the cart before the horse

Holiness or God? It is possible to have one without the other? I believe the answer is yes (depending on what you mean by holiness). But the question remains, which one? As Oswald Chambers noted, “Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God.” Strange indeed!

However, I do understand what he was referring to. I spent a lot of time early in my walk with the Lord consumed with my pursuit to be like Jesus without any real regard for my relationship with him. Like all of us, I was a product of my environment. It was an environment in which religion was the order of the day and relationship with God was touted, but always buried under the overwhelming burden of works.

Before I go further perhaps I should remind you that holiness is a necessary requirement for us as followers of Christ (Hebrews 12:14), however holiness is always the byproduct of our relationship with God; not the other way around. True holiness can never be attained through the self-flagellation of religious duty. As Paul stated in Galatians 2:21, “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” This doesn’t pertain to just the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament, but any set of rules or directives that we try to use to earn favor (i.e. manipulate) with God. That’s really what legalism boils down to – our attempt to control God. To put him into a box of our making and define him by limited terms rather then enjoying him and the relationship he has called us into.

Exodus 34:14 makes it clear that God is “passionate about his relationship with you” (NLT). Are you that passionate about your relationship with him? Or are you consumed with keeping the rules? Trust me, that’s no way to live!


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