I was listening to a message this morning from my pastor titled “The Pursuit of Holiness“. It came from back in 2009 and is centered around Hebrews 12:1-14 and the idea of pressing on and not giving up in the Christian life. Not giving up in the pursuit of holiness (or sanctification). The core of the message came down to us seeing our need for holiness, the beauty of holiness, and how God is presenting us to the world in all our holiness as a shining testimony of His work on earth. To fade gradually… to “drift away” from active participation in this process is to turn away from all of these beautiful truths.
Last week I wrote a blog titled Accepting my humanity. As I consider my humanness and come to accept that, there is also an aspect of being human that I must reject. That part of my life that can be so destructive and counterproductive. In rejecting this aspect of my humanity, I’m basically rejecting sin and my “fleshly desires.” And in a sense, I’m suffering for Jesus. Here’s how it works for me:
– I’m tempted. Could be a simple “over-the-counter” sin that everyone accepts as “OK”. This Thanksgiving, I completely overate. I knew I was full, but kept eating more desserts. I’ve been on a real sugar binge lately. So, after that, I felt TERRIBLE. No stretch pants for me. But no one is going to fire me from work or kick me out of church for doing this. Or my temptation to sin sometimes is something deeper. Something more destructive that will hurt me or others if I followed through with it. Either way, I’m tempted.
– In that temptation, I have a choice. Embrace it, love it, and enjoy it for the moment. Or deny the flesh that tells me how much I’ll enjoy it and decide not to do it.
In denying the fleshly desire, I have suffered for Jesus. In participating in the sin, I am essentially ending the suffering, and rejecting Jesus. Sadly, I do this quite often. And I hate it. Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). So often, I set my cross down and live for myself.
Today, I will choose to deny the earthly pleasures that seem to bring great satisfaction, but in the end are a bitter pill. I choose to trust in the promises of God’s faithfulness. And I choose to believe that what He has said about me is true. I am His precious child. I am adopted into His great family. And He will not forsake me. He will continue the good work He began in me and bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Is this easy? Are you kidding me? It is one of the hardest things I have to do in life. Deny my flesh. Deny what feels good. But I’ll do it today. I’ll reject my humanity. And in so doing, I know that I will receive a peace that passes all understanding.