Difficult and left untried…

The Christian faith has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult and left untried. – G. K. Chesterton 

From the standpoint of difficulty, one of the most troublesome texts in all of the Bible is this…

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16

 To emphasize and motivate the Christian toward holiness by pointing out that God Himself is holy seems a bit unproductive at first.  It seems like saying such a thing would be equal to telling a beginning high-jumper, “The world record is 7 ft. 11 1/2 inches.  Do that.”  Yeah right!

One of the many “old, dead guys” that I learn a lot from says it perfectly, and helps us to turn away from a defeated, “throw-up-your-hands-in-dispair” attitude, toward a productive train of thought, with these wise words…

 The Christian life is stamped all through with impossibility.  Human nature cannot come anywhere near what Jesus Christ demands, and any rational being facing his demands honestly, says, “It can’t be done, apart from a miracle.” Exactly. – Oswald Chambers

What point is O.C. making?  Simply that the Christian life is a life that only Christ can live, and He desires to do so THROUGH us, day by day.  If we are serious, and diligent, we can come to know this truth, progress in the practice of it, and begin to see that “impossible” stuff happen on a more frequent basis.  What would normally have catapulted us into a temper tantrum, doesn’t even trigger an irritated emotion.  An opportune moment to put that haughty and irritating co-worker in his place, instead produces a kind and encouraging word toward him.  It can happen, and it does happen.  But there is a cost…

Look back at the verse from 1 Peter.  “Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”  What’s that saying?  It’s revealing 2 aspects of our part in the equation.

  1. Get yourself OUT of the old, fleshly habits that used to control you.  How do you do that?  You start by asking the Spirit to do His work of convicting and revealing.  Then you go to work on what He shows you.  You avoid the contexts that lend themselves to that habit.  You avoid it like the plague (it is).  You begin to replace them with good and Godly behaviors.  It’s a long, hard task requireing a never-say-die attitude.  It’s not easy, or quick, or simple – all the things our culture tells you it SHOULD be.  But what would you expect from a culture that is increasingly growing in godlessness?  I told you it would cost you something…
  2. Replace your former ignorance with present knowledge.  How do you do that?  Learn how to read the scriptures.  Learn how to understand them.  Learn how to memorize them.  Learn how to apply them.  Fill yourself up with truth so that you will recognize the counterfeit when it comes.  Then, in the power of the Spirit, live it out when crunch time comes.  It will be hard, take a lot of diligence, and require blood, sweat, and tears on many different ocassions.  But in the end, will be gloriously worth it!

Finally, Peter tells us WHY this is so important. “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  If we ever hope to represent our God faithfullly, we have to know that a life that demonstrates His work is essential.  That’s called a life of holiness (purity). 

I talk to people all the time who are confident that because they once prayed a prayer in a church (or some other venue) God accepts them.  Then almost in the same breath, with an attitude bordering on “flippant,” they talk about how they won’t give up their pet habits that are obviously contrary to a holy life.  Something isn’t right with that picture.  OUR GOD is a HOLY God.  He is dishonored when we take His name but won’t allow Him to produce HIS LIFE in us.  It’s HIS glory that matters, and is our true motive for living a life of holy purity.

More to come…


One thought on “Difficult and left untried…

  1. Hey man, I found this article after looking for a GK chesterton quote, which I used in an article I wrote. your message here is right on, I just moved to Denver, after a four year stay in the army. My dad is a pastor of a Calvary Chapel in arizona. It is good to see solid biblical teaching being posted online. I would like it if you looked at some of the stuff I’ve written.
    Keep up the gospel.
    “holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service”



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