Do you ever feel like you are a lost cause?
You know what I mean: You just keep falling into that same pattern of sin over and over again… You know you’re forgiven, but you hate that old you and those old patterns, and you want… Out!
You know God is the answer. You know He delivers. But somehow, that deliverance just isn’t coming, no matter how hard you pray. And the more you read in your Bible how you are called to be holy, the more like a “lost cause” you feel. Take, for example, 1 Peter 1:16: “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.'” (NLT) How is that supposed to make us feel better? We are to be holy, because God is holy! Well, isn’t that easier said than done? And you just keep falling back into the same sin! You are nothing but a … Lost Cause!
I think we can all relate to that. Whether it be addictions, temper, intemperance, impatience, selfishness, whatever it may be, we all are susceptible to falling back.
There is a note of good news, however. Check out this passage from 1 Thess. 5: “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” (Vs. 23-24 NLT).
If you didn’t see the “good news” in that verse, then I urge you to read it again: “May the God of peace make you holy in every way… God will make it happen, for He who calls you is faithful’!
The good news, friends, is that when we are called to be holy, the Bible isn’t talking about us achieving our own holiness. Our almighty God, our all-powerful, all-love, gracious Father, knows we can’t do this on our own. In fact, He even takes responsibility for this. The God of peace makes you holy in every way! It is He who makes it happen, because He is faithful!
I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel so much better! It isn’t my responsibility to become holy, to put off these pet sins: It is God’s!
But wait. Does that mean I can simply stop worrying about it?
Not really. You see, God gives us the power of choice. If we stop caring about our pet sins, if we willfully allow them to overcome us, that is our choice to make, and God, in His gracious love, will not intervene with our power of choice. Therefore, we continue to have a significant responsibility in the process of becoming holy. We have to want to be holy. We have to want to be rid of our pet sins. And when we do, our gracious, faithful Father will do the rest. Perhaps it won’t be from one day to the next, but as you continue to draw closer to Him with a sincere heart of desire for holiness, changes will begin to happen.
I have struggled my entire life with forgiving. I find it extremely difficult to forgive others, and even harder to forgive myself. Yet I know it’s wrong. Doesn’t the Bible says this about anger: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives…” (James 1:20b-21a NLT)? As a result, I truly desire to be holy in this aspect of my life. After all, God has forgiven me so much, how can I not forgive the little that someone has done against me?
Over the years, as I’ve drawn nearer to God, I have noticed that God has begun to place a desire in my heart to forgive, a desire that didn’t use to be there. And as I look back over the years, I see that though forgiveness is still a struggle, I am able to let go of my anger much more easier and more completely than I was able to do in the past.
Have I changed? No: “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23 NLT). I have, however, done my part. I have worked on my relationship with God, and as I look back, I see that He has, indeed, done His part!
Whatever your pet sin might be, take heart. You are not a lost cause. God is the One who is responsible for making us holy. Our job is to press in to Him, to spend time in the Word, to spend time with Him in prayer, to learn to listen for His voice, and to begin to love Him with all of our hearts, minds, souls and spirits. When we do, God is faithful to do what He has promised and to help us become holy!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.