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Section 7. Living The Faith...
The Biblical Command to Holiness and Perfection

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What Is Holiness?
Part III

Carol Brooks

Tmym is the other Hebrew word intrinsically linked with the concept of holiness. Used close to a hundred times in the Old Testament Tmym means literally, figuratively or morally complete; perfect, or without blemish. In other words, moral uprightness

Index To All Sections

 

Perfection
Perfection
Tmym - the other Hebrew word intrinsically linked with the concept of holiness means literally, figuratively or morally complete; perfect, or without blemish.

From The Old Testament To The New
Jesus echoed His Father's instructing His listeners to "be perfect".

Sin Causes Us to Fall Short of Perfection
One of the biggest problems is that sin usually seems to be fun, pleasurable, or beneficial in some way.
It also estranges us from the Father.

Persistent Sin... The Battle Between The Flesh and The Spirit

Practical Steps
If you find yourself in the position of falling over and over again, it is time to go beyond good intentions, and employ a more concrete strategy

Avoiding Cultural Contamination...
People, Places, Entertainment etc.

 Overcoming Sin
Three Additional Thoughts
Spend your Time On The Right Things.
Learn to Control Your Thoughts
Be Accountable

Final Words of Caution
Do Not Think You, Have "Arrived"
Do Not Assume Someone Else is "Holy" Because Of What They Do, Or The Position They Hold
Do Not Look Back

 


Perfection
Tmym
is the other Hebrew word intrinsically linked with the concept of holiness. Used close to a hundred times in the Old Testament Tmym means entire or literally, figuratively or morally complete; perfect, or without blemish.

Completeness: It is used in the context of completeness as in the following examples

    You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete (Heb. tmym) sabbaths.  (Leviticus 23:15 NASB)

    So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole (Heb. tmym) day. (Joshua 10:13 NASB)

Moral Perfection: However, exactly using the same word God instructed Israel to be "perfect", said in the context of refraining from the sins of child sacrifice, consulting a familiar spirit, a wizard, or necromancer or using divination/magic. In other words, "perfect" related to the principles of right and wrong.

    "You shall be blameless (Heb. tmym) before the Lord your God.  (Deuteronomy 18:13 NASB)

    "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. "For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. "You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 18:10-13 NASB)

Similarly, David associated tmym with keeping himself from iniquity.

    "For all His ordinances were before me, And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. "I was also blameless (Heb. tmym) toward Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. "Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness before His eyes. (2 Samuel 22:23-25 NASB)

So when Abraham was instructed to "be perfect" in Genesis 17:1 (KJV) and Noah was described as such in Genesis 6:9 (KJV), the Scriptures are speaking of moral uprightness, which the Scriptures equate with completeness.


From The Old Testament To The New...
Jesus echoed His Father's instructing His listeners to "be perfect". The Greek teleios
also means complete, or fully mature.

    Ye therefore shall be perfect (Heb. teleios), as your heavenly Father is perfect (teleios). [Matthew 5:48]

    "Therefore you are to be perfect (Heb. teleios), as your heavenly Father is perfect (Heb. teleios).  (Matthew 5:48 NASB)

When the author of Hebrews told his readers that they needed to "press on unto perfection", it is necessary to read the last few verses of the previous chapter in order to fully grasp what he was talking about. In context...

    Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity (Gk. teleiotes), not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 5:11-6:2 NASB)

He stresses that believers needed to progress beyond the basic foundations of the Christian faith or, as he put it, move from milk to meat. In other words, they they should already have thoroughly grasped the basic ABCs and now and needed to progress beyond those. They were to recognize that their original foundation (although sound) was to be used as as a base on which to build the rest of the structure - full Christian completeness and maturity, often expressed in the Bible as perfection or completion.


Sin Causes Us to Fall Short of Perfection
But what exactly is sin?

