Becoming Holy, Becoming Ourselves

The primary passage for today is from Ephesians 1:3-6, focusing in on holiness. I listen to K-Love radio here in town and I love this song by Jason Gray. Here are a few lines from his song:

Now I won’t deny the worst you could say about me.
But I’m not defined by mistakes that I’ve made,
Because God says of me

I am not who I was, I’m being remade; I am new
I am chosen and holy and I’m dearly loved, I am new

Too long have I lived in the shadows of shame
Believing that there was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn’t see me the way that I do

Holiness is not talked about much these days, but the Bible is clear that God is the holy One who desires for us to be holy as well (Ephesians 1:4) and even Peter gives an imperative to, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). In many people’s minds, holiness is more associated with an attitude of superiority, like saying someone has a “holier than thou” attitude, which is actually found in the Bible (Isaiah 65:5), where in the King James says, “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” The NLT puts it this way, “Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you.”

Perhaps the single most important attribute the Bible gives for God is his holiness. The most familiar may be found in Revelation 4:8, where “each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” So what does it mean to become holy?

First: I read recently that to be holy in a Christlike way, is in fact to become more truly ourselves.

  1. The point is that we should become the person God intends for us to become; no masks, no deception, no hypocrisy.
  2. We are to be people of integrity, be the same person on the inside and the outside, always being real and authentic.

Second: When we use Jesus as our example, we discover that he was a holy servant who relates to others.

  1. He mingled with people
  2. He hung out with sinners
  3. He knew lost people
  4. He made outcasts feel relaxed
  5. He accepted people unconditionally

The relationships he had developed with others were characterized by awareness, insight, and responsiveness:

  1. He noticed Zaccheus hiding in a tree (Luke 19:4, 5)
  2. He heard the passionate cry of a blind beggar in a noisy crowd (Matthew 20:29, 30)
  3. He took time for a foreign woman in distress over her daughter being cruelly possessed by a demon (Matthew 15:22, 28)
  4. He felt power leave him as a hurting woman touched the hem of his robe (Matthew 9:20-21, 22).

To become holy is to be less concerned with self, and more focused on the needs of others around us.

Third: Jesus also has a devoted closeness with the Father, and his single passion was the kingdom of God. The Bible teaches that Jesus was concerned with one thing, to do the will of the Father.

  1. Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house (or about my Father’s business)? (Luke 2:49)
  2. I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:30)
  3. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:24)
  4. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
  5. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:4)

Without developing our intimacy with God, holiness will always be out of reach. Holy people are the ones who have made God and his mission first place in their lives.

How to Become Holy:

H – Heaven

  1. Presence: we will live in God’s presence. Focus on the spiritual discipline of solitude.
    1. Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-2)
    2. Spent the night in prayer before making a huge decision (Luke 6:12-13)
    3. Sought the Father in a time of stress (Luke 22:41-42)
  2. Preparation: for heaven. Focus on the spiritual discipline of Bible study.
    1. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
    2. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. (John 17:17)
    3. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:13)
    4. Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. (Luke 11:28)
    5. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
  3. Pursuit: being blameless and spotless. Focus on a bride being presented to her groom.
    1. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14)
    2. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)
    3. I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2-3)
  4. Paul: he called himself the chief of sinners. Focus on the worst person, yet still forgiven and made ready for heaven.
    1. No one is perfect, yet we have a new motivation for right behavior.
    2. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)
    3. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

O – Obedience

  1. Commands: of Christ, his conditional statements: Here are some awesome results for our obedience.
    1. Showing Our Love for Christ: If you love me you will keep my commandments (John 14:15)
    2. Abiding in God’s Love: If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love (John 15:10)
    3. Perfecting God’s Love: But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (1 John 2:5-6)
    4. Having God Live Within Us: If a man loves me, he will keep my words (John 14:23)
    5. Experiencing God’s Love: Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them (John 14:21)
    6. Knowing Christ Intimately: And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments (1 John 2:3)
    7. Being a Truthful Witness: If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth (1 John 2:4)
    8. Being a Friend of Jesus: You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:14–15)
    9. Having Prayers Answered: And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him (1 John 3:22)
    10. Bearing Much Fruit: When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father (John 15:7–8)
    11. Loving One Another: We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:2–3)
    12. Being a True Disciple: I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:34–35)
    13. Demonstrating Ultimate Love: This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:12–13)
    14. Obeying the Great Commission: Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19–20)
  2. Confirmation: evidence of a changed life. Focus on metamorphosis, like the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly (Romans 12:1, 2).
    1. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
    2. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

