26 • The Importance of Holiness and ongoing Repentance
There is a practical holiness without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14; Isaiah 35:8). When a sinner comes to God it does not matter which sins, he/she has committed. You can be the worst criminal on earth, yet God will receive you if you come to Him (John 6:37; Hebrews 7:25). But when you come to God, God’s plan for you is not that you should remain as you are! His will for you is that you conform to the image of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18). His will for believers is moral perfection (Colossians 1:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). In other words, He wants believers to become sinless. In Christ, believers are counted sinless and perfect, but God wants that to become a practical reality in their daily lives. His plan in saving sinners is to enable them to exhibit the loving and holy nature of Jesus Christ to all those around them (John 15:8).
Just as a potter shapes clay as he wants, so God moulds and makes believers into the people that He wants them to be. It sometimes involves a painful process, but God is patient and has good plans for them (2 Peter 3:9; Ephesians 2:10; Jeremiah 29:11). God changes us by renewing our minds as we read God’s Word. (Romans 12:2). Many times, we struggle with a particular sin and it seems we cannot overcome it. But if we trust in God, and lay our lives before Him, He will help us. The Bible says in 1 John 1:7: ‘If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins.’
I believe our biggest problem is that we are too proud to go to a brother or sister-in-Christ and ask for advice and prayer. We need to open our lives to our family members and ask for help (Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15, 16). That means confessing our sins to other Christians so that we may be healed (James 5:16). God saves us by His grace, but He uses instruments to shape and mould us into His desired image so that we can exhibit His wonderful nature—in order that God, in Jesus Christ, may receive the glory (1 Peter 4:10,11). 1 John 1:9 states: ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ By admitting our sins to God, we acknowledge that we need Him: His forgiveness, cleansing and help. No believer can ever claim that they have become spiritually perfect in this world (Philippians 3:12-14, 16). As a Person living in this world, that privilege belonged to Christ alone. Nevertheless, God wants Christians to grow spiritually and become more and more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:13; Romans 8:29). Repentance is not a once off event in the life of a Christian. It is a life-long process whereby we regularly take a spiritual survey of our lives to see where we fall short of God’s perfection and character (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must examine our lives regularly to see if our lives are clean and whether we are still walking with Jesus Christ. Some sins are more difficult to overcome because of wrong thought patterns and strongholds residing in our lives, owing to sin over the years. The Bible says we must take captive every thought and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Questions to consider: Are you walking in the light amidst the family of God (1 John 1:7)? Have you given back what you have stolen (Luke 19:8)? Have you asked forgiveness of those you’ve wronged or said something hurtful to (Matthew 5:23)? Remember, sensitive issues like involvement in devilish, occultic and illicit sexual practices should be shared only with spiritually mature believers (like a pastor or counsellor).
Read: Hebrews 12:14, 7:25; Isaiah 35:8; John 6:37; Hebrews 7:25; Ephesians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; John 15:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Ephesians 2:10; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 12:2, 15, 16; 1 John 1:7; Galatians 6:2; James 5:16; 1 Peter 4:10, 11; 1 John 1:9; Philippians 3:12-14, 16; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Luke 19:8; Matthew 5:23.