Pursuing Holiness! Go after it with everything within you!
Now we come to a very important point. If a Christian is called to do more than just avoid evil, and to pursue holiness at all costs, can we do it by ourselves? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Only by the power that God gives us through His Spirit can we even attempt to pursue holiness. Isaiah 55:8,9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Our natural tendency, even if we are born again Christians is often opposite from what God wants us to do or what we might wish to do. Paul struggled with this himself in Romans 7:21 23 saying, “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin. So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin.” What is the answer? Paul gives us the answer later in this same chapter in verse 23, “Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”
You see you CAN’T do it yourself, NO WAY, NO HOW. Only by trusting in God, receiving Jesus in your life and letting His Holy Spirit have your heart will you be able to even attempt to seek holiness. Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
You must also understand that while you are JUSTIFIED before God by the death and resurrection of His Son, you are in the process of SANCTIFICATION as His child, as you seek to become holy. God, with your cooperation and obedience, perfects the work of making you holy.
Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
You must understand that while we are justified before God the process doesn’t end there. It can be just as bad to rest in your justification and not pursue the process of sanctification (becoming holy), as it is to simply avoid evil things. James speaks of this in the following verses, 2:17, 24, 26, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” Seeking holiness requires some action on your part. While this includes avoiding evil, it is not limited to it. Seeking holiness means letting God possess your total life, not just certain outward actions.
While God performs the work of sanctification, (Hebrews 13:20 21 says, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.”) we participate by seeking God with all our heart, soul and mind. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 22:37 38 when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” So you see it is a joint venture. God supplies us with the means to accomplish sanctification, but we must choose to obey Him and love Him.
It is a delicate balance, the Christian life. We are called to pursue holiness, which requires effort on our part to seek God and to obey His word, yet; we cannot do it in our own strength, we must rely on Him completely. What a path to take! Not just avoiding evil, but pursuing the most holy God who saved us from our sins, from ourselves, from evil and death. Are you avoiding evil or are you pursuing holiness?
1 Thessalonians 3:13
“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”
Are You Avoiding Evil, or Pursuing Holiness?
By Michael K. Farrar
© God’s Breath Publications