It is common for you to hear in churches these days, ‘Be ye Holy for I am Holy’. At least i know i heard that myself everytime whilst i was in Nigeria. However, i went about it the wrong way. I tried my best to be holy but i wasn’t succeeding. My idea of holiness was making sure i didn’t break any of the 10 commandments. Once i broke one of them, i felt so guilty. I felt like God didn’t love me anymore cause i did it. If i told i lie, i felt so guilty. The sad thing is it wasn’t getting any better. I wasn’t improving or anything. Sometimes i felt the reason why i could not live a life of holiness was because i was not saved. People always told me that when you get saved the ‘right way’ then from that moment you would live a life of holiness. Well, i had said the sinner’s prayer nearly 50 times (most times because i felt so dirty and guilty because i still sinned) and i never got to that point where i lived for God. Nothing changed at all. It was like a cycle. I did the right thing for a little while after being driven by an intense emotion(just after a sermon), then after sometime i sinned. Then i felt guilty after sometime, then i said the sinner’s prayer all over again. And even when i obeyed God for a little while,i wasn’t really obeying Him with things i didn’t see as sin(such as being judgemental).
I believe the way the doctrine of holiness is taught in churches that emphasise holiness today is not entirely the right way. Well, i’m talking from my experience of how i was taught to live a holy life. It had to do with my own power. It had to do with just ticking the 10 commandments. It had to do with legalism. It had to do with guilt. It was all about me and nothing about God. It was like something i wanted to do to avoid punishment.
Holiness is nothing like what i knew. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, i have finally been able to live a more pleasing life to God; not by my own power, or because i think i’ll go to hell if i don’t or because of any other reason but because i love God. I love Him too much that it even hurts me to think i’d ever do any wicked thing to Him. It hurts me to imagine that i would take all of Christ’s sacrifice for me for granted by not living right. I have also learnt that obeying God also involves obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If God tells me to buy something for someone i do or else i’m being disobedient. If he tells me that i need to go somewhere at a particular time i have to go or if he tells me to ask someone about something i have to do it.
I believe that the point at which i started loving God truly(Jesus said you only really love Him when you obey His commandments) was when i let Him love me. What do i mean? I let God tear me in pieces with His love and put all the pieces back together. Its more like the experience of ‘the disciple Jesus loved’ and Mary Magdalene in the Bible. They had that experience of brokenness. And that was what enabled them to stay with Jesus even when he was crucified. While on the other hand, Peter, who had all the willpower to obey Christ betrayed Him on the cross. We just have to come to that point that we ask God for brokenness. I believe when God breaks you, He gives you a revelation of who you really are in yourself and how useless you are, then thereafter He gives you a revelation on who He is and how mighty He is and the depth of His love for you. We all have that part of us we don’t know about. We have that part of us that God wants to show us so He can heal and bind all our wounds.
Many christians try to use their own physical strength to do what God wants them to do. Of what use is grace if we do this? Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us physically and spiritually to do what God asks us to do. That’s the missing link. If you get into trying to do it by yourself, you do not open your arms to receive the grace that God wants to give you. Many people also refuse God’s attempt to break them. God removes their hands from things that they depend on instead of Him but they do not realise that it is because God loves them with a jealous love and cannot stand anything coming in between that intimate relationship. They work hard trying to bring back those things they once held on to. God put a thorn in Paul’s flesh in the Bible just after he had given him revelations. Why did He? Because he wanted to keep Him from getting proud. Paul prayed 3 times for God to remove it and God replied, ‘My grace is sufficient for you to bear the trouble manfully’. God loved Paul with a jealous love so much that He inflicted Paul to prevent Him from breaking the relationship they had, through sin(Pride).
And being Holy is definitely not being without any sin but being set apart for God for purity. It means being conscious of your conduct and praying to God to give you more and more grace to live for Him. Be honest with God. Tell Him how much you will never be able to do it without Him. Honest prayers are powerful prayers trust me! Holiness is also a lifetime process. For me, i am more conscious of my conduct these days. I still sin but i’m getting better. Just like Paul said, I haven’t acheived the mark of perfection but i am pressing toward the mark, letting go of my past mistakes and sins. And i’m sure there are still many things i do wrong i’m not even aware that are sin. That is the good thing about working with the Holy Spirit. He takes it one step at a time. Last month it was pride. More recently it has been ‘lack of integrity’. I’m continually pressing toward the mark for which Christ has called me into Salvation like Paul said. I am continually fighting the good fight of faith.
I believe it is important to ask God from time to time to show you things about yourself you never even knew about. You’ll be surprised how many poisons have been hiding somewhere there, eating you up, without you realising. That is what brokenness is.
I’ll end with Isaiah’s prophecy about Christ in Isaiah 61:1: 1THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound