Category Archives: Personal Holiness

Saturday Sampler: July 1 — July 7

Pretty Things Sampler

Except for a few minor points not worth mentioning, I think Stephen McAlpine is onto something. When Ground Floor Projects Are Pushed One Floor Up delivers intriguing insight into secular culture. It also challenges a horribly compromised Church.

So, how many people asked you to tell them about Jesus this week simply because you behaved nicely? Uh-huh. Evangelism by example doesn’t work that well for me, either. Perhaps reading Is Being Nice Enough? by Leslie A of Growing 4 Life will help you rethink that approach to evangelism.

If you read Elizabeth Prata’s blog, The End Time, you’ll know that her mission is Speaking up for prophetic scriptures. I think you’ll benefit from reading why she recommends reading prophetic passages in the Bible just as eagerly as you read other passages.

I didn’t see Josh Buice’s post, Rejecting the Sufficiency of Scripture Results in Cultural Chaos in Delivered By Grace when he posted it last week, but I definitely believe it needs our attention. Responding to the “woke” movement pervading evangelical circles lately, Buice explains the demands of the “woke” movement and then calls us back to God’s Word.

While correctly maintaining that some sins carry greater culpability than others, Tim Challies has us look at The Utter Horror of the Smallest Sins. Talk about a  reality check!

I promised myself I wouldn’t include any articles related to Independence Day in this edition of Saturday Sampler, mainly because the holiday happened three days ago. But Michelle Lesley makes such powerful points in Top 10 4th of July Twisted Scriptures that I simply had to break that promise. Please read her careful treatment of these Scriptures for an excellent example of rightly dividing God’s Word.

Co-authoring Learning to Hate our Sin without Hating Ourselves for Public Discourse, Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield argue that same sex desire, even if it’s not acted upon, is sinful. Interestingly, they trace the current debate on this issue back to differences between Roman Catholic and Reformed Protestant theology.

We need to remember that the Obergefell decision legalizing same sex marriage has accelerated persecution against Christians. Steven Ingino, writing for The Cripplegate, documents this growing problem and provides Biblical answers to the question: Would Jesus Bake the Cake?

Those of you who follow my Monday Bible Studies on the resurrection will will want to read 5 Things You Need to Believe About Jesus’ 2nd Coming by Dennis E. Johnson in Core Christianity. It wonderfully supplements the passage we’ll study Monday.

Steven Lawson explains and defends Divine Sovereignty on the Ligonier blog with his characteristic passion for God. Oh, that more Christians exhibited such passion for truth!

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Not Judging Women On Buses And Subways

ModestyIt’s that time of year. As the bus driver secured our wheelchairs yesterday, I remembered that taking public transportation means that women will board the bus and subway wearing less clothing than they should, revealing more of their bodies than they should. I know my husband works hard to avert his eyes and keep his thoughts honoring to the Lord, and I’m very proud of him. But I also know he needs my prayers.

But I also struggle with temptation when I see young women display more of their bodies than they should. I’m tempted to judge them.

Judging Christian women with the goal of gently helping them learn to attire themselves appropriately is one thing. I pray that my articles on modesty will help Christian women think through their wardrobe choices and clothe themselves in ways that honor the Lord and their brothers in Christ. Scripture mandates that Christians warn each other about sin. So I believe mature Christian women have a responsibility to teach our younger sisters in Christ how (and why) to dress modestly.

Most of the women I see on buses and subways, on the other hand,  probably aren’t Christians. Because of this probability, they simply don’t operate under Biblical convictions. I have no reason to expect that they should. As a matter of fact, God’s Word quite clearly says that believers must restrict judgment to those within the Church.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? ~~1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV)

Not judging these women doesn’t require that I condone the way they dress. Their immodesty is sinful regardless of their assessment of the situation. But because they most likely don’t know the Lord and therefore feel no compunction to submit to His authority, I’m wrong to expect that they would conform to His standards.

Sitting on the bus and imagining snarky comments to write about these women on Facebook merely exposes my self-righteousness and lack of concern for their eternal souls. Yes, I feel concern for my husband, knowing that he has a responsibility to the Lord to keep his thoughts pure. I definitely need to pray for him as he fights against his responses. But these women also need prayer. More likely than not, they need to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

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The Forgotten Reason For Salvation

Holiness

Lately I’ve encountered a few unrelated comments about sanctification being God’s will for Christians. The Bible says as much. The first clause of 1 Thessalonians 4:3 reads, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”

In context, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 relates to avoiding sexual immorality, and certainly that’s an important aspect of sanctification. But sanctification extends far beyond our sexual behavior, doesn’t it? The Lord calls His people to be holy in all areas of life, and He even supplies the grace we need to do so.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

Okay,  I realize I quote that passage frequently on this blog. It actually comes up in my prayer time every day as I confess my sins and pray for help in resisting temptation. This passage reminds me that God’s grace in saving me had a greater purpose than merely keeping me out of hell. The Lord gave me His saving grace so that He might purify me as His possession.

