I started running. Well, really, I’m still at the jogging phase and it’s still a mixture of jogging and walking. But whatever … it’s more than I was doing. More than I was making time for before. I guess you can even say it’s finally legit. I mean, I bought running shoes and have been solid at it for about a month. I even ran one evening because I needed to … Not because I needed to exercise. That’s why this all started in the first place. No, I ran the other night because I needed it emotionally. I mean, it’s serious.
My sister sent me a pin (pinterest) of a shirt that said, “sweatin’ for the wedding” because we are at that point where we’re ready to really commit to this thing … buy into it and get the gear to identify ourselves as runners. I told you … it’s serious. She found all sorts of gear with the runner lingo, but this shirt was my favorite. Because I’m not engaged or anything, but I am sweatin’ for the wedding. As a bride adorns herself for her husband.
It’s easy to forget the wedding we all hope to be a part of. You know, when Jesus comes back for his bride. The church. And we are supposed to be ready. Without spot or blemish. Having prepared ourselves as a holy offering to our Heavenly Husband. For the Lord your God is your Husband. I’ve never been the bride, but I know plenty of women who have been and almost all of them put in a lot of work to fit into their idea of what their wedding should look like, dress and all. I know women who went on strict diets, and a few crazy women who did strenuous, bootcamp style exercises to slim down before they tied the knot. No woman I know approached the wedding day flippantly. Every one of them did all they could to walk down that aisle with pride and feeling desirable.
How do we prep for this, our upcoming wedding? What does it look like for the church to make itself a bride adorned for her husband? One word: Holiness.
We don’t talk much about holiness anymore. Seems like at some point we decided that holiness was unattainable and that the grace card was the answer. Like, we can just do what we want and flip out our grace card if anyone has a problem with it. That sounds nice, but it isn’t really scriptural.
“What shall we say? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin. How can we live in it any longer? … For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (Romans 6:1-2, 6)”
“because by one sacrifice he has made perfect those who are being made holy. (Heb. 10:14)”
Grace is door we walk through to draw near to Christ. Holiness is the walk thereafter. Grace made us perfect, but then begins the process of making us holy. Desirable to a holy Husband.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14)”
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)”
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you once had when you lived in ignorance, 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.’ (1 Peter 14-16)”
Suddenly, we are thrust into accountability for our actions. We are given the task of being self-controlled, which is a foreign concept in our new age thinking. We are so used to being driven along by our emotions or our desires, but holiness requires a measure of self-control.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)”
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his own body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires but rather for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)”
“ each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that his holy and honorable. (1 Thess. 4:4)”
So then, it is a sacrifice. A sacrifice by which we lay flesh down at the feet of God and let his Shekinah glory burn off all of it and raise us up in the Spirit, so we can walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. And it’s not exactly the comfortable thing to do. It is akin to suffering sometimes. May cause us to sweat … or cry. Or agonize.
When the Lord first began speaking to me of holiness, I said to Him, “But God, it is an impossible task! Like Paul, I find that all the things I should do, I neglect to do while doing all the things I shouldn’t do. How can we be holy? Have you set unattainable goals for us?” He spoke to me thus:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measures, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:2-8)”
Looking to Jesus and his example of divine nature, I found these words:
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I said to you. John 14:26)”
“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8)”
“When he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)”
So all the things we are told to possess in increasing measure are fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit of God that has been deposited in us as a guarantee of our sonship. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, that is living in us, full of the same power! God has not set us an impossible task unless we are going at this holiness thing in our own strength. He has given us His own Spirit to live through us.
I especially like this verse in Ezekiel. Because it erases all fear of performance issues.
“I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:23)”
Like that? It’s not a performance, and holiness isn’t something we have to continually strive toward on our own. Holiness is continual acts of obedience to the will of God and in that way, we are holy without trying. We just have to lay our desires, our plans, down at the foot of the cross. Be crucified with Christ and let Him live through us!
“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. (2 Cor. 7:1)”