Today is part 2 of our discussion regarding holiness. Let’s have a quick review of what we touched on last week.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
These words from the Book of Hebrews seem to echo an Old Testament passage from Leviticus . . .
“‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.”
Since holiness is pivotal to our faith, it becomes a primary concern for us to understand completely what this means.
The definition of holiness is this: to be pure, righteous, consecrated. When we come to faith in Christ, we become holy; purified by His blood, which He shed for us! Remember . . .
Holiness is a product of God’s Grace; none of us did anything to become holy. In and of ourselves there is nothing holy about us; but by faith through grace, we came to Christ . . . and He made us holy!
When we come to Jesus, we were, as the Bible declares . . . rescued!
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves . . .
We were rescued from a life of darkness and brought into a new place; the Kingdom of the Son. We are a part of a new family and the way this family operates is very different from the way we used to do things. God wants us to get to know Him and to become more like Him, and He is holy.
Last week we showed the difference between what we often call legalism vs. holiness.
Legalism: Following a set of man-made rules so that one appears to be holy before man; or as I refer to as “legislated righteousness.”
Holiness: Obeying God’s commands out of love, thereby bringing glory and honor to Him
When a person is truly living holy (used for God’s purposes only) something dramatic begins to take place in the life of that individual. That person begins to emulate the very lifestyle of Jesus!
Consider Jesus . . . we know He is holy. Do you recall some of the miracles He did; feeding thousands, healing the sick, the lame walk, the blind see, and so much more!
Jesus was, and is, wonderfully amazing! He still heals the sick, feeds the hungry, gives comfort to the suffering, and helps the weak and feeble. He is still in the business of being the Lord and Savior of all!
He does not do this alone; He uses those who truly have met Him and have chosen to follow His directives! Jesus was on a mission . . . do you recall what that mission was?
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah chapter 61; this is His mission and He has called us to continue His mission, until He returns! This is why we do what we do!
It is why we take missionary offerings; it is why we feed the hungry and give clothes to the needy. It is why we donate thousands of dollars to the poor in our community. How awesome it would be if all of us got involved, if all had the desire to serve Jesus!
I am about to say a few things that might feel a little “stingy” and as I have said many times, if I step on your toes, perhaps you shouldn’t have had them out there!
A huge problem today: many folks within the church who DO NOT TRULY KNOW JESUS are trying to represent Him to others! Instead of giving testimony to His wonderful works, they give testimony to their religion! Instead of inviting people to Jesus, they invite them to church!
Now do not get me wrong; please invite and bring people to church with you; but your responsibility is to lead them to a Savior, not a church. Remember, coming to church does not make you a Christian any more than taking your car to the garage makes you a mechanic.
We are called to bring people to Jesus, not a religion! Speaking to the Pharisees who were doing this very thing, Jesus said:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
For those of you who have met Jesus; please do not be discouraged, but encouraged, to share your faith. Step up and be the ambassador that Jesus Christ has called you to be!
You must realize that your life is an open book; and people ARE watching!
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.
Remember, you and your life, the way you speak, the places you go, the people you surround yourself with; everything you do; even what you think you do in secret, is on display, and people are watching! Recall what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5 . . .
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Some of you may remember the stories of King David; the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart. He was a powerful witness to the faithfulness of God, yet when David sinned, he became a reproach. When you have an opportunity, read Psalm 51; it is King David’s confession of that sin and his repentance; Psalm 51 reveals the way out of sin.
Make no mistake though; the credibility of your witness for Christ is lost when sin rules in your life!
The world today has heard far too many “Christians” giving testimony to a life they are not living! This is the reason that so many view Christianity in such a poor light. People know what God is like and they will examine your life to see if your life reflects His truth, power and holiness; if it does not, then you will be considered a phony.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
I encourage you to be a witness for Christ, but to be effective; you MUST live for Christ as well!
I have seen so called Christians’ act in ways that betray that designation! Far too many neglect to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and give comfort to the suffering.
I have seen Christians fly into fits of rage, go on complaining rants, and don’t even talk about how they handle politics!
I have seen Christians complain when the church is in financial need, feeling like all they have is their own and will only give a smidgen, rather than be generous. I have seen “good Christians” engage in gossip, to the point of obsession!
Yet these same “Christians” profess to know Christ, but their deeds deny Him!
They claim to know God, but by their actions, they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
So, how does all this fit, with the topic of holiness? It has everything to do with it! Remember, holiness is being set apart for God and His purpose only. As followers of Jesus, when we forget that, and start living for our own desires, rather than God’s, we become unholy and we sin.
One of the most profound instances of a man coming face to face with holiness is found in the Book of Isaiah, let’s read . . .
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah saw God! His first response was to declare that he was undone; literally meaning he would melt and dissolve! He confessed that he was a man who had unclean (unholy) lips and he lived among a people who were the same way and now he has seen the King of Kings!
Isaiah recognized he is a sinful man; and remember, it is what comes out of your mouth that makes you clean or unclean; that is why the first thing Isaiah knew, was that his lips were unclean; and he confessed that sin right away.
How about you . . . do you have unclean lips? What comes out of your mouth?
The first step toward holiness; is humility. The Bible declares:
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
And . . .
James 4:6 “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
There is something very pleasing to God, when our heart is broken, over our brokenness.
When Isaiah saw his heart for what it really was, he melted before God and was quick to declare that he was a sinful man. An old friend once told me; “Come clean with God and you will be Clean with God.”
When we come to the place of humility and “get real” before God, when hot tears of repentance flow down our cheeks, an amazing thing takes place!
When Isaiah confessed and declared himself to be unholy, God sent the seraphim and they took a hot coal from the altar of God and touched Isaiah’s lips; the part of his body that he saw as unclean!
The fire of God purged the sin from Isaiah! The seraphim said that his guilt was taken away and his sin atoned for!
Total and complete restoration! AND ISAIAH DID NOTHING BUT CONFESS HIS SIN!!!
Suppose you are in Isaiah’s place today, and you see the Lord; high and lifted up, the train of His robe filling the temple and He looks at you . . . what do you say? I am a man or a woman of . . .
- unclean lips
- unclean mind
- evil hands
- lustful eyes
Are you ready for the fire of God to purge the sin from your heart? He will; if you would only humble yourself, and acknowledge your own sinfulness before Him!
When you have this defining moment in your life; when you come face to face with the Living God; everything changes, and your life reflects the One who rescued you!