Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiness of God VII and VIII (Wrestling with God and Holiness)

In chapter 7 Sproul demonstrates how wrestling with God results in peace and access to God. 
Jacob, Job, and Habakkuk all declared war on God. They all stormed the battlements of heaven. They were all defeated, yet they all came away from the struggle with uplifted souls. They paid a price in pain. God allowed the debate, but the battle was fierce before peace was established.
Sproul reminds us that in order for "the transforming power of God to change our lives, we must wrestle with Him".

Chapter six answered the question - how can God be considered Holy given some of the harsh actions attributed to Him in the OT. In chapter 8, Sproul looks at an equally difficult question - 'how can the Bible possibly call us "holy ones"?'
The saints of Scripture were called saints not because they were already pure but because they were people who were set apart and called to purity. The word holy has the same two meanings when applied to people as it has when it is applied to God. We recall that when the word holy is used to describe God, it not only calls attention to that sense in which He is different or apart from us, but it also calls attention to His absolute purity.
I think we all can admit that we are not holy in the sense of absolute purity since we are still prone to sinning. Even if we convince ourselves that we are not committing sins in what we do, we would have trouble with our internal thoughts and motives:
The call of nonconformity is a call to a deeper level of righteousness that goes beyond externals. When piety is defined exclusively in terms of externals, the whole point of the apostle's teaching has been lost. Somehow we have failed to hear Jesus' words that it is not what goes into a person's mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of that mouth.
The only reason we can be called holy ones is because:
Christ's righteousness is really put in our account. God sees us as righteous because we have been covered and clothed by the righteousness  of Jesus.
While righteousness may be credited to our account upon our placing our trust in Christ, living a life of purity becomes a life long struggle.
There is no time lapse between our justification and the beginning of our sanctification. But there is a great time lapse between our justification and the completion of our sanctification.
Sanctification is a process by which we who are in Christ work with the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ because of the hope we have. And this process will require us to wrestle with God and our desires to conform to this world and remain in our sinful lifestyle.

These chapters called to mind the Apostle Peter who said it this way:
The therefore refers back to the opening of the letter where we are told that the mercy of God has "caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven". Because of this living hope and future inheritance that is ours because of the forgiveness we have in Christ we should act as follows:
prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Here we are told we must prepare our minds. That will require effort - a teachable spirit, studying the Scriptures, seeking out good teaching, and changing our views to conform to the truth. But preparing our minds must not be to only acquire knowledge. It must be in preparation for us to apply what we learn so that we are self controlled (sober) and obedient to His commands rejecting our former way of life.  We are to live a life of nonconformity to this world and strive for purity. What a wrestling match we face each and every day.

Click here for more thoughts on chapter 7 and here for chapter 8.

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