Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Who Am I?

While talking to the Lord this morning He reminded me of some important truths about my personal holiness. Far too often I fixate on 'who I am NOT' and lose sight of 'who I AM' in Christ. When I focus on what I am lacking (that is, my sinfulness), I am unable to see what I have (that is, God's righteousness). The former has "[my] mind set on what the flesh desires" (Romans 8:5) whereas the latter "fixes [my] eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2). This is not a denial of reality but a view of reality through different lenses. Jesus restored the image of God within fallen humanity through a vision of His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The present reality is being transformed by the presence and power of Holy Spirit through whom "inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Therefore, we should "fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Joseph Prince nailed it when he wrote, "It is time to awake to righteousness and sin not. Believe that you are righteous and you will start living like a righteous man or woman of God" (Joseph Prince, 'Destined To Reign').

God's righteousness in me has nothing to do with who I am or what I have done but everything to do who Christ is and what He has done. Right belief always leads to right behaviour! In this case, right belief is much more than an intellectual understanding of a new reality but an integrated application of this inherited new reality in Christ.

“Righteousness represents the state of God’s character – his goodness, his purity, his character.    We inherit God’s righteousness when we have faith and believe in him.    Faith and belief in the spirit of God’s grace is what constitutes our righteousness."  (Mae Elise Cannon, 'Social Justice Handbook')

Sunday, February 7, 2016

HOLY! A review...

Yesterday, I partnered with a number of Salvation Army Corps around Melbourne to help launch a new book during our church service that was co-written by two of my Salvation Army Officer colleagues and friends, Major Stephen Court and Captain Peter Brookshaw. The book is titled "HOLY! - Nine lies, half-truths and outrageous misconceptions about the most radical experience you've never lived."

Having read a number of books along my spiritual journey about holiness, from past and present authors, I was keen to discover what this new publication would add to an already well covered subject. While it doesn't add anything new, it does invite us to take a fresh look at an experience that has become misunderstood, misrepresented or misplaced in the church today despite the unchanging biblical call to be holy.  That's the beauty of this book.  It puts holiness back on the agenda for the 21st century church by challenging the "lies, half-truths and outrageous misconceptions" that have robbed many Christians from this life transforming experience.

Right from the outset Major Danielle Strickland sets the tone for the book in her foreword by removing holiness off the shelf of spiritual idealism or theoretical rhetoric and grounds it by declaring that "The blessing of holiness is not in the idea but in the experience of it."  From that platform, Brookshaw and Court deliver a clear and concise overview of an experience that is intended for every Christ follower, not just the "super saints."  They are unapologetic about taking holiness out of the realms of pop-theology and reframing it through a lens of Scripture to provide us with a biblical image of a holy life as personified by Jesus Christ.  They are unforgiving of the untruths that distort this experience, yet gracious in re-establishing a biblical framework of truth around holy living.  And they are uncompromising about calling the reader to a renewed desire to "be holy, because [God is] holy" (1 Peter 1:16).

HOLY! doesn't attempt to provide an in-depth theological commentary about holiness but does provide an accessible response to FAQ about holiness that could unleash a renewed passion to pursue a Christ-like, Spirit-filled experience of a holy life that will radically transform this generation of Christ followers!

If ever there was a time when a renewed focus on holiness is needed in the church, it is NOW!!  HOLY! can be purchase from http://commerce.salvationarmy.org.au/default.asp 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hunger for Holiness

One of my favourite Christian artists of the 90's was Carman, who wrote the following song which reflects the battle that rages within as I pursue a life of holiness:

There’s a silent war that’s raging deep within me
My lower nature fights to dominate
My spirit man is poised and locked in battle
With the carnal side of me I’ve grown to hate

The trumpet of my prayers play towards heaven
A voice of desperation in my cry
Lord strengthen me that I might not yield myself to sin
But keep Your righteous banner lifted high

Lord, I hunger for holiness
And I thirst for the righteousness that’s Yours
That my mind would be cleansed
And my spirit renewed
And this temple that You dwell in would be pure

