Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

You can have both: Holiness and Grace

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I know that the devil has always been alert and prowling and sly and…well, just very busy, since that day at the tree. I know he is unrelenting and unfeeling and would rather throw a nuclear bomb than a grenade. He is smart and powerful. I also know, though, that “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1Jn 4:4). I know. 

But knowing and persevering when it seems to me he is busier than he has ever been, are two different things. I have to step back and realize that I am just a tiny speck on the globe and that, at that, my life span on this earth is a tiny “tittle” on a page in the massive volume of history since that day in the garden. 

But, oh my! From my very limited and tiny perspective, it just seems like the 2020s are the years of major attacks by the great deceiver on the people of God! Again, realizing our sphere is small, I try not to become too discouraged. But then I hear others, from distant places, saying things like “I believe the devil is hard at work in our congregation,” or “This time is a very dark time among our brethren here.” 

At the risk of being a pessimist, let me say this: While my conversations in recent days with other Christians have included some things that are bleak and hard to discuss, they have also included evangelism at work, the beginnings of a Digging Deep study within a denomination, the excitement of upcoming assemblies that will include thousands of worshippers, the value of Christian education, tiny children who are learning all of the books of the Bible and many passages for recitation, and during the last two weeks, the opportunity to be with happy Christians and hear many lessons in programs that were extremely, over-the-top encouraging. There are lots of busy people and congregations still peacefully and zealously taking His grace and truth to their communities. 

But the devil is not about peace, grace or truth. He is about deceit. He is a liar and he is the father of lies. I talked with a young person last night who told me that “Scientists don’t believe in God.” The devil gave her that notion. He lied. He is the one who makes faithful young people believe that all scientists reject the notion of God. He makes people in struggling, but faithful, godly homes, believe that there can be unimaginable joy in an extramarital relationship and that it can be accomplished without any harm or knowledge that interferes with life for God. He does that by telling married people that, since all people sin in some way, adultery is no worse. “It’s just my personal weakness and God’s grace will make it alright, in the end, if I keep on repenting.” Satan whispers this, while bombs are dropped in homes and children suffer in unbelievable ways. He lies. He makes Christian teens believe that any sexual behavior short of sexual completion is not sinful. He lies. He makes people think that not one of the myriad of people in our worlds would be interested in knowing the gospel. He makes us believe that temper is such an easily spouted and then retrieved (easily fixed) entity that it will not harm relationships. In short, he lies!  And then he lies some more. He still, in Romans 6 fashion, makes us believe that we are somehow being holy when we flaunt grace for purposeful, continued sin. He lies (John 8:44).

In this environment where the wolf is devouring, while dressed as a sweet little lamb, sometimes good people unknowingly give the devil a pass into their personal lives and congregations. They do this by ignoring some of the purification processes that God has mercifully given his people. Sometimes, elders fail to withdraw fellowship from those who are showing in their lives that penitence is not occurring (1 Corinthians 5). They do this while smiling and hugging and showing great benevolence to those in need. But innocent and needy people are suffering at the hands of the impenitent, too.  Sometimes, sisters may chastise other faithful sisters for getting out of adulterous marriages and trying to put holiness back in all of their closest relationships (Matthew 19:9). Sometimes, parents buy into “gentle parenting” concepts while blatant disrespect is consuming their homes. Sometimes, we fail to do the hard work and walk through difficult doors of sanctification that God has commanded or allowed. and sometimes we encourage each other to stay in a weak defensive mode rather than to grow into people who are strongly and pro-actively carrying the gospel to those around us. 

I personally know some faithful soldiers who are being pummeled by the devil. I mean, they get up each day to the reality that he is doing all he can to impede their evangelism, to bury the encouragement they have for others, and to label even their best efforts at humility before  God, submission and holiness—as “haughtiness” or, in the most popular descriptive phrase of those who are critical of healthy doctrine (1Timothy 2:1), “phariseeism.” 

 

Let’s not let him win! Let’s not let him have our attitudes, remembering that none of us is worthy in any way before the throne, without the precious blood. But let’s not let him have our purity,. either. Let’s be in the Word, realizing that it is possible to live holy lives, leaving behind immorality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and exalting Him with the story of the cross that saved us, at every opportunity. I do not have to choose between His grace and His holiness. I can and must have both to make it to the throne one day! 

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