May 4, 2013

How Do You Become Pure and Holy? (Easter 6)

If nothing impure or unholy is allowed into the new heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation) it is very important that we understand how to become pure and holy. The Good News is that Jesus will help us by forgiving the sins we repent and confess. Jesus will come and live in the hearts of those who really love Him. Our love of Jesus is measured by how well we keep his commandment to love God and one another. Since we are human we need help in discerning our sins and overcoming our self-deception. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to guide us, comfort us and remind us of His teachings.

1. Jesus will come and live in the hearts of those who love & obey Him
Jesus is teaching us that our faith or trust in Him must be more than head knowledge. It must lead to real love. Real love is not what we desire for ourselves – that is lust. Real love is an emotional desire for the good of the other. Sacrificial love is putting the need of the other person and your desire for their good before your own needs. The more we know Jesus and understand His teachings from Bible reading, prayer and our worship experiences; the more we come to love Him and obey His teachings:
·         Love God – more than we love alternative idols:
o    Material things
o    Work / Career
o    Political heroes
o    Sports
·         Love what God has done – creation, reading about God in Bible
·         Love what God values:
o    Truth vs deception and lies
o    Holiness vs unholy, divided, impure, mixed
o    Peace not conflict and division
o    Order, justice – not disorder and injustice
o     Forgiveness not anger, hatred and revenge
·         Love your neighbour – sacrificial love based on their need
o    Respect personal value as child of God – physical needs
o    Honour by respecting reputation vs false witness, gossip
o    Respect property (stealing, coveting)
o    Respect marriage relationship (adultery)
o    Respect humanity by forgiving (vs un-forgiveness)
·         Love one another in the fellowship of the church community
o    Particularly tested by people we do not really like

Jesus helped people see how holy God is and how important it is that we be clean and holy if we are to be in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit cannot come and live on a spiritual garbage dump. If we want to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit we have to provide a clean environment.

2. The Holy Spirit will come and guide us in our spiritual battle

Jesus taught us that there is a real spiritual battle going on. We can think of Satan as the adversary or enemy of God – or as quality control. The Bible tells us that Satan and some of the angels rebelled against God and were put out of heaven. They hate God and do everything they can to deceive and confuse people into joining their rebellion against God. First they tempt people to do something that is just over the line between life-giving and life-destructive behaviour. Next they deceive people into believing, like Eve in the Garden of Eden; that there will not be any consequences. Finally, Satan and his dark angels reveal their hatred by standing before God and accusing the person of sin. The Holy Spirit helps us protect ourselves in this battle:
·         Holy Spirit acts as our conscience in warning us when  tempted
·         Holy Spirit ‘highlights’ Bible passages that we need to hear
·         Holy Spirit gives us ‘words of knowledge’ that we need (prophecy)
·         Holy Spirit guides us in ‘Self-examination’, Confession preparation

3. The Holy Spirit will also comfort, strengthen and heal us
As we approach Pentecost (and I prepare for a trip to Cappadocia in Turkey where the Holy Spirit was ‘re-discovered’ in the Fourth Century) we need to acknowledge that many Anglicans were never taught much about what the Holy Spirit actually does. In addition to reminding us of the teachings of Jesus and guiding us in obeying them, the Holy Spirit also:
·         Comforts us when we are discouraged or in grief – this is when we are often closest to Jesus, but deceive ourselves and turn away
o    Some people discover the Holy Spirit when in great need
o    People need & experience the real presence of Jesus
·         Strengthens us when we are facing temptations & challenges
o    Gives us hope that we are not alone
·         Heals us from physical and spiritual sickness
o    Guides prayer ministry, anointing
·         Heals us from deep spiritual wounds, bondages and oppression
o    Sins can lead to wounds and open doorways to spiritual bondages and spiritual oppression
o    Inherited  curses or generational sin can make us unclean
o    Holy Spirit guides healing prayer in discerning the sin, wound or curse that needs to be repented and healed

The Revelation Readings also teaches that people who have deliberately deceived others are specifically excluded from receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit and excluded from entering the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Readings challenge us to love Jesus deeply and become spiritually clean and holy through the way to forgiveness that Jesus taught – self-examination, repentance, specific confession and forgiveness through faith in the shed blood of Jesus. This is how we become pure and holy.

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