Category Archives: holiness

What Do You Do With An Old Year?

In a few short days, this year will be put down in the books. The deeds you have done will be recorded in God’s book of remembrance and they all, but for one exception, cannot be erased. It is truly amazing, almost to the point of being breathtaking, how time seems to fly, especially as you get older! When you are young, you think you have forever, but as you get older time seems to speed up. Because of that, you may have many years under your belt. But what good is an old year anyway? What can you do with it?

First, I suggest, you can be thankful for it. Many people did not make it through last year. The odds are, you probably know someone very close to you who did not make it through the end of the year. The wise man said, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). James, likewise, says we know not what shall be on the morrow (James 4:13-16). We don’t have the promise of tomorrow; this night our souls might be required of us (Luke 12:20). Our own experience should teach us this. As we are thankful in everything, let us not forget to give thanks for the passing year (I Thess. 5:18).

Another very important thing we can do with the old year is to learn from it. We know that sacred history was written for our learning (I Cor. 10:6,11; Rom. 15:4). Our own history can also be instructive as we face the new year, if we are willing to learn it’s lessons. The old saying is, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Only a fool would refuse to learn from experience (Prov. 1:5-9). The new year will be far more pleasant for us if we allow ourselves to learn from the old.

In the third place, while we should learn from the past, we should also learn to forget some of the past. Paul wrote that in his efforts to live the Christian life, he tried diligently to forget those things which are behind and to press forward to those things which are before (Phil. 3:13). The emphasis should be upon things eternal. Some people live in the past, which, in and of itself is not a bad thing. But living in the past to the exclusion of the here and now and of the future can be detrimental. The children of Israel looked back to Egypt and lot’s wife looked back to Sodom. Lest s not make the same mistake. Jesus said no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). In order to plow a straight line, we cannot look back, but we must look to the Author and Finisher of our Faith (Heb. 12:1,2).

In the fourth place, however, I would suggest remembering the good times you enjoyed and the blessings you received this past year. Paul said that we should think on whatsoever things were true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). If you enjoyed a special moment with family or friends, cherish it. The time may come when you will not have those opportunities. Paul said he affectionately called to remembrance the unfeigned faith which dwelt in Timothy’s mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5). These moments we make together here in this life are the real treasures that are lasting!

Fifth, accept what you have done in the past year but don’t let it define you. If you have failed in some way in the past in your life or in your service to the Lord, come to terms with it. Peter had denied the Lord. Paul persecuted and killed Christians. Many New Testament Christians had previously engaged in the things of this world–adultery, fornication, effeminacy, thievery, drunkenness, etc.–but they had changed. Paul said “such were some of you” (I Cor. 6:9-11). They did not deny that they had done some these things, but they were not going to let those things define who they were. Jesus said if there were hindrances in the past, we should deal with them and move on (Matt. 5:23,24).

I mentioned earlier that all our deeds are recorded in God’s book of remembrance and cannot be removed, albeit with one exception. Our past can be removed if we submit ourselves to God’s will and accept His offer of pardon. Then, and only then, will He remove our record from His book of remembrance. He promises that when we obey His will, then our sins and our iniquities will He remember no more (Heb. 8:12). If we as Christians sin, the record of that transgression will be permanently removed if we confess our sins (I John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22). It is only in Christ that we truly can start anew. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

We come to the close of another year. Be thankful for it and use it to make the next year an even better one. It is my prayer that this year was a good one for you. If you have suffered in some way, I pray that you might find comfort in the days ahead. May the next year find you receiving abundant blessings from God.

Eric L. Padgett

Losing Weight

Over the past several weeks I picked up some extra weight that I don’t want and certainly don’t need. It seems to happen every year around this time when there is less chance to get outdoors and work around the yard. I am not saying for certain, but it might also have something to do with eating more of the wrong things around this time of year, too! Anyway, these extra pounds make it harder to do things I normally do and I don’t like it. I guess I’ll have to go on another diet. Again.

Sometimes we also gain extra weight spiritually and that weight hinders us from living the Christian life as we ought. Paul wrote, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). The figure that is being used here is the image of a contender in a foot race. In ancient times, as well as in modern, the runner wants to cast off all extra weight so that it will not slow him down. He wants every advantage to win. In ancient times that often meant running naked. Today we wear clothing that causes less friction.

Spiritually, many Christians carry around all kinds of extra weight that they don’t need and it hinders them. One weight that some Christians carry around is the weight of greed. Some are so enamored of money and wealth that they work so many extra hours that they neglect not only their family but they neglect God and His worship and service. Paul said that the love of money is the root of kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10). Even elders and preachers can be tempted by the prospect of monetary gain (I Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:10,11). If an apostle could be guilty of this, then so could we (John 12:6).

Some Christians carry around the weight of anger. Certainly, there are enough reasons to be angry in the world. There is cheating, stealing, murders, slanders, hate, etc., abundantly flourishing in the world. I’ve noticed that even Facebook has an icon that you can click to expresses anger at some post. But while we may become angry, we should not let it develop into sin. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26). Anger may satisfy our emotions at the time, but ultimately, anger resteth in the bosom of fools (Eccl. 8:9). Throw off the weight of unrighteous anger.

