God

Apr 15, 2016 by Rik Bokelman

How To Live A Holy Life Without Feeling Guilty When You Fail

"You can’t just say that because you have the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is just going to appear." That's what N.T. Wright says in conversation with HelloChristian.com. We asked the leading British New Testament scholar and retired Anglican bishop 8 questions on a variety of topics. Today: How should we practice holiness?

"Holiness is being a genuinely God-reflecting human. Holiness has to do with the presence of God. It’s a concept of belonging to the temple of Judaism. The point of the temple is that is where God lives and if you are going to be in His presence then holiness is required. Being with God, or reflecting God, means we have to be like God."


The problem is this: many people in the Western world think about holiness in terms of rules they must try to keep and so. But in the Bible, and as in many secular traditions actually the point is that holiness comes with the habit of the heart. Just as you can acquired the habit of learning how to fight. You are not born knowing how to fight or to play the piano or the violin."

"No one is born being able to play the violin but if you practice, it’s difficult to begin with; you make some funny speaking screeching noises but eventually you see the music in the page and it happens in your fingers and you don’t have to think about it. You think about more of the phrasing and the rhythm and so on and in the same way with the Christian character; you practice the virtues of particularly humility, of love, of chastity, of forgiveness and kindness – and they are difficult. Nobody is like that automatically."

"IF WE SIMPLY THINK THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES ARE RULES THAT WE HAVE TO KEEP, WE WOULD GO THROUGH LIFE WISHING WE COULD KEEP THEM ONE DAY AND THEN BREAK THEM ON THE NEXT AND THEN FEELING GUILTY."

"We need to practice the Christian virtues in order for them to become second nature. If we simply think that they are rules that we have to keep, we would go through life wishing we could keep them one day and then break them on the next and then feeling guilty."

"That's why some Christians say holiness is not about rules, it has to come from doing something naturally, about spontaneity. And as it is with playing the piano or playing tennis, the spontaneity only comes after the hard work. You have to practice and practice and practice so you can then hit the tennis shot without even thinking about it. In the same way, there is a sense of spontaneity in doing what comes naturally but it only happens after the hard work of the practice is done."

But some people say it has more to do with the work of  God’s Spirit working within you?
"Precisely. You can’t do it without God’s Spirit but Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. The point about fruits is that I have fruit trees in my garden and I need to keep looking after those fruit trees. You have to prune them and if there are weeds and ivy you have to cut the ivy off. And if there's a fierce wind, maybe you can put a fence around it to protect the tree against it. Now, this is my point: you can’t just say that because you have the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is just going to appear automatically. You have to work at it, work hard, and the sign that you have to work at it is that the final one of the fruit is self-control."

Read books from N.T. Wright.



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