PREPARING OUR CHILDREN FOR THE LION’S DEN

It was the first day of school.

We had homeschooled Daniel during his elementary years, and then enrolled him in a private Christian school during his middle school years. Now, at the direction of the Lord, he was going into public high school.

During the morning of the first day of high school, as I was waiting with Daniel for the school bus to come, so many questions raced through my mind. Was this the right choice to send our son to public school? Did we hear the Lord accurately? Was Daniel spiritually strong enough to withstand the peer pressure of the world and other teenagers? Would he be able to relate to his peers and make friends? Would he compromise his strong Christian upbringing to have friends? How would he handle being teased about his faith? How would he handle the spirit of this age especially during these critical teenage years when vulgar language, drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex are rampant?

Like arrows being shot into my mind the questions kept coming, and all I could do was trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not to my own understanding (Prv. 3:5). He had directed us to send Daniel to public high school. All of us as a family had peace about it. The Lord told us that he was ready, and that these next four years of high school were to be a significant part of his training.

While waiting for the school bus on that first day of high school, Daniel and I prayed as we often did, and then I blessed him and committed him to the Lord. Then the school bus pulled up. As Daniel crossed the street, my reflective gaze was firmly fixed on him as he walked up to the bus, climbed the steps, and then the door shut behind him. I watched as the bus rolled away from our neighborhood and disappeared around the corner onto the main street.

My heart left me.

I couldn’t wait for him to come home.

I remember feeling a knot in the pit of my stomach. I had just sent Daniel, my only begotten son, tender, innocent, and without guile, into the lion’s den. We had trained him for this moment, and for these years. Now it was time for the training to be put to the test.

Would it produce?

THE INCLUSIVITY AND EXCLUSIVITY OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY

The gospel is for everyone. All sinners are welcome; the liars, the thieves, the whoremongers, the prostitutes, the murderers, the homosexuals, the drunkards, and the drug addicts. The poor, the downtrodden, the broken-hearted, the outcast, and the rejects of society are all welcome.

The gospel is also for the sweet and the nice who are full of inward vice. And let’s not forget the self righteous religious citizen, who outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are dead in their trespasses and sins – they, too need salvation. The gospel is also for the professional people such as doctors, lawyers, and successful business people who seem to have it all together, but are inwardly full of dead men’s bones.

The gospel of Jesus Christ excludes no one and puts the highest value on humanity than any other religion ever known to mankind.

But once a sinner is saved and becomes a member of the body of Christ in a local church, the fellowship is no longer all inclusive. There was a certain standard established by the early apostles to remain a part of the Christian fellowship. Anyone practicing a lifestyle of sin was to be avoided and rejected, but only after relational steps had been taken in an attempt to bring them to repentance and restoration.

Immoral persons were not permitted in the fellowship (1 Cor. 5:9). Nor were those who were unruly and walked disorderly (2 Thes. 3:6). Domineering and sectarian leaders were excluded (3 John 9-11). Those who defiled their separation from the world were excommunicated (Rev. 3:15-16). Fellowship was also based on believing and receiving the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11).

Today this sort of divine discipline is clearly missing from church practice. Many don’t understand the ramifications of its neglect or how to employ it. Yet in the early days of the church it was used to preserve the purity and unity of the body of Christ. It was enforced only by authorized persons and a church filled with the love of God who had a single eye toward the glory of God. Also, it was only exercised when other means had been exhausted, and such cases were rare.

Nevertheless, beginning with the first case of divine discipline in the book of Acts we see a great fear coming on the church that brought a halt to any such sinful behavior or serious misconduct in the church (Acts 5:1-11). When believers recognize the supernatural element in divine authority they will not be so reckless and irresponsible in their behavior. Granted, the number of cases where this sort of divine judgment was exercised were small, but it was used as a means to purify the church and preserve its unity.

Believers who would hastily pronounce divine judgment on others should be warned against the danger of using any gift of God for vengeance or vindication. Unfair or unjust discipline that is applied for selfish reasons is contrary to the will of God and will not work. The church is  imperfect and there will always be immaturity and carnality manifested among the saints. However, when a serious situation arises that threatens the purity and unity of the church immmediate action should be taken.

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mat 18:18)

In such serious cases as the man in 1 Cor. 5 who was committing incest with his stepmother, or the two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who denied the resurrection and were overthrowing the faith of some (2 Tim. 2:17-18), God has given the church supernatural authority to bind and loose and keep the church free of desecration.