21st Century evangelicals have grown accustomed to viewing Christianity as a means to gratify themselves. I have fallen into that deceptive attitude more than once.  So naturally we rarely think about grace having the purpose of glorifying God. Holiness sounds fine in the lyrics of Contemporary Christian Music, but we don’t seriously think He saved us for the purpose of sanctifying us.

Maybe we’d better start thinking seriously.

God’s will isn’t nearly as much about our earthly comfort and happiness as it is about our sanctification.  Why? Because in our sanctification, we increasingly grow to reflect His character. We prepare for an eternity of giving Him the praise, honor and glory that rightfully belongs to Him.

Only as holy vessels, cleansed and purified from the pollutants of sin and worldliness, can we give the Lord the quality of worship that He deserves. He wills our sanctification so that we can properly and freely offer Him pure worship. Consequently, we must follow Him into sanctification, delighting to do His will.

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Forgetful Evangelicals And The Entitlement Mentality

Glory Of The CrossI believe evangelicals of the 21st Century have by and large lost the sense that God has saved us for His honor and glory. As we’ve incorporated Charismatic teaching and psychological principles into our weakened version of Christianity, we’ve accepted the mistaken idea that God exists to heal our bodies, expand our bank accounts, make our marriages satisfying and remove all temptation from us. We conveniently forget why He calls us to Him in the first place.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~~1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

Anyone can distort the Bible into false promises of health, prosperity and your best life now, insisting that God wants us to be happy. But, even though the Lord is a good Father Who gives good gifts to His children, He doesn’t give those gifts to encourage self-indulgence. Just as He often blesses us, He also often disciplines us for the express purpose of leading us into holiness.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ~~Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV)

We don’t generally gravitate to passages like this. From the Baby Boomers on, we increasingly view life as something designed to accommodate our desires and surround us with pleasure.

We’ve all seen angry rants on Facebook by people who deem their circumstances unfair and think their lives should be easier. Sadly, some of these rants come from professing Christians. Perhaps they’ve even come from you! And we allow ourselves to think that God tolerates our rants because our adverse circumstances offend Him as much as they offend us.

We forget, influenced by the entitlement mentality that saturates our culture, that God may actually decree our trials in order to address sin issues in us that hinder our growth towards holiness. Quite simply, we forget that God created us to glorify Him rather than to consume His blessings as if He owes us anything.

Listen, I write this post to myself as much as to anyone else. None of us particularly enjoys the Lord’s discipline, nor do we often hunger to be holy. We need constant reminding that God saved us, not for our personal fulfillment, but so that He could have a people who reflect His holiness.

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Saturday Sampler: March 25 — March 31

Starburst SamplerPremiere blogger Tim Challies explores the question, What Counts as a “Gospel Issue?” As much as I love animals, I thoroughly agree with his commonsense answer.

Funerals are difficult, but the Lord often uses them to teach us more about Himself. In Two Lessons from Two Radically Different Funerals, Jordan Standridge of The Cripplegate reflects on two funerals he recently attended.  He includes some sobering thoughts that, in my opinion, relate to the inadequacies of the social gospel.

Liam Goligher of Reformation 21 calls a spade a spade in his article, De-Conversion. Having watched a dear friend’s very public departure from the faith. I appreciate Goligher for his Biblical insights into this horrifying process. He adds advice for those who struggle with temptation to walk away from the truth.

You might want to read The Blessing of a Good Example by David Qaoud in Gospel Relevance as an encouragement to live in accordance with your Christian profession.

Anticipating tomorrow’s celebration of Christ’s resurrection, Greg Norwine contributes The Resurrection Creates Immovable, Unstoppable Christians to Unlocking the Bible. He approaches the subject from an angle I’ve never considered, making his teaching absolutely fascinating to read.

The Essential Importance of the Cross also looks forward to Resurrection Sunday. Leslie A writes this essay for Growing 4 Life in order to show how correct teaching about the cross helps us discern the many false teachings that swirl around us today. I appreciate Leslie for reinforcing the truth that Biblical discernment depends on understanding doctrine.

I admit my inept study of eschatology, though I think I’m improving. So Elizabeth Prata’s Why eschatology matters (and hopefully making a comeback) in The End Time encourages me to keep at it. I may never be dogmatic on every point, but I trust God’s Word to give me the amount of clarity I need.

