As you probably already know, Whitney Houston died Saturday afternoon.
Her singing career began at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, where she sang as a gospel soloist. Whitney Houston professed to be a Christian. She’s been justified by Christ’s blood. When you’re justified by Christ’s blood there’s a joy in knowing that your mistakes and failings are forgiven. Whatever mistakes you may have made, whatever problems you may have had, you’re going to heaven. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more because of Jesus’ sacrifice on your and my behalf.
Positionally speaking, you reside in Christ, so God doesn’t see your missteps and failures. Because of her belief in Christ, Whitney couldn’t be in a better place — positionally.
Practically speaking, even though you may be saved by Christ’s justification, there are still consequences to living a life apart from God’s word. Practically speaking, the further away you drift from God’s words, the darker your life becomes. Practically speaking you’re to sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 20:7 KJV) It’s fashionable right now for Christians to live similar lifestyles to how the rest of the world lives. But God tells us that we’re supposed to be sanctified, or set apart, from the world. We’re to be engaged with the people of the world, to be sure. We’re to love on those in the world, absolutely. We’re to be in but not of the world. While speaking to God about you and about me, Jesus said, They are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:14-17) Practically speaking we’re to be sanctified by the truth, and Christ says that God’s word is that truth. Practically speaking there’s tremendous blessing there for you, should you decide to sanctify yourself in God’s word.
Speaking of Jesus, the book of Hebrews says, Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Hebrews 1:9, KJV) Because Jesus loved righteousness he was anointed with gladness. And because Jesus loved righteousness more than any other, he was anointed with gladness more than any other.
The bottom line is this: The degree to which you sanctify yourself in God’s word, the degree to which you love righteousness, the degree to which you live a holy lifestyle, is the degree to which you’ll be blessed with happiness. I’m not talking about the short term pleasure that’s experienced from sin. The Bible says that sin brings pleasure for a season, but, that’s followed by pain, destruction, and devastation. I’m talking about the kind of happiness that lasts.
A sanctified holy lifestyle is out of fashion right now, I know. In many circles it’s not the cool way to live, I understand. But that doesn’t change the reality. Tragically, Whitney Houston’s life is a classic example of these truths. She’s saved. She’s justified by Christ’s sacrifice. She’s gone to heaven — but she went through hell for much of the last twenty years, mired in addiction and entangled in an abusive relationship, because she lived apart from God’s word, she lived apart from a hunger and thirst for righteousness, she lived a life that was apart from holiness. (Matthew 5:6)
Whitney Houston’s gone to heaven — but she went through hell.
Maybe you’re saying right now, Yea but I don’t use drugs the way Whitney Houston did; or I don’t drink like Whitney Houston used to; or I’m not tangled up in a terrible marriage relationship the way Whitney Houston was.
If that’s true, I’m glad for you. However, if you want to learn about what you’re leaving on the table, keep reading. The scriptures are a light on your life path. (Psalm 119:105) And the more you incorporate them into your life, the greater the light you’ll have on your life. Conversely, the less of God’s word you have in your life, the darker your life path. Obviously, Whitney’s life for the last couple of decades was very dark. But I think there are many Christians today whose lives, while not completely dark, are very dimly lit. Focused on their liberties more than on what God has to say, they’re experiencing uncertainty and anxiety where there doesn’t need to be uncertainty and anxiety. They’re experiencing doubt and distress where there doesn’t need to be doubt and distress. All they need is more light on their lives. With more light on their lives, they could live with clarity. With more light on their lives they could enjoy the enthusiasm for their life path that comes with seeing things more clearly. You could have so much more: so much more in the way of blessings; so much more light in your life; so much more happiness; so much more gladness. I’m not talking about joining an order of monks here; I’m just talking about studying the Bible for ten or fifteen minutes a day. I’m just talking about going to church on Sunday and maybe hitting a Bible study midweek. The return on investment will be spectacular.
The way holiness results in gladness is why God says the things He does in His word. It’s because God’s for you; He wants to see you do well; He’s rooting for you; God desires to see you happy; He wants to see you glad. When you live a life in the light of God’s word; when you live a life of sanctification, you gain good things in your life. Things that God wants you to have.
Take joy in that you’re justified by Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf, definitely. But also sanctify yourself. It’s a powerful way to live. There are huge gains there for you. Blessings there for the taking.
Live life closer to Him.
Live a holy lifestyle.
Sanctify yourself in God’s words.
You’ll be glad you did.
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 20:7 KJV
Reuters Article on Whitney Houston