L – Lordship

  1. Confidence: about Christ. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws. (Matthew 7:21-23)
  2. Crucified: with Christ. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
  3. Compassion: of Christ. Think of a heart transplant. Jesus had compassion:
    1. On the multitude without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
    2. On the hungry (Mark 8:2)
    3. On the ill (Matthew 14:14)
    4. On the blind (Matthew 20:34)
    5. On the demon possessed (Mark 9:22, 25)
    6. On the lepers (Mark 1:40-41)
    7. On the bereaved (Luke 7:12-13, John 11:33)
    8. On the lost (Luke 15:20, 1-2)
  4. Conviction: fire insurance in one’s spiritual life may be when we say yes to escape hell but are not really that interested in the things of God. Check out these lyrics by Jason Gray.
    1. More like falling in love, than something to believe in. More like losing my heart, than giving my allegiance. Caught up, called out, come take a look at me now, It’s like I’m falling in love…
    2. Remember that we do not make Jesus Lord of our lives, he is already the Lord; will we submit to his lordship?

Y – Yourself

  1. Conversion: Take off the old self, put on the new self. Make sure that you add this part to your story. Become the person God intends for you to become. He doesn’t save us for us to go right on living the same old way we did before encountering Christ.
    1. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    2. Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)
    3. In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted (Ephesians 4:22)
  2. Conforming: to the imitation of Christ. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son (Romans 8:29)
  3. Conduct: yielding to the Spirit’s leadership. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. (John 14:17)

Self evaluation is an essential component as we live the Christian life, to always make sure we are of the faith (1 Corinthians 11:28, 31).

There is security in Christ because our salvation does not depend upon our own efforts, but there is an element of being in partnership with God. Check out this verse:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Our challenge today is to become holy. At the beginning I mentioned that when we become the people that God created us to be, we become like Christ, and therefore please him beyond anything else, that we are walking in the truth (2 John 1:4, 3 John 1:4).

MercyMe has a song called, So Long Self:

So long self
Well it’s been fun, but I have found somebody else
So long self
There’s just no room for two
So you are gonna have to move
So long self
Don’t take this wrong but you are wrong for me farewell
Oh well, Goodbye, don’t cry
So Long Self

Become the person God has meant for you to be. Look over the list in the bulletin again. Decide today that your goal is holiness.

[print_link]  [email_link]

Becoming Holy

One of my passions is to encourage people toward higher levels of commitment to Christ and His church. The Bible says we are to become holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). But what does that really mean?

The holiness we are to exhibit is not our own, but the holiness of Christ in us. We are not holy, not will we become holy humans. Christ in us can manifest His holiness only if we will yield our flesh to Him. This is not a human operation; it is a spiritual one. Jesus lives out His holiness in us by grace. It is not a once-for-all-time transaction; it is a daily, moment-by-moment striving to live more by the Spirit and less by the flesh.

Becoming holy is a process that includes God’s part and our part. On one hand, our part is to stay out of God’s part—to yield, to surrender, to stop seeking God on our own terms. But our part also is to obey. It is to enter His rehabilitation program.

When you put yourself under a doctor’s care, he cannot help you if you don’t follow his instructions. As the patient surrenders his own good ideas and obeys the doctor’s prescription, he becomes well. The same is true in sanctification. If you and I want to be made holy, then we must willingly surrender ourselves to His care, and we must also actively obey His instructions.

We have no more power to make ourselves holy than a dying man has to save himself. We are weak and tired, and we cannot offer much help. However, we can submit to His rehabilitation program—sanctification. The key to our part is faith—to seek Him in obedience.

(From Walking with Christ in the Details of Life by Patrick Morley)

[print_link] [email_link]

Paul and the Call of God

The will of God is sort of a generalized idea, directed toward the world. But Paul was sure that the purpose of God was not a generalized but an individualized purpose. God calls individuals to work out that purpose.