The tempter stalks about me as a lion
Searching for the slightest scent of blood
For when the skin of my resistance is broken
He moves in swiftly to deepen the cut

Oh, Lord of creation hear Your servant
You understand the weaknesses of men
I’m counting myself crucified with Jesus
Alive to Christ and dead indeed to sin

Lord, I hunger for holiness
And I thirst for the righteousness that’s Yours
That my mind would be cleansed
And my spirit renewed
And this temple that You dwell in would be pure

Words & Music by Carman 1990

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Righteousness & Obedience

"For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." (Romans 2:13)

There is an interesting paradox in this passage. On the one hand we know that nothing we can do can make us rightous, yet on the other hand God is saying that it is through obedience that we are declared righteous. I believe what this passage is saying (as opposed to an infered works righteousness) is that we need to be fully submitted to God's will and purposes to be declared righteous. Obedience is more about cooperating with God's will than earning God's favour. When we obey God's laws we embrace His ways that have the power to transform us, therefore, the reason we are declared righteous.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blameless & Righteous

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous...He who does these things will never be shaken." (Psalm 15:2,5)

Lord, you have called me into a right and holy relationship with the living God. It is your desire that I may dwell in your presence. You have provided the way for an intimate relationship, restoring what was lost in the garden of Eden. Your sancturary is a holy place and for me to remain in that place, I need to walk in your ways. It is my deep desire to be blameless and righteous in your sight. I want a heart after your own; I want a renewed mind; I want a steadfast spirit. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Christian Perfection

I have always been intrigued by Wesley's notion of Christian perfection. When we think of something as being perfect, we think of something that is without fault or faultless. It is a term that, in our humanness, we would struggle to apply to a person, let alone an object.

I remember many years ago hearing an officer describe perfection in this way: He held up a pen and asked if it was perfect. Most responses suggested not, because of all the obvious external flaws. He then asked what was the pen designed to do, to which we responded, "to write". After demonstrating that the pen fulfilled the purpose for which it was made, he declared it to be a perfect pen. This illustration provides a helpful insight into how this idea of Christian perfection can be applied to a redeemed people. We have been created to be in relationship with Jesus Christ and to fulfil His redemptive purposes. When we submit our lives to Christ, pursue Christlikeness and be obedient to His will, then surely this understanding of "perfection" applies, despite our obvious flaws.

In their book, "Authentic Holiness for Ordinary Christians", Geoff & Kalie Webb suggest that "Holy living comes from the love of God poured in believers' hearts. This is not the static perfection associated with the word flawless. Rather believers are called to be blameless." Christian perfection in this context is not about being flawless, but blameless. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 we read that God will keep us "blameless" not "flawless" on this side of heaven. The Webb's further state, "Being blameless in word and action is not a performance target to be achieved, but is the fruit of sanctification, and involves integrity in grace-enabled behaviour."

Friday, July 30, 2010


"We must never forget that we look to Jesus not only as our Saviour from sin but as our example in holy living. When we step out on to the highway of holiness it is not in the company of some stranger whom we have never met before. We are with the one who has already shown himself to be our Saviour and who cannot fail 'to lavish upon us all that he has to give' (Romans 8:32). We are ever in his company and his example is always before our eyes. Holiness is Christlikeness and Christlikeness is holiness. What is Christlike is holy and what is unChristlike is unholy - by whomsoever or for whatsoever reason."
(Frederick Coutts, The Splendour of Holiness, p 60)

When we strip holiness down to its very essence, it is nothing more and nothing less than being 'Christlike". We used to sing the chorus, To Be Like Jesus, which ought to reflect the heart of every believer who's "attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:5). In Christ, we have the example and power to be like the One who has saved us and sanctified us for His purpose. He has gone before us and goes ahead of us, giving "us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3).

There is a very obvious conclusion for me from these thoughts; if I want to be like Christ, I need to be in close proximity to Christ - learning from His example, receiving His power, listening to His voice and imitating His character.