The Face of Holiness last part Please Father…Take Over!


The Face of Holiness; Last Part

            A provocative question was asked by Pastor Gerard Cruse from The Consuming Fire Church. After listening to all 19 messages of his series on Holiness, I felt led to visit this friend, who at the same time has become like a father to me. He asked: Was it God’s will for Adam to fall in sin? Pastor Cruse then answered “…a thousand times yes,” as the church stood silent with a sense of confusion. It was indeed an intriguing question accompanied by a very, somewhat, controversial answer. Pastor Cruse added that it was in God’s will for Adam to choose and even as falling in sin was not in his perfect will, He did allow it as he gave and continues to give men a choice.

            As I sat there meditating on this part of this powerful message, as Pastor Cruse connected holiness to the will of God, I suddenly had a revelation: It is also God’s will for us to die to self. His Word tells us in Mathew 16:24-25,

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

 

What stands in the way of holiness is precisely, self. So God allows us, as He gave us a free will, to make our decisions, to do things our way, to move away, to do our thing, etc; all with the objective of bringing us to Him. How? Very simple, when we look back at the mess we have created in our lives: our bad decisions, our disobedience, our rebelliousness, our sin, etc; and we experience the end-results of a life focused on self and on the desires of the flesh, we will have no choice but to kneel before God with our arms lifted on high as we declare: “God, I surrender!.” Romans 8:28-31 explained this phenomenon to us this way:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

 

The emphasis that I want to point out is that God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Our goal is to be more and more like Jesus and less and less like us. That predestination is what causes everything to work together for good. As long as we are still full of self while our personal preference is to do life our way, there is no space for holiness. As long as we are openly willing to sin and refuse to give certain areas of our lives to God, we stand in great need of brokenness. We will never surrender our will to God as long as our will is in the way. Our will stands in the way because deep inside we feel like we can do it ourselves; that we need no help. It is like the man lost in a strange neighborhood, but refusing to ask for directions until he either gets tired of running in circles or his wife threatens to kill him. The end of self is the beginning of God in us and through us. Like the dog’s owner with the electric fence; the electric shot is not designed to hurt the dog; it just gives enough force for that dog to never get close to that fence again. The owner’s will is for the dog to touch the fence, because once that happens; he knows that the dog will never go near that fence again.

Beloved, I am glad today for all the mess in my life. I would have preferred that I would have learned my lessons a little earlier, but, as Pastor Cruse and I concluded, we are hardheaded, but today; after seeing the end-results of my mess, after I saw myself lost in the streets of disobedient and the highways of my own pride, I am taking my hands off the wheel of my life. I am taking the passenger seat and allow God to do it His way. I don’t know when I will get to the place I need to get to; I don’t care if God takes a short cut or if He takes the long way; if the road is paved, rocky or muggy. I am not questioning my Father. I say, “Father forgive me and take over, I made a mess that only You can fix.” I can see the Father just standing by with a sweet smile saying, “About time!” I have a long way to go, but I am on my way! I am not sad, I am not condemned; I belong to God and I look to my future with great excitement. When the cry of our hearts is “Please Father, take over.” when our ways, desires and will are no longer attractive to us; it is then that holiness becomes an achievable dream; not because of us, but because we give permission for the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives. It is then that we reach out to our divine nature and shun the volume of the voices of our flesh; it is then that we place Jesus as the Captain of our souls in the midst of the many voices of confusion and worldly logic. No matter what, Jesus rules!

The face of holiness is manifested in our way of life. The face of holiness makes us the light and salt of the world. The face of holiness is not bound; it is not boring; deprived of any fun in life. The face of holiness is fullness of joy; is purpose, is wisdom and is the greatest manifestation of love for our Father and for our fellow men. Please Father… take over!

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Face of Holiness last part Please Father…Take Over!

  1. Pastor Gerard Cruse is right on! Most think that the admonition not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is about temptation. It’s not about temptation. It is about choice. “If you cannot say no, your yes is meaningless. We chose sin and in so doing, gave the title deed to plant earth to the enemy of God.

