HOLINESS MEANS HEALING
Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. — Romans 12:2 The Message
It seems that much of what Christians believe they are called to is a cluster of activities that include regular church attendance, Bible study, giving, and attending the annual retreat. Now — what is all this activity supposed to do in us? If it’s not restoring the whole person, it may be completely missing the point of what God is after in our life: to heal us as human beings.
It might help to contrast this with a couple other popular options out there: the self-help movement’s goal of getting your life working — helping you with your anxiety or your weight problems. It is right and it is wrong. I believe with all my heart that God wants life for us there. But when we focus on fixing problems, the transformation of our character is missed.
Then you have what we’ll call righteousness Christianity, focusing mostly on “sin” and “the loss of morality.” A great deal of energy is spent trying to make people behave. And it is right and it is wrong. Yes, we’re supposed to live godly lives, but where’s the joy and the intimacy with God?
God is restoring the creation He made. Whatever holiness truly is, the effect of it is healing. That’s what it does to a person.
Is the Christianity you are living healing your life? Is it ushering in restoration? If not… you might want to ask Jesus if He has something new for you.
Jesus said, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’… ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ ” — Matthew 22:37, Matthew 22:39 The Message
Only Jesus could get away with taking all of God’s commands — and boiling them down to two. Two. We’ve missed the brilliance of it, and the immense kindness too.
People seem committed to making things complex. Look at what we’ve done to education and taxation. The Jews of Jesus’ day had so many rules it practically immobilized them. This wasn’t what God intended. The way of holiness was never meant to be a labyrinth of complexity and eventual despair.
High standards are often ignored because we feel we haven’t the slightest chance of meeting them. So why bother? Moral issues remain cloudy as a way of excusing ourselves from ever really facing them.
Jesus cuts through this when He says, “It all comes down to this: Love God, love others. Practice this and you’ll be fine.” He’s not dismissing the many wonderful instructions God has given us in His Word; He is bringing us back to the issue of motive. Okay. If the entire Bible comes down to these two issues, it ought to grab our attention. These are our marching orders: if we make loving God and loving others our motive, we will find the beauty of Jesus’ holiness.
Yes, Lord, I choose Your way of love. I choose love as the goal of my life. Loving You and loving others. I say yes, Lord!
YOUR HEART IS GOOD
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His Cross and crucified them there. — Galatians 5:24 NLT
The idea that we are ready to sin at a moment’s notice, incapable of goodness, and far from any glory is a common mind-set. It’s also unbiblical.
The passage people think they are referring to is Romans 7:18, where Paul says,
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing, — KJV
Notice the distinction he makes. He does not say, “There is nothing good in me. Period.” What he says is that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” The flesh is the old nature, the old life, crucified with Christ. The flesh is the very thing God removed from our hearts when he circumcised them by his Spirit, as Paul explains in Galatians.
Yes, you will still battle with sin. You have to choose to live from the new heart, and your old nature doesn’t go down without a fight. But the question on the table is: Does the Bible teach that Christians are nothing but sinners — that there is nothing good in us? The answer is no! Christ lives in you. You have a new heart. Your heart is good, and that good heart is what is true about who you are.
Which version do you believe — that your heart is simply wicked, or now that Jesus Christ lives in your heart, God is giving you His holiness?
Excerpted with permission from Restoration Year by John Eldredge, copyright John Eldredge.
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