The Command For Holy Conduct Is Not Up For Reinterpretation
December 28, 2013
While downtown this last time I saw two street preachers wearing signs so I went up and talked with them. I can’t say I liked their argumentative approach with the people, (many who were getting agitated and some even irate), but at least they and I agreed that God expects holy conduct from us at all times. I later visited the one guy’s website from the address he gave me, and then last night looked up another open air preacher’s site whom he had mentioned favorably. As I did that, I noticed blogs stating that that particular well-known guy is heretical, and so I read a bit of one blogger’s reasons for deeming him such. But how weary it all made me feel. And how sad. For none of the views appeared to be fully correct theology, even in important matters. Why? We all have God’s Word. Can we not interpret Scripture accurately through the same Spirit of Christ we all claim to have?
Why is the issue of holy conduct so hard to understand? Why is Scripture’s repeated command for it up for reinterpretation? The meaning of “Be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15) can only be twisted by an obvious lie, for it cannot mean anything other than what it means, which is: “Have consistently pure and righteous conduct.” Do some who claim to follow Christ really think that that is only a suggestion and not a command?
To have holy conduct is an order found throughout God’s Word as it reveals very clearly that holiness is not only about being reconciled to God through Christ, but about behaving, speaking, and thinking righteously. Being reconciled to Christ is the invitation and the gift we take. It is the forgiveness and washing applied to everyone who believes. But remaining in this clean position is our choice (as was the initial acceptance of the paid redemption), which we must keep by our continual submission to Christ’s Lordship (Leadership). This we are fully enabled to follow through on (do) because, not only has God given us His divine instructions in the Living (Alive) Word, but He has also graciously given us His own divine power by having given us His own divine Spirit! Through these we absolutely can understand and obey. Therefore to say that real daily holiness (actual righteous living) is not possible is to blaspheme God’s power and to also blaspheme His Spirit who is there for us (available to be walked in / lived in / lived through). (Gal. 5:16) If we do not walk in the Spirit, we are rebelling. Rebellion is disobedience, which is sin, and all participants are subject to God’s wrath. (Eph. 5:6)
Yet, across the internet and in the churches we have the majority of “Christians” insisting that Spirit-indwelt people cannot help but sin, and do actually deliberately sin every day. This they maintain even though numerous passages (just three being Eph. 5:3-7 and Heb. 10:26-31 and 1 John 3:4-10) emphatically teach the opposite.
Did Jesus come to free us from our sins or not? He did. (Mt. 1:21 // Rom. 6:18 / 1 John 3:5) Then why the debate? Why are so many so-called “Christians” clinging to their sins as if they just can’t let them go? Did Jesus tell us to sever ourselves from all that makes us sin, including our own eyes and hands if necessary? He did. (Mt. 5:27-30) Then why, if Jesus, in the same verses and elsewhere, warns us about going to Hell if we keep sinning (same verses), or if we are even the cause of sin (13:41,42), do these false, sin-promoting teachers think their word is to be accepted above Christ’s words?
Does Jesus tell us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father, or not? He does. (Mt. 5:48) Does Rom. 6:1,2 and 1 Peter 4:1,2 state that Christ-followers are done with sinning? Yes. Does Rom. 6:6,7 & 7:5,6,23-25 teach that Christ Jesus has rescued us from the power and control of the sinful nature (the law of sin) so that we are actually severed from it? Yes. Does Jesus say that being unified with Him (being in a love relationship with Him) hinges upon our obedience? Yes, He does say that. (John 14:15,23 & 15:10) Does Heb. 5:9 inform us that obedience is necessary for salvation? It does. And so does 2 Thes. 1:7-10, which also mentions the necessity of knowing God. For obedience leads to belonging to God, which leads to knowing Him, which leads to a maintenance of holy conduct, and which thus insures final salvation. (Luke 13:22-28 // Rom. 6:22,23 // 1 Peter 1:7-9 // 1 John 2:3,4 // Rev. 3:1-6,14-22)
Does 1 John 2:6 state that those united with Christ are to live like Jesus did? It does. And how did Christ live? He lived obedient to the Father in everything. (John 12:49,50 & 14:31) We are to do the same. (2 Cor. 5:15 // Gal. 2:20 // Col. 3:1-4 // 1 Peter 4:1,2) If we fail, we must repent; but God’s expectation is that we are to remain faithful to His training –daily– so that we will not fail. Then when we are fully trained, we will be like our Teacher. (Luke 6:40)
The training never ends in this life, but that gives no one any excuse to ever “take his hand off the plow” (see Luke 9:62) and turn from listening, obeying, and striving for perfection at all times. (Phil. 3:12-14) “And whatever we have already attained, we must live up to.” (See v. 16) Those who teach otherwise are carnally-minded and are not citizens of Heaven, but are enemies of Christ. (v. 17-20 // 2 Peter ch. 2 // Jude 1:4,17-19) Anyone who does not accept that true Christ-followers have had their sinful nature, with its passions and desires, circumcised off (Gal. 5:24 // Col. 2:11) the heart (Rom. 2:29) (–and circumcised off completely –of course! –good grief!), are not teaching the true Gospel.
So why are Christ-followers tolerating the false teachers who go on teaching that works are not part of saving faith? –Especially when Scripture has made the issue firm and clear? God’s Word certainly teaches that faith by itself is useless (Ja. 2:17) and that works complete faith. (v. 22) It says we are not justified by faith alone, but by what we do in alignment with our confession of faith. (v. 24 // Acts 26:20 // 2 Tim. 2:19) Jesus states that in order to enter Life, a person must follow Him, carry the cross He gives them, obey God’s commandments, and keep Self slain. (Mt. 19:17 // Luke 9:23,24 & 14:25-35) Moreover, anyone who does not behave with acts / action / works / deeds in line with the Father’s will does not belong to Christ. (Mt. 12:50) Neither does anyone belong to Christ who is not in submission to (who is not being controlled by) the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9)
Well, I could go on and on, but I sure do wonder how teachers and preachers can insist that we do not have to obey God in order to be saved. And I do wonder too how they can claim that obedience and holiness is not about what we do –how we act, speak, and think.
But God’s Word holds true, and therein it states repeatedly that God will judge us not only on our belief in Christ and what we confess (claim) to believe, but also on our belief in His words, how our conduct proved that belief genuine as we applied God’s Word to our daily lives, if we walked obediently in the will of the Father, and if we walked in sin or in righteousness. (Luke 6:46-49 // John 5:29 // Rom. 8:13,14 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Rev. 20:11-15)
Maybe people should stop reading the “godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20) that is so prevalent on the internet and instead use their time to study diligently God’s ways, God’s doctrine, and God’s Truth which has been made available and plain to us in God’s Word. –Plain, at least, for everyone who sits under the True Teacher found within its pages.