1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”
In America during the 19th century, we experienced what is classified as the “Holiness Movement” that was what we now know as the Pentecostal church. It was first classified as generating out of the Methodists; John Wesley being a central figure.
Simply, the holiness movement focused on the life of those who had been converted to biblical Christianity and defined how they should live afterward. As with any denominational religion, some go to the extreme. Placing definitions on dress, speech, manner of life, and much more making it more legalistic than Christian.
Here, in the 21st century, we need a return to true holiness.
1 Peter 1:13-16 “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
I do not apologize for the longer portions of scripture as I wish to maintain the context of what is being said. The transformation that takes place is not one that can happen by the will of man or the conformation of the outward. It is an inward desire whose effects are revealed outwardly.
1 Thessalonians 4:6 “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”
Here, Peter uses the word ‘defraud.’ We often use ‘fraud’ or ‘fake’, or ‘phony’. But to defraud someone is to create desires in them that you, yourself, cannot, nor should not fulfill.
A married man who does not wear his wedding ring flirts with other women to give the impression he is interested in them and does not intend to take his flirting further, is defrauding those with whom he interacts.
A woman who dresses provocatively in tight-fitting clothing, plunging necklines and acts open to any and all advances by a man is defrauding if she does not plan to follow through with the persona she is projecting.
If I cause you to be angry with someone by whom I have been wounded without giving all the facts, I can defraud you into thinking ill of someone, and cross the line into becoming a gossip, or a critic.
If I truly desire to be holy, I will take the high road in any and all of my relationships. It will affect how I dress, how I talk, about whom I talk, how I work, what I watch, to that which I listen, and who I allow influencing my heart.
If I looked at the life of Jesus when He walked here on earth, I could take an example of how to live holy. How Jesus treated all those with whom He came in contact, will guide my speech, my manner, and behavior so all can see I wish to exemplify my Savior in all things.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
We delve into the realm of subjective reasoning when we try to define what evil from which we are to abstain. We struggle because we feel as if to live holy is to forsake all that is fun or pleasurable. So, we try to create our own version of holiness; that which is acceptable to us, and not God.
Secular holiness; which is no holiness at all.
Or, we become obsessed with a portion of holiness that we can do well and condemn others who aren’t as holy.
If I truly desire to have a close, personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, I must be as would please Him. Also, as His purchased possession, I must submit to what He would require of me, and not present to Him anything less.
To be holy in the flesh is impossible. To allow the Holy Spirit of God to make me holy just takes my submission and obedience. But the one key element we balk at is dying to self. My self; my will; my desire is not to be holy. But, when self is submitted and dead to my desires, I can more easily follow that which God desires of me.
Holiness is a journey. We will never arrive at any destination of holiness this side of Heaven. It takes our desire to be holy, continuing in that direction under the leadership and guidance of the Spirit of God.
Worldly, fleshly, and carnal desires will fall away. We will begin to see differently; feel differently, and think creatively. When on this journey, it is always good to find likeminded people who can encourage, admonish, and exhort us along the way.
Because I am in this earthly tabernacle, I will always struggle with my flesh. I am going to need all the help I can muster. Pray for help in this beautiful, God-pleasing journey!