Following is an abbreviated version of the talk I prepared for a Mom’s group this morning. I thank them for having me and, as this is the second request to speak on this particular topic in a matter of months, I thought some of you might be interested in it, as well.
Holiness. What is it? And why does it matter? Why has this word almost disappeared from mainstream Christianity?
I think it is in great part because we do not have a biblical definition of Who God is. We like to read about a “god” who meets our every need, who helps us find our purpose, and who grants our wishes. We aren’t so thrilled about a God who requires us to live holy and pure lives. We fill our minds with books that tell us who we want God to be, instead of the biblical description of God. God is holy, all-knowing, supreme, and loving. He hates sin and cannot tolerate it in any form. We need to get to know the God of the Bible in order to properly understand holiness. God doesn’t exist to give me purpose and He doesn’t exist to fulfill my every need. His wrath is mentioned in scripture more times than His love. We can’t fully understand holiness if we are trying to define God in a way that pleases our emotions.
I also believe that an unbiblical understanding of who we are as human beings is to blame. I heard a song on Christian radio a few months ago that says “Jesus help me understand that I was worth dying for.” I turned it off immediately. That isn’t biblical at all. The Bible tells us we WEREN’T worth dying for. That is the amazing beauty of salvation. It is God’s free gift to us, even though we were without any merit whatsoever. Over and over, outside the church and inside the church, we hear the common theme of how beautiful we are to Jesus. But this is not a biblical theme. Only through Jesus do we become pure and white and beautiful. Only through Him do we have any merit.
If we have a LOW view of God and a HIGH view of ourselves, it leads us to have a very LOW view of sin. We start believing that sin isn’t important. That God understands and will forgive. We don’t care about pleasing Him…we are more concerned with receiving blessings from the big “genie” in the sky. We become wrapped up in our own selfish desires, rights, and concerns and expect God to meet us there…instead of bending ourselves to His will and purposes. Holiness isn’t about a list of do’s and don’ts (what many like to call “legalism”), but it is instead a desire to show our love and gratitude to the God who has made a way for me, a sinner, to be reconciled with Him through the amazing sacrifice of His Son.
And this idea should affect all areas of our lives. I like to use the word “peas” to help me remember some of these areas (I really wanted to think of a meaningful word–but, alas, “peas” is the only thing my mind could come up with!)
1. Presentation–how do we present ourselves? What kind of language do we use? Are we modest in our dress? Do we complain all of the time? What do our priorities show about what we view as important? Can people tell we love the Lord by how we present ourselves?
2. Entertainment–what do we watch? What do we listen to? What do we read? If we couldn’t invite Jesus to join us…if our choices are full of the things God hates…then we can be sure we shouldn’t be watching, listening to, or reading it. I fail to understand the rationalization that goes on in this area on a consistent basis by believers. If God hates it, we shouldn’t want any part of it — in real life OR on a page, a screen, or our car radio.
3. Attitude–Who are we at home? Are we kind, loving, and patient, or do we only put that face on when we are at church or work? How would our families describe us? Do we think of others and their needs? Do we have an attitude of graciousness and kindness or do others view us as selfish, unpleasant, or angry?
4. Stewardship–How do we spend our money? Do we live in constant debt? How do we treat the bodies we have been blessed with? Do we overeat or eat to comfort ourselves? How about the hours of each day? Do we waste hours on activities that have no eternal value whatsoever?
Each of us probably struggles in one area more than another, but we all struggle. I, personally, REALLY struggle with some of the things I have just mentioned. But all four of the things listed above aren’t options but should be an outpouring of the love we feel for our God.
You see, holiness is about pleasing the Lord with every area of our life. Eric Ludy puts it this way: ” Anything that turns the mind to self instead of the heavenly is opposite of Jesus; if it will not serve the purposes of Jesus Christ it has no allowance to be there.”
You know in your heart today where you struggle. You know what part of your life you are struggling to live in purity and holiness. We are all different. But we are all the same in this: We battle against our flesh and selfish desires.
But let us remember this:
“God is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His authority, and regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and commandments.” A.W. Pink
May we never give up our quest to please our heavenly Father with our life and our choices. May we keep Him and knowing Him as our priority. May we turn away from our rebellious hearts. And may we be wise and discerning in what we allow in our minds and our lives. And may we never forget that the Lord will be with us all of the way, to strengthen and guide us. He is faithful forever. What a great God we serve!
The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink (book) I wish every Christian would read this book. It has been invaluable in helping me understand who God is.
The Power of a Holy Life by John MacArthur (article) Excellent article on how Holy Living affects the world around us.
No More Games: Living and Breathing the Holiness of God by James MacDonald (sermon series) I haven’t heard this whole series but what I have heard is excellent!