Holiness: the Struggle
So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Genesis 12:18
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20
A reality for every believer is the awareness that our actions are often inconsistent with our profession of faith. We veer between the heights of faithfulness and the pits of sin.
Abram shows exemplary faith in his response to God’s call (Genesis 12:4). He shows generosity and love toward his nephew Lot. He shows a profound understanding that his integrity was not for sale in his interactions with the pagan kings. However, his deceptive dealing with Pharaoh reveals another side of the patriarch. Gripped by fear, he reverts to deception that even the Egyptian ruler found appalling, passing off his wife as his sister.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we learn that God looks on the heart of His people. Mere outward conformity to the law is unacceptable. This got the Pharisees in trouble. Their sins would not have been as observable as Abram’s famous lie, yet their righteousness was insufficient to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven. They were insensitive to their failure to truly obey God. If they would find eternal life they would have to recognize their utter inability to be perfect. They would need to learn that only faith in a perfect priest and a perfect sacrifice would open the kingdom of God to them.
Think about it
How do you view your spiritual ups and downs? Do you trust in your own goodness when you seem to be walking in obedience? Do you doubt your acceptance before God when you sin? Our acceptance before God is based on His grace through faith in Christ the perfect priest who gave Himself, the perfect offering, for our sins. It cannot be based on our performance. Our faith will bear increasing fruit of obedience but that will not be perfect until we see the Lord (1 John 3:2). Meanwhile, seek to keep believing God’s promises to save us by grace through faith and never quit the struggle to grow in God-glorifying holiness.