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.
- The point is that we should become the person God intends for us to become; no masks, no deception, no hypocrisy.
- 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.
- He mingled with people
- He hung out with sinners
- He knew lost people
- He made outcasts feel relaxed
- He accepted people unconditionally
The relationships he had developed with others were characterized by awareness, insight, and responsiveness:
- He noticed Zaccheus hiding in a tree (Luke 19:4, 5)
- He heard the passionate cry of a blind beggar in a noisy crowd (Matthew 20:29, 30)
- He took time for a foreign woman in distress over her daughter being cruelly possessed by a demon (Matthew 15:22, 28)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
- 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
- Presence: we will live in God’s presence. Focus on the spiritual discipline of solitude.
- Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-2)
- Spent the night in prayer before making a huge decision (Luke 6:12-13)
- Sought the Father in a time of stress (Luke 22:41-42)
- Preparation: for heaven. Focus on the spiritual discipline of Bible study.
- 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)
- Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. (John 17:17)
- When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:13)
- Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. (Luke 11:28)
- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
- Pursuit: being blameless and spotless. Focus on a bride being presented to her groom.
- 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)
- For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)
- 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)
- Paul: he called himself the chief of sinners. Focus on the worst person, yet still forgiven and made ready for heaven.
- No one is perfect, yet we have a new motivation for right behavior.
- 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)
- 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
- Commands: of Christ, his conditional statements: Here are some awesome results for our obedience.
- Showing Our Love for Christ: If you love me you will keep my commandments (John 14:15)
- 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)
- 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)
- Having God Live Within Us: If a man loves me, he will keep my words (John 14:23)
- 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)
- Knowing Christ Intimately: And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments (1 John 2:3)
- 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)
- Being a Friend of Jesus: You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:14–15)
- 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)
- Bearing Much Fruit: When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father (John 15:7–8)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- Confirmation: evidence of a changed life. Focus on metamorphosis, like the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly (Romans 12:1, 2).
- 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.
- 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
- 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)
- 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)
- Compassion: of Christ. Think of a heart transplant. Jesus had compassion:
- On the multitude without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
- On the hungry (Mark 8:2)
- On the ill (Matthew 14:14)
- On the blind (Matthew 20:34)
- On the demon possessed (Mark 9:22, 25)
- On the lepers (Mark 1:40-41)
- On the bereaved (Luke 7:12-13, John 11:33)
- On the lost (Luke 15:20, 1-2)
- 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.
- 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…
- Remember that we do not make Jesus Lord of our lives, he is already the Lord; will we submit to his lordship?
Y – Yourself
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted (Ephesians 4:22)
- 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)
- 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.