I. God’s Call to Holiness
II.God’s Provision for Holiness
I.GOD’S CALL TO HOLINESS
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ”Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Having read this first day’s devotional from Andrew Murray focused on God’s call to the believer in Jesus to be holy, thinking of the scripture, I was inspired to write the following:
HOW CAN WE BE HOLY?
What does it mean to be Holy mean ? I limit its definition to Sanctified and consecrated. When we are Holy unto God, it means we are consecrated unto Him, separated from sin and the uncleanliness of the ways of the world and flesh (self) governed by satan, or self through satan.
Believers are called by God according to His purpose, therefore for His sake and in the course of our lives we gain clarity and insight regarding the specific details of our call.
Here we begin to see God’s own motivation-that His creation should be as He is (1 Peter 1:15-16)!
1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness”.
Believers are called according to His purpose to be as He is: Holy ! Is this a surprise? What does this remind me of? God created Adam in His image!
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..
The purpose of the Christian life therefore is to be restored to our creation mandate, in other words, the purpose for which mankind was created and distinguished from other creatures of God, which is to be in likeness to God for He created us in His image.
As Christians, we cannot be like Him through our own attempts nor in our own strength using practices such as transcendental meditation and yoga or engaging in similar occultic practices to attain super-humanity or perfect soul where one lies down or sits still emptying one’s minds and attempting to connect with the ‘God’ within. When the aforementioned is done in Christian circles, (welcoming God to connect with them in this manner often without a bible or the scriptures in sight ) this is newagism packaged as Christianity and presented to believers as substitutes to prevailing effective prayer (which is exemplified in several places in scripture) and bible meditation.
SEEKING INTIMACY WITH GOD, SUPPOSEDLY THE CHRISTIAN GOD BUT WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE SCRIPTURES AS TO HOW – 17TH CENTURY BROTHER LAWRENCE & PRESENT DAY CHRISTIANS INSPIRED BY HIM – WHAT IS THEIR DEFINITION OF A CHRISTIAN?
There are many believers in Jesus today who are being GREATLY DECEIVED and are engaging in what they call contemplative prayer or meditation as a means to be close to God or cultivate intimacy and His presence, not founded on scriptural means but by inspired by a lay brother/Monk Lawrence (Nicholas Herman) who served in the Carmelite Monastery in France. Thus there are many Christian mystics, yogi types being birthed, in whose image?
Brother Lawrence is said to have practiced the presence of God or was preoccupied with cultivating a sensitivity to the presence of God, to the extent that he would levitate while serving in the monastery Kitchens in the 17th century. A book about his practice of the presence of God is on sale and it is paired (his methods) with the writings of some of the greatest Zen teachers such as Buddha and the Dalai Lama. Even Sri Chinmoy (Indian Spiritual Master who taught Meditation in the West when he moved to America in the 1960s) as he taught Yoga, is quoted in “Astral Journeys of Sri Chinmoy “ as saying Brother Lawrence a ‘Christian Mystic’ used to Levitate to the Kitchen ceiling. He was certainly tapping into something, but not Elohim, the one of the bible. The bible clearly tells us how our creator, the God of Israel who sent Jesus comes to us.
This Monk’s attempts to seek a God, converse with him etc.. were void of biblical meditation and similar to Buddhism and Hindu meditation in style for he is said to have levitated as happens in yoga and other forms of transcendental meditation. Brother Lawrence was seeking intimacy with a God ‘out there’ within an occultic sect (Discalced Carmelite) which calls itself Christian but at its roots is dissociated from the origins and core teachings of Jesus of the bible (Israel), and therefore God, God who sent him.
I am certain that he was not attaining the presence of this same God of Jesus the Messiah, because this God responds to those who accept him for who he is through the Old and New Testament and live in obedience to Him, this brings Him (his presence/intimacy) to them. So why are supposedly bible believing and founded believers in Jesus engaging in such practices inspired by Brother Lawrence? They are blind but they think they can see.
HOW TO CULTIVATE INTIMACY WITH/BE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD – THE BIBLE TELLS YOU!
Inevitably with this aspiration among Christian circles (the new –age/eastern religion style chosen as inspiration to connect with ‘God’) to communicate with ‘God’ through stillness while seated or lying down often with meditative music, reading and meditating on the Bible and effective fervent prayer (examples of which we read about in scripture including Jesus’s model of prayer) increasingly become less important or central to what it means to be a believer in Jesus. I have seen it happen. Let’s call a spade a spade: The surge of Brother Lawrence type Christian mysticism through contemplative prayer, practising the presence and stillness (forms of yoga/transcendental meditation packaged as Christianity) is basically satan’s way of distracting Christians from focus on the centrality of their faith: Jesus and the Word of God, the only way to be restored to the image of God and to cultivate intimacy with God through Jesus.
