Importance of Holiness
Created unto good works
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: keeping the law is not, in itself, evil; it is when we try to earn God's mercy, grace, and favor by works, when we fall into dead religion. Our doing what God asks of us, should come naturally out of our genuine relationship with God.
God's plan for His children, is for them to be conformed to the image of His Son, therefore bearing fruits of righteousness and godliness in our lives.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
What kind of brethren? Those who hear the Word of God and do it!
And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Jesus told us to abide in Him, and we will produce much fruit. How do we abide in Him and His love? By keeping His commands!
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.... If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
Correction from our Father
There are many today that are going through what we call the pruning process. I've been going through it, so I think I can speak from some experience. We find in the Bible, where God corrects those whom He loves, as a father corrects his son:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
The passage above promises us that if we endure His correction, He treats us as sons. Paul also warns us that if we endure not the correction of the Lord, then we are bastards and not sons. If you continue to read, we learn that the purpose of God's correction, is so that we may partake in God's holiness. The passage above wraps up by telling us of how the correction of the Lord yields fruit of righteousness. Wait a minute, weren't we already righteous with the righteousness of Christ that is upon us? Nope, this is referring to our own righteousness! God wants to establish His righteousness in our own lives and conform us into the image and likeness of His Son Jesus (see Romans 8:29).
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Speaking from experience, let me say that it is very important to take God's correction seriously and allow it to correct and adjust things in your life that aren't right. If He's shown you an area of your life that needs correction, then yield that area of your life to His gentle hand of correction and be obedient. If you don't, then you might as well stop asking God what the next step is for your life, because He doesn't skip steps.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.
God is merciful as we grow
This is one of the areas of our walk with Christ, which is widely misunderstood. A good picture to paint in your mind, is having a toddler who is just learning how to walk. Being a good and loving parent, would you get angry and reject your child just because he falls as he's trying to learn how to walk? I bet you wouldn't think of it! You would be right there, picking them back up, and encouraging them to keep going. This is the attitude that God has towards us, as we're being conformed to the image of Christ, and growing into the person whom reflects His glory. King David uses the concept of his foot slipping, when he's made mistakes in the growing process:
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.
When Jesus refers to us as branches which are supposed to bear (or grow) fruit, this is another perfect illustration of how we grow in the ways of God. Fruit is not grown overnight, but takes time to grow and mature. If we are serious about our faith in Christ, we will grow that fruit naturally. But somebody who has just accepted Christ a month ago is not going to have the same fruit as somebody who has been genuine in their faith for ten years.
In the NT, we are told of Christ being our mediator for when we do make mistakes and fail. He is right there helping us to get back on our feet, and keep walking in the light. It is no license to sin, but when we do fail, God has given us a high priest to forgive our sin, and set us back in right standing with God.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
God's Word tells us that God's mercy towards them to fear Him is great. Those who fear Him, are those who are eagerly seeking to do what God has commanded of them. But even they are liable to fail at times, and when that happens, God's mercy towards them is exceedingly great.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
God's Word instructs us to walk in the light, as He is in the light, and when we do that, the Blood of Christ cleanses us of our failures:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
What about the backslider? I have another teaching which addresses the backslider returning to God, and how eager God is to heal him of his backsliding, and restore the relationship. God never desires to lose one of His sheep, and is always eager to see them return. If you feel like you've failed miserably in your past, and wonder if God would ever want you to come back, then you are in for a big surprise! If this sounds like you, then be sure to read Is God upset with me?
This is a multi-part teaching