Isaiah 65 & 66
How Do We Grow in Holiness?
Walking in Sin or Growing in Holiness
“A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Lies hurt people! But an outright lie is not the only way to “lie.”
When we deceive or when we twist the truth to suit our purposes, justify our behavior, make ourselves look good or to gain sympathy, it’s lying just as surely as if we make up a tale out of whole cloth.
An even bigger problem with lying is that, like all sin, it leads to more lying and more sin of every kind. Paul said that lawlessness leads to further lawlessness (Rom. 6.19).
Look at Proverbs 26.28 again “a lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it.” Lying is a form of hatred. 1 John 2.11 says:
“But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Just as all sin leads us into darkness, that darkness affects our ability to think and reason and make clear decisions, “the darkness has blinded [our] eyes.”
Pre-marital and extra-marital sex, for example, often affects people’s ability to recognize a bad, even dangerous, relationship.
Drunkards and addicts are often blinded to their problems. Many will say, “I can quit any time I want,” while they destroy their careers, their families, and their reputations.
Angry people often feel completely justified in their anger and abuse. Everyone else is to blame.
And just as sin leads to more sin and blindness, when we turn to God and walk in obedience, it leads to growth in holiness. Romans 6.18-19:
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Spiritual grown which is a growth in holiness, doesn’t just happen. We must choose to walk in obedience. When we are saved by faith in the gospel, God gives us new desires and we’re set free from the power of sin. But if we push those desires aside, we can become dull of hearing and our spiritual growth will be stunted. Hebrews 5 says:
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Growth in holiness happens “by reason of use.” The more we choose to obey, the more like Christ we become. The more we choose to submit to God’s providential work in our lives without grumbling, complaining or responding sinfully, the more we grow in holiness.
You might also like: “Does Salvation + Time = Spiritual Maturity?”
Today’s Other Readings:
Isaiah 65 & 66:
He Found Me!
Verse 1, “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.”
We often say, “I found God,” but the truth is, it’s always Him who “finds” us!
He Has Heard My Voice!
“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD. ‘O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!’”
The psalmist desired to remain faithful, to call on God as long as he was alive. That is the kind of faith we should all desire, faith that will not only allow us to run the race, but to complete it, as well!
I know many of you have already experienced this, but the more you read the Scriptures, the more certain verses and passages become like “dear friends.” Philippians has many such “dear friends” to me.
I mentioned verse 6 of chapter 1 yesterday:
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Also in chapter 1:
27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
What a great verse for married couples to pray!
And in chapter 2:
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
The world talks a lot about high self-esteem and low self-esteem. But the truth of the matter is that both are wrong. Believers are not to “esteem” themselves, but to esteem God and others!
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
You have no greater opportunity to “shine” than when you have every reason by the world’s standards to grumble, complain and dispute!
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days we’ll evaluate how much we really want to know Jesus, talk about what our state of mind has to do with our relationship with God, look at how Paul prayed, and talk about itching ears, false worship, and the queen of heaven.
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