Let Us Discuss
Let us discuss holiness. What is it? It is a subject of first importance.
How do I know? Because:
(1) God calls you to be holy as he is holy (Leviticus 11.44, 19.2, 20.7, 26 and 1 Peter 1.16); and
(2) without holiness you shall not see the Lord (Hebrews 12.14).Let us define the word. What do you understand the word holy to mean. It may be only four letters long, but many books have been written about it. And even more sermons have been preached on the theme.
The words perfect and pure help us grasp its meaning. God is perfect. In him there is no blemish or flaw. He always thinks, says and does that which is perfect and true. He calls you to be like him. He calls you to be holy.
God is pure. In him there is no blemish or impurity. There is no mark or spot that renders him defective in any way. He is always honest and righteous in all that does. He calls you to be like him. He calls you to be holy.Let us describe a Christian. There are three key words that must be mentioned. They are repent, faith and holy. Taken singly or together, they show why holy living is so important.
First, a Christian is a person who has had a change of mind. That change has in turn led to a new way of life. By nature, that is before the new birth, you reject Christ. You rebel against him, and adopt a lawless way of life. You have no desire or inclination to follow him. You may try to be good and do good, but the reality is, unless you are made new, Jesus is not at the centre of your life. A steady desire to love, obey and serve God is absent.
God works in the unregenerate to show them both the loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fact that only he can save you from the condemning power of sin.
Please note with care that the just penalty for sin is death. God says, the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18.20). To sin is to miss the mark. It is to fall short of what God requires. It is to transgress. Hence sin is said to have the power to condemn. The tragedy is that mankind, by nature, is in its grip. From it you need to be set free.
A Christian is a person who heeds the call of Christ to repent (Mark 1.14f). He realises the seriousness of sin. And he sees his powerlessness to resist or conquer it. He also sees that the only one who can make him right with God is Jesus Christ. Without Christ no one is fit to die, for no one is able to stand in God’s presence. All will be condemned to be separated from God for ever.
Having had a change of mind about Christ, a Christian makes sure that he brings his thoughts, words and actions into line with God’s will. Each day he knows he both can and does slip backwards. And so daily, he turns afresh to the Lord. He does so specifically asking that he may know the power of the Spirit of God within. He pleads for Christ to give him power to put to death the sin that clings so closely. The sin that dwells within.
A Christian, through Christ, no longer lives under the condemning power of sin. That is something from which he is set free the moment he puts his trust in Christ (Romans 5.1). But he is never free from having to put to death the indwelling sin that clings so closely (Romans 8.13; Colossians 3.5). That is why the Christian life is a life of on-going repentance.
Secondly, a Christian is a person who has faith in Jesus Christ. A Christian turns from sin (he repents), but he also turns to Christ. He entrusts himself to him (he has faith). Again, like repentance, faith is an on-going feature of the Christian life.
Your trust in Christ is to be consistent. You are to go on resting on him and in him. You are to cling to him as the only one who makes you acceptable to God. You are to prove faithful, loyal and true to him. The evidence that you are faithful will be seen in the way you live. Your life will be lived for God. You will seek to be like Christ. You will seek to be holy.
Thirdly, a Christian takes seriously the call of God to be holy. He recognises that it is the will of God for him. And he knows that without it no one shall see the Lord! So he seeks the power of the Holy Spirit to enable him to lead a holy life.
A Christian knows that the command of God to be holy is not an optional extra. In heaven Christians shall be like God, perfect and pure. On earth, therefore, they now seek to grow more like Christ.
A Christian gladly co-operates with Christ whose Spirit lives within him. Yes, a Christian is a person whose body is nothing less than a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is given to a believer so that he may go on learning more and more about Christ.
To know more about him – who he is, what he has done for sinners, what he now does for them, and what he has in store for them – is so vital. The discovery of these things thrills the heart. It also stirs a believer to express thankfulness and gratitude to Christ. And that, not just in words, but also by living a holy life. A Christian takes seriously the instruction given to us by God that we are to be holy as he is holy.I hope that you can now see why it is right to say that holiness is an essential feature of a Christian. It is the only sure evidence that a claim to believe is real.
It is possible to think you are a Christian and yet not be. A person can go to church, read the Bible, and even say prayers and sing hymns of praise, and yet not be born again. It is possible to be kind and do good to others, and yet not know Christ or the forgiveness of one’s sins. There are numerous people who have adopted a religion and tried to live by its teachings, and yet they have been far from God.
To say you believe does not infallibly mean that you do truly believe.
Why does God allow suffering? Why do crises arise, even in your life? Why do tragedies strike? We all ask these questions. But how do you answer them? Does your answer include a recognition that one reason why God allows and appoints them is so that you can see whether you are a true believer? (2 Corinthians 13.5)
True believers depend upon Christ alone for acceptance with God. They know that he is the only Mediator between God and man. And they know that faith without works is dead. Faith and holy living go hand in hand.
There is no faith without repentance. And there is no faith without holiness.
Holiness of life and lip is the only sure evidence of repentance and faith.
EPC 15 May 2016