Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Holiness: Set Apart for God

By: Melissa Baker

Holiness. What does being holy really mean? And how do we go about becoming holy? Fortunately for us, Jesus gives us a pretty good idea of what living out holiness all boils down to. 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me."
Matthew 16:24 NIV 

There are three things that Jesus tells His followers to do:

First, He says Deny yourself. If you are wanting to live a holier life, then you have to realize that this world is not all about you. I know, it's sometimes hard to wrap our minds around that one. But I think what Jesus means here is not just giving up soda pop or a taking a week off of social media or games on your phone. Jesus means the radical change that lets the will of God flow through you. And that if God wants to move through you, then you are not going to try to stop Him. It means that at every moment, you are letting God lead you in doing the most for Him.

Second, Jesus says to pick up your cross daily.  This means that just as we give in to the things God wants for our lives, we are also giving up the things that hold us back from Him. Like those little sins that keep coming up. Like those thoughts that we have that tell us we aren't good enough or that belittle ourselves. Like the dreams we have that we will make something of ourselves, instead of something of Him. This one is probably the hardest one to do for many people. We don't like to be told what to do, but if we are going to live a life for Jesus,  then we have to play by His rules. 

Third, He says to follow Me. Being holy is not easy; it is not something for the weak or faint of heart. You will have to deal with people who will be totally against everything that you do, everything that you stand for, and everything that you are in Christ. You will face the devil, who wants nothing more than to see you not just fail, but to see you fall on your face and refuse to stand back up and fight. You will have to fight against your own selfish thoughts, ways and desires. We must follow Him at all costs! But Jesus has already showed us that it can be done! 

"I have told you all of this so that you can have peace in me. Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 NLT

You can overcome this world too! Jesus has set the example for us to follow. God himself has come down from Heaven to personally show us how to live a holy life, and He promises to help us through the many trials that we will face. So what does holy living look like for us? What does denying yourself, picking up your cross daily and following Jesus look like in our lives? When we look at what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, being holy in following Jesus all comes down to one word: Choices.
In order to be holy we have to make choices. Sometimes choices can be silly and sometimes choices can be fun, but Jesus requires that we make choices that are much more serious and challenging than, say for instance, a bad haircut. All three of the things that Jesus said for us to do in Matthew 16:24 mean nothing if we don't choose to do them!

You can either serve God and deny yourself the position of first place in your life, OR you can choose to do it all just for yourself. 
You can either take up your own cross and put away the things that hold you back from God, OR you can set your cross down and decide to let your own thoughts and desires run your life. 
You can follow Jesus, OR you can follow the ways of the world, the things that look good, smell good and taste good, but in the end lead to unhappiness. 

Ultimately , holiness is all about making the choices that bring you closer to God. You can be as close to God as you choose to be, but the closer you are to God, the more fulfillment and joy you will experience in your life. Let's choose to be holy.  Let's choose to follow Jesus even when it's hard. He is there to help us every step of the way, because He has been through it all before. God calls Christians to live holy lives, not just for themselves, but to be a light for the entire world to know Him and be holy as well.

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