Tracey and I seem to regularly find ourselves counseling young folks who are trying to figure out romantic relationships. There is a series of questions that are invariably asked.
Is it ok for us to be alone together?
Can we hold hands?
Can we hug?
Is kissing ok?
How about kissing with tongue?
Can we suck on each others neck?
How abut heavy petting?
Well, as long as there is not vaginal penetration, everything else is ok, right?
For people who profess to be believers, they ask all the wrong questions, and the questions, unfortunately, reveal what is in their heart.
it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
The heart of the believer should never be asking the question, “How much can I satisfy my sinful nature and not go over the edge into the abyss?”. Our hearts desire should consistently result in the question, “How close to holiness can I get and find satisfaction in my God?”
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I obey the speed limit. Not perfectly; but close enough that many of my friends do not want to ride with me and make it a point to offer to drive. I am often mocked, by otherwise godly men, for driving like an old lady or for leaving so much earlier than everyone else.
I obey the speed limit because my hearts desire is to glorify God in everything I do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 How do I know that obeying the speed limit glorifies God? I read Romans 13.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
I am convinced that personal holiness is a vital element of the believers life. Personal holiness is the chiseling out of Godly character. It is true that God declares you holy. It is equally true that you must daily strive for holiness.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
As you can see, the consequences of failing to obtain the holiness that you must strive for is dire. My heart is burdened by this for our congregation today. I hear and see much rejoicing in God’s declaration of holiness; but I do not hear and see much striving for personal holiness.
I see our people breaking the law regularly, claiming that it is acceptable to drive just so fast over the speed limit. I see our people regularly practicing thievery, stealing movies and software and teaching or enabling others to do the same thing. I see our people practicing sexual immorality, and then claiming they have done nothing wrong. I see men verbally abusing the people in their homes, speaking the nastiest things that ought never be, and then showing up to church claiming godliness and a desire to lead. There are folks here right now that enjoy drunkeness through alcohol or drugs.
My heart is burdened by this for our congregation today. I hear and see much rejoicing in God’s declaration of holiness; but I do not hear and see much striving for personal holiness.
For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
A man once challenged me and proclaimed that no where in the Bible does it say “Thou must follow the speed limit. Thou must not steal intellectual property like movies or software.”
I told him I agreed. Then I pointed out that there was no place in the Bible that specifically commanded me not to kill him. He was very quick to point out that the prohibition against murder was one of the ten commandment, and murdering him would fall under that.
I kindly pointed out that stealing movies and software was covered by the commandment to not steal and that obeying the speed limit was covered by the commandment to not take the Lords name in vain.
When I adopted my children, they took my name. If they do not live as I teach and train them to, then they have taken my name in vain. They will either live and die like a Hines, or they will live and die having taken my name in vain.
When God adopted me, I took His name. I am called son of God. I am child of God. Either I will live as He teaches and trains me to, or I will have taken His name in vain. As his child, he has taught me that resisting the authorities by breaking the law is rebellion against God himself.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
If we would pursue personal holiness, then we must understand that our passions are corrupted by the ignorance of our flesh. We must humble ourselves before the teaching of scripture, exercising a pursuit of our joy in glorifying God. When we do not, our Father disciplines us.
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
We are disciplined for the sake of our personal holiness, because the people of God are holy.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
My hearts desire is that we will repent of our ignorant passions. If you believe I am talking about judging you, if you think this is somehow about punishing you and manipulating your emotions, you have it twisted.
Our hearts should indeed be struck like lightening when ignorance is overcome with understanding. However, our God does not leave us there, wallowing in self pity and self loathing. For those of us who have a passion for glorifying God, we have the gospel that promises we are forgiven. Christ died to cleanse us from sin such as this.
We do not merely fear Gods judgement of sin, we pursue cleansing ourselves in the blood of Christ.
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.
The prescription is plain. Education cancels out ignorance. Read some scripture, sit at the feet of godly teachers and learn from them, pray desperately for knowledge of righteousness. Put away the petty passions and live as an obedient child of God.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
My heart aches for us. It is my prayer that you will let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Today, we have sung songs and hymns, with thankfulness in our hearts. As well, you have been admonished and taught with all the wisdom the Spirit has granted me for this.
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.