Category Archives: Holiness

TIPS OF OVERCOMING SIN IN YOUR LIFE:

Silhouettes of hands are breaking chain. Freedom concept.

The Bible presents several different resources to aid us in our effort to overcome sin. In this lifetime, we will never be perfectly victorious over sin (1 John 1:8), but that should still be our goal. With God’s help, and by following the principles of His Word, we can progressively overcome sin and become more and more like Christ.

The first resource the Bible mentions in our effort to overcome sin is the Holy Spirit. God has given us the Holy Spirit so we can be victorious in Christian living. God contrasts the deeds of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:16-25. In that passage we are called upon to walk in the Spirit. All believers already possess the Holy Spirit, but this passage tells us that we need to walk in the Spirit, yielding to His control. This means choosing to consistently follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our lives rather than following the flesh.

The difference the Holy Spirit can make is demonstrated in the life of Peter, who, before being filled with the Holy Spirit, denied Jesus three times—and this after he had said he would follow Christ to the death. After being filled with the Spirit, he spoke openly and strongly to the Jews at Pentecost.

We walk in the Spirit as we try not to quench the Spirit’s promptings (as spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 5:19) and seek instead to be filled with the Spirit—that is, to be fully under the Spirit’s control (Ephesians 5:18–21). How is one filled with the Holy Spirit? If sin is what grieves the Spirit and hinders His filling, then obedience to God is how the filling of the Spirit is maintained. We should pray that we be filled with the Spirit, immerse ourselves in God’s Word (Colossians 3:16), and walk in obedience to God’s commands. This gives the Spirit freedom to work within our thoughts and actions.

The Word of God, the Bible, says that God has given us His Word to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It teaches us how to live and what to believe, it reveals to us when we have chosen wrong paths, it helps us get back on the right path, and it helps us to stay on that path. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and powerful, able to penetrate to our hearts to root out and overcome the deepest sins of heart and attitude. The psalmist talks about its life-changing power in-depth in Psalm 119. Joshua was told that the key to success in overcoming his enemies was not to forget this resource but instead to meditate on it day and night and obey it. This he did, even when what God commanded did not make sense militarily, and this was the key to his victory in his battles for the Promised Land.

The Bible is a resource that we too often treat lightly. We give token service to it by carrying our Bibles to church or reading a daily devotional or a chapter a day, but we fail to memorize it, meditate on it, or apply it to our lives; we fail to confess the sins it reveals or praise God for the gifts it reveals to us. When it comes to the Bible, we are often either anorexic or bulimic. We either take in just enough to keep us alive spiritually by eating from the Word (but never ingesting enough to be healthy, thriving Christians), or we come to feed often but never meditate on it long enough to get spiritual nutrition from it.

It is important, if you have not made a habit of daily studying and memorizing God’s Word, that you begin to do so. Some find it helpful start a journal. Make it a habit not to leave the Word until you have written down something you have gained from it. Some record prayers to God, asking Him to help them change in the areas that He has spoken to them about. The Bible is the tool the Spirit uses in our lives (Ephesians 6:17), an essential and major part of the armor that God gives us to fight our spiritual battles (Ephesians 6:12-18).

A third crucial resource in our battle against sin is prayer. Again, it is a resource that Christians often give lip service to but make poor use of. We have prayer meetings, times of prayer, etc., but we do not use prayer in the same way as the early church (Acts 3:14:316:413:1-3). Paul repeatedly mentions how he prayed for those he ministered to. God has given us wonderful promises concerning prayer (Matthew 7:7-11Luke 18:1-8John 6:23-271 John 5:14-15), and Paul includes prayer in his passage on preparing for spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:18).

How important is prayer to overcoming sin in our lives? We have Christ’s words to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before Peter’s denial. As Jesus prays, Peter is sleeping. Jesus wakes him and says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). We, like Peter, want to do what is right but are not finding the strength. We need to follow God’s admonition to keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking—and He will give us the strength that we need (Matthew 7:7). Prayer is not a magic formula. Prayer is simply acknowledging our own limitations and God’s inexhaustible power and turning to Him for that strength to do what He wants us to do, not what we want to do (1 John 5:14-15).

A fourth resource in our war to conquer sin is the church, the fellowship of other believers. When Jesus sent His disciples out, He sent them out two-by-two (Mark 6:7). The missionaries in Acts did not go out one at a time, but in groups of two or more. The Bible commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together but to use that time for encouraging one another in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). It tells us to confess our faults to one another (James 5:16). In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, we are told that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). There is strength in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).

Many Christians find that having an accountability partner can be a huge benefit in overcoming stubborn sins. Having another person who can talk with you, pray with you, encourage you, and even rebuke you is of great value. Temptation is common to us all (1 Corinthians 10:13). Having an accountability partner or an accountability group can give us the final dose of encouragement and motivation we need to overcome even the most stubborn of sins.

Sometimes victory over sin comes quickly. Other times, victory comes more slowly. God has promised that as we make use of His resources, He will progressively bring about change in our lives. We can persevere in our efforts to overcome sin because we know that He is faithful to His promises.