Could the absence of this type of divine discipline in the Church today be the reason  she is so divided and defiled, and commands so little respect from the world? Could the reason this discipline is not being applied when necessary be also due to the shortage of godly, mature leadership in the church?

 

 

 

 

YOUR STRENGTH IS TO SIT STILL

“And He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Ex 33:14)

Resting in the Lord is the flow of the Spirit. It’s a place of fluid, easy flowing liberty. If you’re not resting, you’re not flowing. It’s that simple. There is leisure in God that springs forth from within your spirit. There’s a deep abiding in Him; a rest and a relaxation born in the inner man.

This disposition is a place in the Spirit, a state of heart. That is where the promised land is located. It is no longer a geographical place nor is it heaven, but instead it is heaven on earth, heaven in our hearts. This is what we mean by resting in the Lord. This is the God appointed dwelling place for every man. God lives and moves in this place. God walks and talks in this place. And He’s always endeavoring to help move man there also.

God wants us to live in a constant state of rest and inner relaxation void of stress, care, and strife. If you are frustrated, aggravated, anxious, and impatient you are not in the flow of God. Any state or condition of heart and life that does not manifest the fruit of the spirit as listed in Gal. 5:22-23 is outside the flow of God and His Spirit. When you are resting in the Lord you manifest the fruit of the spirit.

Years ago when I was still single and raising funds to go to the mission field, the Lord began to teach me about the walk and the flow of the Spirit. He used one such experience, which left an indelible mark in my spirit, to begin teaching me some very valuable lessons concerning this life in the Spirit.

I was in a particular city staying in the apartment of a friend. I was without transport and the apartment had no phone. It was so frustrating because I couldn’t go anywhere, and I couldn’t call anyone. And my main mission at this season of my life was to make contact with pastors and churches in hopes of securing monthly support to go to the mission field. This was my purpose for being in this city.

So here I am feeling somewhat trapped and precious time seeming to waste. I’m thinking, “I am a man on a mission, and this is the devil’s doing. I can’t breathe in this small apartment and I need to get out of here fast.” Hours passed, and I’m questioning the will of God whether I’m even supposed to be in this city. You can imagine my aggravation.

Finally, after allowing my anxiety and emotions to eventually subside, the Lord spoke some words to me which proved, in this setting, to be most profound. He said: “Your strength is to sit still.” You know, spiritually speaking, it is sometimes more difficult to sit and do nothing in the natural than it is to be active. Many of us can make things happen in the natural realm, but it’s really in the Spirit first that we must learn to do that. When things have been activated in the Spirit, then we don’t have to make anything happen. It’s done, and now we just let things happen. There’s a big difference between making things happen and letting things happen.

Prior to the Lord speaking to me in this situation I had been wrestling, but then I got quiet and entered into rest (Isa 30:15). This is the walk of the Spirit. It’s human nature to try and perform, to try and make something happen. Don’t misunderstand me, there are times when God speaks and we must act with urgency, but there are also times when the most spiritual thing one can do is simply nothing, as far as the natural is concerned. Spiritually, when you are resting and relaxing you allow God to be great in your heart, and in your situation.

Natural activity and busyness sometimes is just a big symptom of unbelief. It’s a sign that you are not trusting in the Lord. Now again, we are not condoning laziness and encouraging slothfulness, but a rest in the Spirit. The issue is, are you making flesh your strength, or are you trusting in the Lord? Abraham made flesh his strength when he fathered Ishmael, but the greatest thing he could’ve done was to sit still and do nothing. Abraham should have counseled with the Lord before taking counsel with his wife.

Always take counsel of the Lord first. Be careful not to cover situations and dilemmas with a covering that’s not of his Spirit. Do not strengthen yourself with the strength of flesh neither trust in the shadow of the world. If you do, you will be sifted, and the strength of your flesh shall be to your shame, and the trust in the shadow of the world to your confusion (Isa 30:1-3).

You see, sometimes the greatest display of faith and trust in God is to sit still and do absolutely nothing. Many of us are trying to do too much to help God bring His Word and will to pass. What we need to do is to sit still, and watch the Lord bring His own Word to pass. Don’t try and perform anything. Just stay in the Spirit, relax, and trust the Lord. It’s called resting in the Lord (Heb 4:3,10-11).

THE LETTERS: SHARING OUR JOURNEY TO ENRICH AND EMPOWER YOURS

THE ENDING EXCERPT OF A LETTER I WROTE AT DANIEL’S BIRTH: My precious son, today you have crowned your daddy’s life. I am drunk with ecstasy and tearful emotion because you are with me. I so look forward to sharing the cup of life with you. Together we shall learn of one another and time shall be our friend. Please know, my precious son, that I love you, I love you, I love you.

