Posts Tagged ‘holiness’

Is Satan Hijacking Your Spiritual Life?

         winter trip 044 The beatitudes tell us that it is “the pure in heart” that “see God”. Have you ever seen God? Are you pure in heart? Well do not despair as this is a struggle for everyone and much depends upon our understanding of what this verse actually means. A change in our perspective will help us to better understand what the spiritual life is and what it is not.

          If you read Oswald Chambers entry for March 27th “My Utmost for His Highest” he states the following: “When the devil elevates you to a certain place, he causes you to fasten your idea of what holiness is far beyond what flesh and blood could ever bear or achieve.” We know that holiness means to be set apart for God, set apart for His purposes and available to be used by Him for the building of His kingdom. With this in mind, we often feel less than holy as each day progresses due to the fact that we recognize things in our life that are inconsistent with our view of holiness. When we lose our temper with someone we do not feel holy. When we have an impure thought we do not feel holy. Sometimes we do not feel like spending time alone with God or reading His word and that also makes us feel less than holy. I could go on and on with a list that never ends of the many things that make us feel less than “pure in heart” and as a result we do not “see God”. So perhaps it is in these very items that we need to change our perspective. When these things cause us to live by our feelings of futility then we can be assured that the above verse from Mr. Chambers is spot on, and we are most assuredly fastening our view of holiness on something unattainable by flesh and blood.

          In essence these are the very things that provide us the opportunity to enter into the presence of God and to achieve a holy life. We should think of ourselves as having two distinct areas of life, an “inner sanctuary” and an “outer court”. We are the model of the ancient Israelite temple. God came to live amongst His people and resided in the inner sanctuary of the temple just as He now resides in the life of a believer in the “inner self”. It was in the “outer courts” of the temple where the everyday person gathered to be cleansed of their sins by the sacrificial offerings presented to God by the priesthood. Scripture tells us that we are a “royal priesthood”. We now have the right to come to the throne of God and He has provided the sacrifice for us. We can make a claim of purity based upon the sacrifice of Jesus, not on any righteousness that we think we may possess. (We have none.) So it is in the outer courts of our life where we experience these issues that confirm that we are less than pure. Rather than feelings of inadequacy and defeat we need to recognize that God allows us to have these experiences as an opportunity to realize our need for Him. We need to see these events in our everyday life as our need to immediately turn toward Him in thought, word, and deed. Through prayer and repentance God will allow us to enter a state of being pure and holy in His sight. It is in this process that we “see God” with spiritual clarity. When we surrender to the deficiencies we see in our daily life, we immediately have a blurred view of God. (see “My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers”, 3/26).  Therefore it becomes, for the Christian, an urgent need to realize these occurrences and immediately do business with God. By developing this habit we have a clear sense of closeness with God and discover the blessing of peace in our lives in the face of all types of trials.

          My dear friend and brother in the Lord, Pastor Scott Hobbs authored and recorded a song which continues to bless me and I believe echoes the process that I am speaking of. The chorus goes like this, “I will run, I will run, with a passion I will run for I want to see the face of God.” When we encounter the deficiencies that draw upon us everyday, we need to run with a passion to see the face of God. When we don’t feel much like it and recognize that God doesn’t seem close we must develop the discipline of running toward Him. I believe this is the key to walking in the Spirit and God will welcome us time and time again with open arms. Ironically, it’s the negative things of life that present the best opportunity for fellowship with our loving Creator.

I Just Want To Be Happy…

        ss35450qf7  Most of us have uttered this lament from time to time. Happiness seems to be the illusive goal of just about every person I know yet rarely do I meet a truly happy person. Webster defines happiness as “a state of well being or contentment”. It is often associated with prosperity or good fortune. Quite possibly it is an expectation that most of us have regarding our life and our perception of what it should be like. Happiness is often a momentary and fleeting experience that fuels our desire to pursue it all the more. Our “Declaration of Independence” echoes this basic tenant of human rights; “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Rooted in biblical belief, our founding fathers believed that the “pursuit of happiness” was directly connected to our creation and a God given right of every individual. Therefore, if we have any shot at discovering happiness in this life is it possible that we can do so apart from the One who created us? What was God’s first desire in the order of creation, for us to be happy or holy? Can we truly be happy without being holy or does happiness exist as a by-product of being holy?

          The “pursuit of holiness” should be first and foremost in our minds. Holiness means to be “set-apart” for God. The implication is that God’s plan for us should be of the highest priority and all other desires in our life should be subordinate. One of the greatest deceptions in this life is that we can order our lives according to our own personal view and desires, then we will be ready for a deeper walk with God. We mistakenly substitute our appetites as the means to gain happiness. How many times have we acted on a want (sometimes to our financial detriment) only to find that the joy didn’t last as long as the term of the monthly payments? How often have we mistaken the true meaning of life for an identity produced by a career or the things we own – status? In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the man who tore down his barns and built new ones in order to store an overabundance of crops. The man reveled in his status of security and his view that he would be happy for years to come. Jesus declared him a fool as he would die that very day and leave it all behind. In verse 23 Jesus states, “life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

          What is the relationship between happiness and contentment? In Phil.4:11 Paul declares”…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am”. He applied this principle to abundance and poverty, his contentment was not affected by his circumstance. It was a “learned” responce to life, an ordering of the inner world rather than the outer experience. When we are discontent with the experiences of life we cannot be happy. “But Godliness with contentment is great gain”. (1Tim.6:8, NIV) Could that great gain include happiness?

          As the future continues to unfold in front of us revealing the perilous and uncertain times in which we live, it is vital for all of us to discover the true nature of happiness. It lies not in the shallow desires that please our senses but rather in the possession of relationship with the One who created us. Consumerism and marketing tries to convince us of our constant need to fulfill our quest for happiness by purchasing an endless array of products, pills and adventures. Consumerism thrives on the insatiable desires of the flesh, perhaps exploiting our longing for heaven on earth. As the rights suggested in the Declaration of Independence are facing the possibility of extinction in the near future, are we prepared to handle the changes coming our way? The only answer I can come up with is to be happy. Not as the world sees happiness but in the power of true happiness. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35)