Thursday, May 14, 2009

Be Holy as your Father in heaven is Holy

Phew! that's a tough command.

But impossible? Naah! If it was impossible, God would have known that it's impossible and not commanded us this. But, since he's commanded us to be holy, we need to seriously consider what it means to become holy.

When you hear the word Holy, the picture that might come to our minds are of saints or angels, with a big, glowing halo above their heads. Well, holiness does not mean that. But it means purity of heart, mind/thoughts, body and deeds/actions. Matthew 12:34 - "For out of the fullness of your heart the mouth speaks."

Holiness is not a condition for the elect. But it is a requirement for all.

The Bible says that we are created in the image and likeness of God.

Genesis 1:26-27 -
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The above scripture indicates that we are created like God; God-kind. Every animal and plant reproduces after its kind. Which means that a fish does not give birth to a monkey nor a mango tree produce elephant as its fruit. Man did not spring from animals, plants or angels, but God.
One of my friends used to argue with me saying we belong to the animal kingdom and we are nothing but animals. At the same time, he cares for his parents, feels the need to be with friends & family, would feel dejected if someone else takes credit for his work. None of which animals experience. There are people who behave like animals, thats because they haven't experienced the love of God and have contaminated themselves with unholy things, we 'll see that later.
Human kind is different from the whole of creation. Unlike animals who merely react according to fixed action patterns, we have a conscience, which guides us to good or bad. Conscience is often associated with morality—knowing “right” from “wrong,” and behaving accordingly.

God impressed into the nature of man, His Divine Image, which enables man to differentiate right from wrong. We can see this innate behaviour exhibit in our daily lives, when we see crime and injustice in the world. Conscience leads to feelings of regret, guilt and sadness when a man does things that go against his/her moral values, as opposed to feelings of rightness, goodness and integrity when actions conform to moral values. This inner voice of conscience is called the voice of God in man. It is an integral part of human nature, active in all people - regardless of their age, race, education, or development.

Conscience is like an evaluator; it is at a higher level in the child stage, where he/she's still in a pure, innocent state. As we grow up, circumstances, situations, experiences, people change us and we start compromising on the moral values. Then every act of immoral behaviour becomes common, tolerable and acceptable.

How many times, we have occasionally turned a deaf ear to our conscience, to gain acceptance and approval of others, or because we expect certain reactions from others? I'm sure, we all have ignored our conscience some point in our lives, to get approval from parents, peers, teachers, boss, people in authority. Very soon, we become captives of this behaviour and let anyone persuade us to go against our conscience - result, integrity is tarnished. Other times we avoid speaking out or getting involved and allow wrong things to continue, thinking nobody seems to be concerned anyway. At the end of all, without recognizing, we become 'compromised'.
This is a serious issue and we need to constantly check ourselves. Unless we have a moral standard, a means by which we can compare our actions, thoughts and words, we end up leading miserable lives.

Let’s try a comparison to cooking. When you're cooking, you usually follow a recipe. The recipe consists of units or quantities and ingredients, sometimes with substitutions. To create dishes with good flavor, consistency, and texture, the various ingredients must have a kind of relationship to one another. For instance, to make cookies that both look and taste like cookies, you need to make sure you use the right amount of each ingredient. Add too much flour and your cookies will be solid as rocks. Add too much salt and they'll taste terrible. And if you substitute baking powder for flour, you will end up with particularly not appetizing cookies.
Following a recipe will give you the best food on table. But without it, you have wasted your efforts, time, fuel and what you've cooked, all go in the trash can.

Good moral values are like a key ingredient in our lives, that helps us live a healthy, happy and a successful life.
What makes us unholy?
Mark 7:20-23 -"20And He said, What comes out of a man is what makes a man unclean and renders [him] unhallowed.
21For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery,
22Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness).
23All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed."

2 Corinthians 7:1 - "Let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God."
We are consecrated temples of the Living God, which needs to be kept holy at all times. If we defile or contaminate our body & soul with unclean, worldly things, God cannot dwell in us anymore.
We allow our heart, mind, soul & spirit to get contaminated by falling away from God's grace and allowing pleasures of this world, its wickedness and deceit to take root in us.
We need to seek God at all times, be in His presence, go to Him and refer His word (Bible) constantly and alter our crooked paths straight, stray from deviating and follow the right path. "Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path" - Psalm 27:11. Let us make every effort to be holy as the Father in heaven, who created us is Holy. We can not become perfect people, but we strive to be perfect. We become perfect when we meet Him in heaven.

For further reading:
Steering Clear of Compromise - from In Touch Ministries - Dr. Charles Stanley

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