Have you ever had trouble with a sinful desire or habit in your life? Me too. On the other side, did you ever overcome something only to fall into self-righteousness by giving yourself all the glory and recognition for the victory? Yep. That one’s me too. In truth, I have missed the mark on both sides so many times that I’ve struggled with the very possibility of living a righteous, holy life. So, recently I have been praying “Lord. I thank you for Your Grace and your Mercy. I thank You for the right-standing that I have with You in Christ. But Lord, I want to know how to live a life that doesn’t abuse Your good will. I know Your Word says to be perfect even as you are perfect. So, teach me Lord. How do I live a life that pleases You? I know you live in my heart but how can I make it a place that you enjoy being in instead of just a place that you inhabit to honor Your commitment and your word?”
Here was the Lord’s response:
Never lose sight of the fact that I truly live within you. People always say that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost, but rarely do they recognize what that means and most of the time they act as if they don’t really believe it. First, the Holy Ghost has been dealing with me to change the way I pray. I don’t need to pray to heaven, or listen for a word from heaven, or wait for help from heaven as if God wasn’t in me. He promised to come in us at salvation and abide in us and with us but we act as if we don’t believe it. We pray as if He’s a universe away. First, Realize that’s He’s in there.
Secondly, realize what it means to have Him inside. When I choose to look at something, He sees it. Whatever I choose to listen to, He hears. Whatever I touch, he feels. Whenever anger washes over me, He gets to swim in it with me. Whenever the stinging gall of bitterness fills my mouth, He unfortunately gets a taste. The Holy Ghost has been showing me that this awareness of His constant presence will lead us to choose between one of the following two paths: We will either come into alignment with that internal guiding light and will listen to that inner voice or we will quench the spirit and try to silence or extinguish Him. The truth is Holiness is hard simply because I want God on my terms. On Sunday and Wednesday (and in times of trouble), I want to hear His voice. But on Monday, when my wife, kids or coworkers have irritated me and I want to yell at them, there’s part of me that wants God to look the other way for just a minute and maybe even stick His fingers in His ears until I give Him the Thumbs up that It’s okay to listen again. We pray on Sunday, “God, can’t you see what’s going on in my life? I need your help.” But, midweek when our favorite ultraviolent lust-filled tv show splashes across our living rooms, we hope that God is somewhere inside taking a nap so we can sneak away to enjoy just a moment of the debauchery.
Holiness is hard and hearing from God is hard simply because we spend a majority of our time learning not to listen, pretending not to hear His voice, and sending Him away because He’s inconvenient. Then when we need Him, we expect to snap our fingers and alert Him that it’s okay for Him to be the all-knowing, invasively powerful God again.
He doesn’t work that way folks. Never Has, never will. He’s a light that insists on either being on all the time or off. He either lives vibrantly in our hearts or He doesn’t live there at all. He told us plainly in the word that He wouldn’t abide those who were lukewarm and would just spew them out of His mouth. The greatest truth that I have heard in many years came when Pastor Sam said that “The fear of the Lord is loving what God loves and hating what He hates.” To stay in line with this directive from the Lord we must commit to having God speak all the time in our hearts. We must proudly embrace Him living in us and welcome His leading all the time. Jesus is an all the time God, and not just a Savior for our convenience. Let’s learn this and live accordingly. Therein lies the path to real holiness.