For a huge number of people, the concept of "sin" seems rather quaint... residual traces of the days of simplistic religious beliefs. Many of those that do hold to the concept of a 'higher power', do not believe that there is an absolute moral law. And if there happens to be a God against whom we sin, He is too loving to actually hold our 'mistakes' against us, much less punish us for them. 

If pressed, it is likely that the majority of people in the western world would place themselves in the 'not perfect' category, but a far cry from 'sinners', or really bad people, usually defined as the serial killers, rapists and child molesters of the world. An almost universal 'Santa Claus' mentality holds to the idea of rewards for those who's good deeds outweigh the bad, and punishment for those for whom the opposite is true.

The subjects of sin and salvation are the warp and weft of very the fabric the Bible is woven out of, yet, even when many Christians think of sin, they simply think of a violation of the Ten Commandments. 

None of these views come anywhere near agreeing with the Biblical definition of sin, judgment, or even heaven and hell. This is simply because few know, or understand how the Bible defines sin. People usually judge themselves by the standards of other people, whereas, the "mark" or target that the Scriptures are referring to is an absolute standard of good... the perfection of God Himself. Anything short of that standard is 'missing the mark'. We might be satisfied with "goodness", but God is not. He demands "perfection".  [For Details See Sin]

The Polluting Quality of Sin
One of the biggest problems is that sin (at least in the beginning) seems to be fun, pleasurable, or beneficial in some way. All too many people, including Christians, do not seem to take a serious enough approach to sin, failing to realize that sin traps, then drags us down. Sin and/or false doctrine was often symbolized by leaven even a little of which, as both Jesus and Paul pointed out, was a very dangerous thing.

    And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew 16:6 NASB)

    Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  (Luke 12:1 NASB)

    And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."  (Mark 8:15 NASB)

    Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? (1 Corinthians 5:6 NASB)

Leaven was used as a symbol of evil probably because of how leavening works. Given time the yeast ferments and reproduces, spreading throughout the dough or batter and biologically changing the chemistry of its host as it works. Similarly, sin doesn't stay small or contained for very long, but quickly spreads. As Paul asked the Galatians who were turning from the truth of the Gospel to legalism preached by false teachers.

    You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. (Galatians 5:7-9 NASB)

Note: On the feast of Unleavened bread, which began on the 15th of Nisan (the day following Passover), and continued for seven days until the 21st of Nisan, God commanded the Israelites to avoid eating any leavened foods (food that contained any fermenting product such as yeast or baking powder) during this period. Even modern day Jews who observe the traditional feasts go through a comprehensive, and exhausting, search of their houses for any form of leavened food (chametz), every last crumb of which is then removed from the house. The symbolism of the feast of Unleavened Bread is that God's people can not continue in the same old patterns, but have to search out and remove every speck of sin in their lives... only possible after putting faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. [See The Seven Feasts of Israel]


Persistent Sin... The Battle Between The Flesh and The Spirit
There is no question that believers often find themselves torn between the temptation to sin on the one hand, and the desire to live as God want them to on the other. Jesus and Paul, respectively, put it this way

    "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  (Matthew 26:41 NASB)

    For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:17 NASB)

Unfortunately, it is not exactly unknown for the Christian to fall for the same temptation over and over again. James well expressed how serious it is to give in to sin.

    But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 NASB)

Which makes it hardly a surprise that Paul's frustration with what literally amounts to a life and death struggle is clearly evident in the book of Romans,

    For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, i n my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (Romans 7:15-18 NASB)

    Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?  (Romans 7:24 NASB)

In simpler words, even if we have the desire to do what is right, we often fail because every Christian has two natures that are in complete opposition to one another. The old nature (or "old man" as Paul expressed it in Roman 6:6), is the person we used to be before coming to faith in Christ and before being born again. This old nature conflicts with the Christian who is now a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Because of this many may wonder how they can possibly handle a lifetime of temptation. Others with a history of failure may despair of ever breaking habits that have dominated them, perhaps for years.

What may help is to take some...


