Tag: Jim Cymbala

A Growing Desire to Be Holy

Jim Cymbala90x115by Jim Cymbala

Holy, separated living isn’t preached about much anymore because we fear it might offend and not be visitor-friendly. But when the Spirit starts his work, we will always have a new desire for holiness and a quest for Christlikeness. “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

The word holy speaks of separation and purity. It must be important to God, for he tells us that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Holiness is not a list of do’s and don’ts; rather, it is Christlikeness. As the Spirit works, we will have an increased desire to be holy like Christ. What else would the Holy Spirit do but impart his own nature into our lives?

Once we trust Christ for salvation, God will begin to mold and shape us. Many experience a radical change when they first come to know Christ, but over time a battle between the flesh and the Spirit takes place. The apostle Paul wrote, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17). Paul was writing to the saints in Galatia, but he acknowledged that they, like him, had to overcome a carnal undertow from inside that pulled against the Spirit’s purposes.

Paul was not the only one who cautioned about sinful practices in the lives of believers. John reminded us of this truth: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). John’s intention was plain — to inspire God’s people not to practice unrighteousness but to practice Christlike living. The Holy Spirit brings new sensitivity and conviction to us if we are really living under his control. Behavior, words, and attitudes that are unholy cause a reaction from the Spirit, who is holy.

When you surrender your life to Christ, the Holy Spirit will lovingly send out cautions, warnings, and red alerts to keep you following his example.

by Jim Cymbala

The Remedy for Complaining

Jim Cymbala90x115by Jim Cymbala

When Christians experience joy today, it has a much more powerful impact on the world than it did decades ago. Why? Because the entitlement mentality so prevalent in our society leads many to feel justified in their anger. We may think, “The government, my employer, my family — someone for sure! — owes me big-time. I’m entitled because my life has been hard. You have no idea what I’ve been through.” There is often a deep resentment in that kind of complaint.

If you carefully analyze international affairs, national politics, call-in radio shows, blogs, labor disputes, and race relations, you find a worldwide epidemic of venom and bitterness. It’s everywhere and, sadly, it has also invaded the Body of Christ. It is the exact opposite of the joyous living that Jesus intended for all of us. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).

Centuries before Jesus said those words, joy was already understood as an important facet in the life of God’s chosen people. Moses instructed them that the blessings of God were granted so that “your joy will be complete” (Deuteronomy 16:15). Enjoying God’s presence produced an even deeper joy than any material blessing (Psalm 21:6), and God’s people were to continually celebrate his goodness with “songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22).

When singing a song of joy, it wasn’t only the lyrics or melody that made the song worshipful; the singers needed a heart of joy for all that the Lord had done for them. God was more interested in joyful hearts than vocal ability — that’s why David’s attitude pleased God so much. Although surrounded by enemies and under intense stress, David didn’t complain or get bitter. Rather, he went to the tabernacle and made sacrifices with “shouts of joy,” saying, “I will sing and make music to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).

We Christians have been forgiven, cleansed, justified, and sealed with the Spirit — and we will live eternally with Christ! Joyous singing, shouts of praise, and exuberant thanksgiving are certainly in order. Although there is a time to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), we should also remember to “sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1).

by Jim Cymbala