Articles / Conversation / Daily Devotion

A Stranger To Holiness

An Encore Presentation

“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning;” -The Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 15:34a

Though the Lord is sovereign over all His people and even in our sanctification, He is at work conforming us daily to His image. But that reality doesn’t eliminate our responsibility as regenerated people to submit our lives to Him in obedience(Roms. 6; Col. 3:1-14). But do you ever feel like we live in victory one day; and the very next, we succumb again to the very thing we thought we had finally conquered? I do. So much of the Christian life seems to be one step up and two steps back. The apostle Paul relates it this way, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19). Do you identify with the same struggle Paul just stated? I know I do.

Rob Frazier and I wrote a song several years ago that really sums this daily tension we all experience in our walk with the Lord:

“And it pounds like thunder within my breast
All the anger of my humanness;
I call you Lord but I must confess
I’m a stranger to Your holiness,
A stranger to Your holiness.”

We Stand in Grace
I’m reminded daily that I can only do what is pleasing and right to the Lord and His Word by being hopelessly and continually depended on His grace. He gives grace for our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9); grace for our sanctification (Titus 2:12); and grace for our glorification (1 Peter 1:13). Grace to endure trials and testings (2 Cor. 12:9); grace for sorrow leading to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10); and He gives us the grace in which we stand (Romans 5:2). Spurgeon used to tell his congregation, “our finite sin can never exhaust His infinite grace.” Isn’t that comforting beloved?

As a sign of that grace, one of the foundational evidences of a truly regenerated man or woman is their repentance from sin and their hatred of it. Unfortunately, repentance is a forgotten word in the church today! That powerful, truthful word has been exiled and excused from most church pulpits, elder meetings, prayer gatherings, and worship services. It is a hard word; an unrelenting word; but a loving word that demands action not accommodation. Beloved, our Lord can never be glorified where sin is pacified; and He can never be exalted in praise where sin is entertained and practiced!

Grace Doesn’t Wink at Sin
Though we have entered into our eternal rest by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8f) we must never forget that grace never winks at sin; that grace never leads to the fulfilling of further ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:12); that grace never indulges the flesh (Romans 6:1f); that grace does not cherish lust or seek its pleasure (Psalm 66:18; Heb. 11:25f); but that grace hates sin and calls all who know its voice to turn from their sin and to turn to God. That is what repentance is: an abrupt about- face in the face of sin. Metonoia is the Greek term and it means a complete change of mind – literally all we believe in regards to how we behave.

Paul gives this exact idea to timid Timothy when he says, “flee youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). John the Baptist said, “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Our Lord Jesus said, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Paul talked of a “repentance without regret” and a “godly sorrow that leads to repentance” (2 Cor. 7:9f). And finally Peter tells us that, “the Lord…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Grace Doesn’t Minimize Sin
Matthew Mead insightfully says, “If sin be as terrible as you say it is why then are our lives not lived more holy; and if sin is not as terrible as you say it is, why then do you preach against it with such fury?”

Sin’s consequence causes the precious Holy Spirit to be grieved (Eph. 4:30); our prayers to go unanswered (1 Peter 3:7); disqualifies us from ministry (1 Cor. 9:27); causes our praise to be unacceptable (Psalm 33:1); withholds God’s blessing from us (Jer. 5:25); forfeits our joy (Psalm 32:3-4; 51:12); hinders our spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:1-3); causes our fellowship to become polluted (Ibid 10:21; 11:28f); our lives to be endangered (1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16); and most paramount, our holy God dishonored (1 Cor. 6:19f). Sin causes the whole church to suffer (1 Cor. 12:26); it provokes discipline (Matt. 18:15-20); has as its roots the “doctrine of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1); and as its father – the devil himself (1 John 3:8)!

Is it any wonder that the great Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, said “that a sign of sanctification is a hatred of sin… one who not only leaves sin, but loathes it.” That is precisely why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes [repentance] them will find compassion.”

He who covers his sin, God will uncover; he who uncovers his sin, God will cover.

Grace Forgives, Covers and Restores the Sinner
May we rejoice with David this day by saying,

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

¶ When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. Selah. -Psalm 32:1-5