Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

What Does Holiness Mean to Us: Holiness, Part 1

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What Does Holiness Mean to Us

Holiness, Part 1

MP3 Audio (8.16 MB)


What Does Holiness Mean to Us: Holiness, Part 1

MP3 Audio (8.16 MB)

How is anything made holy? Can we as humans call something holy? The Ark of the Covenant was the holiest thing in all of Israel. It was the very symbol of the throne of God. How was it made holy? Where does the holiness come from? This message will help us understand what it means to be holy and how holiness has to do with the very nature of God.


[Gary Petty] During the reign of King Saul in ancient Israel, the Israelites had been defeated in battle and the Ark of the Covenant had been stolen by the Philistines. Now the Ark of the Covenant was the most holy thing in all of Israel. The Ark of the Covenant sat inside – they had a tabernacle; they didn’t have a temple yet – but it sat inside the tabernacle in what was called the Holy of Holies. And it was inside there and it was actually a symbol of the very throne of God. It had two cherubim on both sides. It was covered in gold. Inside the Ark were the two tablets that Moses had brought down that had the Ten Commandments on them – the second time he went up, not the first time, because he broke the first ones. But they had the two tablets from the time of Moses. It had a jar containing manna that never deteriorated and it had Aaron’s rod, which even though it was just a stick, it continued to bud. So it was holy. There were miracles that took place inside that ark. And it was stolen – the holiest thing – the thing that represented the throne of God.

And then, during the time of David, they got to bring it back. Now, can you imagine the excitement and the joy? Can you imagine? God is showing His favor. God is returning to Israel the most holy object that He had ever given to human being. It’s coming back. And so David went to get it. Let’s pick up the story in 1 Chronicles 13. 1 Chronicles, chapter 13, and let’s start in verse 1. David doesn’t just want to get the Ark back. He wants to get everybody involved. He wants to get everyone excited. He wants everybody to know that God has not abandoned them, because the object that He declared holy – that He specifically gave instructions on how to create – had been stolen, which showed them that God wasn’t with them anymore. When it was stolen, Saul, the king, and his sons were all killed in battle. And they knew that God was not with them, but He’s coming back. He is with them. And David, this new king, is a king that has been ordained by God. So, in verse 1 it says, in 1 Chronicles 13:

1 Chronicles 13:1 1 Chronicles 13:1And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.
American King James Version×
David consulted with captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the LORD our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere, who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and the Levites who are in their cities and their common land, that they may gather together with us, and let us bring the Ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired of it since the days of Saul.

You see, what they would do is, they would go the Holy of holies – the high priest – and ask God to give them answers. We do know that they had the Urim and the Thummin. They actually had ways in which God answered their prayers, because they would go outside this Holy of holies and they would pray – with the Ark of the Covenant there. And this power of what this means is just hard for us to understand. Of course, many of you have seen the old movie, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? – like it was imbued with this power – superstitious power…. No, this was the real power of God that was involved when this was properly used. In fact, the Philistines were giving up the Ark of the Covenant because every place that they took it, people got sick. So, it was like, “We’ve got to get rid of this thing! The God of Israel is making us sick.” So they sent it back to Israel. Verse 4:

V-4 – Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of the people. So David gathered all of the Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt as far as Hamath to bring the Ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. And David and all of Israel went to Baalah, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up from there the Ark of God the LORD, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed.

It was holy because the name of God was proclaimed there. It was holy because God had made it holy. This wasn’t something that Moses made holy. It wasn’t something that the Levites made holy. God made this holy. And when they went before the Ark of the Covenant, it was to proclaim the holiness of God. And it’s interesting, of course, during the Day of Atonement, we go through what the high priest did. We discuss what the high priest during that day – the only day that he could go inside the veil directly to the Ark of the Covenant. It was always separated by a veil, showing that the holiness of God…human beings were separated from the holiness of God. So they would go there to inquire of God. And this is where God’s name is. Verse 7:

V-7 – So they carried the Ark of God in a new cart from the house of Abinadab. And Uzzah and Ahio drove the cart. And David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, and with singing, on harps, and stringed instruments, on tambourines, on timbrels, and with trumpets.

