July 1, 2015

Three Aspects of Holy Living

A wholly sanctified person is one who has been consecrated or set apart to serve God and is cleansed from his sin nature. Though the cleansing work of sanctification is accomplished in an instant, spiritual growth should continue throughout a Christian’s life. There are many aspects to this maturing process. For example, Scripture teaches that God wants His people to be holy in their relationships, in their wills, and in their thoughts. The Lord can help us be pleasing in His sight in each of these areas.

Holiness in Our Relationships

Relationships were established by God. He ordained marriage, He instituted friendships, and He gave guidelines to govern these matters. Most of us have many relationships—we have spouses, children, grandchildren, teachers, friends, and employers and co-workers. God’s desire is that these relationships be a blessing and encouragement both to ourselves and others.

In order to have holiness in our relationships with others, we need to have a close relationship with God. It is good to stop for a few moments now and then to tell the Lord that we love Him. One time I was at a Pump It Up play facility for children with one of our little granddaughters. She wanted me to go with her in the inflatable structures—through the tunnels, down the slides, and so forth. I’m considerably bigger and heavier than she is, so it was a bit hard for me to navigate. As we were going through the obstacle course, she stopped and came over and gave me a hug. That was special; it was evidence that we share a good relationship. It made me think of my relationship with God. Do I spontaneously let the Lord know from time to time how much He means to me?

We do not always have a choice in our relationships, but when we do, we want to choose individuals who will help us toward Heaven. The Scriptures tell us, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). In Bible times, oxen were yoked together to do farm work. If the animals were going to accomplish anything, they had to be headed in the same direction. Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Who are we yoking ourselves with in our relationships? If we are going in one direction but the other individual is pulling us another way, we will be hindered.

This does not mean that we should become recluses. No, God wants us to be His witnesses in the world. However, we must be careful whom we choose as close friends. We want to separate ourselves from sin and its influences, and avoid putting ourselves in a position that would tarnish our testimonies or compromise our principles. Our close associates should encourage us in our walks with the Lord.

God’s Word tells us how we should conduct ourselves in our relationships with others. We read, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Think about the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. It is also essential to be forgiving. If someone has done something to us that is difficult to forgive, the Lord can help us.

Here’s an exhortation that goes against human nature a bit: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). We want to consider what is best for others and to help them out where we can.

What helps build good relationships? Qualities such as honesty, reliability, selflessness, faith, and love are vital. What hinders good relationships? Differing beliefs about Bible doctrine, diverse values, a critical spirit, negativity, self-promotion, contending for one’s own way, and inconsistency could be on that list. We do not want those characteristics in our lives, or in the lives of those we choose to be among our close associates.

God has put relationships in my life that have encouraged and blessed me. My mother was only with me for the first nine years of my life. The night she passed away, she was praying at the foot of my bed. I appreciate that memory, and I believe God is still answering her prayers today. Then my grandma came and filled the gap in my life for a while. She was there to help out, and she encouraged my siblings and me in the Lord. There was a man named Brother Herb who prayed across the altar from me when I was saved many years ago. Later in his life, he could not see well. One time I saw him come out on the deck of his home, look toward the heavens, and praise the Lord from his heart. It inspired my soul to see someone who was going through a difficult time continue to praise the Lord.

On Sunday mornings when we come to church, at times the burden of the day is on my heart. When the church people begin to gather with smiles on their faces and eagerness to serve the Lord, it encourages me. The encouragement we receive from one another is priceless. It is the family of God working together for the sake of the Gospel. When we follow the guidelines of the Word of God, have godly relationships, and work together, everyone benefits.

Holiness in Our Wills

Our will is defined as “the power of choosing one’s own actions; the act or process of asserting one’s choice; to decide; bring about.” Jesus was the supreme example of yielding His will to the Father’s. In Gethsemane He prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). As we think about our lives, can we pray that same prayer? Can we say, “Not my will but Thine be done” from our hearts? May our purpose be to surrender our wills to the One who is able to make us what He wants us to be.

F. B. Meyer, a pastor and author who lived from 1847-1929, described how God brought him to the place of total surrender. While in prayer he visualized a ring of keys that represented all the aspects of his life. He gave them to God, and the Lord asked, “Is this all of them?” He admitted, “No, I have one more. There is one little closet in the corner of my heart that I want to control.” The Lord replied, “If you do not trust Me in all, you do not trust Me at all.” As Dr. Meyer resisted handing over that last key, he felt the Lord receding. In desperation he cried, “Lord, I’m not willing to give this up, but I’m willing to be made willing.” God brought him to the point of full surrender.

That is what God does. Perhaps we want to hold onto something the Lord wants us to give Him. When we relinquish it, He often gives us something so much better. Maybe what we are hanging onto weighs us down and hinders our work for the Lord. Let God have it! When we give Him what He asks for, the blessings will come.

A few years ago, I worked in the scrap metal business. Scrap aluminum was melted in a furnace so the impurities could be separated out and the liquid metal poured into molds to form ingots. Often, the Lord may add a little “heat” to our lives so He can remove the impurities and mold us for the work He wants us to do. As we allow ourselves to be purified and then poured into God’s mold, we can take the form that God has designed for us. We become usable by yielding our wills to God

Our destiny is in our choice. Will we yield and choose God’s way or not? Isaiah 1:19 says, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” It is important to have holiness in our wills—to surrender to the Lord and follow His bidding.

Holiness in Our Thoughts

Does it matter what we think? Yes, it does, because often our actions are the result of what we have been dwelling upon. We need to be careful what we think about. Suppose we wake up in the morning and say, “Oh, it’s going to be a terrible day—I can feel it in my bones!” What kind of day will we have? Very likely it will be just what we anticipated. It would be better to think like the Psalmist, who said, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). We can choose to think positively because God is on His throne, Jesus came to save sinners, and He said He would never leave or forsake us. God will help in our trials and tests. He is good and faithful, and that is why we can rejoice and be glad.

The Bible says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Having the mind of Christ means aligning our minds to the principles of God’s Word—to love what He loves, to hate what He hates, to uphold what He upholds, and to reject what He rejects.

It takes vigilance to maintain a godly mind in this world. The devil will try to distract us and get us interested in the ways of the world. Romans 12:2 exhorts, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We must conform our lives to God’s Word. We do not want to be pressed into the mold of the world, but rather into the mold that God desires. We want the thoughts in our minds to be acceptable to the Lord.

The Bible tells us what to think about—things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (see Philippians 4:8). God has promised to keep in perfect peace the person whose mind is stayed on Him. Do we keep our minds stayed on the things of God? Let us input the things that are edifying and pleasing to the Lord. Daily we must make a vigilant effort to be careful. It is not just a moment of surrender regarding our thoughts, but it must take place on a moment-by-moment basis.

When we consider the Word of God, we want to know it in our minds, stow it in our hearts, show it in our lives, and sow it in the world. We need to know it in our minds if we are going to get it into our hearts. It needs to be in our hearts and minds if we are going to show it in our lives. And that is necessary to sow it in the world.

Our desire is to hide God’s Word in our hearts and serve the Lord continually. May He give us holiness in our thoughts, in our wills, and in our relationships.

apostolic faith magazine