The Temptation of Holiness
“Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness” – Romans 6:19 .
As I was preparing to teach a class on the theology of Paul, I came upon this Scripture in Romans. Naturally, the more I thought about it, the more this one idea stood out: I want to fall to the temptation of holiness.
Paul understood holiness to be a separation to God. More than that, it includes the conduct befitting those separated for God’s service. The Greeks understood holiness as being dedicated to the gods. As a Christian, we are to be dedicated, separated and sanctified to God alone and for His purposes only. I describe holiness as simply living the character of Christ.
Every one on earth has experienced that overwhelming, seemingly unstoppable temptation to sin – a temptation that is so powerful that eventually we have all succumbed to its calling at one time or another. I want to take that same single-minded, overwhelming temptation that once dominated my mind towards sin, and apply that same energy into a desire to live in righteousness leading to holiness. In other words, I want to desire holy living so much that I succumb to its temptation every time!
I want my prayer life to be a time where God and I can talk about the advances I’ve made in holiness, and not a time when I feel like I’m recounting all the ways I’ve failed. I want the Lord to be able to show me that I have succeeded in more ways than I missed the mark. And yes, I still miss the mark.
I still find myself involved in useless arguments in my mind, forgetting to think on the true, right, pure and noble things of God.
I also find myself lacking faith in God’s direction and calling upon my life. I keep wondering what I’ll be when I grow up! I think of Abraham, who was about a hundred years old when he fathered Isaac, and Moses, who was eighty when he began to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. To tell you the truth, I wonder if I have the faith to wait that long. Perhaps it is not as much a lack of faith as it is a lack of patience, which, I suppose, IS a lack of faith! This type of thinking, of course, is not a holy separation to God, but an unholy separation from God.
As you can see, I’m still tempted to offer my mind to the impure and wicked thoughts of doubting God. However, just as I recognize that temptation to sin, I also want to succumb to the overwhelming urge to live in holiness to God. I believe we can all live with that kind of temptation.