pure water leaf“But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you.” (Joshua 23:15, NIV)

“I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie.” (Psalm 89:35, NIV)

These verses should be effective in wiping away a common misconception about God that is comfortable to entertain: the one that paints God as merely a warm and fuzzy grandfather-type who lets us have our way and who, consequently, disappoints us when our every wish isn’t materialized. God demands holiness of Himself and, while He has instituted grace as a covering for imperfection, He has been clear that obedience toward holiness is still our part of the covenant. Any doubt of that should be clarified in His declaration in Psalm 89. (The whole chapter seems to address this issue.) Joshua was clear to Israel just as Moses was when he laid before them the choice between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19), and it should be clear to this generation’s children of Heaven too.

I can Twelve-Step my holiness problem this way: 1) I am powerless over sin, and my life is (by my power) unmanageable; 2) I believe God can deliver and restore me to sane living and abundant life; 3) I make a conscious decision to turn over to God everything I am, have, and will become, to live for His purposes rather than my whims; etcetera, through the Twelve Steps. As long as I am carried by a body of meat I will be prone to human decay, and while Earth’s gravity holds me I will stand imperfectly on this rock, but I have the hope of relationship with a Creator who is not content to leave me alone until He perfects me for eternal unity with Him (Philippians 1:6).

Gravitys HoldTo reach for holiness, I have to look at sin differently through eyes of grace. Sin includes anything outside God’s perfect will for me, not just the firebrands I once used to convict others and make myself feel superior – murder, robbery, adultery, and the like. I sin when I think self-serving thoughts – not just lust, but laziness, pride, self-satisfying cravings. To don this attitude toward sin without the undergarment of grace would be to fling all hope into despair, because the consequence of sin is always death. Not to apply it, however, is to be a friend of the world and enemy of holiness, and I cannot bear to tolerate my enmity with God while His is the relationship I most fervently seek to maintain.

Holy Father, today, while I celebrate all the progress with which you have blessed me, I acknowledge that there is nothing I have or am that You did not create, that You do not own, and that You could not take away. I align myself with You. Thank you for accepting me, faults and all. Now make me more acceptable to You by whatever means You determine necessary. I submit. Clean out the closets of my heart, all my secret places. Shine light into my darkness and sweep away the debris of my shame. Make me aware of anything that remains for me to address, and give me grace to address it according to Your will. Be glorified in who I am and what I do. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

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