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107. Holiness and Life on the Edge

This issue looks at the relationship between holiness and life on the edge.


With the advent of “extreme sports” has come the recognition of athletes who seem to be absolutely fearless. They push themselves to the limit, doing things beyond what was once thought possible or even imagined. A small, select group of people live their lives that way – on the edge. They are the inspiration for books and movies.

There is another way, however, in which living “on the edge” is anything but inspirational. Let me show you what I mean. Look at or imagine a familiar table that you use regularly. Let everything on the tabletop represent “God’s will for you.” Let everything off and below the edge represent “not God’s will for you.” Everything off the edge is clearly sin. Those in God’s family are allowed to live their lives anywhere on the tabletop.

Our problem is that too often, we want to see how close we can get to the edge without falling off. The Christian teenage girl wants to know how far she can go with her boyfriend without “crossing the line.” Adults have a long list of areas where we “push the limits.” I know mine, and I’m sure you know yours. The Bible calls believers who constantly live on the edge “carnal Christians.” They spend most of their time flirting with the world and its pleasures while enjoying their identification as Christians.

Then there are those who live their lives as far from the edge as possible. When in doubt, they head for the center. These are the people God will use in a mighty way. These are the people who have determined to pursue holiness, and they know it can only be found as far from the edge as possible. These are the people who are making a difference. These are the people who are advancing the kingdom. These are the people God is blessing.

The beauty of life at the center is that holiness is possible no matter how bad we’ve messed things up. Consider the pregnant teenage girl who has acknowledged her sin, is truly sorry, and has asked God for forgiveness. She has determined to live her life in the center from now on. As 1 John 1:9 explains, God will not only forgive her, but He will cleanse her of all unrighteousness. God will see her as if she were sinless. Compare her to her friends who never got pregnant, but are still living on the edge. Who is more holy in God’s eyes? Praise God for His mercy.


When I began to understand this simple illustration, my life began to change. Little by little, I started to consciously think about my pursuit of holiness and what stood in the way. I started weighing the consequence of “center life” verses “edge life.” I’m so glad God is patient. This isn’t easy. A pursuit of holiness doesn’t come naturally. We have to constantly fight the worldly pulls. Whether to follow hard after God or to follow the world is one of the most important decisions we all face. As I see it, the mess the world is in is the result of not choosing wisely on this issue. Fortunately, as long as we’re still here on earth we have the opportunity to make the right decision.

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A clear conscience is usually the result of a poor memory.


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