Monday, February 15, 2016

10 Steps to a More Holy Life

Holiness has been given a bad rap in these days of hyper-grace and sloppy agape. But walking in intimate relationship with God and living under His protection does have its requirements. Living the holy life does not mean that everything will be rosy and things will turn out the way we want. There is not one hero of the Bible that led a life without trial and tribulation, but there is a way to live in His will, under His covering, and have a close personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. 

Psalm 15 asks and answers two questions, Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

First I need to dispel the concept that the psalmist is referring to going to heaven when we die. There is a tendency to spiritualize some scriptures which actually apply to how we live our everyday lives. 

At the time the Psalms were written, eternal life and heaven was not universally accepted by the Jewish people. The Hebrew word that is translated as “Tabernacle” refers to the Holy place where God dwelt while the Jews were out in the desert. But the word has a deeper meaning as a tent or a covering. While only the priests could enter the tabernacle, you and I have the opportunity to live our lives under the covering and protection of God. The Psalmist is asking the question, “Who can receive this covering and protection?” 

His next question is worded differently but has a similar meaning, “Who can stay on Your Holy Hill” The Hebrew word “qodesh har” refers to a sacred high place as opposed to a common or profane place. The bible refers to the holiness of God not only to the mystery of his power but also to his character as totally good and entirely without evil. Holy objects, therefore, are those with no moral pollution. They are not merely dedicated, but dedicated to what is good and kept from what is evil.

So what does this mean to you and me in twenty-first century America? Too many Christians have adopted the Antinomian attitude that they can do anything they want and still live under God’s protection and maintain an intimate relationship with the Lord. Many so-called Christian business people, politicians, and even clergy act in ways which are contrary to God’s will and still believe they have a right to God’s blessings.

Psalm 15 provides great insight into what it takes to live under God’s umbrella [tent, tabernacle, etc.] of protection and have that close personal relationship.

1.         Walk blamelessly. Whenever we sin we create a hole in the Lord’s umbrella of protection. Be careful in what you do or say so that there will be no cause for others to condemn your actions. There may be times when you are blamed for things over which you have no control, but be careful, there are consequences to your actions.

2.         Do right things. It is not enough to not sin nor commit wrong acts. You must to right things. Remember, it is more important to do right than to be right. Be just in all your thoughts and actions.

3.         Speak the truth from the heart. It is easy to stretch the truth to impress someone or to cover up something we do not want others to know, but speak truth from the heart. But what if your wife asks, “Does this dress make me look too fat?” Try to avoid falsehood and be creative.

4.         Do not slander. Do not tell false things about others.

5.         Do not do wrong to your neighbor. Instead always do the next right thing. Actually, we are commanded not to do wrong things to others, and especially not our neighbors. Our neighbors may be anyone in our community.

6.         Do not make disparaging remarks about others.

7.         Despise evil, but honor those who fear the Lord.

8.         Keep your promises even when it hurts to do so.

9.         Lend money without exorbitant interest. You may collect modest interest on money you loan to others, but do not take advantage of their situation.

10.       Do not take a bribe against the innocent. There are times when it may be to our personal gain to blame someone else for something in which they are innocent. That would be taking a bribe.

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