To advance the Kingdom, people of God must be holy as God is holy. The Church is called to holiness.
“The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it.” –A. W. Tozer
Money, sex, and power! If not handled properly, they will cause problems. These three have the ability to both bless and curse a life. Unfortunately, mishandling them causes Christians to live less than acceptable lifestyles. Richard Foster wrote a book addressing the subject in The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex & Power, and he says, “The crying need today is for people of faith to live faithfully.”[i]
While living in Sudan, a colleague encouraged me to install accountability software on my computer as a guardrail against pornography. Even though we lived in a part of the world where women covered from head to toe, I thought it was sound advice. My brother and best friend began receiving weekly reports regarding my Internet use. Knowing anything accessed on my electronic devices was reported to others provided an additional measure of accountability. Even in religiously conservative environments, many people simply live with a sense of false modesty. Issues of sex, power, and money pervade even those cultures.
Following Jesus involves walking through wilderness experiences and living in community. We are to have ears to hear what the Spirit says. He helps us understand we are to love well, embrace suffering, and apply the sword of truth to our lives. The letter to the church in Thyatira reveals a call to holiness.
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.’
“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Disloyalty occurs by both compromise without and deception within. Rather than changing the Word of God, let the Word of God change you.
Are you failing to be loyal to Christ? Are you caught up in unwholesome practices turning you away from God?
Remain steadfast in faith and continue walking in accordance to His will. Be committed to a process of renewal allowing godly character to rule your life.
Remain holy as God is holy. As you engage the world, stay loyal to Jesus. He is worth it.
Small Group Discussion Starters
- Follow-up from previous discussion: In what ways could you have lived more like Jesus this week? How were you able to live in the world but not be a part of it? Who are you helping become more like Jesus?
- How does Jesus model the proper way to correct someone?
- Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about some things you tolerate in your life?
- How do you mourn over sin in your life? When do you approach God with a repentant heart and a desire for genuine change?
- How do you engage the Word of God and allow it to change you from the inside out?
- What emotions, thoughts, or wills do you need to surrender to Jesus to be renewed?
As a group, hold each other accountable to live holy lives. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal matters in your life that need to be dealt with. Then go before God with a Psalm 51 repentant heart seeking the renewal that only He can bring.
[i] Richard Foster, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex & Power, (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1985), 1.