Although I haven’t fully vetted Lori  Alexander’s blog, The Transformed Wife, her post Should We Rebuke the Devil? definitely deals with spiritual warfare from a Biblical standpoint. Praise the Lord for her contribution to this important discussion.

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Oh I Assure You, Christ’s Literal Resurrection Matters

Romans 10 9For reasons I really can’t recall, I decided I’d judged the Presbyterian church (PCUSA) that I’d grown up in a bit harshly since becoming a Christian. So on Easter Sunday 1975, I returned, hoping to settle back in and make it once again my church home. Its proximity to my house enabled me to drive my motorized wheelchair to services, thus eliminating the ongoing struggle to procure transportation.

Being PCUSA, the church tried to be innovative even as it retained a certain degree of liturgical order.  That Easter Sunday, for instance, the pastor and the seminary student who did his internship at the church staged a rehearsed debate in place of the sermon. The question up for debate: Was Christ’s resurrection literal or figurative?

I don’t remember the arguments on either side, nor can I tell you if either man bothered to substantiate their points with Scripture. But I most definitely remember the pastor walking front and center stage at the end to offer the ultimate conclusion that he wanted us to draw.

Whether the resurrection was literal or figurative, he informed us, didn’t matter. All that mattered was that Christ lived in our hearts.

The minute he gave the benediction, I spun my wheelchair around and headed home without speaking to anyone. I was far too angry to exchange pleasantries with people. The mishandling of God’s Word and the denigration of Christ’s resurrection infuriated me.

43 years later, it still infuriates me!

The literal, bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the central doctrine of the Christian faith. 1 Corinthians 15 details its critical importance to every believer.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. ~~1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (ESV)

A figurative resurrection of Christ would mean that heaven is equally figurative, and thus following the Lord is, in the end, pretty much inconsequential. We might as well live according to our own desires if we can interpret the resurrection any way we see fit. I mean, what’s the point of forsaking sin and denying self if there’s no hope of eternal life with Christ?

Praise the Lord, He did rise physically from the dead, with a glorified body that His eleven disciples literally handled (Luke 24:36-43, 1 John 1:1). Each of those men, as well as countless men and women who believed their preaching, suffered persecution and often martyrdom for proclaiming the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Really, would anyone willingly face death for something figurative?

I don’t regret leaving that PCUSA church after that rehearsed debate in 1975. I only regret my cowardly failure to tell them why I withdrew my membership. I wish I’d had the intestinal fortitude to declare to them that the literal, bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ matters very much. That their eternal position absolutely depended on whether or not they believed in it.

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A Fun Little Song With Truth We Can Celebrate

It was a fun little song. It amuses me that, 47 years later, I still  remember both the lyrics and the upbeat tune. Especially since I really didn’t understand exactly what it meant.

Being good Charismatics, we predictably sang this ditty almost every time someone decided to lay hands on me for healing. After all, we assured ourselves,  we were merely claiming God’s promise in Romans 8:11. In our understanding, that fragment of Scripture taught that Christ’s resurrection guaranteed physical healing in this present life.

But looking at this verse in context, we see an entirely different meaning, and a meaning that gives us a correct way to apply Christ’s resurrection to ourselves. Let’s read this verse in its immediate context first, and then we’ll talk about how it fits into the apostle Paul’s overall argument.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. ~~Romans 8:1-11 (ESV)

Even here, we can plainly see that Paul is talking about personal holiness rather than physical healing. He contends that the same Holy Spirit Who affected Christ’s resurrection gives us Christ’s very righteousness, thereby empowering us to live in obedience to God’s law instead of following the dictates of our sinful inclinations.

You might wonder why Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead. To answer that question, we need to go back to Romans 6, where the apostle discusses our baptism as a way of identifying with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ~~Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)

As the Spirit raised Christ literally, so He raises us figuratively in our present life to resist sin and to walk in righteousness. Going back to Romans 8:1-11, then, we understand that the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead gives us Christ’s life in order that we can live in Christ’s righteousness. Through the Lord’s resurrection, we have new lives, liberating us from the tyranny of sin.

Certainly His resurrection also carries the assurance of our physical resurrection at Christ’s return, as we’ll discuss in subsequent blog posts. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that the benefits of Christ’s resurrection are limited to their implications in our present life. But also appreciate the wonderful truth that His resurrection allows us to enjoy a new life, even now, that permits us to experience His righteousness.

That little song based on Romans 8:11 is still fun to sing. Its proper context makes it even more fun as we celebrate the victory over sin that we enjoy because the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead dwells in us!

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