The Hard Road to Holiness
We like grace through faith, but something important can elude us because we are too close to it
(Part 1 of 2)
“Tens of thousands, perhaps millions, have come into some kind of religious experience by accepting Christ and they have not been saved.” - A.W. Tozer
A question on many minds today is a simple but powerful one: Why do Christians look just like the world? Where is this transformation they talk about? As Protestant Christians, we know a lot about grace through faith alone. Maybe we know too much about it. But as a part of The Salvation Army, we also believe in the ability to live in holiness.
Our culture presents a unique situation. The United States is a difficult place to live in holiness. Never in the history of mankind has humanity been faced with so many temptations from so many sources. It's a literal bombardment: television, commercials, internet, ads, movies, fast food, cell phones, smart phones, billboards and even conversations.
Given our unique situation, shouldn't holiness be at the very forefront of all of our efforts? Is there any greater challenge that could face Christians in an American context? Sin is ingrained in all of us from a young age, and sin leads to death.
We like grace through faith, and we don't want to hear about sin. Maybe it's because we're in it? Let us consider ourselves and how we live. God is very serious about sin. He slaughtered His own Son on the cross because of sin, just to offer a way out for sinners.
Are we confronting the sins in our lives? Are we praying on them, desperately pleading with God to remove them? Could someone tell from a casual conversation that we are saved followers of Jesus Christ?
When I first became a follower of Jesus Christ three years ago, sin had a place in every aspect of my life. Sin was second nature. I was selfish, I was interested in entertainment, satisfaction, and it showed. Then I met Jesus Christ. I called out to Jesus Christ. And He delivered me from all my empty pursuits.
What do we do when we meet Christ? We change. The profound conversion experience found in Jesus Christ is, as a rule, synonymous with repentance. Repentance is an admission that our way is wrong and God's way is right.
I don’t think we take it seriously enough. When we sin we think, “Well, I’m saved by grace.” We’re saved by grace, it’s true, but we’re also called to radical holiness. Read how the Lord speaks through James.
James 4:4-10 (NLT) says: "You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the Spirit He has placed within us should be faithful to Him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'
'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor."
Next month: Daring to pursue holiness: keys for success