For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
True holiness is characterized by Joy, and its fruit are Peace and Confidence.
The Lord’s promise to be a Father unto you and accept you as a son or daughter when you walk in holiness, is not empty, it is not an anonymous promise; rather it is authentic with full seal of His authority.
Let us take note of the signature God appended to the trail of His promises in 2 Corinthians 6:18. “… And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. “
|The call unto Holiness is not for people that are struggling with their identity as a believer|
Before this point, reading through from verse 12, you will come across many phrases like: “as the Lord has said”, “declares the Lord” and so on. But as relating to God’s promise of welcoming and receiving you as a family member when you walk in holiness, He reinforces this assurance with a stronger signature “saith the Lord Almighty”. That is to say, I the Lord who is great and above all things has said this and it is undisputable. Halleluiah!
Imagine the lofty feeling you will have assuming you get an invitation letter sealed and thumb printed by the President of your country inviting you as a guest to a dinner. Imagine the exciting feeling such can produce in a man’s emotional bank, despite the fact that even before the dinner, the President could have been overthrown or even cancel the appointment as a result of emerging national concerns. Yet, God never changes, and His Words are immutable, unchangeable and absolute.
Permit me to state this again. The call unto Holiness is not for people that are struggling with their identity as a believer. It is not for the emotional and the complacent Christian who desires nothing from God other than bread and butter. Rather it is for people who are conscious of the presence of God in their lives with the desire to cultivate and sustain it, people who want to go higher in their experience with God and divine realities, people whose affection is for the glory of God and whose hunger is more of God.
The message of holiness is to the dearly beloved, those that the Lord loves and pays special attention to. The Lord Almighty is committed to the life and welfare of those who love Him and are brave enough to separate themselves unto God.
The fear of God alone cannot produce and stimulate a lasting experience of holiness in a life, but the love of God engenders and promotes holiness without struggling.
Fear terrorizes the mind and ultimately produces rebellion, whereas, Love stimulates affection and fuels intimacy.
Our theology of how change and spiritual growth happens is one of the most underdeveloped areas of understanding in the church today.
|The fear of God alone cannot produce and stimulate a lasting experience of holiness in a life, but the love of God engenders and promotes holiness without struggling|
For most of us the ways we try to grow involves monitoring how well we keep away from doing bad things. We gauge our love for the Lord, how much we are reading the Bible, the quality of our prayer life, the depth of our worship, how much we are sharing our faith—and at times, what can seem like a million other things. These are good things.
But while this approach is common, the improvements that result come slowly and are often very frustrating. It can also make you very tired!
It is not my intention to multiply the behaviours that you need to monitor and maintain in your walk with God. I want to help make you free. So, please don’t take what I give you here and simply add it as just another area for you to monitor.
Like a tire with a hole in it, you would just have to keep on pumping yourself up. That will not work.
I am suggesting that you completely change the way you try to change, and review your holiness theology. What I am suggesting will help you stop doing the things you don’t want to do. It will also help you find greater freedom, strength, and joy to do the things you should be doing.
One of the first steps you have to take is re-train your heart about how you should not try to be Holy.
The ONLY effort required in our walk with God is to maintain constant fellowship with Him, and sustain His presence around us. We also understand that sin is what breaks the flow of this fellowship many times. If you have ever enjoyed fellowship with God, you would have realised how empty you felt each time sin truncated the flow and how it may take a while to be fully restored back to fellowship. The presence of God is enjoyable, and the feelings of being in fellowship we so much desire to sustain, but there is a constant enemy that always interferes; sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1Jn 1:8)
|Your active response each time sin breaks in to destroy your fellowship must be swift repentance without regret|
The truth of the matter is that we cannot claim we are sin-less, yet we cannot avoid being sorrowful and sad each time we allow sin to break our fellowship with God. But the point is that, the sorrow or sadness you feel – which is a normal feeling, being the reactions of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you – should not be allowed to steal your joy and keep you out of fellowship for too long.
Your active response each time sin breaks in to destroy your fellowship must be swift repentance without regret. Make it a habit to confess your sins, in his faithful righteousness He will forgive you for those sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
The Bible says, “…
the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
(2 Corinthians 7:10 )
You should feel sorrow because of sin, but God’s will is a repentance that is “without regret.”
Biblical repentance is not to improve yourself by making yourself feel “bad” because of what you have done wrong.
Even though you may not know how to change by any other means, it must be repentance without regret. Learn to accept God’s forgiveness immediately you confess your sins, and do not allow trauma or sorrow keep you out of fellowship. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Making yourself feel bad about what you have done wrong may punish you into a temporary appearance of outward conformity, but it does nothing to help change your behaviour long term.
