Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Divine Combination

I remember the old commercial for Reese's Cups. Person #1 has an open jar of peanut butter. Person #2 has a chocolate bar. They collide. "Hey, you got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" "No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" Fortunately, that experiment turned out well for all of us. :)

Some combinations don't work out so well though. I can clean the siding on my house with vinegar and water ... or bleach and water ... but not with vinegar and bleach, or I will create deadly chlorine gas.

Where my spiritual life is concerned, the same thoughts hold true. Some combinations are good ... some are deadly. Consider what the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:12, "For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you." 

The conscience is a wonderful thing ... if it is appropriately trained and focused. Saul of Tarsus had a clean conscience ... as he persecuted the church and worked against Christ. He was sincere in his beliefs, yet he was sincerely wrong. Spiritually speaking, his life before Christ was a mixture of vinegar and bleach ... deadly!

But after allowing Christ to change him, he found a new combination that produced divine results ... and shares it with us in 2 Corinthians 1:12. Do you want a really clean conscience? Try combining holiness with godly sincerity!

Godly sincerity is different from human sincerity. Human sincerity is founded "in fleshly wisdom." Godly sincerity is founded in "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Why is there so much confusion and weakness within our congregations? Because people are mixing together things that should not be mixed together. Some try to mix holiness with fleshly wisdom. It creates legalists. It produces Pharisees. It doesn't work. It produces those who are SELF-righteous.

Others try to mix godly wisdom into their worldly lives. That doesn't work either though. Such people are the very reason Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matthew 12:30). To such people, James boldly says, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God" (James 4:4). You can't mix worldliness with godliness! "What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness" (2 Corinthians 6:14)?

The proper combination - the DIVINE combination - is holiness and godly sincerity. Live righteous lives. You can be sincerely right if you follow God's word. Your conscience can be perfectly clean, because you are building your life according to Christ's perfect pattern. According to the apostle, that kind of a life speaks volumes. It is a fitting testimony of Christianity to the world and to the church.

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