With all their might…picture the joy, the excitement – tens of thousands of people – maybe hundreds of thousands of people. People are singing, praising God! Bands are playing. People are dancing in front of this Ark as it is brought in, just praising God, because the holiness of God is returning to Israel! Verse 9:

V-9 – And they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, and Uzzah – remember, there are these two men that are there to take care of the Ark – especially selected by David – they’re the men who are supposed to protect and take care of the Ark – and Uzzah put out his hand to hold the Ark, for the oxen stumbled. Can you imagine? The oxen stumble and the Ark teeters. And this man puts up his hand to keep the Ark from falling. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and He struck him because he put his hand on the Ark, and he died there before God. All the singing stopped. All the praising of God stopped. All the worship of God stopped. Everybody just stopped. And this man is violently struck down in front of everybody. They don’t even know what to do. What’s interesting is David’s reaction. Verse 11:

V-11 – And David became angry because of the LORD’s outbreak against Uzzah. Therefore, this place, to this day, is called The Outbreak Against Uzzah – if you translate it – in other words, The Striking Down of Uzzah. David says, “I don’t understand. We were worshipping You! We’re serving You! We’re bringing the holiest thing You ever gave us back into Jerusalem to go to the tabernacle. We’re doing everything You want us to do and you’re killing us? God, what are You doing?” In fact, the movement of the Ark to Jerusalem stopped.

V-12 – David was afraid of God that day – verse 12 – saying, “How can I bring the Ark of God to me? How can I do this, if God kills me for doing what’s right? I can’t do this.” So David would not move the Ark with him into the city of David, but took it outside to the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the Ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And then it says: And the LORD blessed the house of Obededom and all that he had. “Wait a minute. Why are they being blessed? I’m doing what’s right. The Ark of the Covenant, by law, has to be in the tabernacle and You won’t let me take it to the tabernacle. You’re killing us!” So you can see why he would be so confused. David is confused. He doesn’t understand what God is doing.

Why did God kill Uzzah? It may just seem like some ancient story. It may not seem important to you and me, but it very important to you and me. It has to do with the concept of holiness. What does it mean to be holy? When you look at the Hebrew word that is translated holy and holiness and the variations of the word, and then the Greek word that’s translated holy, holiness, they mean basically the same thing. They mean something that is separated, or devoted, to God. In other words, this is something that is devoted to God.

Now, they knew – they knew – that this Ark of the Covenant was devoted to God. They knew it was separated – the instructions to build it came from God. It was built by Moses and Aaron. How much more important is it? So, you can see David’s confusion. “I know this is holy. We’re treating it the way we should, because it’s devoted to you.”

But when you look at the way the word is used throughout scripture, you begin to realize that this means more than simply separated to God. It means more than that. Holiness has to do with the very nature of God. When God says, “I take this to be holy,” He’s actually saying, “I take this – this thing, this place, this time, this person – I take this in order to impute My holiness – My specialness– into it.” If holiness means special, dedicated to God, where does the holiness come from? There’s a very, very evil concept in the world today. That is that humans beings can declare things holy. It has to do with Christmas and Easter, by the way. Easter is coming up. There are many people that know that Easter has a pagan background. And their argument is, “We have made it holy. We have dedicated it to God, therefore it is holy.” You and I can’t do that, because it is not us that can make anything holy. It is God who can make something holy, because He’s giving into that object, or that place, or that person, or that time…He’s putting and shooting Himself into it. He is setting apart and saying, “This is Mine” – God said, ‘This is Mine’ – and it for My purposes and it is for Me that this is different from anything else.”

The Ark of the Covenant was God’s! It was owned by God, designed by God, and people were told how it was to be used for His purpose. In fact, God Himself is called holy. So you see, when you say something that’s holy is something that is separated for God’s purpose, it has to be more than that, because God hasn’t separated Himself for a purpose. Yet the Bible talks about seraphim that declare before Him, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” We know in Revelation that there are four angels – they’re just called four living creatures – that cry out before God, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” So, when we talk about holy as something being set apart for God’s purpose, it also means that God – when he sets this apart – He imputes into this thing, or this place, or this time – something of Himself. It’s one thing to say the Ark of the Covenant is dedicated to God. It’s another thing to say the Ark of the Covenant is holy. And yet, it was described as holy.

It’s interesting, when we look at the word – well, both words – the Hebrew word and the English word that’s translated holy, because when you look at all the places they’re used…when you look up in a Greek dictionary holy, you don’t find a two sentence explanation. You find, many times, two pages of explanation. Why is it that complicated? Because as you read through it, and you see the places and the way it’s used, you begin to realize that it means something that is given a God-like quality. The Holy of Holies – a God-like quality – an object that God says, “This is for Me and I impute some of Myself into this, because I’m showing this is the mercy seat. This represents My throne in its reality. These Ten Commandments are the laws that I gave. This manna is the bread that I gave ancient Israel. This rod was the rod that I used through Aaron to destroy Egypt. So, it’s not just dedicated to Me, it is an expression of Me. It is an expression of who I am.”