Other Christians carry the weight of jealousy. Paul encountered those that preached Christ for envy, hoping to add affliction to his bonds (Phil. 1:15,16). Imagine, preachers envious or jealous of other preachers. But it happens. In general terms, some Christians are often jealous of other Christians or even of people in the world. But Paul stated that “charity envieth not” (I Cor. 13:4). Having love in our hearts will give us the strength to throw off the weight of jealousy and envy.

Unfortunately, many Christians carry with them the weight of worldliness. Far too often Christians want the benefits and blessings of Christ but do not want to have to change anything in themselves. Jesus warned against this attitude. “No man,” said Jesus, “can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). But many try and so become the enemies of God (James 4:4). What a burden to carry around!

One great weight that many Christians bear and may not even be aware of it is the weight that held back the people to whom Paul wrote, namely the sin of unbelief! Prior to the text above, in chapter eleven, Paul had just described great men and women of faith and their actions. Beginning chapter twelve he said we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, meaning these men and women of faith. Those to whom Paul wrote were experiencing a bout of unbelief (e.g., Heb. 3:12, 19; 4:1-6). Far too often we have too little faith. Was this not a favorite expression of our Lord describing the mentality of His disciples (Matt. 6:30; 8:20; 14:30; 16:8)? If we just had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, we could move mountains (Matt. 17:20). But alas, we carry the burden of doubt. Lord, increase our faith (Luke 17:5)! Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24)!

Yes, I’ve got a lot of weight to lose this coming year! I better get started.

Eric L. Padgett

The Way of Holiness

When Isaiah prophetically described characteristics of the Messianic Dispensation, he described a highway that would be called The Way of Holiness (Is. 53:8). In the New Testament, the Lord said that He was the Way (John 14:6). The Lord’s church is also often described as The Way (Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 24:22). In that Way, in the Lord’s Church, we are called by God unto holiness (I Thess. 4:7). Is there any doubt, then, that the Way of Holiness is found in following the Lord?

The Hebrew word for “holy” means something that is cut off, and possibly something that is pure. To follow the Lord is to be separated for the work that God has commanded. God, Himself, possesses a triune holiness. God as the Father is holy (Lev. 19:2). Christ as the Son is holy (Acts 2:27; 3:14). And the Spirit of God is holy (John 14:26). When Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord sitting in His temple, he heard the seraphim that surrounded the seat of glory thrice proclaim the holiness of God: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of hosts” (Is. 6:3; cf. Rev. 4:8). God is holy by virtue of Who He is. It is His nature to be holy.

The apostles and prophets were holy (Eph. 3:5). The apostles were hand picked by the Lord to be ambassadors to the world, to beseech the world to be reconciled back to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 6:13; II Cor. 5:18-20). Though some had claimed to be apostles, there were not any others, but what they were false apostles (II Cor. 11:13). Today, those who claim to be apostles, are likewise uttering a lie.

Our calling to the Lord is holy. God saved us and called us with a holy calling (II Tim. 1:9). Many try to make this calling into something it is not. God does not personally call you by sending you some vision or some ethereal experience, as is so often claimed. God calls all men through His gospel (II Thess. 2:13,14). We can also lose that calling and hence we are encouraged to make our calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10).

The scriptures are holy. Paul said Timothy had known the holy scriptures from a youth, having received instruction in them from his mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5). The holy scriptures provide for us all that is needed for life and godliness and doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16,17; II Pet. 1:3). With the holy scriptures we are throughly furnished unto all good works (II Tim. 3:17). Because the scriptures are holy we ought to be very careful how we handle them (II Tim. 2:15).

The Faith is holy. Jude said we are to build ourselves up in the most holy faith (Jude 20). That Faith is the Faith once for all delivered in verse three. Some have made shipwreck of the faith (I Tim. 1:19). Jude, however, was warning against certain men, ungodly men, crept in unawares who, like so many before, came to “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness” (Jude 4). Because of this attack on the faith, Jude said he had to exhort the brethren to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3). The same need still exists today.

The church of Christ is also holy. The Lord wants to, and will, present the church back to the Father a “holy” church (Eph. 5:27). The members of the Lord’s church are “fitly framed together, growing unto a holy Temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). There is nothing that defiles that will enter into the glories of heaven (Rev. 21:27). Peter used the terms that Moses used of the children of Israel as they stood before the holy mount and described the church the same way: a holy priesthood and a holy nation (I Pet. 2:5,9; Ex. 19:6).

Finally, Christians are to be holy. Paul addressed the brethren as “holy brethren” (Heb. 3:1; I Thess. 5:27). As the elect of God, we are to be holy (Col. 3:12). As the church of Christ, we are going to be presented “holy and without blemish” and we are going to be “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22). Holiness was a part of the plan from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) because holiness is the nature of God. Therefore, we should be holy for He is holy (II Pet. 1:15,16).  Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

This is the Way of Holiness.

Eric L. Padgett