Daring to Pursue Holiness: Keys for Success
"So I’ve taken an inventory. Now what do I do?"
(Part 2 of 2)
What is the correct response to sin? It’s an expression of
sorrow and total brokenness. Woe is me! I can’t live with this situation! This
can’t be true! No more sin!
Following the expression of sorrow is the equally powerful expression of the contrite heart. Contrite literally means “bruised.” We’ve been “hit” by the woe of the reality of sin in our lives. Now our heart is bruised, and we are contrite, we are expressing a heart willing to change. We repent, change our mind about the sin, request forgiveness and begin to practice the opposite of the sin. If it’s sexual impurity, we practice purity. If it’s selfishness, we practice service. If it’s hardness, we practice love. If it’s judgment, we practice mercy. We practice the opposite of the sin, and in so doing, we repent.
Many genuine followers of Christ make war on sin every day. The key to victory over sin is humility in submission before God. God loves us, and He wants to grant us victory over sins in our lives. The best expression of submission before God is prayer: on my knees, making a statement of powerlessness and a request for God to take lordship over that area of my life. Then I turn it over.
We can have the victory. Part of that process could be
taking an honest inventory of ourselves. Major sins I’ve overcome include drug
addiction, alcoholism, cigarette addiction, overpowering depression and sexual
acting out. Yet I realize many more sins still cling to me. If I were to take
an inventory, I might write down overeating or failing to eat healthy. I could
write down overspending. I could definitely write down selfishness. I could
write down callousness and apathy too.
So I’ve taken an inventory. Now what do I do? I start to pray about these issues every night. I talk to God about these issues in frank terms. I ask the Holy Spirit to grant me power in the areas I need to change. I ask for that power throughout my day. When I feel the strain, I call out to God, I talk to a friend or minister and I begin to make war—in the Spirit—against my shortcomings.
This is a process by which the Holy Spirit leads the person who has recognized his or her need for change, for renewal. As obedient followers of Jesus Christ, we are priviliged to engage in the process, to participate in sanctification. As it says in 2 Corinthians 7:1, (ESV), "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God."
Holiness means victory over sin. Being a true follower of Jesus Christ means sharing our faith. Dare we ignore our own sins? Will we truly be found faultless on the last day? Will our robes be unblemished? Rest assured, every single man, woman and child on Earth will one day stand before Jesus Christ. We are all living for that one moment when we go eye to eye with God Himself. Could we live with ourselves knowing we never fought our sins? Could we live with ourselves knowing we left so many to slip into the depths of hell? Worse yet, what might He say in response to our lives? Might Christ say, “Depart from me you workers of inequity?” Sin is inequity. Let us labor instead to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”