The call to salvation:

  1. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
  2. But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

The call to holiness (hagios) to be different: For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)

The call to peace: we are not play-things of the gods, ones that did not care about mortal man. One has no peace with the concept of God. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such [cases,] but God has called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15)

The call to grace: in opposition to the law, which was both obligatory and impossible. Man was forever in default. I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (Galatians 1:6)

The call to fellowship: God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

The call to share in the kingdom and Christ’s glory: as opposed to the cross being some kind of emergency measure of God when all else that He tried had failed. Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love (Ephesians 1:4)

The call came to men supremely in Christ: Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (Romans 1:6)

The call came by the preaching of the Gospel: And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:14)

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.

Integrity in the Workplace

Men, we spend a lot of our time at work. This news is not all that alarming, because I read that 10 out of 10 men are trying to discover ways to balance home and work responsibilities. I’m not too sure that many men come to the end of this life and confess that they wish they had spent more time at the office. Check out these haunting lyrics from a band called 33 Miles:

He never thought he cared so much about the minute hand until he started praying for a second chance.
If he could only do it all again he’d trade the long nights that he spent behind his desk for all he missed.
He tells his wife “I wish that this moment in this room was not me dying, but just spending a little time with you.”

Chorus:
You only get just one time around.
You only get one shot at this.
One chance, to find out
The one thing that you don’t wanna miss.
One day when it’s all said and done
I hope you see that it was enough, this
One ride, one try, one life to love….

She never thought she cared so much about those little hands that held on tight the day she left, ’til she was scared to death.
Sitting all alone on a hotel bed, the end of the road, the sun had set on her big plans to feel young again,
She picks up the phone, dials the number, hears that little voice that’s haunted every single mile since she made that choice.

We all want to be right with God and others, so take a look at this verse from Psalm 15:

“LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” (Ps 15:1).

What is it like in the marketplace of America? I discovered that in February 2001 Sales and Marketing magazine did a survey and found that among those surveyed:

  • 58% cheat on expense reports
  • 50% work a second job on company time
  • 36% rush closed deals through accounting before they were really closed
  • 22% list a “strip bar” as a restaurant on an expense report
  • 19% give a kickback to a customer

If Psalm 15 were the core value of every business plan and purpose statement and reviewed with every employee before hiring, the workplace would be a very different place. What type of person can live in the presence of God? Take a look at what each verse of Psalm 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5 has to tell us.

David will bless God with heart-felt worship (Psalm 15:1). He recognizes that worship is not just good for others, but even for the king. As the man of your house, what sort of example are you setting for your wife and children? Do they see that entrance into God’s presence each week (corporately) and each day (privately or with family) is the ultimate priority in your life?

I like to use the phrase, “a holy walk” when it comes to this man’s integrity. As a man goes through life, his actions (the way he lives) are different, or set apart, from those in the world around him (Psalm 15:2). He keeps his promises (Psalm 15:4)

This man also uses honest words, and speaks the truth, which come from his heart, rather than using flattering or even slanderous speech (Psalm 15:2, 3). We see in this psalm that the man after God’s own heart speaks the truth in his heart, I see this as honesty with his secret words (Psalm 15:2b). He also is full of integrity with his spoken words (Psalm 15:3a).

We also see this man is involved in hard work for the Kingdom of God; the psalmist gets specific in that he “works righteousness.” This guy does what is right, even when it’s unpopular and all others around him are compromising (Psalm 15:2).

And David will bless God with his honoring ways (Psalm 15:5). He lends differently than the oppressors in town, he doesn’t make decisions based on what he can get out of it but on the criteria of whether is it right. He makes the tough call that honors God and builds up people. This man does not take a bribe nor does he look for the short cut.

The promise in this psalm is well worth it, “He who does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15:5).

So, ask yourself:

  • Are you blameless in your approach to your work life?
  • Are you truthful in all your dealings?
  • Do you treat customers, vendors and fellow employees as your neighbor?
  • Do you say what you do truthfully and do what you say?
  • Do you follow through even if the outcome may not be positive?
  • Will you lend money without interest to a friend and refuse to take a bribe?
  • Are you passionate about the Kingdom of God and seeking His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)?

If you can say “yes” to these questions, then you are a “Psalm 15 Man” and can live with and abide in God.

Pray that God makes this psalm a part of your life and begin to ask God to show you how to live out this psalm in all you do.

[print_link]