Posts Tagged ‘holiness’

A Call To Holiness

July 28, 2018

I do not hear many people today talking about holiness, not even in the church.  I believe that this is in reaction to some groups that have tied holiness to intolerance, or even hatred.  Holiness is important, and it should not lead to intolerance and certainly not to hatred.

I.  The Call to Holiness:  Leviticus 19:1-2

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Of course, your reaction to this verse might be to declare that it is part of the Mosaic Law and that we have been set free from the law.  You would be partly correct.  We are free from the Law, but that does not mean that we are not called to holiness.

A.  A New Testament Call:  I Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Here Peter repeats the call that we read first in Leviticus.  Jesus Christ is holy.  We are called Christians.  We are called to be holy.  It is important.

B. The Importance of Holiness:  Hebrews 12:14

  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

So we are to pursue holiness.  We are saved by grace, through faith but if we are saved our lives should change.

C.  Guided to Holiness

It is not my intent in this message to give to you a list of do’s and don’t.  Rather I would point you to the means by which you can discover for yourself the details of holiness.

1.  The Word:  II Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

As Christians we do not look to the world for our standards of right and wrong, rather we should look to the Word of God.

2.  The Spirit:  John 16:13

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

If we depend solely on human wisdom we will not discover the truths that God has for us.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

II.  The Dangers of Holiness

If I am going to encourage you to pursue holiness, it is appropriate for me also to warn you of some dangers associated with holiness.

  1.  We may start to think that we have earned our salvation or God’s favor.  Salvation is a gift.  We do not earn it.  Nor does God owe us anything for doing what we ought to do.
  2. We may become divided.  As we pray and search the scriptures we may come to different conclusions about exactly what constitutes holiness.  We may think that people who do not agree with our standards are not ‘true’ Christians.
  3. We may think that we are better than others.  As God helps us to change and overcome various sins in our lives we may look at others who are still struggling and think that we are better than them.  We may see some of their faults and not see our own.  Or we may think less of them, and more highly of ourselves.
  4. We may think that we are worthless.  If we become conscious of our sins and we seem to unable to overcome them we may think that we are worthless.  We may forget that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  That alone makes us of great worth.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us.
  5. We may give up.  If we seem unable to live up to the standards we, or others, have set up we may just leave the faith as too hard.  We may fail to recognize that God loves us as we are and He will continue to work on us throughout our lives, molding us into the image of His Son.

III. The Key to Holiness

A.  Crucify the Flesh:  Galatians 5: 24

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Obviously, this is not to be taken literally.  It does mean that as we learn to recognize the difference between holy living and unholy living our old nature will sometimes desire to do things that are unholy.  We should not just give in to those desires and say that ‘we are only human’.  Rather, we recognize that as Christians we now have the Spirit of God.  We are not ‘only human’ we are the children of God.  Do not give in to the temptations of the old nature, but rather live as the people God has called us to be.

B.  Be Filled with the Spirit:  Ephesians 3:17-19

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

We do not change through the strength of our own will but by the strength of the Spirit that God gives to us.  It is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

Let us pursue holiness in all of our conduct, not so that we can be saved, but because we are saved.

Let us seek to be holy because our God is holy

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/22/18.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have not control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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Holiness

February 11, 2016

If we believe that the Spirit of God enters into our hearts at salvation, then surely we recognize that our lives should change.

I.   Holiness Under the Law:

A.  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

One of the duties of the priests was to offer incense at the appointed times.  Nadab and Abihu did not follow the directions that God had given to them.  The penalty for not following the law was instant death.

It seems harsh.  It was harsh.

God did not routinely strike dead everyone who broke His commands.  This happened when the law was first established to make a point.  Disobedience brings death.  We get the point. God is serious about His commands.

    B.  Leviticus 11:45

For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

As the people of God, Israel was called to be holy.  This meant to follow the commandments that God had given to them.  They were to be different from the other people, because they were to be the people of God.

II.  Holiness in the New Testament

    A.  Acts 5: 1-11

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”

She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

As God is establishing the New Covenant, it is again necessary to make a point.  Sin is still wrong.  Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of lying.  They wanted to look better than they actually were.  Today, we call people like them hypocrites.  There are quite a few of them.  They are not all struck dead.  At the beginning of this New Covenant, which is based on grace, faith, love and forgiveness, God wanted to express that sin and disobedience were still wrong, that it was still serious.