In fact, some dictionaries will say that holy means something becomes, in a very real sense, somehow God-like – in other words, Godly. It’s not God, but has actually put something of Himself into it. And this is what is the great problem when we say that we can declare something holy – and we can’t.

Let’s go back and look at this issue with Uzzah and then I’m going to tie it into us and even the holy days that are coming up. David did, eventually, bring the Ark into Jerusalem, but it was only after he came to grips with something. Let’s go to Numbers, chapter 4. I remember, when I was a child, I used to think, “Boy, Uzzah got a raw deal here. You know, he was just trying to do something good.” But as we realize what happened, we begin to realize that, not only was the issue with David, it was with everybody. There was, within the people of Israel, an understanding that the Ark was dedicated to God, but not really an understanding of holiness. So Uzzah’s mistake was the last of a series of mistakes that took place. His reaching up to stop this from falling while being drawn by these oxen on a cart – a new cart – “it’s dedicated to God; we better get a new cart….” The problem is that isn’t how God described how this was supposed to happen. They had the instructions. Remember he said, “Gather the Levites.” This is an issue not recognizing what it means to be holy. Numbers, chapter 4, verse 5 – David says:

Numbers 4:5 Numbers 4:5And when the camp sets forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering veil, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
American King James Version×
And when the camp – these were the instructions given – when the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the Ark of the Covenant with it. Now there was a veil…remember the tabernacle. They were to take this veil down – that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle – and they were to place it over the Ark. Verse 15:

V-15 – And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. And these are things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry. It even goes on and explains how they are to carry the Ark. The Ark had little golden rings on the side and there was a pole that they were supposed to put between them. And not just any Levite could carry it - a very special group of men, especially trained to carry the Ark, because it was holy. So when the tabernacle was set up, they would take and cover the Ark with this veil – this heavy curtain – and then, when it was moved, these men would put these rings in it, they would pick it up and put it on their shoulders, and they would carry it. And they were trained to do so. That’s how they were told, because holiness has to do with recognizing God has set this apart and, therefore, God is imputing something – He’s teaching something about Himself – He’s doing something here that’s personal from God. I’m not saying God possessed the Ark. That’s not what I’m saying, but God was doing something about Himself – very personal here – this piece of furniture. That’s how people could look at it. “Oh, it’s a piece of furniture set apart for God.” No, this is very special – what God is showing.

So let’s go 1 Chronicles 15. David had refused to obey God. The Levites had refused to obey God. Uzzah had refused to obey God. They had not done what they were supposed to do, because they did not recognize…. They were excited to have God back with them. It was not that they were denying God. This is very important to understand. It was not that they were denying God. It wasn’t that they were overtly rebelling. The issue here is, they refused to understand holiness – that holiness isn’t just a ritual, holiness isn’t a feeling. It’s amazing to walk into a great cathedral. There’s a feeling about a great cathedral. It’s an attempt to create the feeling of holiness. Holiness is a recognition that God is doing something. So, 1 Chronicles 15, verse 1:

1 Chronicles 15:1 1 Chronicles 15:1And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent.
American King James Version×
David built houses for himself in the City of David, and he prepared a place for the Ark of God, and pitched a tent for it. “Oh yeah, it’s supposed to dwell in a tent – a tabernacle.” Obviously, when they were bringing in the Ark the first time, they didn’t have a tabernacle for it. So they had to create a tabernacle. And David said, “No one may carry the Ark of God but the Levites, for the LORD – the LORDhas chosen them to carry the Ark of God and to minister before Him forever. “We just had anybody carrying this thing. We put it on a wagon, being pulled by a bunch of cows, and it’s supposed to be carried by specific people, who are trained in holiness.” And David gathered all Israel together in Jerusalem to bring up the Ark of the LORD to its place, which he had prepared for it. Verse 4 says:

V-4 – They David assembled the children of Aaron and the Levites…. And verse 5 says:

V-5 - …of the sons of Kohath – recognize that? “Oh yeah, we have to have a tabernacle. We have to have the Levites. We have to have the sons of Kohath. No wonder God took the Ark away from us! We didn’t see it as holy to begin with – not in the way that God intended.” Verse 11:

V-11 – So David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests – all these priests he gets together – and in verse 12 he says:

V-12 – And he said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers of the Levites. Sanctify yourselves – you and your brothers – that you may bring up the Ark of the LORD God to Israel to the place I have prepared for you, for because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.

