We don’t mind talking about Holiness as an abstract concept. But if that concept gets too personal or starts to interfere with our lifestyle, we can quickly become uncomfortable.
Part of the problem may be that the word holiness has picked up some baggage that most people don’t find particularly desirable (people with outdated hair and clothing styles – a joyless lifestyle with a long list of rules and regulations – a monk like existence – people with a judgmental attitude – an unattainable ideal away from the real world)
Holiness when you put it that way, who wants it?!
But Holiness in the Bible means moral wholeness – a positive quality which actually includes kindness, mercy, purity, moral blamelessness, and godliness
It has two meanings in the Bible
1. Set Apart (to be distinct, to be different)
Throughout scripture, we find that God set apart certain things, places, people for Himself and called them holy, concentrated for His use. They were not to be used for common, ordinary, everyday purposes
The word carries with it a sense of belonging to God. We’re set apart for God’s holy purposes. It is a call to:
- Belong and enter an intimate relationship with God
- Fit into this eternal plan for redeeming the universe
- Experience the joys for which we were created
- Be freed from all that destroys our true happiness
2. Morally clean (to reflect the moral character of a Holy God)
God wants us to understand that he is holy and that holiness is not an option for those who belong to him. He wants us to know that he is concerned with every detail and dimension of our lives. He wants us to understand the blessings of holiness and the consequences of unholy living
God would not command us to do anything without also enabling us to do it. He knows we cannot possibly be holy apart from Him. That is why he has made provision for us to overcome sin through the cross of Christ. That is why he has sent his spirit to live in our hearts and that is why he has given every believer a supernatural resource called grace that gives us the desire and the power to be holy
True holiness is cultivated in the context of a relationship with God. His love for us moves us to reject all lesser loves and all the fleeting delights sin can offer.
As our love for him grows, we are motivated to aspire to holiness. The fact that he is our father and we are his beloved children makes us long to be closer to him and compels us to avoid something that could cause a breach in the relationship
Yes, Holiness involves adherence to a standard, but the obedience God asks of us is not cold, rigid, and dutiful. It is warm, joyous, loving response to God who loves us and created us to enjoy intimate fellowship with him. It is the overflow of a heart that is deeply grateful to have been redeemed by God from sin. It is not something we manufacture by sheer grit, determination, and will power. It is motivated and enabled by Holy Spirit who lives within us to make us Holy.
A commitment to be holy is a commitment to be clean through and through – to have no unholy part. True holiness starts with our thoughts, attitudes, values and motives – those innermost parts of our hearts that only God can see. It also affects our outward and visible behavior
Surprising as it may seem, holiness and gladness really do go hand in hand
We might picture someone who has a passionate love for holiness and an intense hatred fir sub as being joyless, uptight, and rigid
Why do we make holiness out to be some austere obligation or burden to be borne, when the fact is that to be holy is to be clean, to be free from the weight and the burden of sin?
To pursue holiness is to move toward joy – joy infinitely greater than any earthly delights can offer
To resist holiness or to be halfhearted about its pursuit is to forfeit true joy and to settle for something less than that God-intoxication for which we were created
So Why settle for anything less?
There are moments when I think, it’s so hard to “be holy” all the time! Why can’t I just relax and take it easy sometimes?
Holiness isn’t about sheer human effort and self-striving. I know it’s about depending on God’s enabling grace and letting Jesus live Hid holy life in and through us
But be honest – don’t you find that it often seems a lot easier to go with the flow of your natural, fleshly desires than to deny your flesh and choose the pathway of holiness?
So why pursuit holiness?
Here are seven biblical motivations for Holy living:
1. Because God is holy
In our everyday life and conduct, we are to reflect what God is like. Our lives are to make God believable to our world. As they see Hid image in us, they will be moved to worship and glorify him
Because God is holy, we must be holy. And here’s the good news/ And here’s the good news – because God is holy, we can be holy. If you are a child of God, the holy God lives in you. He is the standard for your holiness, and he is the source of your holiness. He can wash your unholy heart with the blood of Jesus and make you clean – so the world will know what he is like
What an awesome responsibility, what an astounding privilege that the holy one should cleanse us from our sins, fill us with his holy spirit, then use us to reflect the splendor of his holiness in this dark world
2. Because holiness is God’s stated goal for every believer
God’s goal in saving you was to make you holy, as he is holy, that you might perfectly glorify him, that you might bring him pleasure, and that you might enjoy intimate fellowship with him for all eternity
It is something he desired, planned, and made provision for before He even created the world.
