Sunday, December 25, 2016

People-Driven Holiness: A Dangerous Pursuit [Part Three]

Fifth, people-driven holiness is doing things to teach others. 

There is a “sacred guilt” that I sometimes carry in my heart. The guilt is, “How can I tell others if I don’t practice it myself.” So I try doing things to be an example to others. This seems good on the surface, for did not Paul write, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works?” (Tit. 2:7)

However, the problem here is that the focus is more on making others do what they must do rather than to walk personally in obedience to God’s Word. The danger of being an example for others is doing things just for the sake of setting an example rather than becoming obedient to please God who has unconditionally accepted us in Christ Jesus.

It is good that we should practice before we teach, but we must be careful not to practice in order to teach. Our devotion to prayer, intercession, Bible study, church fellowship, evangelism, and all good works, must emanate from our love for the Lord who loved us and laid His life for our sins on the cross.

Imagine that I start spending time with my wife for 30 mins every day. My wife, surprised to see my radical behavior, asks the reason behind my change. I tell her, “You see, I want the husbands in our church to spend time with their wives. So, I decided to spend time with you so that I can tell them to do the same. I don’t want to tell them that which I don’t practice.”

This sounds heroic, but would my wife be impressed with such an attitude? She would only be delighted if I do things because I love her. It disappoints her to know that what I do for her is actually to tell others to imitate me.

An example should be the outcome of our pursuit to please God. We pursue to obey God as an expression of our love for Him because He first loved us. Doing things only for the sake of example in order to teach others displeases God who commands us to do all things for His glory.


Much of our holy conduct that we manifest among people seem to be driven by our desire to please others, to get their attention, and to feed our image with a good impression. Our hearts are so consumed with self-glory that we may pursue holiness for self-gratification.

When our ulterior motives will be examined and exposed on the Day of Judgment, I think, all our good works may look like filthy rags before the holy God. May the Lord Jesus, who commanded us to deny ourselves and follow Him, deliver us from this bondage of self-absorption.

Remember, only that which is practiced with a sacred consciousness to obey God, to please God, and to glorify God is what is considered as holy before God. People-driven holiness is no holiness at all; it is only hypocrisy and pride.

Therefore, let us constantly examine our hearts in the light of the Holy Spirit, preach the gospel of Christ to ourselves, repent of our sins, pray fervently for a God-fearing heart, and seek the glory of God in all things.

May I close this message with words of one of the Puritans cited by Ernest Kevan on the imperfection of our works: "We do not do all that is commanded but come short of our duty, and that which we do is imperfect and defective in respect of manner and measure; and therefore in justice deserves punishment, rather than reward: and consequently the reward, when it is given, is to be ascribed to God’s undeserved mercy and not to our merit."

 Return to Read Part One 




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