracing these worldly ideals.
I know, I know; you are not one of those people. So let me talk to those of us—and I do mean us—that can relate to this issue.
It should be noted that society, or the world, is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. The only thing that we should expect from “a sinner” is “sin,” hints the name. The Bible’s pages resoundingly declare that righteousness cannot be attained without fellowship with Jesus, and that our best attempt without him is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Furthermore, the devil sets the agenda for the world. Ephesians 2:1-3 succinctly summarizes this point:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.
Our call as Christians is for our lives to reflect the exact opposite of those still in the demonic kingdom, being the salt of the earth and letting our lights so shine before men. The problem lies when certain aspects of the “ways of this world” appeal to our natural desires.
Lets be real. If you are living a life of celibacy and are sexually frustrated as a result, it does not help when those around you are seemingly auditioning for “Sex in the City.” Yet, Proverbs 23:17 gives these instructions: “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.”
What we must realize is that if the devil incites us to do something, no matter how appealing, it is never going to be for our good! Moses had this realization, as Hebrews 11:25 comments, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”
Naturally, sin is pleasurable. Our natures, however, are consistent with sin. Romans 7:18 says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” That is why Jesus told Nicodemus, “you must be born again” (John 3:3-8), in order that we may be born of and live by God’s Spirit.
The Spirit desires what is contrary to the flesh and vice versa, according to Galatians 5:17. Essentially, the nature in which God wants us to live is in constant flux with that by which the devil wants us to live. The devil, then, uses the things that stir our flesh to draw us away from the will of God.
James 1:13-15 states, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone, 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
One thing of note that James tells us is temptation starts off small. We have all experienced it. It begins as a “harmless” thought, then translates into us subtly stepping out of God’s holy calling. Even sin, when it comes, starts as a seed in the belly of conceit before it gives birth to its end—death!
Because sin can seem so harmless to begin, we must take heed to the clarion call of Ephesians 4:27, “do not give the devil a foothold.” Our minds have to be on constant patrol for ungodly thoughts, as it is where the battle takes place. Once the temptation detector sounds we must quickly decide to silence the mouth of the enemy, or risk being like Eve in the Garden.
The worst thing that we can do to the devil is to obey God, and the inverse of this statement is quite true as well. Consequently, the worst thing we can do to ourselves is to obey the devil. Fortunately, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to stay in the will of God.
The devil truly has our worst interest at heart, but we do not always see it as that. Every time we are tempted, it is always out of convenience. It is convenient to curse someone out who made you mad. It is convenient to sleep with someone when you have the space and opportunity.
Convenience is the greatest ally of sin. If sin were not convenient, then the desire would certainly not be as strong. Paul exhorts, everything is permissible but not beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12), while Peter adds to “abstain from sinful desires,” because they “war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
To conclude, holiness does indeed pay off. In fact, it is the ultimate payout because it is the will of God. Only holiness is redeemable for a ticket into heaven (Hebrews 12:14), as it is proof of a life honoring God.
Galatians 6:7-9 informs, warns and encourages us to live holy:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.