One of the great Christian dilemmas of our time can be summed up in a question; “What is personal holiness?” The challenge is punctuated with confusion over how grace is supposed to work in our lives. Now that I’ve been saved from my sins, what is supposed to change? A lot of the current confusion comes because many have focused so intently on God’s ability to change our circumstances. God can provide answers and cause things to happen, it is true. But we’ve allowed a generation of believers to expect God to fix everything by changing their circumstances. Watching young men and women walk away from God because He didn’t supernaturally “remove” their struggle (like He is supposed to) is an all too common experience. What is missing is an equal expectation that God needs to change our character to better reflect His.This spiritual formation requires a level of cooperation with God that we have not adequately prepared our youth to expect.
If I cannot seem to overcome an attachment to pornography, it isn’t because God is refusing to do His job and remove the struggle. It is because my character does not yet have the Godly fortitude to resist and deny the temptation. The real question is “How does the Holy Spirit intend to transform my character into someone that can be tempted and still say no to that temptation?” Temptation was never removed from Jesus. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He wants to form that same level of character in us! Being transformed by the renewing of our minds is allowing God to transform our character to look more like His. The idea that my character can reflect the holiness of Jesus requires no less of a supernatural intervention than if God miraculously removes an addiction from my life. But it does require us to allow Him to, step by step, form our character into something more, something that reflects His morality, His values and yes, His holiness. And this might look like hard work and hard choices. Let’s renew our commitment to allow Him to transform us into His likeness.
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1