The goal of the Christian life is holy living (Christ-likeness). Holy is our God (Lev 11:44–45); and His holy Law reveals what the holiness standard is for each of us (Rom 7:12).
Sin separates us from our holy God (Heb 7:26). It causes us to lust after ungodliness (Jn 3:19). Sin reigns in the natural man (Rom 5:21). It enslaves man to do its will (Rom 6:6), which is the practice of sinning (Rom 3:23). Sinful men are not willing (Jn 1:12–13), nor able to choose holiness because of their sin nature (Rom 8:7; Eph 2:3), derived from original sin (Rom 5:12–21).
When sinful man is confronted with the Law of holiness, he despises it. The Law of God is captured in the demand to love God with one’s whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Dt 6:5; Mt 22:36–40). This love must extend to one’s neighbor. Obedience to the Law of holiness is not mere duty. It is to positively love God.
Here is the need for conversion because corruption fills the mind (1 Cor 2:15–16; Eph 4:17), the heart (Jer 17:9; Ezek 36:26), and the will of natural man (Jn 1:12–13). Sin made man’s inclination to be only evil all the time (Gen 6:5). The tree of sin produces nothing but foul fruit (Mt 12:33).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the revelation of what God does to transplant the sinner’s heart (Ezek 36:26) and convert him to God (Acts 13:48). With this transformation comes new, pure desires that honor God.
Justification by faith (Rom 3:21–4:25) leads to holy living because the same Spirit who imputed Christ’s righteousness to the converted soul, is the One who causes the new believer to walk in God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27). Whereas, sin reigned, grace now reigns in the man made new (Rom 5:21). It is here that one’s notion of holiness must be severed from the idea that anyone can keep the Law for right standing…or right living. Rather, faith trusts the Holy Spirit of Christ to accomplish God’s will for the believer to be holy (1 Thess 4:3, 7; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2, 15–16).
Holiness is the product of God’s love, being poured out in the heart (Rom 5:5). The new heart is now spirited to return love to God (1 Jn 4:19). The ambition of the pure heart is to please God (2 Cor 5:9). Where the Law failed to convince and constrain obedience, the love of Christ succeeds.
Blessed assurance of reconciliation with God is required for true love to work (2 Cor 5:18–20). Without this assurance of right standing, the sinner will continue to feel the burden of God’s curse and wrath against her (Rom 1:18). Obedience is out of the question for the rebel, still at enmity with God (Ps 66:3; 81:15). There is no love for God in the unregenerate heart (Jn 5:42; 8:42). Fear, suspicion, hate, and loathing God is the state of the sinner (Jn 7:7; Rom 1:30).
Love conquers (Rom 8:37). Love wins the sinner’s affection. It convinces the mind, and it liberates the will. Praise replaces vain cursing. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8).
The guilty conscience must be convinced that the blood of Christ has brought forgiveness (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7). It must be convinced that this was God demonstrating His love for her (Rom 5:8). The removal of guilt liberates the saint to serve God (Heb 9:14). With the removal of all that hinders acceptable service, the Christian is free to obey God (Jn 8:32), as a follower who loves and serves (Dt 33:3; Mk 10:21).
Death looms as a consequence of sin (Rom 6:23; Heb 9:27) The believer must also have assurance of things hoped for after the death of the body (Heb 11:1). The sons/heirs of God have heard of their inheritance (Rom 8:17; Jas 2:5), reserved for them in heaven (1 Pet 1:4). They must hold the doctrine of heaven with great confidence (Rev 21–22). God helps His children by giving them a pledge that never leaves them nor forsakes them (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Heb 13:5). This is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11; Gal 4:6; 2 Tim 1:14). He Himself is the hope of glory that spurs us on to further love and good works (Col 1:27).
The way of holiness is the way to eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth (Is 65–66; Rev 21–22), where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13). The Christian sets His mind on the things above (Col 3:2) and on the Spirit (Rom 8:5), who empowered Jesus in the flesh to overcome the world, through suffering many trials and tribulations (Jn 16:33). For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross (Heb 12:2). Paul, like Jesus, suffered for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10). Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13).
Apart from Christ, you can do nothing (Jn 15:5). Putting to death one’s sinful desires and corruption is utterly impossible without empowering grace (Eph 2:8–9). Obedience to God is only possible by the power of God (Rom 1:16; 15:13; 2 Tim 1:8; Rev 19:1). He wills His children’s obedience, and as they trust Him, He will do it (Ps 37:4). It is the Holy Spirit willing and doing God’s good pleasure (Phil 2:13).
Be strong in the Lord (Eph 6:10)! How? Do not love the world, nor the things of the world (1 Jn 2:15–17)! How? Stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:10–11)! How? Walk in holiness before God (Dt 28:9)! How?
Christian, your new heart with its pure desires is a gift from God (Ezek 36:26; Acts 2:38; 10:45). Your right position before God is fully forgiven and permanently reconciled (Eph 1:7). Your future is as sure as if someone who knew you and loved you moved into your house. You would know they were there! The Holy Spirit has moved into your heart (2 Cor 4:6; Rom 5:5)! He is there with all wisdom and power of God (Dan 2:20; 1 Cor 1:24; 2:4).
The Holy Spirit is willing and working on your behalf, for your benefit, even as Jesus did on the cross. He has begun a good work in you, and He will finish it (Phil 1:6; 2:13; Heb 13:21). Here is your guarantee and the Guarantor of your obedient life of faith. He alone is able. For this reason, God gets all the glory!
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 25, 2022