I've been reading the past few weeks in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. Poor guy, seems he could never catch a break.
He kept telling the Israelites of all tribes, all of whom refused to listen, to turn from their wicked ways and turn back to the Lord in order to forestall the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. God was so tired of all the Israelites going to the temple, going through their motions of worshiping the Lord, and then going back to their homes and lives and worshiping of the idols they'd made or bought.
Seems the Israelites had this odd thing for idols. Go figger.
But even though they were going through the motions of making a good show in the temple, of making the sacrifices and giving the tithes that The Law demanded, God knew their hearts. Who did they think they were fooling? There were actually other "prophets" in Israel, saying they had received messages or dreams from God, saying "Don't worry! The LORD says you will have peace!", and to those that stubbornly follow their own evils ways, they were saying "No harm will come your way!". (Jer 23:17).
But God says through this poor guy Jeremiah, "Am I a God who is only in one place? Do they thing I cannot see what they are doing? Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?" (Jer 23:23-24)
God knew the thoughts and desires of the Israelites better then they knew themselves. What I'm learning out of Jeremiah is that God knows all my thoughts, my desires, my dreams and my fears. I have been redeemed, set aside, and now have a relationship with the Living God, and I don't want to be like the other "prophets" of Israel who claimed to have visions and messages from God, hearing and knowing His will, but actually were lying to themselves and others about God's message.
Peter says, "Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. Instead, be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy. The scripture says, 'Be holy because I am holy'. " (1 Peter 1:14-16).
Holiness is a lofty goal, and unattainable on my own. Only through a relationship with God, depending on the Holy Spirit and keeping my eyes on the Living Hope that I have in Jesus can I hope to live a holy life. That comes through obedience to God. I can no longer live in or claim ignorance of that fact.
For this I'm both grateful and, like the prophet Jeremiah, sometimes almost dismayed because, although I'm wonderfully and awesomely thankful for the grace and mercy God has shown me in calling me aside and saving my eternal life, it's not an easy life to live, and sometimes I find myself thinking, I wish there were an easier way! But nothing worth having is easy, and nothing worth earning is cheap.
Not that I've attained this holy life, but I am running the race. Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ, there is now no condemnation for those who live in Christ. There IS no price I can pay or amount of work I can do to earn that.