Practical Steps
Many Christians may tackle their problems by resolving to "try harder", but while this may work for some people, it does not
always do so for those that struggle with particular sins. As the old saying goes... "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".  So if you find yourself in the position of falling over and over again, it is time to go beyond good intentions, and employ a more concrete strategy to defeat whatever it is that is tempting you. This strategy involves...

     Analyzing your sin

     Making a precise and practical plan to deal with it.

But, it is very important to begin the entire process with a pen and paper..

Writing it Down
It is an extremely good idea to put both your analysis of your repeated sin, and your plan for tackling it (or them), down in a journal of sorts along with the date and circumstances of both successes and failures. If, by any chance, you are dealing with more than one, or even multiple temptations you want to defeat, it may be best to work on them one or two at a time, to avoid overwhelming yourself. 

Why should all this be committed to paper? While nothing can take the place of prayer, the work of the Holy Spirit, or Bible study, written goals, and the strategy you intend to employ to achieve them, can be very important.

Writing things down almost always helps you to think more clearly, and it often happens that seeing something in black and white brings you to a realization of the problem far more strongly than if you had just thought about it. The act of writing brings clarity, focus, and a sense of direction will help you to process emotions and, often, see the problem in a different light. Having both the problem and the solution written down will give you a good overview, and enable you to emotionally distance yourself from the problem, at least enough to see it more objectively, then work towards a solution.

Writing something down also makes it much harder to lie to yourself and makes it far more likely that you will honour it simply because it is a hundred times easier to weasel out of something you have said, or verbally agreed to. 

So what is it is you need to commit to the written word?


Step I... Your Analysis of the Patterns.
It is more likely than not that particular circumstances or people will pave the way to a particular sin. If you think about it objectively, all the while asking God to grant you the ability to see clearly, you may very well be able to identify patterns that should help you understand why you sin, and what leads up to that sin. For example, does a fight with your spouse lead you to reach for the alcohol, or does peer pressure cause you to live beyond your means. Some of the questions you could ask yourself are

    What are the circumstances that lead up to the sin?

    What thought processes and/or first steps occur before I sin?

    Are there any particular people in who's company I am tempted to sin?

    Are there any particular places in which I am usually tempted?

Write your answers down in each category. Answering these questions truthfully, and realistically, should bring to light any discernible patterns that lead to temptation. Writing them down crystallizes thoughts, and makes it easy to refer to later.


Step II... Your Precise Plans to Break the Patterns
Once you can identify what the patterns are, you can take the necessary steps to defeat them. Therefore, step two is writing down what you have to do to distance yourself from temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB)

You need to diligently look for the way of escape, and not be one of those people who repeatedly call on God for the strength to resist temptation, when they have allowed themselves to be surrounded by it. The answer is not to keep asking for strength, but to be obedient to what God has already said, and physically get yourself away from the temptation. For example, if there are particular places or people that tempt you to sin, you need to avoid both at all cost. If your problem is pornography on the internet, you must subscribe to a Christian internet provider that filters out all porn.

You need to do it today.

The good thing is that every time you resist sin, you build resistance, which makes it easier to say "no" the next time temptation comes your way. You become an example and an encouragement to others who may be facing the same, or similar, problems and temptations you are. Many, of these problems stem from the world around us...


The World
Cultural Contamination
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were warned to stay away from the culture and practices of the nations around them.

    Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'I am the Lord your God. 'You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. 'You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. 'So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:1-5 NASB)

The New Testament authors echoed the thought

    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)

    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.  (James 1:27 NASB)

    Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 NASB)

Yet, the church has had far less influence on the culture, than the culture has had on the church.

People: In today's world people tend to the idea that happiness lies in having a wide circle of friends with whom one enjoys the pleasures of life. However, this can only be a positive influence if the people with whom we associate are spiritually minded. It is a well known fact that those we spend the most time with have the most influence on our character, behavior, and decisions. The Scriptures are strewn with warnings about avoiding evil company and associating with those that would lead us into temptation.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalms 1:1-3 NASB)

    Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. (Proverbs 4:14-15 NASB)

    Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB)

The instructions are clear... do not even flirt with anything the world has to offer, or even those people who live for it's pleasures.

Places: If there are particular places, i.e. nightclubs, bars, and 'adult' theaters. bookshops etc. that tempt you to a particular sin, you may be well advised to, as far as possible, avoid them like the plague. However, if you are tempted at work or at home, you have to find a way to avoid the particular situation that tempts you. Write down how you will resist when tempted.

Entertainment: While it is not necessary to watch, read, or listen to only things that are overtly Christian, in a society that is increasingly being driven by sex and violence, we need to avoid the pitfall of blindly following the standards of the culture we live in. Just because 'everyone else' is watching questionable movies, reading questionable books, and listening to questionable music, does not make it okay for the Christian to do the same. As a Christian, you have to learn to critically evaluate everything you see, read, or hear, following one guideline which is... whether or not it is pleasing to God.

While it is true, to some extent, that we can filter out the less than desirable parts, whether we realize it or not, repetitive exposure affects us adversely.  For example, in the 21st century, sex is commonly portrayed as nothing but a biological drive. All too often, premarital sex is shown as romantic and wonderful, while the sin of adultery is downplayed. Constant exposure to these messages is very likely to have a detrimental effect, as your thoughts about sex becomes less and less like God's, and more and more like the world. The danger is that it will eventually culminate in one form or another of sexual sin... sexual fantasies, or a real life partner.

Role models. Regardless of the fact that, all too often, famous athletes, Hollywood stars, television personalities, and rock stars, are sad examples of morality and ethics, they are commonly both envied and emulated. [See Section on Rock Music]

Unless you too do not care that God has called you to a particular lifestyle... Unless you are unconcerned about compromising both your testimony, and your eternal life, you need to critically evaluate what, and who, influences your way of thinking, how you dress, and how you relate to the world.

Take out a pen and paper and write down some ways in which culture has influenced you more than the Bible has, and who the people are that you may be hero worshipping, and why you should stop. Also write down how exactly how you plan to declare your independence from the world's way of thinking and behaving, as well as the names of people who's example you would like to follow, and why you think you should.

After doing this read your own words. Do they line up with what the Scriptures teach? Would God be pleased with your choices?

While I am sure that much more could be said, and many more examples given, I am sure you get the idea. It is up to you to elaborate on the basic formula on this page, all of which will give you far more control over sin, than vague ideas of 'doing better'. Also be sure not to forget that transformation comes only with God's help, so pray without stopping throughout the process.


Three Additional Thoughts

Spend your Time On The Right Things.
As asked before, do you fill every moment with endless television shows? Do you have to see almost every movie that comes out? Do the shenanigans of Hollywood stars, and various other celebrities, fascinate you to the point that you cannot wait for the next issue of People Magazine, or to turn on the television to shows like Extra, that do nothing but showcase the trite, the trivial and the superficial.. to say nothing of a usually ungodly, sinful, way of life.

Spending too many hours on entertainment can be very detrimental, both to our physical and spiritual lives.

Some of the potential dangers from secular entertainment are that we can begin to accept a secular picture of the world, accepting the world's values of sex, violence and money. Secular entertainment can affect us to an extreme degree, often to the point of becoming cynical about God and religion. The situations we see in popular media rarely apply to real life, and could result in our becoming dissatisfied with our own lives, possibly including our homes, the cars we drive, our inability to take luxurious vacations, and even our spouses. It is believed by some experts that violence often has its genesis in movies, and video games. See Why Kids Shoot

We were never meant to be spectators, blindly absorbing everything that comes to us from the outside, but were meant to active participants in life. Choosing to do things that are healthy, and beneficial, can be a lot of fun. Therefore, stop watching the endless so called "Christian television" which, all too often, has no connection with anything the Bible teaches. Instead, start a serious Bible study program. Stop watching so many sports programming on television and take one up yourself (your body will thank you). Get in shape.. take long walks and join a gym. Learn to play a musical instrument, or take up a hobby. Start your own garden. Do yourself, and your family, a favor and learn (or re-learn) how to cook, avoiding all processed food which is the probably the primary cause of modern society's health problems.

