Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Freedom from Unnecessary Sorrow

2 Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

These past several days we have been exploring why it is that holiness is desirable.  So far we have considered that holiness is desirable due to:
1. It focusing us on desiring God
2. How it fortifies marriage

Today we want to consider another reason for desiring holiness - i.e something of which we can avoid in our pursuit of holiness, namely Freedom from unnecessary sorrow.  In Leviticus 18-22 we see warnings issued by the LORD pertaining to the consequences of unholy decisions and behavior. 

Desiring holiness does not mean immunity from trouble, however....
Now the reason I chose this title: "freedom from unnecessary sorrow" is because desiring holiness does not mean immunity from troubles.  For example, 2 Timothy 3:12 reminds us:  "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted".  If anything, pursuing Godliness can lead to greater persecution. (Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22)

Desiring holiness can avoid unnessary trouble
However there are consequences that take place that follow from poor decisions and unholy practices.  In Leviticus 18-22 we see four such cosequences or sorrows that result from unholiness.  By noting these sorrows, we can understand how desiring holiness can prevent us from experiencing unnecessary sorrow.

1. Defilement of the land. (Leviticus 18:24-31; 19:29; 20:1-8, 22)
Did you know that the cummulative immorality of a culture can literally "defile the land"?  Several times we see reference to this throughout the Bible.  Throughout Genesis to Deuteronomy and the Old Testament we see instances of nations or Israel itself defiling the land.  When a land has been defiled, famine, disease or lack of fruitfulness can result. 

Spiritual famine can occur, yielding the lack of revival or a difficult time of sharing God's Word. (compare Amos 8).  The only remedy is found in passages such as 2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, then will I forgive their sins, then I will heal their land."

2. Injustice. (Leviticus 19:14-17)
Unholiness produces another unnecessary sorrow: injustice.  Cummulative cultural disregard for the holiness of God lies at the doorstep of the church, which has prized everything else but holiness.  Micah 6:8 reminds us - "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"  When Christians aim for justice, they are doing so with the character of God being at stake.  James 1:27 states - Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. When the church desires God and His holiness, injustice will be hated, and justice prized.

3. Broken Marriages. (Leviticus 18 and 20) 
Throughout Leviticus 18, 19 and 20 we see another unnessary sorrow, broken marriages.  Marital infidelity leads to unspeakable sorrow that ripples throughout families and culture.  Who can forget David's act of immorality against Bathsheba.  It unleashed a violent cycle of judgment that led to the death of a child, his own personal spiritual drout, the death of Bathsheba's husband, further actions by his sons, exile from his throne, grief and anguish, shame on the nation and untold tears. 

Holiness must be central to our marriages.  God does not prescribe holiness to kill or curb our joy, rather holiness is for the preservation of our joy. 

4. Loss of God's blessing and power. (Leviticus 22:17-33)
God gave instructions to the priests.  We as Christians are described as a Kingdom of priests in passages such as 1 Peter 2:9-12.  What happens when the New Testament Church neglects holiness?  What occurs when flippancy rather than faithfulness characterizes our fellowships.  Unnecessary sorrow results.  1 Corinthians 11:30 records that people in the church at Corinth were dying as a result of a flippant disregard for God's people and the Lord's table. 

We as human beings tend to diminish what God prizes and to prize what God disdains.  Our churches in America are very busy, very friendly and very relevant.  However how few of our churches are atmospheres wherein you feel like you have stepped out of this world and have gotten a taste of Heaven?  How many are saturated with the words of scripture on the minds of the saints, and the desire for God's glory on their hearts? 

May we desire holiness. 

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