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Wholeness and Holiness

John 5:9b-15
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' " So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. (NIV)

It is always disappointing when religious people are upset when God works unexpectedly. A paralysed man, disabled for thirty-eight years, had just been healed; and the religious people disapproved because it happened on their holy day. They believed that no work should be done on a holy day and that carrying a bed roll was work: therefore they considered that the man had defiled the Sabbath and must be unholy. But in fact it was Jesus who commanded him to do it as a sign that he had been made whole - thirty-eight years of profound disability had come to an end.

The man had no idea who Jesus was. All he knew was that by obeying His word of authority, paralysis had gone and healing had come. But later, when Jesus found him worshipping, He reminded the man that, although his body was now working well, his heart needed to be healed as well. He needed to identify the inner disability of sin and obey Jesus by changing the way he lived. It would be foolish to have a healed body and unholy soul. It is often enough for religious people to be seen to be pious, even though their hearts are not holy.

Religious piety and holiness are not the same. 'Holiness' describes a heart which is in submission to God and which motivates a lifestyle that pleases God: whereas religion can easily become a vehicle for pride and a controlling spirit. It is not good enough to look holy on the outside but to be unholy on the inside (Matthew 6:1-6). On the other hand, the man with the paralysed body was willing to obey Jesus: he was also willing to hear Jesus' command to stop sinning. So, ask yourself what God is saying to you through this passage. Have you fallen into the trap of appearing to be pious but having an unholy heart that is critical of others? Or have you been grateful to Jesus for all He has done for you until now, and are willing to review your life and change whatever does not please Him?

Dear Father in Heaven. Thank You for all You have done for me. But I am sorry for separating my faith from my lifestyle. Please help me to review my life and ask You to change my heart so that I can change the way I live. Give me a desire to be holy and the courage to stop sinning so that I may please You and demonstrate the real wholeness which holiness brings. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams