11. Practical Holiness

11. Practical Holiness

C. S. Lewis said in his book, Mere Christianity, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. You find out the strength of a wind by walking against it, not by lying down.”

Often Christians who sincerely want to please God make the big mistake of believing we can overcome weaknesses just by identifying them, analyzing them, and eliminating them little by little from our lives.

It doesn’t work. It has never worked. It will never work.

If a person is fearful, as much as they apply themselves, will they quit being afraid? If a person is resentful or bitter, even if they identify the problem, analyze it, read books about it and get up every morning determined to not be bitter all day long, will they be able to avoid it? I am afraid not. We can say the same for someone who is worried about their health or someone who has a very bad temper, just to mention another couple of examples. For all our determination, for all our efforts, we will not be able to eliminate these carnal aspects of our lives.

A mother who gets up one morning and decides that she is not going to be angry with her children all day will undoubtedly find sufficient motives to get her really upset, maybe even before breakfast. A man who decides not to have an impure thought all day will surely find that he doesn’t last even until lunchtime.

What are we to do, then? Should we just give in to sin?1 Should we continue to struggle futilely thinking that this is what it means to be a Christian and that someday we will be able to enjoy a new nature that doesn’t suffer from these endemic tendencies of human nature? We can cry with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”2

There is an answer and it is in the eighth chapter of Romans. It says that the law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death. See, what the Law couldn’t do because the flesh is weak, God did for us. He sent His Son with the same tendencies we have and made Him an offering for sin. He conquered sin in the flesh so we can fulfill what the Law requires of us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.3

Let me give you an illustration. There was a man who had a black dog in his house. One day the man brought home a white dove and from that very day the black dog and the white dove fought constantly. Some days the white dove won the fight and some days the black dog won. His neighbor, after seeing this constant fighting going on asked the man, “How is it that some days the dove wins and some days the dog wins? What makes the difference?” The man answered, “It depends on who I feed the most.”

If we walk in the Spirit, the Spirit wins and we are free from the law of sin and death.4 Free! Envy, gossip, bad temper, bad thoughts, worry, etc. are defeated, not by eliminating them through our will power but because the White Dove, the Holy Spirit, defeats them and throws them out.

This “more than conquerors”5 thing is not utopian. The abundant life6 is not only for when we are in heaven. Overcoming sin is impossible for me because my flesh is weak.7 God has condemned sin in the flesh so that righteousness can be complete in us.8

Jesus not only eliminated sin, He also eliminated the power of sin in our lives. Feed the dove!

1- Romans 6:1 2- Romans 7:24 3- Romans 8:1-4 4- Romans 8:2 5- Romans 8:23 6- John 10:10 7- Matthew 26:41 8- Romans 8:3,4