AN EXCERPT OF A LETTER WRITTEN JUST A FEW WEEKS BEFORE DANIEL LEFT HOME FOR COLLEGE: Here we are at the end of another road on the journey of life. The first 18 years of your life have brought Momma and me great, and at times, unspeakable joy. We’ve watched you grow from a cherub-like tender sapling – so full of an intriguing curiosity and a melodious, harmonic disposition in such accord with the rhythm of life to a strong, independent, and ambitious young man, yet still seasoned with that same grace of earnest thought that savors so much of life and finds value in people of every diversity.

We celebrate you today, son. As our only son, you have been to your mother and I sweetness, such that should ripen with time, like old wine. Our relationship, though the same as father and son, will be very different now in this new season of life and will continue to evolve with passing time. With college just a few weeks away your bed and table seat will soon be empty, but our hearts shall remain full of the memories past while anticipating those yet to come.

We look forward with increased anticipation in sharing the joys of future earthly days and seasons while keeping our eyes permanently fixed on the eternal ages to come. It is our joy to release you with our blessing. Go and conquer and be all our bountiful Father has called you to be.

IN OUR NEW FATHER-SON BOOK IS THE 18 YEAR JOURNEY BETWEEN THESE LETTERS. WE SHARE OUR JOURNEY IN ORDER TO ENRICH AND EMPOWER YOURS.

 

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU CALL A HERETIC: FURTHER THOUGHTS ON THE OSTEENS

I’d like to add more of my thoughts concerning some high-spirited discussions that certain brethren had on social networks in regards to comments I and others made on Victoria Osteen’s recent statements. Although some good points were made on the threads and I received very good feedback on my blog from a majority of people, I was grieved by the hearts of some who insisted on calling the aforementioned ministers I named in the article, especially the Osteens, heretics.

Do we realize what a serious charge it is to call a minister of the gospel a heretic? In order to make this accusation you better have done your homework and got your facts straight. If not, you are on dangerous ground with God. Publicly calling someone a heretic who is not a heretic is slander and defamation of character, and simply a lack of Christian integrity.

Some even went farther with their accusations and refused to call any of these men brothers, or even ministers whom God has called.

So the question we must ask is:  What constitutes heresy?

Let’s begin by identifying what does not constitute heresy. Paul speaking in 1 Cor. 13 on divine love said, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now we know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

It appears from this statement that perfect doctrinal agreement and unity shall never be achieved on this side of heaven. Any attempts to do so will gender much contention and strife. Even ministers of the same denomination often disagree over certain matters of doctrine. Also, in the course of a lifetime Christians and ministers will modify their views and beliefs many times as they receive more light and understanding from the Scriptures. Our fellowship with one another should never be based on conformity to all details of doctrine, but must be based more on the melting of our hearts together in love by the Spirit of God.

It is more important to maintain unity in the body of Christ than to resolve out petty doctrinal differences.

The only doctrinal agreement we must have as Christians and ministers is on the principles of the doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2). These are the fundamentals of the foundation of our faith, without which we cannot have any fellowship. Here are the six principles:

1. Repentance from dead works

2. Faith toward God

3. Doctrine of baptisms

4. Laying on of hands

5. Resurrection of the dead

6. Eternal judgment

The basis for fellowship and disfellowship in the body of Christ concerning doctrine is based on these six principles as John the apostle states:

“He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 9:10).

Now to be ignorant of these essentials of the Christian faith is one thing, but to turn away from them, or to preach contrary to them after having knowledge of them, is quite another. There are several examples in Scripture of men perverting these principles. For example, Paul writes about two men who perverted the doctrine of the resurrection causing some people’s faith to be overthrown.

“And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17-18).

Individual Christians and especially ministers who deny the truth of the resurrection are to be denied fellowship, but only after being confronted and warned.

“Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim 1:20).

Paul turned two men over to Satan for blaspheming. It appears that these were the same men who were perverting the doctrine of the resurrection.

A heretic is a person who perverts the doctrine of Christ in one of these six principles. As a modern day example, there are ministers now who are teaching universalism, which is to say that everyone will one day be saved. I know of at least one of these men who use to be one of my favorite preachers when I was in Bible school. He was a strong repentance and revival preacher who emphasized holiness. Now he fellowships with every kind of religion and says that everyone of them will be saved. I know of ministers who no longer believe in a literal hell and write books to discredit it. These are examples of the perversion of eternal judgment. These are ministers who started out right but became apostate and left the doctrine of Christ.