What is called Soaking and practiced in Pentecostal, Charismatic Christian circles, I found is actually rooted in contemplative praying/meditation and I thanked God that while I was for a long time in the midst of such circles, I could never be drawn to partake of it. When one challenges leadership who practice Soaking and these forms of so called contemplative prayer (the definition of prayer in the Bible is not this mysticism form!) they will agree without batting an eye lid that it is rooted in contemplative prayer, practising the stillness to meet with ‘God’ and some would say it is good because we are taking back what belonged to Christians in the first place (meditation) but was being practiced by new-age cults. This excuse even shows to what extent many believers are deceived. One should ask oneself:
Why would I need to show or prove that I am ‘getting meditation’ back from new-age/eastern religious realms by delving into those realms and engage in practices so as to worship my God, God and cultivate intimacy with Him? Who I’m I having to prove something to and why do I need to? What has distracted me from the truth so much so that I am now feeling I need to find how to be close to or intimate with God so that He is present with me through ungodly means rather than the HOLY SCRIPTURES CLEARLY SPELL THIS OUT ?
I hear Paul’s words to the “foolish” Galatians echoing to those who say they are true believers in Jesus but practice these things:
“who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If (it be) yet in vain” (Gal 3:1-4)
I quote Dr John MacAuthur:
“In practice, contemplative spirituality is primarily centered on meditation, although not meditation with a biblical perspective. Passages such as Joshua 1:8 actually exhort us to meditate: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Notice what the focus of meditation should be—the Word of God. Contemplative spirituality-driven meditation focuses on nothing, literally. A practitioner is exhorted to completely empty his/her mind, to just “be.” Supposedly, this helps one to open up to a greater spiritual experience. However, we are exhorted in Scripture to transform our minds to that of Christ’s, to have His mind. Emptying our minds is contrary to such active, conscious transformation”.
(Resource: The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur).
Dr John MacArthur explains Contemplative spirituality: Contemplative spirituality is an extremely dangerous practice for any person who desires to live a biblical, God-centered life. It is most commonly associated with the emerging church movement, which is riddled with false teachings. It is also used by many different groups that have little, if any, connection with Christianity…
Contemplative spirituality also encourages the pursuit of a mystical experience with God. Mysticism is the belief that knowledge of God, spiritual truth, and ultimate reality can be gained through subjective experience. This emphasis on experiential knowledge erodes the authority of Scripture. We know God according to His Word. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s Word is complete. There is no reason to believe that God adds additional teachings or truths to His Word through mystical experiences. Instead, our faith and what we know about God is based on fact.
The website for the Center for Contemplative Spirituality sums it up well: “We come from a variety of secular and religious backgrounds and we each seek to enrich our journey through spiritual practice and study of the world’s great spiritual traditions. We desire to draw closer to the loving Spirit which pervades all creation and which inspires our compassion for all beings.” There is absolutely nothing biblical about such goals. Studying the world’s “spiritual traditions” is an exercise in futility because any spiritual tradition other than that which exalts Christ is falsehood. The only way to draw closer to God is through the path He has ordained—Jesus Christ and the Word.
Resource: The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur.
Why should believers in Jesus seeking to attain holiness (be holy as He is Holy !) and peace need inspiration from ‘how tos’ of Buddhism , Hinduism and other cults in their prayer or worship style when they have the Prince of Peace, Jesus, and the Holy Scriptures ( Word of God ) to show us how to access and be like God? But it is happening.
I noted “not a bible insight” earlier, but even if some scriptures are referenced during meditation in Christian circles rooted in contemplative prayer, practicing stillness etc.., there are several believers who are not strong in the faith and have come from new age, paganism or occultism backgrounds who cannot discern whether the experience they get (I.e. visions, voice) when in that meditative state are truly from God, themselves or the devil, so to have such so called prayers or meditation as a leadership ‘offering’ to the congregation (at times given more time and significance over and above corporate prayers including intercessory prayer vocalised to Father) is putting masses into danger. I don’t care whether some well-known, highly recognised church leader is the source of this Eastern religious packaged Christian method of relating to ‘God’:
One cannot say one is being transformed into the image of God if the means through which one attempts to be like Him are not rooted in the Bible; In this day and age the God of this world (satan) has many disguises so that even the elect are being deceived.
My prayer is that practitioners of this ‘form of holiness, but denying the power of God’ awaken from their state of slumber, blindness or deception and ask themselves:
‘who I’m I opening my heart and mind to?
what is the inspiration behind all this excessive non scriptural meditative lifestyle ?
why do I feel a need to engage in it as part of /my main form of engaging with God/Jesus when I have the Scriptures to do so, and from where I learn how sustain a life abiding in His presence.
18Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
20But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
21I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [(but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also]. 24Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25And this is the promise that he hath promised us, [even] eternal life. 26These [things] have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:18-27 KJV)
EXPERIENCING GOD, THUS HAVING HIS PRESENCE IS BY OBEYING HIS WORD AND LIVING IN THE SPIRIT
What is wrong with consistently emphasis on praying and meditating SOLELY based on the Holy scriptures and Jesus’s Messianic purpose? This is now what is in vogue: the ‘Newage/Eastern religion/occultism’ Christian trend which involves trying (in man’s effort) to ‘experience the God within’’ and “seeing God in everything” rather than focusing on seeking Him through obedience to the Word and living a life in the Spirit which both testify of Jesus who is the Word (1 John 1:1) and Life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45/Rev 19:10/John 15:26) and in so doing having Him present in one’s life and access to His revelatory realm. Thus one is able to experience & ‘see’ Him and so know how to be like him.
REWARDS OF OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD AND WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Jesus said the rewards for obeying him through love for him is that one receives the love of God and He and Jesus will dwell with them (John 14:23). This means the presence of God is in the believer’s life, and such yielding to God enables sanctification to take place and thus the believer becomes more and more like God/Jesus. This is as opposed to striving through methods or packaged prayer/meditation models to ‘experience ‘God’ within, to cause ‘God’ to come to oneself like some yoga practitioner or new-age occultist. This is striving in one’s own self to experience and ‘pull’ ‘God’ in, among Christians who practice this, God & Jesus supposedly – so they are deceived to think.
Inevitably being in the presence of Jesus and God as according to John 14:23 one is also in the presence of the Holy Spirit who is also called the power and anointing of Jesus, giving us God-like qualities through
-endowing us with His powerful anointing so that yokes (curses) of oppression are broken (Isaiah 10:27)
-imparting to us
fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self –control..”
Spiritual attributes of God through the branch of Jesse (Jesus) which are the seven Spirits in Isaiah 11.
Spiritual gifts (Corinthians 12).
The Spirit of God works to
-impart to us the mind, will and wisdom (1 Corinth 2) of God
-testifies of Jesus (John 15:26); Teaches all things and reminds us of what Jesus said (John 14:26) Jesus so that we are able to distinguish between the truth of God and the lies of satan. (John 14/1 John 2:18-27).
Obeying the Word of God activates the Holy Spirit to sanctify us because obedience opens the door for communion with the triune God (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is therefore how believers can
When we accept Jesus as our personal saviour, we are
saying “I surrender all to the Triune God who sent Jesus”
Gal 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Responding in obedience to
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Psalm 32:9-10 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8)
If you live with a mind-set consciously doing all you can before God & Jesus according to His Word to live a holy and therefore sin free life, then you are classified as “pure”. The reason why one will see God in such a state is that one has fulfilled the criteria necessary for Jesus and God to make their home with them (be present in their lives) according to Jesus in John 14:23. The Lord is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). If you are close to someone in authority who has power and they are either a parent or a boss, your thoughts and actions reflect the extent of their authority and power over you, this is true for the believer in Jesus, the type of thoughts they have and actions they undertake expose to what extent Jesus and God abides with them which in turn confirms whether they are truly holy as He is holy.
Andrew Murray’s prayer “Father, You have called me to holiness, but how I’m I to be holy as You are holy? Holy Spirit, show me what holiness is, Your holiness first, and then my holiness. Show me the unutterable blessedness and glory of sharing with Christ in His holiness. Amen”.
My prayer “Father keep me constantly in remembrance of the promises I made when I entered into covenant with you through Jesus, When I am weak, you are always strong, strengthen me so that I resist temptation to sin and therefore re regress back into unholy ways.
Father I am willing to give up everything in exchange for being in your likeness. I know you came as a man in the person of Jesus so that through him, I will be restored to your original plan for mankind which is to be as holy as you are. This is the only way I will be able to overcome the evil world as Jesus overcame and be the “Holy Vessel carrier” you have called me to be (Isaiah 52:10-12) for your purposes.
I fix my gaze on Jesus for it is only through Him that I can be as Holy as you are God for you and him are one (John 10:30)”
II.GOD’S PROVISION FOR HOLINESS
“To those Sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy”(1 Corinthian 1:2)
I quote Andrew Murray “ What wealth of meaning and blessing in the words combined: Holy in Christ! Here is God’s provision for our holiness, God’s response to our question, How to be Holy? We hear the call to be holy, but it is as if there is a great between the holiness of God and man. In Christ is the bridge that crosses the gulf; no, rather, his fullness has filled it up. In Christ, God and man meet, the holiness of God has found us and made us its own. To the anxious cries and the heart-yearnings of thousands of thirsty souls who have believed in Jesus and yet do not know how to be holy, here is God’s answer: you are holy in Christ Jesus. Would they but take these divine words and believe them, how God’s light would shine and fill their hearts with joy and love as they echo them back: Yes, now I see it. Holy in Christ.
Holy Lord God let your voice sound through the depth of my being, with a power from which there is no escape: Be holy, be holy. Reveal to me Your holiness and my unholiness. Draw me to accept Jesus as my sanctification, to abide in Him as my life and power to be what You want me to be-holy in Christ Amen”.
@Deborah E. Nyamekye 2014