    So, why Jesus? Because God created us for fellowship and wants to be known as a God of love, mercy, justice, faithfulness and longsuffering. I frequently refer to the biblical images of the gospel as good news, bad news, and good news! The first good news is that we were created in the image of God — original righteousness and the crowning of humankind — we were immortal (cf. Gen 1:26-27).

    By this crowning God fixed forever the place of humankind in God’s heart and in God’s plan. The first man and women were created to be united with God’s Spirit through which they originally enjoyed perfect fellowship with God for they were “crowned with glory and honor” (Ps 8:5). It was easier to obey God than to disobey God. We were righteousness prone.

    Then the bad news — original sin — so that now we are mortal (Gen 3:19). We learn in the second creation story as interpreted by Paul in Romans 3:23 that all “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is easier to disobey God. We are sin-prone. “For the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Gen 6:5-6). God’s heart is broken because ours is fallen. He crowned humankind with glory then humankind sinned and fell short of the glory. The old covenant established a temporary covering for sin, but the endless offerings of the Levitical ritual could never “make perfect those who come to worship. For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin” (Heb 10:1-2).

    This story strikes us as tragic. But then God initiated a new covenant. The doctrine of the incarnation teaches that God has acted to save humanity by limiting Himself in Jesus (while the Father and the Spirit still ruled over heaven and earth). Paul claims in Philippians 2:7 that Christ laid aside the form of God and took upon Himself our humanity, and became fully human, and in the body of Jesus Christ, there flowed sinless, incorruptible blood, and this blood was the only blood which could root out sin and restore us to our original righteousness. “But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11-12). This is the ultimate good news, upon which our salvation is grounded. God is in Jesus Christ reconciling the world. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

    The whole sin question is forever settled. God is going to forget infinitely all our sins and misdeeds (Heb.10:17). Then he says, “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (Heb.10:18). “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away– look, what is new has come. And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-18). This is the miracle of the gospel. Anyone’s life can be transformed by the presence of Jesus, coming alive in us. But not only are we alive in Christ, we have been chosen by God to be instruments of reconciliation. Do you see the gospel message? Humankind was crowned with glory. We fell from glory. Through Jesus Christ we can return to the glory. For the same power of the Holy Spirit that was available to Jesus and His disciples is available to us today.

    The Parable of the Wedding Garment speaks to this point. In order to understand the story fully it is important to realize that in biblical times the host (especially the king) might make preparations for the wedding banquet for months. Not only was food and wine provided, but also the guests were given special clothes to wear. Those first invited refused to come and were punished. The king’s servants were then instructed to go to the streets and gather all they could find, both good and bad. When the king went to greet his guests he notice3d a man who was not wearing the garment provide. The king asks, “Friend, how did you get here without wedding clothes?” When the man had no excuse, the king instructed his attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:13-14).

    The broader context provides the best interpretation. The authority of Jesus had been challenged constantly by the scribes and Pharisees. In fact, his power to work miracles had been attributed to demons. Then Jesus quotes Psalm 118,

    “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will take away from you and given to a people who will produce fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed” (Matt 21:42-44).

    Let me give you still another perspective. Heaven without the clothes of righteousness would be the worst kind of hell. There are many things in my life that you so not know (though at my age my sins tend to bore most people). Still, I hide nothing from God. God sees me as I really am. Imagine my showing up at heaven’s door unwashed by the blood of Jesus (God has given us the sacrificial righteous of Jesus Christ as a wedding garment), presuming to plead my own case, with my sins hanging out, utterly exposed for the rest of eternity. John Wesley insisted that this would be fate worse than fire and brimstone. In fact, Wesley took a line from some of the mystic writers and insisted that hell was the creation of God’s love, not God’s wrath. The mystics imagined our showing up in heaven, presuming to plead our own case, believing that our righteous clothes were quite adequate, thank you very much. Suddenly God comes to welcome us to our new home, and, observing the misery of our nakedness, creates the darkness of hell to give such presumption a place to escape the awful exposure. Because we would not like heaven because we could not bear the light. In order to “enjoy God forever” we must put on the wedding garment, the righteousness of God’s son Jesus Christ.

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