Frustration, Transformation, and Holiness

Which glass of water would you like to drink?

Both demonstrate the work of a BioSand water filter, invented by David Manz in the early 1990’s. Since then, these simple, durable filters have been used all around the world for water purification. The glass on the left is what the water at the top of the filter looks like; the glass on the right was drawn out from the bottom of the filter. The difference? Time. Filtration is a slow, gravity-fed process through sand and gravel. The filter removes up to 100% of helminths (worms), up to 100% of protozoa, up to 98.5% of bacteria, and 70-99% of viruses.[1] The water is present all along, but time produces a clear result in the glass.

Time and process can be frustrating, can’t they? We know clarity and purity, or muck and potential toxicity, when we see them. We know what the end result should be. Yet arriving at that result involves getting rid of impurities, removing what’s life-threatening, and even just plain old waiting. You don’t just turn on the tap and “poof,” there’s your pure water!

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19)[2]

Do you resonate with Paul’s self-disclosure here? It’s the process of removing all the impurities, all that will kill me. This is slow, arduous and possibly even frustrating. “I do not do… what I want to do.”

“I’ll never, ever, do that again.”
“This was the last time. For sure. I want to be different now.”
“What’s going on in my head? Why am I thinking this? I don’t even want to. It’s so frustrating!”

As members of TeachBeyond, we’re committed to transformation – to seeing everyone become all that God intends. And one of the things God intends is for us to be like him. “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Lev 19:2) Holiness is one of our core values: “Valuing the moral perfection of God, we pursue a life of purity as He instructs us to in His Word and enables us to live through His indwelling Spirit.”[3]

But how is this possible? We know we can’t behaviourally manage someone into life-change. Not in a classroom, and I certainly can’t in my own heart, soul, mind and body. Charles Spurgeon said it well, “Holiness is not the way to Christ; Christ is the way to holiness.”[4] On my own, I can’t produce holiness any more than I could produce clean water.

This is the beautiful news of the gospel; holiness is given to us by the One who is eternally holy. The writer of Hebrews lifts our heads and hearts to see that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Look closely at the action of God, through Christ: “we have been made holy.” That’s it! That’s our position in Christ. A position we are given as daughters and sons, not because we’re able to squeeze the impurity out of our lives after enough effort, rather, because his indwelling Spirit is our life.

But we know all too well the feeling of being filtered and in-process, don’t we? God knows this too, and has planned this process specifically for you and me to learn to live in him. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14). Look closely at this verse, “those who are being made holy.” We “have been made” and we “are being made.” This is the powerful dynamic of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Here’s one final gospel encouragement for you. Just as the pure water in the glass on the right was latent in the water in the glass on the left, so you are becoming what God has always desired for you to be in the power of his Spirit. Here’s a passage framed pedagogically: “You were taught… to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24) You are created to be just what God hopes you will be – righteous and holy.

May you be encouraged to allow the Holy Spirit to continue the process he has begun in you. May you be confident in the removal of toxic things from your heart and habits, your being and doing. And may you be inspired to live a holy life where God’s purity shines through you and those you impact for transformation.


For further reflection:

  • In what area of your life are you longing for more holiness? How is God prompting you to continue to be made holy?
  • How would you share the concept of holiness with a student so that they could become a holy 4th grader? (or whatever grade you impact)
  • How is God’s holiness the needed good news for your neighbourhood?

Brian Delamont
Director of Global Spiritual Development
TeachBeyond


[1] “What is a Biosand Filter?” CAWST, www.cawst.org/services/expertise/biosand-filter/more-information.
[2] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible. New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
[3] “Mission & Vision.” TeachBeyond, teachbeyond.org/learn/mission-vision/
[4] This saying is attributed to C.H. Spurgeon in a variety of sermons and articles.

Photo Credits:
Feature Image: Cross During Sunset by vermontalm/Shutterstock.com
Clean Water. Neverthirst via Instagram/neverthirst_water.
Open Book on wood background by Anelina/Shutterstock.com
Woman Praying by MIA Studio/Shutterstock.com