December 20, 2010

Holiness vs. Hard Work ~ by Jath van der Westhuizen

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1 Pet 1:15 -16 As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy." (The Message)

Boring, boring!
Like me, many of us grew up within a troubled legalistic mindset. Church was quiet, orderly and quite frankly boring while we were programmed to strife towards self-righteousness. For example: "Just try harder, maybe God will come through for you. Perhaps you just have to believe a little bit harder. There's something wrong with your faith." Forgiveness was regarded as an act of our own willpower. Then, if we could not achieve the 70X7 pass-mark, we felt hopeless and condemned. Maybe you even felt so guilty when you skipped a Sunday service once a year. Or if you are a divorcee you are not allowed anymore to serve on the church-board. You are simply not good enough.

As a pastor of a denominational church I was usually anxiously in anticipation whether or not my sermon that I worked so hard on during the whole week, was good enough for the congregation, the church board and finally, the senior pastor. Monday mornings, during our staff meeting I then received a report about my previous week’s performance. Dan. 5:27 was the daunting-haunting verse that besieged my poor conscious, “You have been weighed on a scale and found to be too light!” A classical example of a brownly point gospel mentality, as revealed in churchianity.

Imitating the gifts of the Holy Spirit by doing our best to behave in a holy manner was a sincere common practice during those days, and even still today amongst some poor Christians. What a waste of our precious time! Have you heard of this religious outcry? It sounds so noble, yet it is interlarded with venomous trace elements of the law: "Oh Lord, I just want to please You!" (Sobbing) The only act in history that could ever please God was when Jesus complied with the demands of righeousness, by getting nailed to the cross. 

Father's Perception
Meanwhile God gave us all of these things for free through the cross of Jesus Christ. Father God already sees us as holy, perfect and blameless. We can’t behave more holy in order to become acceptable to God. Only faith in Him, through grace, produces the fruit of holiness, not reciting verses, psychological techniques or mind-power seminars. With the aid of the indwelling Spirit we can trust Him to guide us and produce these awesome fruits in us. The law has been 100% fulfilled in Christ. Any attempt in trying to change, only produces appalling disappointments.

Skeptic Preachers & Neurotic Exorcists!
Many people, especially preachers, are still skeptic about the perfect fulfillment in Christ because they have always believed the opposite. Those who have been tithing for instance will not easily be convinced that the principle of giving to be blessed has also been fulfilled on the cross. Those who invite professional exorcists to expel the demons out of their houses, the photo of grandpa hanging on the wall and ornaments, antiques or relics out of Africa, will neither believe in the success of the cross. These people will argue, "We have worked so hard with much effort to see good results. How dare you now want to take away my precious ministry!" However, the only house that actually needs a cleanup is their ignorant cobwebbed mindset. 

Please don’t underestimate or reject the victorious impact of the cross, just because you have heard things the other way. Jesus Christ definitely did not die in vain. If His death and resurrection has not influenced your interpretation of the Old Testament, surely you just believe exactly like the Orthodox Jews. Then faith does not determine salvation at all.

You be holy!
Father has already declared us holy. We cannot become something what we actually are. Holiness is now dwelling inside us. Christ, our hope of glory! He made us holy. When someone "makes" you, then you have no choice in what happens to you. The declaration of our holiness is purely based on the perfect sacrifice of Jesus; through His achievement. At this very moment He is working in us to perform the will of our Father. Allow Him to do the work and stop trying or interfering.


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