Someone close to them in a position of ministerial authority should have confronted these men in love and gone through the proper relational steps to restore them (Mat. 18:15-17). I say this with fear and trembling, but if these heretics refused to listen then they should’ve been turned over to Satan so that repentance may work in them, and their soul might yet be restored.

Now which of these principles of the doctrine of Christ does anyone believe the aforementioned ministers in my article have perverted (the Osteens, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hinn)? Remember, heresy has nothing to do with a person’s wealth and possessions; it has nothing to do with his personality or success, or the fact he doesn’t preach a strong repentance message, or that he cowered down in a national television interview and refused to call sin sin.

Heresy is not teaching financial prosperity and God’s will to prosper and bless His children. It’s not believing and teaching on the pre-trib rapture versus post-trib. A minister is not a heretic because he performs miracles in the name of Jesus, while lacking the fruit of the spirit in his life. Power and fruit are two different things. Paul told the Corinthians that they came behind in no gift and yet called them carnal (1 Cor. 1:7; 3:3). None of these constitute a perversion of the doctrine of Christ. None of these constitute heresy. So I ask you again, under what grounds of evidence have you the right to call any of these men heretics?

Now I realize when ministers leave certain components of the gospel and important scriptural truths out of their preaching it can open a large door for the sinner and the halfhearted to feel comfortable in their sins and in their worldly lifestyle. And when that becomes the norm or status quo in a church, it can cultivate an atmosphere of deception. When it comes to even the basic message of salvation, I realize many are being errantly taught that all you need to do is to acknowledge your belief in Jesus, pray a little prayer, and you’re in. Nothing is ever said before or after salvation about true heart-repentance, surrendering your life—losing it to gain it, following Jesus in wholehearted obedience and loving Him above all others.

Now if this is the beef that you have against the Osteens or any of these ministers that still does not make them a heretic, or a wolf, or an agent of Satan (some actually believe that about these ministers). It could just mean that they minister a light spiritual diet with some junk food mixed in. Instead of serving up meat and potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, and spinach, they serve a large dose of cookies, cake, and ice cream with a glass of milk (and by the way, this is not necessarily my personal opinion about all these men).

But that still doesn’t make them heretics.

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of the newly released My Son, My Son, which he co-wrote with his son Daniel. He is also the co-host of the New England Holy Ghost Forum, a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias on Facebook or @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

 

 

My Son, My Son: New Book Launches Today!

Dear Christian Friends and Book Readers,

What happens when your son whom you’ve raised in church comes home from college and confesses that he is a homosexual?

What happens when an evangelist’s daughter becomes a professing atheist?

And what about when your teenage daughter who has also been raised in church finds out she’s pregnant out of wedlock?

What is a Christian parent to do? What else can a loving parent do but die a thousand deaths and continue to love their son or daughter?

Thank God there is forgiveness and redemption. Thank God He is the God of the second and third chance, and His mercy endures forever, and His lovingkindnesses will never fail.

The consequences, however, are something that is hard to live with, and there is very often deep pain and regret. People are resilient, and with God’s help and His amazing grace they manage to live through these kind of difficult and trying circumstances.

And then you realize the wisdom of the old adage that prevention is indeed better than cure.

I want to help more parents avoid this tragedy. I want to teach them prevention. I want to help men impart the father’s blessing of possession and belonging to their children – to affirm them as the Heavenly Father affirmed Jesus by saying: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”

I want you to learn to teach your children the fear of the Lord, and to cultivate their spiritual appetite. I want to teach you to shepherd their tender hearts from a very young age.

When the Lord laid on my heart to write a book for parents I wondered exactly how I would do that. Another parenting book? Really? Aren’t there enough of them out there?

But then He said: “I want you and Daniel (my son) to jointly write it, going back and forth through the different seasons of your lives together – with pictures.” When I heard it spoken like that I got excited! I saw the uniquenesss of it. And then I saw that God’s story is also about a Father and a Son, and how precious that story is to each of us who know it!

In this new father-son book my son and I have borne our souls and shared our journey in the hopes that many parents will receive light, wisdom, and understanding to raise champion children.

Now after many months of hard work we are pleased to announce the release of our new book.

