The final installment of notes on this Christian classic.
Chapter 15: Holiness and Faith
Obedience if difficult and requires faith.
Holiness is more than just avoiding specific sins. It can require doing things that seem dangerous or contrary to reason.
The author of Hebrews found belief and obedience to be interchangeable. Also disobedience and disbelief.
One time I was flying home to Colorado Springs from San Fransisco. I was chatting with the man across the aisle, who was a former bomber pilot. Suddenly the plane began erratically descending over Utah. After a few minutes the oxygen masks dropped. Not a word was spoken to us, but every few minutes the plane would make another deep descent. We all grabbed our masks, and followed the instructions we hear before every flight. Sure enough...once the mask was on, it didn't feel like anything was flowing. The former bomber pilot was trying to calm and assist an older lady in front of him, who kept taking off her mask to explain that hers wasn't working. Finally he said to her, yes it is. She took off her mask to ask, How do you know? And he firmly [pointed out, "Because you are passed out right now. You're getting oxygen.
I believed him and I left my mask on. Belief shaped my behavior, my obedience. The other woman didn't believe him and continued panicking and removing her mask because she didn't feel like the oxygen was flowing...her disbelief shaped a disobedience.
Now, I know I don't owe obedience to every stranger on a plane. But the point is...what we really believe, shapes what we do. If we were in a house on fire and a firemen pointed the way through the smoke toward the door, which way are you going to go? If the Holy Spirit brings conviction to your heart, do you obey? Don't fear man, or fire, or lack of oxygen, which can kill the body...but fear the Lord... The Lord told Noah to build an Ark...asked Abraham to offer Issac as a sacrifice...and asked us to seek the kingdom of God if we want provision while here on earth. Faith. Obedience. Behavior. Holiness. He told them to take the Promise Land and they did not believe...so they did not enter into it.
Chapter 16: Holiness in an Unholy World
Unless you're prepared and understand that "these days are evil" and that there is an assault on you...you're going to find it difficult to pursue holiness.
And yet, we're supposed to be light, salt, and in the world, but not of it.
We're expected to live in that tension and be holy. But how? Dependence on and obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Being the curing salt, or the revealing light has a purpose- to share God with the world. It's not rules for rules sake. It's rules to keep the main thing the main thing...your purpose is His message. Just as Israel was assigned to do from their beginning, we are the royal priesthood, tasked with sharing the character or God with the world. Shining His light. Bringing His salt. Via the Holy Spirit.
Having said that, the command to walk circumspectly, because these days are evil, may come to point sometimes when the world is likely to influence you more than be influenced by you. That's when we tune in to the timely advice from the book of James and _______ (yes, flee)!
Holy = set apart.
Chapter 17: The Joy of Holiness
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.Romans 14:17 NKJV
This is in the context of food laws that cause some to stumble; with the goal being love and unity. But is a great passage summing up this section of Romans.
Other than purpose...there are other "whys" for holiness. Ch 17 makes a case for joy, the perfect joy of the Lord, being one why. John 15:10-11