< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Holiness in Spirit

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Holiness in Spirit

Continuing my lesson from the book The Pursuit of Holiness:

Our thoughts are just as important to God and are known to God as clearly as our actions. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount that God’s commands are intended not only to regulate outward conduct, but inner dispositions as well. It’s not enough “not to kill” – we must also not hate. It’s possible to seem completely good on the outside and have all kinds of bad stuff going on inside.

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” And there’s a well known verse that goes, “Sow a thought, reap an act, sow an act, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character.”

Our thoughts are important. Paul wrote:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Holiness begins in our minds and works out to our actions. So what we allow into our minds is really important. TV shows, movies, books, magazines, music and conversations all have an affect. We need to evaluate the effects of any of these honestly using Philippians 4:8 as a standard.

Is what I’m watching, reading, listening to true, pure, admirable and praiseworthy? There are primetime TV shows that not only throw swear words around, but “Jesus” and “God”. Even child actors talk like this!

Christianity Today recently had an article about faulty theology in some of the Christmas hymns and how dangerous that is. For some people this is the only gospel they hear and it’s wrong!

Jesus also warned us about what our eyes see.

Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In one of his letters, Paul listed some acts of the sinful nature: defilements of the body, sexual immorality, impurity, drunkenness, etc. And of the spirit: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition. We must get rid of all of it. That’s our everyday battle. We can’t let an inner life filled with envy, pride, bitterness and a critical, unforgiving spirit go on unchecked.

King Saul was envious of David. The older brother was envious of the Prodigal Son. It causes problems. All over the Bible we are told to be content. To be grateful. That God has assigned each of us a place in life.

1 Corinthians 7:17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

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