The book is available for full cost on Amazon (My Son, My Son), but for the rest of this month we are offering a 20% discount off our website – (Holy Fire Ministries)

Purchase one for yourself, or if you are a grandparent, purchase one for your children. I can’t think of a greater way to invest in your own legacy. And if after reading it you find the book is worthy, kindly leave a review on Amazon.

I hope you will take advantage of this life-giving book. Thank you for your time and consideration.

In the Father’s love,

Bert Farias

MY RESPONSE TO VICTORIA OSTEEN’S RECENT STATEMENTS

I wasn’t going to say anything, but somehow I am compelled to. I’ve repeatedly observed on social networks especially on Facebook and YouTube how Christians criticize, mock, and ridicule certain ministers. Usually, this is done either by heresy hunters and those who feel it is their calling as spiritual policemen to blow their whistle on whom they believe to be false prophets and teachers, thus protecting the naive flock from their heretical doctrines and statements. Others will criticize their lifestyles and their wealth and make an issue out of that. I’d like to address everyone on this matter. As it’s been rightly said, if the shoe fits, wear it.

Let me start off by saying that I consider myself a pretty strong holiness preacher. For those who know me, they can verify that I do not mince words when it comes to preaching the plain truths of God’s Word. Most of my blogs and articles bear witness to that. At times I will also point out error in the body of Christ, but you will not find me ever calling out names of anyone. I will not touch any of God’s ministers this way publicly. Now if someone is cultish or leading people in an obviously and potentially harmful way, I may address it as God leads me.

At times the apostle Paul had to name-call to warn the churches of false ministers and harmful doctrines. But to criticize a brother or sister publicly, I won’t do it. God has taught me that He is responsible for them and if I am really concerned I should just pray for them like they are my own children.

Why do we feel the need to criticize and even mock ministers like Joel and Victoria Osteen or Kenneth Copeland or Benny Hinn? These are God’s servants and ministers, and to Him they will stand or fall – to Him they will give account. I happen to know a little bit more than some of you about these ministers, and frankly, most Christians who criticize them have no clue about their calling and what’s it like to be in their shoes. Do I agree with everything these ministers say and do? Not any more than I would agree with everything you say and do. At times, after some hindsight, I’m not so sure I even agree with everything I say and do myself.

These men are all called of God. They have a particular function and anointing to do what they are called to do. We must discern the body of Christ and the ministries of everyone within His body (1 Cor. 11:29-31), especially those who have unusual anointings or special areas of grace. Joel Osteen has a ministry of mercy. An older minister who knew his Dad told me that this had been prophesied to him. Thousands of people’s lives have been transformed through his ministry. How can you dare even touch that? Even if I thought he was a false teacher, for the sake of his family’s legacy and the great ministry his father had, I would never touch that ministry. By doing so, I would be touching God and the anointing and mandate on that entire ministry.

My heart was broken when Christians began to lash out at Victoria Osteen’s recent statements. Why do we have to make a mockery of ourselves before the social network world? We are only hurting the cause of Christ and tainting the reputation of the Church and the body of Christ by being so contentious and airing out our differences for the world to see. I find that we are most notorious for criticizing parts of the body of Christ that we simply do not understand. We need to keep our mouths shut. Blowing out someone else’s candle does not make your own shine any brighter. Let’s judge ourselves in these matters. That will keep us busy enough that we won’t have time to judge others.

So what if Victoria said what she said? Maybe she meant something else by it. Did it ever occur to you that her statements could’ve been taken out of context? Maybe she is sorry and has already repented.  She could be so broken over it right now and be crying out to God at the exact time that you’re sitting there as a judge mocking and ridiculing her for her statements. You’re on the devil’s side when you do this for he is the accuser of the brethren. Is that the way you want God to treat you? May I remind you that it is the merciful that shall receive mercy.

Do you want to talk about Kenneth Copeland? That man has given away more money to help ministries, charities, and churches than anyone I know. He has given away cars, airplanes, and tents to help ministers preach the gospel near and far. So what if you don’t agree with his prosperity doctrine? Are you an expert in money matters? Do you know everything the Bible says about money? I can find many wealthy characters in the Bible who were God’s people.  If you feel like he’s in real danger of losing out with God, why don’t you pray for him as if he were your own son or father?

What about Benny Hinn? Once again, he is a man who is called of God. He has had more miracles than most modern day ministries. Satan targets these kind of ministries, and they need our prayers, not our criticisms. The late Oral Roberts told Benny that he was one of the few miracle ministries that was still around, and that the devil had taken out most of them. Thousands of people’s lives have been miraculously healed and saved through his ministry. Why do you feel it is your right to speak against such a man?

