Summary: Part One of Two-Part Message in Pursuing Holy Thoughts, distinguishing between that which is presented as truth and truth as Scripture accurately presents it.
PURSUING HOLY THOUGHTS (Part One of Two)
*INTRO> In the Antarctic summer of 1908, Sir Ernest Shackleton and three companions, plus two ponies, attempted to travel to the South Pole. However, weeks after they set off, with their rations all but exhausted, they turned back toward their base, their goal not accomplished. All tototal, their trek lasted 127 days. Shackleton kept a journal and recorded their time together on the return trip, which was mostly spent talking about food: elaborate feasts, gourmet delights, sumptuous menus. As they staggered along, suffering from dyssentery, not knowing whether they would survive or not, every waking hour was occupied with thoughts of eating.
We can perhaps understand Shackleton’s obsession with food...but Jesus, who also knew the ravages of food deprivation, said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." He taught us that our passion, our hunger, our drive, our pursuit of righteousness and holiness is to be OUR minute-to-minute "obsession," our central focus of every day...as intense as that of a someone starving for food.
As we sang earlier, He is to be the air we breathe, our daily bread. We’re to desire an intimate relationship with the Lord so intensely that it borders of desperation...we’re to be desperate for Him...lost without Him...as we pursue God’s pleasure in all things.
I invite you to open a Bible and turn to Philippians, chapter four.
In order to pursue holy thoughts we must first understand what "holiness" means.
<>Holiness DOESN’T mean...never cutting your hair, wearing high-necked shirts even in summer, priding yourself on being more "godly" than others.
-->Rather than comparing ourselves to others, the proper standard of holiness is how do we compare to God’s righteousness, and how "set apart" and "sanctified" are we, how committed are we to seeking to please God in everything, willing to comply with His standards, rather than conforming to the world’s standards or lack of them.
--Quote> J. Bridges, in his book, "Pursuit of Holiness," quotes the 19th century Scottish theologian, John Brown, in saying, "Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills."
-->Holiness involves understanding that we’re called with a holy calling, called to a holy purpose, to be a holy people for God’s pleasure, we’re a holy priesthood, and part of God’s holy church.
-->Holiness requires an intentional decision, a commitment to living a godly, holy, pure life.
-->Holiness requires saying "no" to "unholy" activities, and saying "yes" to that which pleases God.
-->Holiness requires responding to His leading every day, and every moment of every day.
-->Holiness results in bringing glory to God, bringing a smile to His face, pleasing Him in all things.
<>But holiness begins with our thoughts, with how we think...because our actions are a response to our thoughts.
--Prov.23:7 -- "For as he thinks within himself, so he is."
SO, TODAY OUR FOCUS IS ON "PURSUING HOLY THOUGHTS," BEING HOLY IN OUR THOUGHT-LIFE.
<>Key passage #1: Romans 12:2 -- "...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so...you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable (pleasing to God), perfect."
>Some key words:
-->"transformed" -- From Greek root by which we get English word "metamorphosis," the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
----The idea: upon conversion, God begins our transformation, begins our spiritual growth in becoming Christ-like.
------>First He changes forever our DESTINATION. We’re brought from death to life...given the gift of eternal life.
------>But He also changes our SITUATION down here. Our Spiritual condition from here on is forever changed.
------>He gives us a new mind. He transforms our WAY of thinking...transforms our values, our goals.
--------Quote: Anon.> "Right thinking means letting the mind of the Master be the master of your mind."
<>Pursuing Holiness is just that...it’s a PURSUIT...an on-going adventure, with a definite beginning.
-->The transformation from being out of fellowship with God, at enmity with Him, to becoming in Christ is a dramatic change. We become new creatures, like a caterpillar forever leaving his caterpillar-ness and becoming, instead, a butterfly.
-->Note: Once a caterpillar is changed, he never returns to being a caterpillar...he’s been forever changed. However, in our case, we’re still stuck in an old, sinful, fleshly body, and we’re continually "at war" with that flesh.
--->So, the pursuit of being "other," of being holy instead of fleshly, is a CONTINUAL PURSUIT.
-----In fact, the literal translation of Rom.12:2 would say that we are to "CONTINUALLY be transformed by the CONTINUAL renewing of our minds."
<>Key passage #2: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 -- "for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."