What about donating some of those endless hours spent in front of the television to a worthy cause in your area. Mentor a child, help out at a shelter... Better yet, ask God what He would like you to do. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Also See

Don't Waste Your Life It is a tragedy of immense proportions that our culture surpasses itself in magnifying the trivial. Life is not about how many 'friends' you have on Facebook, or whether you have seen Hollywood's latest blockbuster. Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy - as precious as that is... 

Do You Believe in Anything Worth Contending For? It's popular today to live a trivial life and to have a trivial worldview. If you want to maintain a trivial worldview, avoid difficulties, and entertain yourself, you can. You can turn on a sitcom. You can play a video game. You can go to an arts and crafts fair. You don't have to take life seriously. If you avoid trying to expose false belief systems for what they are, it's now called "tolerance" and "respect". Taking the path of least resistance has never been so popular.


Learn to Control Your Thoughts
Do not allow yourself to fantasize about sin or daydream about situations that are sinful. As the Bible says

    Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

It is a likely that many, if not most, people regard a wanton imagination and/or sinful thoughts, as being of little consequence, and not forbidden. However, our Savior turned that idea on it's head, telling us that God's laws were just as broken by secret thoughts and desires, as they were by actually committing the sin.

    "You have heard that it was said, 'you shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28 NASB)

Linked to this is the problem of masturbation which, in itself, has never been specifically pointed to as a sin, nor explicitly forbidden in the Scriptures. However, if you masturbate, you probably entertain sexual fantasies at the same time. Although masturbation is not a sin, the thoughts that usually accompany it are.

Also, sin doesn't just happen but begins the process of germination in your mind and emotions.

    Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NASB)

    "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. (Matthew 23:26 NASB)

    And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. (Mark 7:20-22 NASB)

Again, you need to analyze what is tempting you, and in what circumstances it happens. Also, be aware that it is possible to entertain impure thoughts without even realizing it. As king David once did, ask God to search your heart.

    Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalms 139:23-24 NASB)

Disciplining your mind may be one of the hardest things you have ever had to do and, I suspect, it will be an uphill slog, but with God's help you can succeed.


Be Accountable
Do not underestimate the usefulness of accountability, which can be a huge help in overcoming stubborn sins. Another Christian or a small group of believers who will both listen and talk to you, encourage or rebuke you, and pray with you, is perhaps one of the most valuable resources in our war to conquer sin. Like-minded believers can greatly help, encourage and motivate one another, which was probably one of the reasons Jesus did not send the disciples out by themselves, but in pairs. (Mark 6:7)

The book of Ecclesiastes says there is strength in numbers (4:11-12), and Proverbs 27:17 tells us that one mind can sharpen the other which the author of Hebrews elaborates on ...

    and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB)

Sometimes victory over sin comes quickly, sometimes it takes a little longer. The first few weeks are the hardest, but, believe it or not, it gradually gets easier. Perhaps the situation can be likened to those who have quit smoking, many of whom report that the urge to light up comes every so often, even years after they quit. But it is not as strong an urge, and can be overcome.

Perseverance, and ample use of the resources He has given us are both essential.
 

Three Words of Caution

Do Not Think You, Have "Arrived"
Human beings seem to have this tendency to let swing the pendulum too far in one direction or the other, with both extremes the realm of dangerous, if not fatal traps.

On the one side is the Christian who thinks he has "arrived". However, if Paul, author of two thirds of the New Testament did not consider himself complete or perfect, then how can we?