To be holy is our created purpose. It is our destiny
3. Because Jesus died to deliver is from Sin
The penalty for our sin was death. Our redemption was costly. Why? To deliver us from the present evil age
When we tolerate our sin and refuse to be parted from it, we spurn the love and the grace of Christ; we trample His cross and count His sacrificial death of no value
His death provides the motivation and the power to say No to sin and to say Yes to holiness in every area of our lives
4. Because we are saints
When an unbeliever sins, he is doing what comes naturally. He sins because it is his nature to sin. But when a sinner becomes a child of God, he is born anew; he is set apart from Satan and the world to belong wholly to God – he becomes a saint. He is given a new heart, and the Holy Spirit within him begins the process of transforming him into the very likeness of Christ
Are you living like a Saint? If you are truly a child of God, the answer will be Yes – not perfectly, but that is my heart’s desire, and by his grace I am actively pursuing holiness and growing to be more like the One who has saved me
5. Because our intimacy with God depends on it
Unholy people cannot fellowship with a holy God. So sin destroys our fellowship with God. Intimacy with God is reserved for those who are holy
6. Because we are going to live eternally in a holy city
If you were moving to another part of the world, you would give careful thought to how you packed for the move
You and I will soon be moving to our eternal home. How much thought have you given to your ultimate destination and to what you need to do to get ready for the move?
Without holiness on earth we shall never be prepared to enjoy heaven. Heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is a holy being. The angels are holy creatures. Holiness is written on everything in heaven. How shall we ever be at home and happy in heaven if we die unholy?
This world is just a dressing room – a staging area – for eternity
7. Because the Well-Being of others depends on it
The greater need of your mate, your children, your friends, and your fellow workers is not your friendship or your acts of service, it is not your abilities or your financial provision; their greatest need is not even your verbal witness of your faith. What they most need is to see in you a reflection of what God is like and of the transforming power of the gospel. Your life can create hunger and thirst for God is others’ lives and can be powerful instrument in the hand of the Holy Spirit to draw their hearts to Christ.
On the other hand, your life can cause irreparable damage to others. It’s bad enough for me to make choices that hurt my own relationship with God. How much more serious is it to be the cause of someone else deciding to sin? Not only must I choose the pathway of holiness for God’s sake and for my own sake; I must also do it for the sake of others
Other believers are affected by our choices. And to a significant degree, the lost world determines its view of God based on the lives of those who profess to know him.
A healthy fear and respect keeps most people from getting cozy with wild beasts. So what makes us think we can get close to a far more deadly beast called sin – and survive? Subconsciously perhaps, we tend to think of certain sins as “mostly harmless” – especially if we’ve played with them for years and never been seriously bitten
However, our perspective on sin will be changed as we take a serious look at its nature and its consequences
What is sin?
What makes all sin so heinous and grievous is that it is against God, for it violates his holy law and character
Sin is spiritual adultery
Throughout Scripture, God is seen as a faithful, devoted husband who is intensely jealous for an exclusive relationship with his wife. When his bride is unfaithful, God is pictured as a rejected lover who has been grievously wronged; He is provoked to righteous anger and grief when a rival lover enters the relationship
Our sin breaks the heart of our lover God who created us and redeemed us for Himself. To say yes to sin is to fall into the embrace of a paramour. It is to bring a rival into a sacred love relationship
What are the effects of sin?
1. Sin will disappoint you – Sin never pays what it promises. Without a doubt, sin does yield a pleasure, but those joys are “fleeting pleasures”. Sinful pleasures just don’t last. Once the initial “rush” wears off, the enjoyment inevitably turns to emptiness, misery and shame
2. Sin will deceive you – the more ground you concede to sin, the more you dull your capacity for truth, As your conscience is violated, you gradually lose your moral compass – your ability to discern right from wrong. You become blind to the seriousness and extent of your sin. When others try to point out those blind spots, rather than humbling yourself and admitting your fault, you defend yourself or insist you’ve been misjudged. You begin to think you can get by with sinning, that somehow you can be an exception to the rule, and that you will escape sin’s consequences. Sin will lead you step by step through incremental compromises, all the while convincing you that you can handle this, that you’re not so bad
3. Sin will dominate you – Sin lures us with the illusion that it is the doorway to freedom. The truth is that those who dance with sin ultimately become sin’s slaves. What kind of freedom is it to be under the control of sinful cravings? To feel compelled to yield every time your fleshly appetites demand to be fed? To come running every time the urge to indulge your flesh rings your bell? We have become dominated by the very pleasures we thought would liberate us
4. Sin will destroy you – most of us have become so familiar with sin that we no longer see it as a deadly monster.
When we cease to sense the seriousness of our sin, we also cease to be moved by the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for sin. Our hearts get dry and crusty.
