WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MAY 20, 2022
TOPIC: PURSUE HOLINESS
BY T. O. BANSO
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 New King James Version).
Someone recently felt offended by the series of our devotionals that dealt with sin and explained that he stopped reading the devotionals because it was against his belief as a minister. He said his focus was on grace. I also focus on grace but I couldn’t understand why it would be wrong to talk about sin because of grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says that by grace, you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Some people believe that because of what this scripture says, it doesn’t matter how we live our lives after being saved. They believe that Jesus has died for our sins and, therefore, we can continue to sin. They believe that once we come to Jesus, God doesn’t see our sins again but sees the blood of Jesus, so we can continue to sin!
But that is not correct. We cannot continue to willfully sin and claim to be genuinely saved. If we know that our sins cost Jesus His life, we will not deliberately sin on the pretext that Jesus had died for us.
Paul addressed this in Romans 6. He said, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4 New King James Version). Can we say because we focus on grace, we should ignore this scripture?
Although we are saved by grace through faith, the Bible does not say we should live a reckless life. Rather, it says we should pursue holiness. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 New King James Version). The Greek word translated as holiness is hagiasmos. It means “holiness” and “sanctification.” New Living Translation renders Hebrews 12:14 thus: “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”
Sanctification is God’s will for every child of God. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 New King James Version).
Indeed, our efforts cannot save us. But after we are saved, we should work at living a holy life. That doesn’t mean we can reach a state of sinless perfection. But if we believe that because Jesus has died for our sins, we can continue in sin, we shall never strive for or pursue holiness. And as we have seen, without holiness, we cannot see the Lord. God is a holy God and He demands that we should be holy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). According to Ephesians 5:5, no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
1 Peter 1:13-16 says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (New King James Version). Grace doesn’t excuse us from living a holy life.
Believers must work at living a holy life and not say because Jesus has died for their sins, they can continue to live the same way the unbelievers live. If after anyone has given his life to Jesus, he continues to live in sin the same way the unbelievers live, his salvation is doubtful.
See what 1 John 3:4-6 says: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him” (New King James Version). Verse 9 says, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (New King James Version).
Let’s see the two verses in another translation for better understanding. “Everyone who lives sinfully is living in violation of Law. Sin is violation of Law. And you know that Christ appeared to take away our sins; and in him Sin has no place. No one who maintains union with him lives in sin; no one who lives in sin has ever really seen him or learned to know him” (1 John 3:4-6 Twentieth Century New Testament). Did you see that? You cannot be in Christ and keep on sinning, using salvation by grace as an excuse. God says you should pursue holiness.
Verse 9 says, “No one who has received the new Life from God lives sinfully, because the very nature of God dwells within him; and he cannot live in sin, because he has received the new Life from God” (Twentieth Century New Testament). You cannot continue to make a practice of sinning if you appreciate what Jesus did, dying for your sins on the cross. 2 Timothy 2:22 says to flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
God says you should pursue holiness. This is your responsibility, not that of Jesus. Your willpower cannot do it. You must depend on the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1:2 talks about “sanctification of the Spirit.” We need the help of the Holy Spirit to be holy.
Paul says, “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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2 New King James Version). Pursue holiness; don’t live as nonbelievers.
When you pursue holiness, there would be a remarkable difference between you and unbelievers and between your life before you came to Christ and after. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3 New King James Version).
When you begin to pursue holiness, it would be evident to others that, indeed, you’re in Christ, and you have become a new creation; old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). But to believe that you have no responsibility after salvation and you can continue to sin willfully is to believe an unbalanced Gospel. Paul urged believers to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). According to 1 Thessalonians 4:7, God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Without holiness, nobody will see the Lord. Anyone who hopes to see Him must purify himself or live holy. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 New King James Version). Pursue holiness.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall not continue in sin that grace may abound. Holy Spirit, help me to pursue peace with all people and holiness. In the name of Jesus, I shall seek to live a clean and holy life. I shall not be among those who will not see the Lord because they were not holy. I shall be holy, for God is holy. Father, I pray that those who have not invited Jesus into their hearts will accept Him as their Lord and Saviour and pursue holiness.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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