Pursuing holiness! Go after it with everything within you!
You might be a little confused about the title above. You might be saying, “Aren’t you pursuing holiness when you’re avoiding evil?” Or, “When you’re avoiding evil, aren’t you pursuing holiness?” You might even quote 2 Corinthians 7:1 to support your position, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
Well, while it is true we are to avoid evil things as Christians, I think we are not always pursuing holiness when we do.
Many people, both Christians and non Christians often try to avoid evil. Most people with common sense and some moral fiber consider it wise to stay out of the way of evil. It doesn’t require a commitment to our Lord to simply step out of evil’s way. Many people who consider themselves good upstanding citizens would tell you they try to avoid the evil path. I would suggest however, that you can avoid evil in your life, without seeking and pursuing holiness.
Jesus referred to this situation when he discussed the spiritual lives of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25 26 saying, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” He stated that while your actions of avoiding evil may appear to be honorable, if your internal condition is unholy you will never see God. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” The Pharisees had the appearance of holiness due to actions, but inwardly were far from it.
Pursuing holiness is more than avoiding evil. It is seeking to be Christ like and filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Pursuing holiness is letting God’s Holy Spirit have His way with your heart. Avoiding evil outwardly does not always reflect your heart condition. You can avoid evil and still hold onto your self will. However when you strive to be holy, you sacrifice your will and replace it with God’s will.
Avoiding evil is simply crisis management. You don’t have to think about God unless something evil presents itself. You can jump from evil temptation to evil temptation attempting to avoid each of them without ever thinking of God in between. Pursuing holiness is another matter. It is CONSTANTLY, MOMENT-BY-MOMENT seeking God’s presence in your life. Evil will present itself to you at times while you are pursuing holiness. But since you have already sought out your Savior before evil ever came into view, what do you think are the results of such a holy life? Yes, the ability to avoid evil is probably a much easier decision when you have been consistently pursuing holiness.
They say that the best training a person can receive for detecting counterfeit money is to handle the real thing. If a counterfeit Jesus or evil temptation comes your way, do you struggle at examining it, evaluating it, testing it, seeking to determine if it is really evil or not? I would submit to you, that if someone is consistently pursuing holiness, they don’t have to think twice about whether something is evil or not.
Pursuing holiness is not an option for a Christian it is a commandment. 1 Peter 1:15 16 says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”
Are You Avoiding Evil, or Pursuing Holiness?
By Michael K. Farrar
© God’s Breath Publications