MY JOURNEY TO REDEMPTION



Hosea 6:1

Come and let us return to the Lord

For He has torn, but He will heal us;

He has stricken, but He will bind us up








We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love - Mother Teresa

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Holiness and the Thought Life


1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written Be holy as your Father in heaven is holy

1 Peter 2:11,12 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they observe glorify God in the day of visitation

When I think of holiness, the first thought that comes to mind, of course, is God; after all, God by His very nature defines holiness, and Scripture tells us this. The angels that surround God’s throne cry out “holy holy holy,” as this is the predominate trait within His nature. He is the immutably perfect, righteous, sinless God, who is the standard of perfection and beauty. Everything about Him is holy, and His holiness is eternal and unchanging.

The word holy means to be set apart – and it’s the holiness of God that sets Him apart, and exalts Him above all things. So, when we read that we are to be holy, as God in heaven is holy, it’s an overwhelming concept.

Is it possible to attain that kind of holiness? If so, how do we do it? By nature I am a sinner – imperfect, unrighteous -- and even though I am declared righteous by God, I am still a creature of the flesh. How on earth can I be expected to be holy as He is? God’s very nature is holy. Even if we are outwardly holy, we still have our thought life to contend with, and we all know it’s virtually impossible to maintain a completely pure thought life all the time. Some thoughts just creep in before we even realize they are there. It’s the war that is waged between the spirit and the flesh, and Paul talked about it all the time.

In and of ourselves we can’t maintain righteousness.....at least not the righteousness of God. In the book of Phillippians, Paul distinguished between the righteousness that is by the law, and the righteousness that is by Christ. The righteousness of the law is imperfect, but Christ's righteousness is perfect. How am I, an imperfect, flawed individual with such hopelessly sinful tendencies, expected to attain that kind of righteousness?! That’s why we need Christ’s righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our own righteousness is as filthy rags. So, then, how are we expected to be holy as God is holy? As I read this passage, something popped out at me:

As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written Be holy as your Father in heaven is holy

The word “conform” in the Greek refers to the act of assuming an outward appearance patterned after some certain thing, an appearance or expression which does not come from, and is not representative of, one’s inmost and true nature. So, then, the emphasis here is on holy conduct…..on our outward actions. He tells us how to remain holy: by not conforming ourselves to the former lusts; the reason being, that such actions are contrary to the new nature, the nature of Christ, the spiritual man, which resides in us. Basically, we are to conduct ourselves in a holy manner. God is emphasizing our actions over our thought life here, because He is making the point that we are His ambassadors. We represent Him to others, and must maintain holy conduct because He is holy.

The emphasis here is on how we present God to the rest of the world. People are not witnesses to our thought life – that is something between us and God. We all struggle with things -- unforgiveness, lust, pride, anger, etc. These are products of the flesh, and things that God will help us overcome – but as far as us being holy, the emphasis here is on conduct.


1 Peter 2:11,12 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they observe glorify God in the day of visitation

Here again, we are told to abstain from fleshly lusts, so that our conduct may be honorable to others. We are to maintain a holy lifestyle because we are representatives of God. It says here that our conduct will glorify God.

In my own life, being a Christian has been a blessed, wonderful journey – but it has also been discouraging at times, knowing that so many of my thoughts and attitudes are so unrighteous, and fall short of the standard that pleases my Father. The apostle Paul expressed this when he said that which I will to do, I don’t do. We all want to have a pure thought life – one that pleases God – but what we will to do, we don’t. It can be so discouraging knowing that you fall so short, but where there is discouragement, there is also encouragement:


1 John 3:20 If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things

The thing is, we can’t always control what crosses our minds, and God understand this. Even so, we can control our actions, and what we take into our minds. I have spoken to many people whose lives have been deeply affected by pornography, so much so that even when they make a decision to stop watching it, the images can still remain in their minds, and can be triggered by any number of things. When so much of your past has been consumed by watching porn, the images become seared in your mind, and it’s a no-brainer that those images will continue to affect you even after you make the decision to stop watching.

That’s why these verses are so applicable to anyone struggling with porn, who seeks to please God and live a holy life. What God is telling us is that, once we start conducting ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him, by abstaining from fleshly lusts that war against the soul (i.e. stop watching porn), then He counts that as holiness. Even if our thought life continues to be tainted, as long as we give it completely over to Him, and make a conscious decision to remain holy in our conduct, then He will honor that.

We should always strive for purity, but the truth is, we live in bodies of flesh, with a carnal nature, and it practically impossible for our minds to be 100% pure, especially those who have consumed massive amounts of pornography in the past. The good news is, though, is that God has promised to transform us from the inside out. As long as our conduct remains honorable, both to others and to God, and we strive to do what is right in His sight, then God will help us to overcome our fleshly struggles, by the work of His Holy Spirit in us.

We live in a world that is consumed with sex, pleasure, and self-indulgence. If you are struggling with impure thoughts of any kind, and feel like you are being hopelessly defeated, just remember that God knows your heart, He understands, and He WANTS to help you. If you are living your life to honor Him, and are conducting yourself in a holy manner, even if you struggle with impure thoughts, don’t get discouraged. God sees your heart, and sees you as righteous before Him.

God is not unfair. He understands that we are creatures of the flesh, and struggle with many things. All He asks is that we remain holy in our conduct, and that we surrender our thought life over to Him. We are His ambassadors, and it is important that our conduct supports our testimony.

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