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Consideration of Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Holiness: Church needs to Change (Part 8)

Holiness is

The more dead to myself I am, the more filled I am with the Holy Spirit; the more surrendered I am, the more room there is for GOD to live in me; when the holiness of GOD is moving in and through me, the more holy is my life. Holiness is less of me and more of GOD.

1 Corinthians 3:17 says, “… the temple of GOD is holy, which temple you are.”

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The temple is holy. But what is holy other than GOD Himself?

As we walk near to GOD, through the Holy Spirit, with Jesus as our shepherd guide, we walk in holiness. But other than GOD-speak, what does that mean?

Holiness is Godliness, meaning GOD-likeness: purity, peace, power…. simply put, all that is GOD. We discover it, not through striving but through surrender.

In the context of Jesus’ Church

No opinion. No gossip, back-biting or envy. A stroll through Paul’s letters to Timothy shows us what the church must not be: not gossips (1 Timothy 5:13), not slanderers or lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:1-3), to site two examples.

Rather, we are to look in the mirror much more than we are to judge one another. Love is at the centre of all of our relationships and we celebrate for one another and mourn with each other. True intimacy is at the heart of Jesus’ church. Today, there are snapshots of this church but we have to mature a great deal to capture it entirely. We mature through surrender.

Back in March of this year, I posted about Holiness (https://laruspress.com/holiness/). At its heart is love, because at GOD’s heart is love. GOD is love. And perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). When we love perfectly, GOD is working in us perfectly, and we are perfectly Holy.

Jesus said, “… be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Perfection then is possible… through our surrender. Jesus did nothing other than what the Father asked him to do, said nothing other than what the Father led him to say. Jesus was perfect: a perfect servant, perfectly loving and perfectly holy. For those of us who take our walk with Jesus seriously, we too can become perfect: perfectly loving, perfectly holy, through our surrender to GOD.

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

When we walk in the holiness of GOD, and meet together as the Body of Yeshua/Jesus as his church, then the church will be holy and fruitful. Hallelujah. GOD has made a way.

All to the glory of GOD

We who are in Christ Jesus are saved from sin, and therefore we have access to the purity of Jesus, as we surrender as he did, to the Father. All things are lawful now, however, not all things are helpful or edifying (1 Corinthians 10:23). And so our behaviour is dependent not upon law but upon love.

I’d like to encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 10 with the view to relating it back to holiness of the church. By the grace of GOD and through the sacrifice of Jesus, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in us, we are free.

But in that freedom, our action will not cause others to fall; will not act for self. Holiness points to Yehovah — our Father GOD. We are free and it is all for the glory of our Father, Creator of the Universe and Lover of Mankind. Our freedom points to GOD. Our holiness points to GOD. Our existence, our life, our church — everything now points to GOD.

This is all possible — not through our effort but by our surrender.

This is how Jesus’ church lives and breaths and ministers to a fallen world.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ Reflections and Poetry

Holiness

“Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness”

“He is looking for a spotless bride”

“I love you”

These are the words that echo on my mind as I pray… I wait, I listen, I long for — or do I really?

I say “I love you, LORD,” but am I capable of love? He asks for obedience but daily I mess up. He whispers, “I love you” but I can receive only a fraction of His divine grace, because I am unworthy and because I am tainted by my own disgusting will.

And yet, as I listen to piano strains of recorded music, which helps me to pause, reflect and focus on my LORD, I know He receives my heart — the little bit of good in me that has been effected by Him, and which detests the ungodly most of me.

Did Jesus really die for this ounce of goodness in me? Did the heavenly father really dedicate His own son for me? And did they allow the Spirit to dwell within me, that He might restore me to Himself?

Yes: nothing in me; all of Him in me. Oh wretched soul that I am, bless me LORD, for you are so good. You are so generous, and loving, and kind, and gracious, and — good. 

He is looking for a spotless bride. We have so far to travel to become that bride. But the presence of Himself, His Holy Spirit within me, enables me to surrender. If only I will surrender. Then, and only then, am I free. And then, only then, will He come.

Jesus came to set the captives free. Freely, we allow ourselves to be captured by our will. We must surrender all to him; Jesus will return when his bride is ready. His Spirit will enable us to be ready. But only by the Spirit. Nothing we can do… all we have are filthy rags… nothing we can do can draw Him.

We who are saved by His grace… have we stopped at evangelicalism? Have we thanked him for salvation but stopped short of His infilling us? More of Him/Less of us. We are saved. But Jesus came to save, and then he left earth so that His presence would come. We need His presence to fulfil our calling to be His bride. 

Let us not stop short of giving all to him, that he can give all to us. Then we can be ready to be his bride.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

Amen.

Categories
Consideration of Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Jesus is not Popular

God is Love but we are called to Love God, not to dwell on His love for Us

If you’re in a huge crowd of Jesus worshippers, I would LOVE to think it is a sign of revival or at least of exponential growth. Instead I think sadly, that it does not necessarily mean Jesus is present or is even being worshipped. The truth of the matter is, Jesus is not, was not popular.

