Part three in a series on holiness by Shane Idleman
A famous poem reads, “All the water in the world no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a ship unless it gets inside. All the evil influence of the world no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a Christian’s soul unless it gets inside.”
The greatest battle we will ever fight is within. Our mind is where the battle is either won or lost: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 3:27). Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two forces are constantly fighting against each other. As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. Don’t be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment to Christ and His standard of holiness.
For example, our sinful nature says, “Party—eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die,” but Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day [His return] come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34). Sin says, “Feed me more of the world.” But God says, “Come out from among them and be separate.” R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) noted, “The gratification of the flesh and the fullness of the Spirit do not go hand in hand.”
Most walk away from Christ not because He fails them, or because the Word of God proves to be untrue, but because of the love of this world (gratifying the flesh). We cannot overlook the seriousness of this issue. Jesus said that the worries and desires of this world, along with the deceitfulness of wealth, come in and choke the Word of God, making it unfruitful (Mark 4:19).
We are soldiers and the battleground is the world. Those who do not stand guard will soon see their soul drift toward Sodom and away from the Spirit; toward goods rather than godliness; toward wealth rather than wisdom. The passion we once had for the purity of God’s Word can easily be exchanged for the pollutants of the world. For this reason, I often write about making wise entertainment choices. What we put into our mind affects our relationship with God at a very deep level. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Love not the world (the worlds mindset), neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Saints of the past would often say, “Others may, you cannot.” They realized that in pursuing holiness, God sets the standard, not man. I’m not suggesting that we sell everything and live on the outskirts of the desert, but that we remain “unspotted” from the the world’s corruption (cf. James 1:27). We cannot live like the world in regard to moral and spiritual issues. We should continually ask, “Are we ‘affecting’ the world, or is the world ‘infecting’ us?”
There should be a distinction and a difference in the lifestyle of Christians. This is a by-product of true Christianity. Not surprisingly, the enemy often destroys the best with the good. We can get so caught up in sports, entertainment, activities, and, even ministry, that we have little time and energy left for God. We want to enjoy the worlds passing pleasures and her alluring enticements. But at what cost?
Granted, we should be thankful for simple, God-given pleasures and use them to bring balance and rest to busy lives, but they should not constantly consume our time, energy, and passions. In deep sadness, the apostle Paul wrote that “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
Sadly, many are so busy seeking the things of this world that they don’t truly seek God. They may go to church and may even read their bible, but the cares of this life take center-stage. Their lifestyle simply reflects the true condition of their heart.
Today’s society rates success by busy-ness. “Successful people are busy people,” so they say. But God’s word says the opposite: If we’re too busy to cultivate a deep prayer life and a lifestyle that places God first—we are too busy. We should never allow our relationship with Him to suffer because we’re too busy.
Again, “All the water in the world no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a ship unless it gets inside. All the evil influence of the world no matter how hard it tries, can never sink a Christian’s soul unless it gets inside.”
Holiness is the key to truly understanding God: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
TO VIEW THE VIDEO SERMON ON HOLINESS, CLICK https://vimeo.com/41772594