But in the end, of less value than holiness. It is the pure man, the righteous man, the penitent and broken man, the man that maintains a clean heart and clean hands, and not the man of matchless skill, that earns the favor of God and the anointing of God in his labor. In 1 Timothy Paul lists the qualifications for elders in the church. Of fourteen listed criteria, only one could be considered a skill. The rest are all character and holiness based. These are the men God wants to teach and lead in His church. Skill is no useless thing. It is of value and should be developed.
But we find false security in it if we come to believe it is the mark of anointing in and of itself. Holiness and purity is to be treasured above these. Thank Josh for the perspective check for not only those in ministry, but for all followers of Christ no matter what our gift is.
Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God
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We are not holy. Our natures or strangely perverse and the perversity runs deep. Imagine for a moment a situation that I am going to describe for you. It is a garbage collection day in your community and in your community, if it is like ours, you carry your garbage cans out to the street in the morning and the garbage truck comes along and picks it up. You grit your teeth and you put on a phony smile and you respond as you are expected to respond socially.
She has tested positive. Let us know if we can do anything. This last piece of news has put you in a much better frame of mind. You see, this self-interest that we all carry around in us can produce malice so easily; malice being the desire to see other people hurt. Most of us can identify a little bit with the feelings of this man as he was taking out his garbage cans and meeting his neighbor.
The inner moral territory I just described is all too familiar to most of us. The story illustrates why the transformation of our souls is both necessary and difficult. Most of the evil in the world originates from inside us, which is why Jesus taught that we need to be changed from the inside out. It also explains why classic Christian spirituality took the challenge of the sinful nature so seriously, why it practiced self-examination, why it cultivated virtue and why it embraced spiritual disciplines.
Real change is possible, but it is always very, very difficult. If anyone doubts this, they should simply try to lose some weight and keep it off.
The Renewal of Holiness | Free Online Biblical Library
No, in their Westminster confession of faith from a group of prominent puritans affirmed that Christians should expect to grow in godliness but they expressed this very cautiously. Well, perhaps they were just being honest, but other groups of Christians like the Methodists and their holiness successors have considered this statement from the Westminster confession not optimistic enough, not positive enough, effectively a counsel of despair, yet assurances from the other side that perfection or entire sanctification is well within reach of all sincere Christians has never carried the day either.
Similar skepticism greets the triumphant language of those who promise that you can fly high morally above all temptation and failure simply by reckoning or considering yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ. We have to be careful to strike the right balance here. Real and lasting transformation is possible but we need to recognize it is also difficult. It is possible because the Spirit is alive in us and it is difficult because the, well, the cement, if you will, of our character has hardened fairly early on in life.
The default settings of our psyches, the habitual orientation of our hearts, the grooves in which our thoughts tend to run; these all get worn into place with the years. From a human development prospective formation is what children experience but when it comes to adults, the progress of sanctification is largely a work of reformation. You have to dismantle what you are like now in order to allow the Spirit to change you into something different. It is not formation it is reformation or renovation. Moreover, significant change tends to require supernatural help from beyond ourselves.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate this point. My good friend Gary and his brother Donnie grew up in a troubled family in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood. Their older brother had been murdered point blank by a shotgun blast through the screen door at the front of their house. Donnie had been in and out of jail for years on a list of criminal convictions. His last felony for kidnapping and extorsion had brought a lengthy sentence behind prison bars. When my wife and I were about to move to British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, quite close to where Donnie was in jail, Gary, his brother, asked me to consider visiting Donnie in jail.
I agreed and that began a season of Sunday afternoon visits to the jail up the nearby valley. He explained how he had been set up by bad friends who were still not in jail themselves; they were still running around free, and he had been a victim of police who were really doing more than they should have. He had been a victim of an injustice at the hands of the judge who gave him his sentence.
This was all very surprising to me, but the surprises continued. I met other inmates, other men in the jail and as I did I made an even more amazing discovery, none of them was really to blame for the crimes they were accused of having committed. If I could believe what I was hearing from them all, this prison was full of innocent people.
Oh, this was very disillusioning to me. How could the Canadian legal system have become so totally messed up? But, you must know the real reason. The inmates were not telling the whole truth. Prisoners were in denial. But, those inmates were not the only ones who are in denial. We all are. Now God is a God of truth and he refuses to play games or pretend. It was Teresa of Avila the 16th century Spanish Mystic who may have been the person who first came up with the insight that our journey toward God is also a journey to the self.
It is also a journey or a movement into self-knowledge.
As sinners we tend to be out of touch with our true selves. Oh, it is too painful; it is too terrifying to be honest about what we have actually done. Honesty always grows best when grace is celebrated. Let me say something further about the importance of authenticity. When I go to the dentist he puts a little bib around my neck and he leans me way back in his big chair. He tells me to open my mouth real wide and then he clicks on a powerful overhead lamp. He has got a monitor and on the monitor out of the corner of my eye I can see what he sees. It is embarrassing. My gums are all exposed and my teeth too, they are far from perfect, nothing lines up, nothing is straight and symmetrical, the light exposes how much teeth cleaning I need, the plaque buildup here and there, the molars that have become discolored over the years and the ones that need fillings or crowns; it is not a very pretty sight.
But the bright light is necessary if the dentist is going to be able to assess my dental situation accurately, for you see assessment is the first step to treatment and correction.
Confession is important to conversion for the same reason. If we confess our sins, the Bible says, God is then faithful and just and will forgive and purify us according to 1 John Now the Greek word that we translate here as confess means to agree or to concur, to say the same thing. So, why is confession a required element in conversion and the ongoing process of sanctification?