B.  Romans 6:1-2

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

We are supposed to be dead to sin.  We now have the Spirit of God.  We are meant to be changed by the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives.

C.  *Hebrews 12:14

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

We are to pursue holiness.  Thankfully, we are not saved by being holy, but because we are saved we should become holy.  It is a lifelong process. We will grow in holiness, but we will not achieve perfection in this life.  The law demanded perfection.  That was unattainable.  We are saved by grace, through faith, for good works. (see Ephesian 2:8-10)  We do not do good works in order to be saved.  We do good works because we are saved.

III.  Holiness

A.  Holiness begins in our hearts with our faith in Jesus.  We are to love God and to love our neighbor.

B.  If we love God and our neighbor, our lives will be changed.  Our actions will reflect the attitude of our hearts.

C.  Our words will reflect the change that has taken place.  We will bring honor to God through what we do, and what we say.  Not just in the easy times, but at all times.

God still takes holiness seriously.  Thankfully, we are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to change, to become more like Christ, to grow in holiness.

These are the sermon notes from 12/27/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

* This is the memory verse for this week. 

Call to Holiness

September 25, 2014

While reading in Leviticus in my devotions I was struck once again with the call to holiness.  God is holy.  We are called to be holy, but, what is holiness?

I.  A Holy God:  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

What had Nadab and Abihu done wrong?  One of the jobs of the priests was to burn incense before the Lord, so why was this a problem?  Simply because God had not commanded it.  Apparently the priests were to do as God commanded, and no more.  The penalty for their sin was instant death.  God emphasized the need for obedience to His commands.  This message is not taught much today.  It is too harsh.  It is too judgmental.  We prefer the message of love, mercy and compassion.  I am concerned that our emphasis on these qualities of God have caused us to neglect the aspects of holiness, judgement and even wrath.  All of which are also qualities of God.

II.  Distinguish and Teach:  Leviticus 10:8-11

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

I remember one time, while I was a part of a denomination that approved of drinking in moderation, while I was serving in the Marine Corps, I returned to the barracks after an evening spent at a bar.  I had kept my drinks to less than one an hour and did not consider myself drunk.  There was another marine that started to talk to me about my faith.  It bothered me to think that I might not be able to adequately represent Christ at that time because of the influence of alcohol.  I did not feel good about myself or my witness, in that situation.  I have since come to the conclusion that I would rather have my senses sharp and my mind clear.  It has been many years since my last drink of alcohol.

Aaron and his sons were to distinguish between the holy and unholy, between the clean and the unclean.  Then they were to teach the people.  As Christians, we are called to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, and then to teach others.  This was, and is, a serious charge.

III.  Holiness:

Leviticus 11:45  For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 19:1-2  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7-8  Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

You might say at this point that these verses are all very good but that they are all a part of the Mosaic law from which we have been set free.  So here are some verses from the New Testament.

I Peter 1:15-16   but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Hebrews 12:14   Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

I certainly hope to see the Lord one day and so will continue the pursuit of holiness.  Now I know that we are forgiven, and that we are saved because of the righteousness of Christ, but I think that we should seriously consider the call to holiness and what it means for our lives.

IV.  Love

Sometimes people have made the call to holiness into a list of dos and don’t.  People who get too caught up in this line of thinking may become self-righteous and judgmental.  I would suggest that the starting point for holiness is a call to love.

Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We are first and foremost to love God and to love people.  Let that be the primary focus of our call to holiness.

I would also add that we should develop a love for the Word of God.  Psalms 119:11

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

We are called to be a holy people.  If we pursue a love for God, a love for people, and a love for the Word of God, we will be on the right track.

These are the sermon notes from 9/14/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 

Be Like Our Father

June 17, 2013

These are the sermon notes from June 16, 2013.

