4 March 2000

"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy"-1 Peter 1:15-16
The desire to do better, the pursuit of holiness, is an evidence of grace. I believe this holy desire is found in the bosom of all of God's children. Some curse it; many try to ignore it; nevertheless it remains. It will not go away. In regeneration, God has written the command upon the heart. Our feeling is confirmed by scripture. I can not make such a statement because I am not holy. Only God can make give such a command. Nevertheless, the command has been made and our joy is found in the keeping of it. The commandment does not mean that God expects perfection; that we can live above sin for, "If we say that we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"-I John 1:8. Nor does it mean that every child will obey. Consider Lot. His later conversation was worse than his first. Yet, Peter describes him as a righteous man, a child of God. Rather than grow, he became worse and we see the end of his life. So sad. But it does mean that as we mature physically, our goal should be to become better. Therefore God is calling upon us to do something uncomfortable: CHANGE. I have three main points today, and I must be brief concerning this holy pursuit:(1) This is God's will for His children;(2) How He brings it about;(3) A test for us all. GOD'S WILL FOR HIS CHILDREN This is God's will for His children: to become more like Him; to grow in grace; to increase in godliness; to become better today than we were yesterday; to mature spiritually as we mature naturally. There is no such thing as a full blown Christian; a perfect husband; a perfect wife; or a perfect disciple. There are always changes to be made for the better. I have heard some say, "I wish I knew God's will for me in my life". In a very real sense, this is God's will for all of His children, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification"-I Thes 4:3. This means that we have been consecrated for a Holy use; that we are to grow in grace: pursue holiness. Are you changing? HOW GOD BRINGS ABOUT THIS CHANGE Change is a very painful process. It takes pain to destroy our lust, to quench our love for the world and to move us to obedience. As the sculptor chips away at a shapeless piece of stone, so God chips away at our hearts and brings beauty out of chaos. Our change is not brought about by comforts, but rather by afflictions; suffering; trials; pain; and yes, even death. God's first stroke with His chisel is regeneration. When we are born again the Holy Ghost serves as an inward light, revealing our sin. Thankfully, the hands of the Holy Sculptor continue. He does not lay his chisel down here. Chip, chip, chip, by trials and afflictions He hammers away destroying our worldly comforts. Consider this biblical theme. Paul tells us that we are appointed to suffer for Christ's sake: "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto"-I Thes. 3:3. He reminds us that regardless of how severe our afflictions may be, they are light compared to the joy we will experience in glory, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"-2Cor. 4:17. The best is yet to come! When we know we are to suffer for Christ's sake, it becomes armor for our mind, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin"-I Peter 4:1. Suffering kills the desires for sin. Many times God will send suffering our way which will occupy our energies otherwise spent on sinful behavior that would have destroyed our lives; to get our attention; to wake us up. A TEST FOR US ALL Would you allow me to pose a few questions that may serve as a barometer to gauge our spiritual climate? (1) What is your reaction to sin; to failure; to the slipping of the tongue or the loss of the temper. Do you blame everyone but self? Adam blamed God for giving him Eve, "The woman thou gavest to be with me". Then he blamed his wife for his sin.(2) Is Romans 7 real to you? When you try to do good, do you still find evil present within?(3) Do you get angry with God when the universe does not revolve around you? (4) When practical godliness is the theme of the sermon, do you apply it to self or those around you?(5) How about preaching in general? Are you present to hear each time the opportunity avails itself? (6) Are you reading the word? (7) Are you pursuing holiness? Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor