RELAX – RESPOND – REST (PART 3)
Today we get to the third and final phase of our exploration of holiness.
We have learned so far that, although holiness is a non-negotiable requirement of the Father if we are to enjoy fellowship with Him and the Son through the Holy Spirit, it is impossible for us to meet the requirement on our own. As with salvation, so also holiness is a work of God. The Holy Spirit in us makes us holy according to God’s promise.
Many Scriptures confirm that, from God’s perspective, we are already holy through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. However, from our point of view, we are still on the journey to becoming holy. God calls us to respond in faith and obedience to His work in us. He uses His Word, and our response to His Word to cleanse our hearts from the false notions about Him, about us and about His attitude towards us that we have gathered over the years. He calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can both know and do the will of God.
God also allows us to experience hardships in order to train us to live in His righteousness. As we go through the ups and downs of life, He uses our struggles to bring to the surface those areas of doubt or unbelief in the Father’s perfect love that rob us of His peace. He wants us to reach the point in our trust in His love that we are not moved by any adversity, no matter how tough or devastating it might be. He calls us to a rest of faith that lives in His supernatural peace in the midst of any storm.
Jesus calls us to take His yoke and learn from Him so that we will find rest for our souls. His way of living is absolute confidence in the perfect love of the Father, without the fear of punishment because our debt of sin has been fully paid once-for-all. Doing the right thing in every circumstance according to God’s Word, acting in mercy towards all people, loving others as we love ourselves, brings us the rest of a conscience free of guilt.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).
God’s rest also includes the rest of faith in the finished work of Jesus. Even as believers, we are strongly inclined to think that we still owe God something. Despite the reassurances of His Word that He has accepted us in Jesus and that there is nothing for us to do except believe His Word, we still try to earn points with God by doing “good works” in the hopes that we will please Him.
There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his works just as God did from His (Heb. 4:9-10).
How subtle is the enemy’s lie! From God’s perspective, anything we do to earn “Brownie points” that is not of Him, He regards as “filthy rags”. It is impossible for us to “work” for Jesus. He has done all the work the Father needed to make us acceptable Him. As much as we are to rest from our labour to try to save ourselves from the penalty of our sin, so we must rest from our work of trying to make ourselves clean from the sins that still cling to us. Our role is to separate ourselves from the filth of the world, to fill our minds with God’s Word and to live in the love God through the Holy Spirit moment by moment.
However, there is something even more wonderful beyond being holy for the sake of being holy. God has a twofold purpose for His children. He desires fellowship with us. He is passionately devoted to His children. He has included us in the intimate circle of fellowship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He desires that we be one with Him just as the Trinity is one, in perfect submission, harmony and love.
He has a reason for His passion for oneness with us. He gave His original pair the mandate to subdue the earth and manage it for Him. However, Adam rebelled and changed allegiance from God to Satan through Satan’s deception. Man still tries to manage the earth but has failed miserably without the wisdom of God and obedience to Him to guide him.
Jesus is the perfect example of a son who lived in close fellowship with the Father so that the Father could impregnate His spirit with His Word. Jesus only said and did what the Father told Him. God’s Word in His spirit bore the fruit of perfect obedience even to death on the cross.
The Father’s desire is to plant His Word in our hearts as we live in fellowship with and obedience to Him so that He can fulfil His purposes for His world through us. Just as the intimate union between a husband and wife produces the fruit of that union, so our union with the Father and the Son through the Spirit produces the fruit of spiritual offspring and the fulfilment of God’s will
Can you now see how futile it is to try to make ourselves holy by our own efforts? Holiness is the work of God’s Spirit in us, completing in us what is already complete. However, the Spirit’s work in us is only effective as we respond in faith to His promptings. He wants us to live in union with Him, set free from our sinful ways and our doubts and fears to live in such close union with God that He is able to impregnate our spiritual “womb” with His Word to produce the offspring of our union, His plans being fulfilled on our “world” through us.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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