Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Holiness and Sanctification- Part 3


The knowledge of the blood covenant we are in as Christians calls for a conscious acknowledgement, consecration and dedication of ourselves to God. Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1).

We are called to consciously dedicate our bodies completely to God. This is something we must do. It must be a faith response towards God. It means that we are totally available for whatever God wants us to do. It means that our eyes, our ears, our hands, our feet, our mouth and our brains are given willingly over to God’s purposes. It means that our sexuality is given over to God’s control. It means that our eating will be for the glory of God only (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The truth is that our body, soul and spirit form a unity and are linked together in many important ways. Dedicating the body to God completely will affect also the mind, the will and the emotions. God will transform us in every way - in our thinking, in our behaviour, in our words, in our actions - if He truly has the keys to our lives which we have voluntarily given back to Him. The renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2) can only truly take place in the life of someone who has dedicated and offered his or her body to God.

God is interested in the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Much of our thinking may still be influenced by Satan through the worldly values which we have received in the past. There are so many worldly principles which must be abandoned if we are going to think with the mind of Christ. It would be the subject of many books to list and discuss them all. But the basic principles on which we must base our new thinking are as follows:

a. God’s Word must be loved and sought daily. It is the final authority and the voice of truth for my life. God’s Word can be trusted. It should be acted upon.

b. I am now a child of love and am to walk in love. Every departure from the principle of love is a betrayal of God.

c. God is a good Father to me. He already loves me and accepts me in Christ, and I can safely depend on Him to meet all my needs, spiritually, emotionally, financially and in every area (Philippians 4:13). I can find total fulfilment in my relationship with God and in doing His will.

d. All voices which promise help or happiness through philosophies or ways contrary to the principles of God’s Word have their roots in the evil one and lead to death if followed.

e. Everything which does not glorify God or meet people’s real needs is worthless and a waste of time.

f. Money, worldly influence, education and talents are not to be trusted in, but to be used for the glory of God.

g. Every good thing I have or am is because of God’s grace, goodness, love and power. All thought or action independent of God is rooted in pride and will only hinder the flow of God’s blessings.

h. Jesus Christ is the centre of my life in every area.

A total dedication to God implies a dedication to constant Spirit-led prayer. The Bible exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2), to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). In the lesson “Prayer - Intimacy with God” we see in more detail what God really wants here.

This kind of prayer is only possible by the power and working of the Holy Spirit. We should aim for it, depending on the Holy Spirit, the power of the cross and every other revelation God gives us, especially through His Word the Bible. We cannot achieve it simply through self-effort. But we can and should ask God to work in us to produce this kind of prayer life.

What does this total consecration mean in practise? Firstly it means being willing to be willing to worship and obey God always and live for Him in everything. It does not mean punishing oneself or inflicting oneself with duties we imagine God might be pleased with. God far prefers wholehearted obedience to man-inspired sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22).

Secondly this consecration means self denial and taking up the cross daily. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). We cannot be totally consecrated to God without “coming after Jesus” and Jesus tells us what will be necessary.

a. We must deny ourself. This means saying no to the demands of self. It means saying no to selfish desires, the easiness and comfort that our flesh wants for itself, the “right” to indulge the sinful nature and to violate God’s law of love. It means saying no to pleasures which don’t come from God and don’t lead us to God.

b. We must take up our cross daily. Every day we will have opportunity to die to ourself. Paul said, “I die daily.” (1 Corinthians 15:31). Taking up the cross means surrendering to God’s will when it is different to our own will, even when the path of God’s will means passing through pain and suffering. However, we know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:31). The more we consent to be united with Jesus in the likeness of his death, the more we will share in his resurrection power (Romans 6:5). That is true even in this life.

c. We must follow Him. This means seeking to be in His presence always through prayer, modelling our lives on His life, identifying ourself with His nature and His purposes, and gladly obeying His commands.

Remain blessed

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