More and more, the love of GOD is being preached. But while that is comforting, reassuring, and true, it is also misleading because the Gospel is the Son of God coming to earth, out of love for us. He came for us, but he preached responsibility, holiness, and righteousness with the Father, which is not being preached in every church today. It should be.

It is true that self-righteousness has been rife in the Church, which has been condemning, often cruel. That needs to be amended. But as that is preached against, and rightly so, there must be righteousness, a standard to be reached in order to please GOD. Instead, we are being sold a popular Jesus, who is the Son of God in name only, but not in character or message.

Jesus said love God, and love your neighbour as yourself 

As we love GOD the Father, Jehovah by name, we do not wish to sin or to cheapen his son’s sacrifice. As we dwell on the love of the Father, it is meant to reassure us and convict us of our sinfulness, so that we can ask for forgiveness and seek holiness.

Jesus said, “go and sin no more” to the woman caught in adultery. He did not say, “I love you and you are forgiven and you can fellowship with me with no responsibility at all.” He hated the Pharisees who were themselves self-righteous and put heavy yokes on the Jewish people. But instead, he died and stood in the gap for Sin so that we could be forgiven and walk in holiness. He even sent the Holy Spirit to equip us to walk in that holiness.

Loving GOD

As we recognise God’s love for us, we are called to love Him first. The love of the neighbour is to follow. If we only receive His love but do not honour Him, we cheapen the death and resurrection of His son, and cheapen His love for us.

We love Him because He first loved us, implies love. Not a mushy sort of verbal expression of love, but a love born of obedience and the desire to follow Him.

It’s all about Jesus; we’ve instead made the Gospel all about us. To quote a super Matt Redman song,

“It’s all about you, Jesus

And all this is for you,

For your glory and your fame

It’s not about me, as it you should do it my way

You alone are God* and I surrender to your will.”

*Splitting hairs as to the identity of Jesus, being God or the Son of God is for another time.

Categories
Consideration of Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Pursuit of Holiness

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) AND “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)

To pursue holiness is to become like Jesus.

In holiness we find peace. In holiness we find perfection. In holiness we find that we are a new person.

But the pursuit of holiness is not a striving. Holiness is not a goal but a state of being… a state of being the New Man.

Two natures:

We who are In Christ – living the life under the Messiah’s salvation – have two natures. The old nature, the Old Man, is our nature without Jesus. Our new nature, the New Man, is who we become when we receive by faith the Spirit of GOD the Father, Creator of the Universe, through the sacrifice of Yeshua – Jesus – God’s son.

We inherit the new nature, become the New Man through our faith. We can walk in this New Man, when we recognise our old nature is dead. We can stop resurrecting the Old Man when, by faith and only by faith, we remember and live listening to the New Man and ignoring the old triggers, the old nature, the old sinful, imperfect person we are without Jesus.

Holiness comes both from a download into our spirit of God’s Spirit, and a faith walk  taken by the New Man. It is not gained through a pursuit but from a desire and a trust that who we have become is New, Holy, Perfect – just as Jesus is Holy and Perfect.

The path is a surrender and a journey of faith. The path is a surrender of our lives to  follow Jesus. Then it is a surrender of our will to the will of the Father. Then it is a surrender of our old nature to that of the new. Finally, it is a surrender into a new life that ignores the old and instead trusts in the new.

We can’t kill the flesh with our flesh; we can’t kill the flesh with our efforts or our acts of sacrifice or devotions. We can’t kill the flesh in any way, because the flesh is already dead!

Alive in Christ means we are alive only by the saving grace of Yeshua – the Messiah  – Jesus.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Now by faith, we can walk in this New Man. Jesus did it. He shows us the way. But it takes humility, a total recognition of our uselessness as human beings, a brokenness and willingness to forfeit ourselves entirely.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12)

But put on these tender mercies, not as the Old Man trying to improve, but as the New Man, already perfect.

Oh, sometimes it is a war. Paul said of himself, he hadn’t attained it. But we can do this, in these times, as Jesus’ return draws near. We can be the bride ready for his coming. We can deny ourselves – the Old Man which is dead anyway – and live in God’s peace – His shalom – by living in Holiness, living as the New Man.

Prayer:

May the God of grace enlighten your eyes to the possibilities of His perfect love within you on a deeper and deeper level. May we deny the flesh of our old nature, not by punishing or rebuking ourselves (or one another), but by stepping into the new nature, spirit-filled and walking in the holiness ordained by Father GOD, that began when we cried “Abba, Father, save me!” and “Yes Jesus, I choose to believe and follow you.” The moment we were born again (John 3:3) we received the life of the New Man. Now, by faith, we choose to live in that New Man and in that choice, we find peace, holiness, pure joy and freedom from sin, shame, guilt, fear and condemnation.

When we walk in the New Man, we walk in the same Holiness of Jesus, and that is the pursuit of holiness God asks us and equips us to take.