In this time of the COVID 19 pandemic, I don’t know about you, but it’s been very difficult to “fix my thoughts on Jesus.” With all the over the top media coverage, and expert opinions changing everyday…it’s hard not to fixate on the fear and uncertainty of the situation. Couple that with the limits that’s been placed on meeting as a body of Believers, and I wonder if this dry spell spiritually is God’s wake up call? We are told here to fulfill our calling…a calling of holiness and sanctification according to His purpose in our lives. We are to fight the good fight of faith, (I Timothy 6:12) striving always for God’s perspective, not ours. When we fix our thoughts on Jesus rather than the world…our soul is brought into balance, priories become clear, and God’s lofty plan and purpose is revealed. But if we continue to sit in the corner looking at our belly-buttons…totally self-absorbed in our fears…we won’t be able to see or participate in God’s work. This is called being a nominal or lukewarm Christian…and God has no use for those type of people. This is the time to fix our thoughts on Jesus, not veering to the left or right, but looking fully into His face with trust and hope. For in the next months, the Church as we know it will have to adapt and change, and we’ll have to change with it. But God will be raising up people to accept this challenge…people with a eternal vision. To quote A.W. Tozer, “They serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary.” The time of lukewarm Christianity is coming to an end.
Here, as well in Philippians 3:19-20, Paul was showing the moral contrast between heaven and earth. In Philippians he accused the Church of “setting their minds on earthly things”…which was demonstrating the unethical realm of fallen man and the world under the power of sin. In both occasions, Paul was urging the Church towards holy living…a putting on of their new self under Christ, and a putting off of their old self dictated by the sinful world. And even today Paul’s message rings loud and clear to all of us…for where our mindset goes, the rest of our body will follow.
We are to reflect God’s holiness in our lives daily, for it tells us in I Thessalonians 4:7, ” For God didn’t call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” But it’s when our will gets in the way that the inner conflict starts between holiness and selfishness. Let’s just admit it…sin grows in every human heart, and when what we want to do goes against living a pure life, we’ll do one of two things – either we’ll rationalize our sin away, or we’ll mentally soften God’s command. But regardless of what we do, His Word won’t change…”Be holy for I am holy.”
Our journey with the Lord is not a one and done event. Ours is not to be a stagnant life once we say “Yes!” to Jesus Christ. No, our Christian walk is suppose to be a always advancing, ever increasing effort to become more Christ-like. This progressive sanctification is simply growing in the knowledge of God, (Ephesians 3:17) and applying the truths of the Gospel into our everyday life. And as we continue to live in Him, He is faithful to continue to fill us…for our walk with God will never be fully realized until that day we walk through those Heavenly gates.
Every culture has its myths and old wives’ tales. They contain bits of folklore, unverified claims, and superstitions…and you probably could think of a few right now! . But here in I Timothy, the Apostle Paul is comparing these deceptive fables to the promises of God. He tells Timothy to avoid all forms of this godless chatter. For just like it takes physical exercise to make our bodies strong…he writes that we need to train or discipline our minds to reject the deception of fairy tales, myths, and old wives’ tales…and rather focus on the true promises of God, which have eternal benefits.
Paul was more than just encouraging his fellow Believers here…he was beseeching and imploring them to take that decisive and dedicated step called sanctification. Why? When we first become a Christian we tend to hold on to parts of us that are comfortable, easy, or allow us to cope. But as we journey along with the Lord, He starts to demand we separate ourselves from those things. This process can be painful, but necessary for us to fully become God’s. Holiness or sanctification is being totally His…with nothing withheld…and Paul recognized that this was not only God’s Will but the very least thing we could do in view of the Lord’s sacrifice for us. (I Corinthians 6:20)
In this contentious and ever argumentative world, it’s difficult to seek peace in every situation. But the key here is found in a verse in Hebrews 12:14, ” Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy.” Being holy means we live in a spiritual atmosphere where grace and mercy abounds despite the hostile environment around us. It’s where we consider others before ourselves and strive to be a peacemaker not a rabble-rouser.
Our Christian journey isn’t perfect, for everyday we mess up. We say things we shouldn’t…or out of anger and frustration we act unkindly. Holiness isn’t something that we’re suddenly bestowed with when we say “Yes” to Jesus…it’s a process…a daily effort towards perfection. Philippians 1:6 tells us, “That being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This journey towards holiness – towards perfection, is God’s purpose for you. And as you walk in the Spirit, you’ll discover that His ultimate plan and purpose for you is that process towards holiness.
So what exactly is “the Way” and holiness mean to you? Is it being committed to the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind? Is it a way of life that exemplifies Godly actions and behaviors? The Way is a Highway…a road less traveled by most, but a life-long journey for the upright.