Periodically every believer needs to be given a fresh glimpse of the corruption of indwelling sin, apart from which the mercy, the grace and the cross of Christ cease to be precious in our eyes
God’s response to his people infuses us with hope. It reveals him to be a God of amazing, infinite mercy and forgiveness – a Redeemer and Restorer who is willing and able to make all things new for those who truly repent
The pathway to holiness is a life of faith – faith in the person, the work, and the gospel of Christ. We were justified by faith in the atoning work of Christ on our behalf. And we are sanctified not by our own efforts, but through faith in His sanctifying grace
There’s something powerful about fixing our eyes on Jesus as we seek to be holy. As we look upon him, we are changed into his image. At the moment, our ability to behold the savior is limited, because we are in these finite bodies and still have to contend with our corrupt flesh. But one day, totally freed from sin, we will be able to see Christ clearly, as He is. Seeing him, we will adore him fully and will be drawn to become like Him. In that moment, our transformation into his likeness will be complete
That transformation is not something we can produce on our own, apart from the power of his indwelling holy spirit. The lord Jesus invites you to cease your striving, to come to Him, and to find rest for your soul. AS you meditate on his magnificence and follow in his footsteps. He will bring about in you a marvelous transformation that will be completed when you finally see him face to face
As we look at the jumbled pieces of our lives, sometimes it’s hard to fathom that they could ever form anything attractive. God has given us a picture that shows what we will look like when he has finished his sanctifying, transforming work in our lives. It’s a picture of Jesus. He is the pattern for our lives
We need to be constantly reminded what the finished product is supposed to look like. That’s why it’s vital that we keep looking at the picture throughout the assembly process.
So look at Jesus
- His relationship with his father
- His values and priorities
- His Relationship with others
- His words
- His character (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control)
The call to holiness is a call to follow Christ. A pursuit of holiness that is not Christ-centered will soon be reduced to moralism, pharisaical self-righteousness, and futile self effort. Such pseudo-holiness leads to bondage, rather than liberty; it’s unattractive to the world and unacceptable to God. Only by fixing our eyes on our hope on Christ can we experience the authentic, warm, inviting holiness that he alone can produce in us
The pathway to holiness: Say No to Corruption
The pathway to holiness requires intensity and intentionality. Various translations help us understand the force of this exhortation. We must make it our constant conscious ambition and aim to be holy. We have to work at it and concentrate on it
As children of God in pursuit of holiness, we must put off our old corrupt sinful way of life and everything that might fuel its growth. And we must consciously put on the holy life that is ours through Christ
Another word for “putting off” is mortification. It speaks of putting the ax to the root of our sinful inclinations and desires. It implies intolerance for anything in our lives that is contrary to the holiness of God
Mortification involves more than getting rid of things that are inherently sinful. It also suggests the willingness to eliminate influences that may not be sinful in and of themselves, but that could fuel unholy thoughts or behavior and thereby lead us into sin. It means cutting off every possible means to sin
We do need to guard against making absolutes out of personal standards that are not specified in Scripture, or assuming that others are sinning if they don’t adopt the standards about issues that may not be traps for them
In today’s world, such measures seem unrealistic or excessive, even to many Christians. The problem is that most people in today’s world aren’t in pursuit of holiness, therefore, they think nothing of sin. Behavior that was once considered unacceptable is now considered normal
When faced with circumstances or opportunities to indulge your flesh, don’t stand around and think about it. Instead, do what Joseph did when Photiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. He refused to indulge himself, even for a moment, in whatever pleasures an illicit relationship might have offered
Some of the areas where you need to practice mortification may be different from those for other believers. They may be eating habits, Drunkenness, TV, Computer games, movies, Relationships over the internet, certain magazines or books. The question is, how serious are you about wanting to be pure? If holiness matters to you, you’ll be willing to do whatever you have to guard your heart and protect yourself – and the other person – from sinning against God
The pathway to holiness: Say Yes to Grace
Sin is a toxin that contaminates to the core of the human soul. When God saved us, it was with the intent of cleansing us from every vestige of sin. He does so through the lifelong process called sanctification. The pursuit of holiness requires something far more radical than simple reform or renovation. It requires that we destroy the old house.
However, that’s just the beginning. God has drawn up plans to rebuild new holy lives as we put on the Lord Jesus and his righteousness. To put off without putting on is useless. Putting of sinful practices isn’t sufficient to make us holy. We must also put on righteousness.
As with putting off sin, putting on the heart of Christ doesn’t just happen. We have to be intentional about cultivating new patterns of godliness. This can take place only by the power of the holy Spirit and the grace of God
There are six main means of grace
1. The word
God’s word has power to protect us from sin and to purify us when we do sin. It also has the power to renew our minds and to transform us into the image of Christ
Through Reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on Scripture
We may not be consciously concealing our sin, but if we do not consciously confess it, we cannot prosper spiritually
It is intended to be a time of corporate remembrance and proclamation of the Lord’s death. Which we are to observe until he comes
4. The Body of Christ
It is essential for every believer to be in a committed relationship to a Christ-centered local church
5. Church Discipline
When our lives are all roses with no thorns we tend to become spiritually complacent and careless and to neglect serious self examination and confession. Affliction has a way if stripping away the stubborn deposits of selfishness, worldliness and sin that build in the course of everyday life