If you believe any of these ministers to be in the category of those in Mat. 7:21-23 then you should be broken-hearted over it and petitioning the Father for them, interceding on their behalf.

Why do I feel it is important to address this? For the sake of the love and unity in the body of Christ. It seems we have more strife and division over doctrine than anything else. Can we appreciate men and women of God for the specialty of their ministries and the grace they carry, though they be very different than you? Not every minister will reach everyone. There are diversities of ministries and different operations of the Spirit in each of them to meet different needs in people and express the multi-dimensional character of our God. Can we quit de-emphasizing their emphasis so we can emphasize ours?

For years Christians heavily criticized the late Kenneth E. Hagin. I was privileged to attend his school and know his life from the inside, and to this day, he is the greatest man of God with the deepest knowledge of God of any man or minister I’ve ever known. This one example has taught me that people on the outside know squat about most of the ministers they criticize. You don’t live with them. You don’t walk with them. You don’t know them. All you hear is what they teach. You are free to judge their doctrine for yourself but dont’ judge their heart and publicly criticize them, or use social networks to rant about them.

Enough said.

 

THE FEAR OF THE LORD

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Pr 1:7) means also that the beginning of wisdom is to hate sin, wickedness, and evil (Pr 8:13). God needs a new kind of spiritual hero, who not only hates sin’s dirt and filth, but its smell and stench.

Fathers, how would your senses feel toward a man that just raped your virgin daughter? Mothers, how would your senses feel toward one who just brutally murdered your only beloved son? If not for the love of God, could you forgive and embrace such a one? Well, our big brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God was raped and murdered by a thing we call “sin”. How can anyone who calls themselves by the name of that Holy One embrace or even be casual toward sin?

Sin is a rapist and a murderer. It will strip you of your dignity and spoil your decency. It will spotlight you in the nude and utterly embarrass you. Though pleasurable to the flesh for a season, when sin is finished with you, in the end it will kill you. We dare not be casual toward sin. We would not even dare approach such a one especially knowing that it cost the sacrifice of God’s only Son.

While the casual believer may wink at and make light of sin, sin bothers those who are of a loyal nature. Listen to these heroic God-fearing voices from the distant past:

“I preach and think it is more bitter to sin against Christ than to suffer the torments of hell.” Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.)

“If hell were on one side, and sin on the other, I would rather leap into hell than willingly sin against my God.” Anselm (11th century)

I realize these quotes may seem extreme to some, but they reveal the heart of some great servants of God and the fear of the Lord they possessed.

The closer one is to God, the farther he longs to be from sin and anything that would grieve the Spirit of the Lord. In the blazing light of His holiness even the shadow of sin is dark and ugly. Would to God that the Church’s estimation of sin would be comparable to the sacrifice provided by God to atone for it! Like a block of ice set over a burning fire, sin is zapped, crushed, and annihilated against the holy blood of God’s holy Son. If this is the picture of God’s declaration of sin’s defeat, how can we continue to flirt with it? Grace that produces a spirit of holiness will generate a new kind of power among God’s people (Rom 1:4). Unworthy is the grace that fails to make us holy.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God… (Heb 12:14-15) – NIV

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God… (Heb 12:14-15) – NLT

Holiness requires effort in cooperation with the grace of God. We can fall short or fail to receive the empowering grace of God. Yes, grace must be joined to a human response.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Eph 5:3-4).

Holiness may be the missing element to Church growth that our popular seminars and church consultants have failed to teach us. Holiness is what gives the Church distinction, and it’s her distinction from the world that will maximize her impact. Unbelievers in the time of the early Church were afraid of her. The news of people falling dead in a church meeting as a result of God’s judgment (Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5) produced both dread and respect in the unbelievers (Acts 5:13). The heat of holiness was so intense that sin could not breathe and survive in the earliest beginnings of the New Testament Church. The judgment was severe because the glory was heavy. The greater the glory, the more severe is the judgment. God is not about to manifest His glory on a sin-filled church lest many die.

A holy hatred for all that is evil and sinful, awakens in the believer, according to his estimation of the cause, the consequences, and the cure for sin. The revelation of the grace and love of God displayed on the cross of Christ, which delivered us from both the cause and the consequences of our sin, from its penalty and its power, is what God has chosen to birth holiness in the Church.

We do not love Jesus because we hate sin. We hate sin because we love Jesus. It is the intensity of this love that will strengthen us in the hour of temptation, and keep us hungering for holiness and pursuing sanctification.

This is the fear of the Lord.