Today is Father’s Day.  I find it to be both comforting and challenging to be able to call God our heavenly father.  It is comforting because I appreciate the understanding that God loves us like a father loves his children.  I appreciate that He provides, protects and guides us throughout our lives.  It is challenging because as a father myself, I am challenged to treat my children in a way that is similar to the way that God treats us.  That seems to be a tall order, but I understand that, as Christians, we should all seek to be like God, at least as much as we can, given our obvious limitations.  It is natural after all, for children to want to be like their father.

I.  Challenged to be Holy:  Leviticus 11:44-45

 For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

We have been set free from the Mosaic Law.  We are no longer concerned about the dietary laws, but what are we concerned about?  In I Peter, we are again admonished to be holy, but the question then becomes, if we are set free from the Mosaic Law, then what is holiness?

II.  The Need to Judge:  Leviticus 10:8-11

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

We no longer have priests who are responsible before God to discern holiness for us.  There are religious leaders, of course, but  to which one do you listen?  Ultimately, each individual will stand before God and give their own account.

III.  Deadly Serious:  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

Nadab and Abihu were priests, but they took it upon themselves to offer this incense.  They were struck dead on the spot as an example of the serious nature of the holiness of God.  Again, as Christians we are set free from the Mosaic Law, but question remains, “What is holiness?”

IV.  Before God and Man Leviticus 19:15-18

‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he replied that the greatest commandment was to love God and to love one’s neighbor.   We are no longer required to keep the Mosaic Law, but we are required to keep the law of love.  We are to love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.  This begins in the attitude of our heart, and is revealed by our words and actions.  Some people would prefer nice list of does and don’t.  In some ways that is easier, and more clear.  Certainly there are things that I would like to place on a universal list, but then we would find ourselves arguing over the list.  For the message today, we simply want to recognize the starting point, and the starting point of holiness, is love.

V.  Pursue Holiness:  Hebrew 12:14

  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

As Christians, we recognize that we are saved by grace, through faith, for good works.  (c.f. Ephesians 2:8-10)  We do not pursue holiness out of fear, or an attempt to earn our way into heaven.  We pursue holiness, because God is holy, and we want to be like our heavenly father.

Be Holy

September 27, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from September 23.

I.  Hope and Grace in Christ: I Peter 1:13

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

God has given us the ability to reason.  We should be clear-minded in our pursuit of the things of God.  We recognize that our hope is placed, not in ourselves, but in Christ alone.  It is by God’s grace that we are able to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

II.  Be Holy:  vv.14-17

as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”[a]

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;

We are called to be obedient, to be holy, and to be respectful of God.  We need to be careful that we do not become lazy in our approach to sin and holiness.  We must learn what it means to “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  We must learn what it means to live as the children of God.

III.  Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb vv. 18-21

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Our salvation required the blood and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  We should never take this lightly.  It was not a mistake, but was planned by God from the very beginning of time.  It is good to know that our hope and our faith rest, not on our own works or abilities, but upon what has already been done for us by Christ.

IV.  Born by the Word  vv22-25a

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit[a] in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,[b] 24 because

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man[c] as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

We are born again by our response to the Word.  We hear the message of salvation.  Then the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts, confirming the Word that we have heard.  We are given the opportunity to respond the the Word and the Spirit, to believe…to have faith in the One who died for us.  As we respond in faith to the Word the Spirit enters our hearts and we are born again.  We are born to be a new creation, a person who no longer lives according to the ways of the world but a person who lives in obedience and love, not to earn our salvation, but to live out our salvation.

V.  The Lord is Good:  1:25b-2:3

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

2 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,[b] if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Since we have been saved, we should be changed.  We should continue to use our minds, and be open in our spirits to the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. We have tasted, and seen that that Lord is good, and we should continue in the pursuit of a greater depth of the knowledge of God,and  a closer walk with Him.

 

 

 

Transformers

October 21, 2010

Romans 12:2 says  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  (NKJ)

As Christians we are in an ongoing state of transformation.  God is helping us to move from what we were, to what we can be in Christ.  It is the Spirit of God, working together with the Word of God that helps us to recognize what is right and what is wrong.  We work together with God as He seeks to transform our lives.  Our spirit, will and reason should be open to the direction that God will give us by His Word, and His Spirit.

Philippians 1:6 says “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

God’s transforming work continues both in us, and through us.