Prophet Nathan Emol

HOW TO LIVE HOLY LIFE:

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 In order to address the question of how to live a holy life, we must first understand what holy means. To be holy means to be set apart or separate from sin and evil. God is holy—completely separate from everything that is evil (1 John 1:5). God calls us to be holy, just as He is (1 Peter 1:16, quoting Leviticus 19:2), but it’s vital to understand that apart from God this is impossible. We must have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and filling us with His holiness. We can only live a holy life through the power of the Spirit; thus, the first step to living a holy life is to accept Jesus as Savior (Ephesians 1:13).

Once we have taken that step of salvation, we are declared righteous (Romans 5:1). But what does it look like to be actually righteous—to live a holy life? In 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8, Paul emphasizes sexual purity as part of holy living: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (verses 3–5).

Beyond avoiding sexual immorality and keeping sex within God’s design for marriage, we can live a holy life by being obedient to God in all areas of life (1 Peter 1:14–16). Knowing and obeying God’s Word is key (John 17:17). Hiding God’s Word in our hearts keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11). When we live in obedience to God, we are staying separate from evil. We are offering our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God (Romans 12:1–2). The purpose of living a holy life is to glorify God and display His nature to those around us (Matthew 5:16). Living a holy life of obedience to God is living in true freedom from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:6).

It’s not always easy to choose obedience to God, especially if we’re trying to do it all on our own. Satan would love nothing more than to bring us back into bondage through disobedience. But we have the promise, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The Holy Spirit will produce Christlikeness in us, and, as we yield to Him, we can live a holy life (Galatians 5:16).

Here is the mindset we should have: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Any time we face temptation, we should say, “I’m dead to that! That was part of my old life! I am a new creation in Christ!” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). To live a holy life, to separate ourselves from sin, we must see ourselves as God does—as born-again children of the Most High, clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

We also have the benefit of being part of the Body of Christ. Fellowship with other Christians and making ourselves accountable to them is a great source of strength in living a holy life. As Christians, we are called to encourage one another in this matter (Hebrews 10:24–25).

Remember, we are not trying to live a holy life in order to earn salvation; living a holy life is a natural outgrowth of being saved by God’s grace and filled with His Spirit. It is also important to not give up when we mess up. When we fail, our response should be to confess the sin and keep moving forward in our Christian walk (1 John 1:9). Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God’s grace doesn’t go away when we make mistakes.

Prophet Nathan Emol

IS BEING HOLY EVEN POSSIBLE?

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Holiness is not only a possibility for the Christian; holiness is a requirement. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The difference between God and us is that He is inherently holy while we, on the other hand, only become holy in relationship to Christ and we only increase in practical holiness as we mature spiritually. The New Testament emphasizes the pursuit of holiness in this world and the final attainment of holiness in the world to come.

To be “holy” means that we are, first of all, “set apart for honorable use.” Whereas we were “once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . God our Savior . . . saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-5; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11). The Lord took the initiative to pull us out of our former lifestyles. He saved us, cleansed us, and set us apart for righteousness. If we have believed in Christ for salvation, we have been washed by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and set apart from the world for godliness (see Romans 12:2).

However, the pursuit of holiness does not end when we come to Christ. In fact, it just begins! There is a positional holiness that we inherit at regeneration and a practical holiness which we must actively pursue. God expects us to cultivate a lifestyle of holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16) and commands us to “cleanse ourselves of all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB). Bringing holiness to “perfection” means that we should be increasing in spiritual fruitfulness every day. We are to consider ourselves “dead to sin” (Romans 6:11), refusing to revert back to our former lifestyles. In this way we “cleanse [ourselves] from what is dishonorable,” becoming vessels for “honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master . . . for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Holiness is the mark of every true Christian (1 John 3:9-10).

Cultivating a lifestyle of holiness does not mean that we must draft a list of do’s and don’ts to live by. We are free from the letter of the law which kills (2 Corinthians 3:6) and now live according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).

We are told, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). In this verse, we see cooperation between God and His children in sanctification. We “work out” what God “works in” us, because God has a timeline for the virtues that He wishes to cultivate in our lives. Our responsibility is to yield to His wishes, “working out” with focused attention and great care those things that He is causing to grow in us. Holiness will not be brought to completion in our lives with no effort on our part. We are invited to participate in God’s work in us. We will not be “carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease,” as the old hymn says.

This is, perhaps, the most important lesson that we can learn as Christians. God’s ultimate desire for His people is that we be holy—conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:291 Thessalonians 4:3-4). Holiness is the will of God for our lives.

Of course, the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). None of us will reach sinless perfection in this world, but God has made provision for our sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our pursuit of holiness in this world includes daily confessing and forsaking sin (see Hebrews 12:1-3).

God helps us in our weakness by giving us His Holy Spirit who reveals the mind of Christ to us and enables us to carry out His will (1 Corinthians 2:14-16Philippians 2:13). When we yield to the Spirit, we become fruit-bearing Christians, yielding a harvest with which God is well pleased (Galatians 5:22-23). On the other hand, when we suppress the work of the Holy Spirit by rebelling against His will for us, we stifle the design of God, sabotage our own spiritual growth, and grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

If God was gracious enough to redeem us from sin and death and give us new life in Christ, the very least that we can do is offer our lives back to Him in complete surrender and holiness, which is for our benefit (cf. Deuteronomy 10:13). Because of God’s mercies, we should be living sacrifices, “holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1; cf. Deuteronomy 10:13). One day, in heaven, we will be free from sin and all its effects. Until then, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” and keep running our race (Hebrews 12:2).

Prophet Nathan Emol