One of the big themes of hosting the presence is the idea of heaven invading earth. Of God’s kingdom invading earth. Jesus told his disciples to pray – May your kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven.
Heaven is a place of complete holiness. Do you agree – No unholiness in heaven. So heaven invading earth must involve his holiness invading earth.
So today we are looking at:
What is True Holiness?
In my early months as a christian I was in a fellowship where there was a big emphasis on holiness. And it was all about what I should and shouldn’t think and do. It led to an assumption that almost everything I thought and did was likely to be sinful or unholy.
It’s like a knife edge – it’s easy to fall down one side or the other.
On the one side there is this kind of legalistic holiness that is all about doing the right things and not doing the wrong things. This kind of holiness produces fear and a sense of failure. The focus is on me. Not just wrong things but things that might be wrong or worldly like going to the cinema. It’s based on an assumption that holiness is about what I think and what I do and that it is probably going to be wrong.
On the other hand is a caricature of grace. It says it doesn’t matter what you do because God forgives you. He understands. Holiness doesn’t matter because in fact God exists primarily for your benefit. Because he is love his greatest goal is for you to be fulfilled.
Now of course there is some truth in both of these positions. On the one hand it’s clear from the bible that there is stuff that we should not be doing as Christians. On the other hand of course God wants us to be fulfilled.
The problem is that both these options the focus is on me. On the one hand ME doing all the right things, on the other hand ME being fulfilled/enjoying life.
BUT God says “Be holy for I am holy” 1 Peter 1:16 God’s injuction/desire/his/wish/hiscommand, the focus is on HIM.
So how do we define true holiness – not disregarding it because we want a God who loves and accepts us no matter what? Nor following some legalistic righteousness where we assume everything we are likely to want to do and think is unholy?
- Holiness – is about being separate. It is about being different. Both Hebrew and Greek words have this idea about them.
Because of sin, God is separate from the world he created. In being reconciled to him we need to be separate from the world. In the world but not of it. Be holy for I am holy – be separate. We were separate from him. Be separate FROM the world and separate TO him.
One word we could use is sacre.
Not have sacred buildings or places but be sacred people. In the OT sacred things were set apart especially for God’s use. In the NT his church are his sacred people set apart for his use.
Saint comes from the latin word sanctus which means holy
- Being holy is being who you truly are The NT regularly calls Christians saints ie holy ones. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation
- Our motivation for holiness is love for him.
We too easily look at holiness as being about what we do or don’t do. Firstly its about who we are, then what we do or don’t do flows out of that.
He loves us unconditionally – we live holy lives as an expression of our love to him.
- In holiness we represent him
Our commission is to Invade the world with his holiness, his sacredness.
So if we are going to invade the world with his holiness, we need to be holy!
The church – as his ambassadors, his representatives should be holy.
It’s not – we should be like them to win them.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us 1 Peter 2:12
It’s not – we’re just sinners just like you, we do all the things you do.
The world wants to see something radical and vibrant and different. Now we are not going to boast that we are better than the world. BUT the world should see we are different. If a non xian sees that people in the church are no different in any way to them then how can they see Christ in us. We are his representatives –our lifestyle represents him. If we are going out getting drunk, bad mouthing people then are we representing him?
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph 5:3
This is one of the reasons that God says there should be church discipline. The church has a calling to be holy. The church is different to the world and needs to be seen to be different. Not just the appearance of doing the right things, but doing the right things as an overflow of a right heart that is in relationship with God.
So discipline is to bring us to true repentance and restoration.
The world needs to see that the church is different – otherwise how will they understand the need to repent? They will think oh I ‘ll just be accepted as I am, I can enjoy the worship, enjoy the friendship but fail to recognise the need for repentance.
As Xians need to keep living a godly life and if we don’t we need to repent and get back on track. It’s the kindness of God that brings us to repentance Romans 2:4
I am an enthusiast for grace. I hate legalism. But that doesn’t mean I can forget holiness. Grace does not say its alright to keep living in an ungodly way. Grace doesn’t say its ok keep living that way you can’t help it –
What grace says is this here is everything you need to live in godliness. It says you are holy and can live holy.