God’s desire for us is for holiness. Holiness is more than our outward actions. It’s about what’s going on in our hearts.
Song of Solomon 3 & 4
1 Corinthians 12.1-31
Holiness: Speak, See, Hear, Think No Evil
Song of Solomon 3 & 4:
Holiness & Our Heart
3.5b, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”
This verse emphasizes the importance of keeping sexual passions within the boundaries God has laid down. Whether we are married or single, it’s important to set godly standards of purity for ourselves and, if necessary, make ourselves accountable to godly friends.
Often times, we think that means simply not doing anything we see as sinful. But God’s standard is much higher, it is inner and outer holiness. Job said he had made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze at a virgin (Job 31.1). Continue reading →
God has always desired for His people to be set apart, holy, different from the world around us – so we can manifest His holiness. Instead, we like blending in and hiding out.
1 Samuel 8 & 9
Blending In & Hiding Out
1 Samuel 8 & 9:
Is There Any Difference?
God has always desired for His people to be set apart, holy, different from the world around us – to manifest His holiness.
Matthew 5.16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
That light in us is supposed to shine and in so doing bring God glory. Peter reminded us to:
“Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1.16).
As we live in “grace obedience” (understanding that we cannot live holy lives without the help of the Holy Spirit, relying on Him, repenting and calling on His mercy when we fail), we bring Him glory. And that difference, that light, will draw others to Christ.
Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn. 12.32).
But, like the people of Israel in asking for a king (1 Sam. 8.4), we often prefer to blend in, to be closet Christians, to act much like the world around us. Our children, too, complain that it’s unfair they can’t dress and act like the rest of the world. I wonder if we have failed to instill the importance of their calling in them because we don’t always believe and live it ourselves.
Let’s pray that we would truly let our light so shine before men that they would see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Let’s pray that when their lives are falling apart, they would see something different in us and be drawn to it. And when they ask, we would “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet. 3.15).
David had been betrayed. It wasn’t an enemy who had betrayed him, but someone he considered a close friend. Who among us hasn’t felt that disappointment, hurt, even anger over some betrayal? Yet …
Ephesians 4.26 says, “Be angry, and do not sin,” and verses 31 & 32 say, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Leviticus 3 & 4
In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.
What about you and me?
Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?
Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.
Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?
The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).
The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.
And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.
But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.
When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His 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 or to justify our behavior or to 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).
As we see here in Proverbs 26.28, 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 a 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.