Pursue God’s Holiness

John BevereBy John Bevere5 Minutes

Excerpt from The Awe of God: The Astounding Way a Healthy Fear of God Transforms Your Life. © 2023 by John Bevere.

We can only purify our hearts by embracing the fear of the Lord.

Our purity cannot be like the Pharisees’. Jesus said, “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28 NLT). Their motives were as impure and filthy as dead corpses. They lacked the fear of the Lord, which in turn caused them to pursue a righteousness that was strictly based on outward behavior, making the focus their projected image. This prevented the inner transformation that brings forth corresponding outward behavior. They believed they knew God, but the reality is they didn’t know their Creator who stood before them and consequently were out of step with His wishes. They fooled themselves.

Even so today, the holiness we pursue must originate in our hearts – our thoughts, motives, and intentions. This will ultimately drive our outward behavior. This is why Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Without seeing Him, we lack inner transformation – authentic holiness – and consequently we don’t see Him. It’s cyclical.

It’s not enough to have an outward form of godliness but deny the power of the transformation of our inward desires. We must long for truth in our inward parts (motives and intentions); that must be our pursuit. The apostle James is very strong with believers who take holiness lightly. He writes:

Your motives are all wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? (James 4:3-4).

James uses the word adulterers, a term used for the violation of a marriage covenant. God often uses marriage imagery to illustrate our covenant with Him; Jesus is called the groom, and we are His bride. Paul states that a marriage between a man and woman is an example of the way Jesus Christ and the church are united (Ephesians 5:31-32).

The world lives for selfish gain or prideful achievements and therefore focuses on their projected and perceived image. When we align ourselves with the world’s desires in our neglect of pursuing holiness, we become adulterers. It’s such an affront to our Husband that we actually turn ourselves into His enemies. Therefore, James goes on to say: “Purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world” (James 4:8). We can only purify our hearts by embracing the fear of the Lord, which drives us to pursue authentic holiness!

I’ve been married to Lisa for more than forty years, and there are strong reasons I’ve not committed adultery against her. The first and foremost is that I fear God. I made a covenant with Him to love and nurture her regardless of her response or behavior.

The second reason is because I don’t want to lose intimacy with this magnificent woman. I love that she confides in me, sharing her innermost secrets and the longings of her heart. In essence, I love our closeness. It’s no different with Jesus. The reason I passionately avoid committing adultery against Him is that I don’t want to lose the intimacy we share together. I love the closeness of His presence and the intimate conversations we have together. I love it when He shares secrets with me that I’ve never known before. Could that be why we are told:

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant (Psalm 25:14).

We are now just beginning to discover the irresistible aspect of holiness.

Excerpt from The Awe of God: The Astounding Way a Healthy Fear of God Transforms Your Life. Copyright 2023 by John Bevere. Used by permission of W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishing. www.harpercollinschristian.com

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