The Bible says, “…the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement…are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Colossians 2:23). Repentance by regret is self-abasement and is of “no value against fleshly indulgence.”
|Motivating improvement by condemnation makes you want to hide from God – not draw near to Him. It closes you inside|
Greater severity in your self-condemnation may feel religious, but it is not God’s will for you to grow that way. Making yourself feel bad for what you do wrong is “self-made religion” because the pain you feel seems to justify your wrongdoing.
But no amount of feeling bad will ever make the payment or justify what you have done wrong. Self-inflicted pain from guilt doesn’t justify you before God because, “God is the one who justifies;” (Romans 8:33b)
Condemning ourselves after we have done something wrong gives us a false sense of being “good” again. Self-condemnation keeps us bent on earning a sense of right standing before God and prevents us from putting our faith in suffering of Christ and the pain He felt on our behalf.
Self-condemnation gives us a false sense of goodness before God, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20)
Maintain your strength; the joy forgiveness and promise of comfort that comes from God alone. Rejoice in the salvation that Christ has purchased for you and get excited about His promise of redemption “For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody”. (Isa 51:3)
Motivating improvement by condemnation makes you want to hide from God – not draw near to Him. It closes you inside.
Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people…” (Matthew 23:13); see also (2 Corinthians 3:17) When you try to motivate repentance and change by condemnation you are being pharisaic and are shutting yourself—and others—from the freedom necessary for experiencing closeness to God.
Underlying any philosophy of ministry is a belief about how to best help people grow. It is true towards other people—it is also true towards ourselves. The Bible refers to the old covenant of the law as a, “ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:9). It also says that, “the ministry of condemnation has glory”(2 Corinthians 3:9a).
Trying to help ourselves grow by a ministry of condemnation seems religious because it has an appearance of glory. But, in contrast, it also says, “For indeed what had glory; in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.” (2 Corinthians 3:10). Paul asks, “How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?” (2 Corinthians 3:8).
|Experiencing the Joy and Excitement of Holiness requires that you retrain your heart to stop trusting self-inflicted guilt and that you start trusting Christ’s payment for your sin.|
If you have been keeping yourself holy by self-condemnation, you are trying to change in a way that is according to the law and “works of the flesh.” In contrast the Bible tells us, “and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39)
If there is only one “rule” I could give you about being holy according to grace it would be this: You have to die to a “ministry of condemnation” towards yourself. Directing your heart away from self-condemnation should be ruthless, strongly assertive, and unbending.
Don’t miss these two things. Experiencing the Joy and Excitement of Holiness requires that you retrain your heart to stop trusting self-inflicted guilt and that you start trusting Christ’s payment for your sin. Enjoying the liberty of holy living also requires that you retrain your heart about what your heart believes is the best way to correct yourself and do better next time.
Observe your reaction when you do something wrong.
- Do you stay away from God?
- What gives you freedom to draw near to God again?
- Do you trust the forgiveness of God because you made yourself feel bad for long enough?
You should trust the forgiveness of God because of power of the cross and the cleansing of God.
It won’t ever be “righteous living” if it is motivated by self-condemnation! Consider it sin to feel any sense of justification or righteousness because of how much pain you feel from self-condemnation. The security you need is not from how well you protect yourself from God. Hate any sense of “righteousness” you feel because of self-inflicted pain from condemnation; rather, train yourself to love God.
Discipline motivated by fear, self-condemnation, and guilt won’t change you at the levels that are needed. Earthly pursuits, concerns, and seductive attractions are too many to be dealt with by these means.
|React with thanks and praise at the slightest indication of self-condemnation or self-based righteousness|
It is not enough for you to know in your head that self-condemnation is an ineffective and sinful motivation for holiness. Your heart has to learn a more effective way to correct unwanted behaviours and maintain the presence of God.
Use thanks and praise to help your heart hear how good and safe it is to trust the cross of Christ. Listen to what you are thanking God about! React with thanks and praise at the slightest indication of self-condemnation or self-based righteousness. Get your heart to hear that it is far more effective to change and retain God’s presence by hearing thanks and praise for the truth.
The cross is more powerful than your sin and mistakes. Thank the Lord with great joy that you do not have to put your faith in the severity of your self-condemnation. Thank God for His promise never to leave nor forsake you. Praise Him for His faithfulness and Justice. Thank Him for the power of the Holy Spirit within you.
Delight your heart by praise towards God that you don’t have to wait to trust the forgiveness of God until you are “done feeling bad.”
Biblical recommendation of how to be holy is a more effective way to grow—a way of delight towards God—not of contempt towards yourself. You have to get to the heart of the matter—without self-condemnation.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Delighting yourself in God helps you maintain His consciousness always, and keeps you in constant fellowship with Him.