    Anyone who thinks he is a good candidate for a halo, should pay close heed to Paul's words in the following verse, in which he asserts that he did not regard himself as a perfect man. He had not reached the state of being free from sin, but, he was pressing on towards the goal. (Also See Romans 7:14-25)

    Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; (Philippians 3:12-15 NASB)

In other words, while none of us can say that we are not guilty of feelings, thoughts, words, or deeds, which fall short of the standards of God's perfection, we have to realize that perfection is not instantaneously granted to believers on conversion, but is a goal which Christians are expected to strive towards. They do not willfully continue in any known form of sin, but confess it, then turn away from it, trusting the grace of God for help and power to overcome. [See Repentance] Also there are plenty of other believers who face the same struggles we do.

On the opposite end, some believe that unless a Christian is free from all sin, he is no Christian at all. Although sinless perfection is something that the normal human being can never hope to achieve their inability to meet an impossibly high (and artificial) standard can, and has, led to people doubting their very salvation. They go through so many episodes of self condemnation, that their assurance and faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, is terribly shaken.

    Although he must have been quite old when he penned this letter, John used the word "we" in his epistle to Christians, including himself in the ranks of those that were not quite there yet. In fact the Word of God says

    If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 NASB)

In one of Jesus' parables He made the point that the publican who realized he was a sinner and humbly asked for mercy, was justified. But the Pharisee who claimed perfection was not.

    And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14 NASB)

And then, of course, you have the liberal Christian who believes that he is saved regardless of his lifestyle and behavior to whom I can only "You need to start reading this article from the very first word.


Do Not Look Back
if any believer chooses to return to the world, and to engage again in all its vain pursuits, there is nothing to hinder them. Certainly there are inducements and "opportunities" enough to do so, and they would be welcomed with open arms. However,

    For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB)

    For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "a dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:20-22 NASB) 

The Example of Esau
Immediately after the author of Hebrews tells his readers that without holiness no one will see God, he talks about Esau who sold his own birthright. Read the verses together.

    Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17 NASB)

It takes some reflection in order to understand why, in the context of holiness, Esau is pointed out as a negative example.  Esau was the eldest son of Abraham and older brother of Isaac. From his early years he must have been aware of the blessings promised Abraham and his descendants. However in the final analysis, as said by Bob Deffinbaugh, Senior Pastor of Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas ...

    "living in close proximity to God's blessings is not the same as entering into them". [12]

Esau's sins were the same as those of too many modern believers. He returned from the fields, exhausted, hungry, and faint, to the point he seemed to fear that he was actually going to die. He then traded in his birthright for a bowl of soup (or stew) that Isaac had ready. Like so many in our modern culture, when the going got rough, Esau caved in and sold his eternal blessing for instant and temporary gratification. He 'fell short' of holiness. He failed to be separated to God and therefore, was afterwards unable to inherit the blessings, although he sought it with tears.


Do Not Assume Someone is Holy Because Of What They Do, Or The Position They Hold:
To quote pastor Bob Deffinbaugh once more...

    Positional holiness is that holiness which is supposed to accompany a certain office or position. For example, the Jews of Jesus' day would have assumed that a priest (and especially the high priest) was holy. Today, some people assume that because a person is an elder, or a preacher, or a priest, he is holy. This is not necessarily the case at all. In fact, we should be reminded that such positions are strategic targets for Satan's agents:

    But what I am doing, I will continue to do, that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds (2 Cor. 11:12-15; cf. also 2 Pet. 2).

    Holiness has nothing to do with one's occupation (unless, of course, it is intrinsically an immoral task), but rather with one's obedience to the commands of God in daily living. [11]

Just as the scribes and Pharisees did not even recognize the "Holy One of Israel, and made a hash of interpreting the Old Testament laws, we cannot assume that anyone is holy, correct in how they interpret the Scriptures, and or even know what they are talking about. This regardless of what position they hold, what degrees they have, where they attended seminary, the size of their church/following, how many books they have written, or how many Tv shows they have appeared on.

Also See The First Most Dangerous Mistake Any Christian Can Make ... Believe that WE Or OUR Pastor or Denomination Cannot be Fooled

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