referencing Be Ye Holy
Yesterday, we established that God’s character and essence is holiness and holiness is nothing less than a conformity to the character of God; a conformity to the image of Christ. The process of holiness is summed up in this scripture:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4: 22-24 NIV
Taking off the old self and putting on the new self. Period. Sounds simple right? And if holiness is that elementary why don’t Christians experience more of it? Why do many of us feel constantly defeated in our struggle with sin? Why does the church often seem more conformed to the world than to the character of God?
Putting off the old self
Although this statement sounds cliché, it is far from that. Putting off the old self involves many actionable/ practical steps that a Christian can undertake. The first is to consider yourself dead to sin.
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6: 11 NASB
This is a deep acknowledgment that you no longer have a sinful nature because you are now in Christ and affirming this knowledge in your life through your actions. This brings to mind an article I read about how elephants are tamed/trained.
The baby elephant is shackled to a secure pole with strong ropes and after pulling and twisting, and tugging, it realizes it cannot break free and stops resisting. This process is repeated until the state of bondage becomes engrained in the elephant. Eventually, the chains are replaced with a simple rope that is usually not tethered to anything. But because the elephant becomes so accustomed to being held back, the untethered rope keeps the animal in check. The elephant considers itself in bondage although, in reality, it is free. Can you see the parallel?
This is what Jesus did for us: “He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains” Psalm 107:14 NIV. We are truly free from the oppression and bondage of sin. But do you truly know that you are free? Believe you are free? Or is it just a lofty thing you read about in the bible?
Once you come to the realization of this deep truth that you are free from sin, that you are no longer controlled by your sinful nature, and you do not have to succumb to the pressure of every temptation, you have began the process of the renewing of the mind; a vital step in the process of holiness.
So I repeat, consider yourself dead to sin! This means not toying with the notions of anything that defies the absolute moral perfection of God. It means a willingness to call sin “sin” and not categorize sin into what is unacceptable and what can be tolerated a little bit. It also means not playing with temptations by entertaining the thoughts that we can always confess and ask for forgiveness later. This brings me to the second point about putting off the old self.
Remember that holiness is a conformity to the character of God and one of the inherent characteristics of holiness is that it hates sin. We may make excuses for our sin or trivialize them but the reality is that God hates our sins. He does not say, “this is a small sin so I will overlook it”.
He hates all sin and to put off the old self means to cultivate in our heart the same hatred for sin that God has.
Frequent contemplation of God’s holiness and His hatred for sin should deter us from messing with sin. Remember Joseph, when faced with an appealing temptation to sleep with his master’s wife, said:
How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? Genesis 39:9 NIV
Dear readers, let’s take some time to settle these two issues in our hearts: Do you live this Christian life reckoning that you are no longer bound by sin or are you constantly feeling the blows of defeat to the same sins you confess over and over again? Will you begin to consider and believe it as final that sin has no control over you? Will you begin to look at sin as an offense against the very nature of God? Will you begin to develop a hatred in your heart for those sins that you cannot seem to shake? Will your confession about sin be, “how can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
Stay tuned for more on the holiness series and be intentional in living out your faith.
P.S. Feel free to comment below so others are blessed by your insights too.