The Beauty of Holiness and the Terror of Sin.

I’ve been buried in the book of Judges for a while now. Just reading the book casts a dark shadow over
my heart. I don’t like it, but it is a necessary read/study because it visualizes for us the devastating
effects of sin and the incredible strength of God’s arm to save us.

One word that stands out in this book is consecration. It means to be set apart by God for a specific
purpose or role. There is no doubt God chose Israel and set her apart as a means of displaying His glory
and righteousness to a hungry, dying world. But Israel was never enough and neither were the borders
they were required to stay within. God continued setting aside more and more people for His glory.
Why? Because He loves His creation. He has from the beginning. He made us in His image and opens the
door for us to return to Him through Jesus. He calls us to His standard, not just a higher standard or a
standard of our own making because He loves us and desires for us to display His glory. And this is
where the rub is. It doesn’t make sense for God to continue on with a nation who is so flagrantly
rebellious. Our sin and Israel’s may be different, but in the end, it is still the same. We still offend God.

Why does our sin offend Him? When I lie to you, why is God offended? When I steal from you, why is
God offended? Why can’t He just leave that between me and you? Why does He get involved? The
answer is: God established a moral law. This law was written on the hearts of His people and eventually
spelled out in the 10 Commandments. This is why we love that story, because it shows us what we
already know to be true: God is #1, it’s wrong to murder, we all long to have parents we can love and
respect, it’s wrong to want and take what our neighbors have… These things are intrinsic to humankind
and every time we sin, no matter the line we cross, our sin offends God. It is always ultimately against
Him. But hear this, Israel is a flagrant testimony of God’s affection toward us and not just His wrath. Was
there punishment for Israel’s sin? Absolutely. Was Israel canceled? Did God remove His promise from
them? No way. God continues on with the believer until the end. He is absolutely committed to finishing
what He starts in us. He tells us there is no condemnation for those who in Christ. There is a vast
difference between hate and disapproval.

In the end, there is a righteousness, a holiness that we are striving for. Why? Because we love the One
who died for us and want to obey Him. We want what He wants for our lives. We want to walk with
Him. We want to be ambassadors for Him in a world that is lost without Him.

For this to happen we have to guard our hearts. This looks like us leaning on God’s impossible strength
for us and not on our own strong points. The men of Israel were strong and polished. Many of them
were quick on their feet and able to accomplish more than 100 others could in their shoes. This led them
to believe they could easily whip every enemy, even their own hearts. They were wrong and we are, too.
The temptation they faced is an area no man can stand in alone for long. The ground is pot marked with
spent shells; evidence of careless lives taken. The remains of men and women who’ve fallen are all
around. This is ground we cannot hold by ourselves. We must learn to stand in the power of Christ and
together with the Body. We must practice confession and repentance often. Only as we abide in Christ
will we see continued victory here.

The enemy pursues us delicately. He tempts us slowly to give up small pieces of our holiness. In the case
of Samson, he flirted with ruin multiple times, but never gave up the secret of his hair. He knew Delilah was determined to find out and he refused to break off the relationship with her. One piece at a time,
Satan convinced him that his strength would remain no matter what he did. One time, though, the
strength left. How many times have we flirted with sin, specifically sexual sin, and not fallen? How many
times have we been able to resist, even though we were alone and told no one? But Samson’s story
serves as a warning to all who belong to God, we are not ever strong enough to resist our nature. If we
do not guard our hearts, we will eventually and always fall. If we want to keep this from happening, and
I know no disciple who wants to fall, we must take necessary precautions.

I find that I have to pray to effectively resist these temptations. I often find myself overloaded by the
weight of sin. I feel as though I am walking in knee deep mud. But as soon as I call out to the Lord, I am
freed from the burden of the sin. Every. Single. Time. I cannot remember a time when I called out to the
Lord and He didn’t immediately respond to my desperate plea. Samson knew this to be true. In his blind,
helpless state, he asked the Lord to strengthen him one more time. Finally, God had humbled him.
Samson was broken. God honored his prayer and gave him the supernatural strength once more to tear
such massive columns down that they supported some 3000 people. I don’t know what this looked like,
but it was quick enough that they couldn’t stop him. I don’t know if he pushed, pulled, or took a running
leap, but the columns came down and Samson killed more in his death than he had in his life.

Judges is a glaring reminder that we are made right by God’s constant work in our lives AND by our
continued cooperation with Him in that work. I pray you will choose to cooperate with God in your life
this week. You and I are no different than any of these Biblical characters. I pray you know the glory of
God in your life this week to such a degree that others can see it displayed in you, like a flashlight in the
middle of a movie theatre. You and I were created with purpose. Let’s live it!

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