You know, he was angry at first, and then he was afraid. And now he’s neither angry nor afraid, because the blame wasn’t with God. Uzzah’s death wasn’t some kind of arbitrary reaching out of an angry sort of God that just hates people – who just reaches out and strikes people down – and was just showing off His power. The slaying of Uzzah was because the entire nation wasn’t doing what they were supposed to do. David wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do. Uzzah wasn’t supposed to be doing what he was doing. There wasn’t supposed to be oxen doing this. There wasn’t even a tabernacle to take it back to. Three months later, David, because of the repentance process he’s gone through, gathers the priests together, and he says, “Sanctify yourselves.” Do you know what sanctify means? Make yourselves holy – because we have holy work to do – work that the Almighty God has given us to do – and we didn’t consult Him. We didn’t consult the holy God and how He wants His holy work to be done. We just thought that we could do it our way and it was okay. God would understand. We’re making it holy. We made the cart holy. We made the oxen holy. We made all the people that got to carry the Ark around holy. See? And he said, “No, that’s not the way it works.” David realized that. He said, “We forgot to consult God.” He say, “Only He can make something holy. Only He can tell us how it’s to be done.” Verse 14:

V-14 – So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the Ark of the LORD God of Israel. Verse 15:

V-15 – And the children of Levites bore the Ark of God on their shoulders by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.

So now the people are singing again, they’re dancing again, they’re praising God again, but it’s being done the way God wants. See, God’s punishment on Uzzah wasn’t cruel. God could have killed thousands of people, because He said, “This is holy.”

Now, to really understand this story, there is something else you have to understand. God had told the Israelites, “You are holy. You are My holy people.” I want you to think about that a minute. The Ark of the Covenant was holy before God. The tabernacle was holy before God. The Sabbath is holy time, right? It’s holy time. It’s time that God says, “I make this time holy.” People have a hard time with that. “Oh, come on. You can’t say time is holy.” No, I can’t, but God can. He said to those people, “You are holy. You are set aside by Me so that I may reflect Myself through you.” And they failed. They failed over and over and over again to fulfill what they were supposed to be. They failed so much that by the time Jesus came – by the time He came as the Messiah that He had prophesied through these people for two thousand years – by the time He came, they’re religion was so corrupt, they didn’t recognize who He was! They didn’t even recognize who He was, for the most part. Some people did, but most didn’t, and He was rejected by the religious leaders, because their religion had become so corrupt. They were no longer fulfilling their holy commission.

Now, remember a few months ago, I gave a whole sermon on God’s purpose for Israel and God’s purpose for the church – it was two sermons – and a history of prophecy. The people of Israel still have a purpose that God will fulfill when the Messiah come back – when Christ comes. But their religion is corrupt! It is not the religion of God. We sometimes forget that. As we go through the scripture, we realize that mainstream…when we look at Protestantism, and we look at Catholicism, we say, “Well, that’s what God wants,” and we move back into the scripture, we say, “Well, should we become Jewish?” No, we shouldn’t become Jewish either. That’s the other end of the scale. It’s not what God wants either. We know that God what wants is pure religion.
So, there reached a point where God said, “Okay, I’m going to have a church – so think about those two sermons I gave two months ago (which was a long time ago…. I’ve often wondered…I gave sermon…if I gave the exact same sermon three months ago, if anybody would recognize it. I wonder about that sometimes.) So we had the two sermons, and we said, “Okay, God created a church.” Now what does He say about that church? Let’s go to Ephesians, chapter 5. Now Ephesian 5…we always turn to this part when we want to – as men beat our chests and say, “Okay, women, submit to us” – but I want to look at this for something else being said in here. Okay? Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×
…so, he’s talking about marriage, but he also wants to bring out that marriage is a type of something. It teaches us about something even more important that marriage. And this is an important question to ask yourself when you think about your marriage, because your marriage is holy. You’re not just united by some Justice of the Peace. When you think about the marriage ceremony we do in the church, and we claim that when two people – two Christians – take these marriage vows, this is not bound by any laws of man. It is bound by the Almighty God. It is holy. Marriage is holy. It was ordained by God! Just go back to the first three chapters of Genesis. It is ordained by God. If we understood the holiness of marriage, we would work really hard in our marriages – more than we do. We’d also realize why we should try to avoid marrying outside the faith – because it is a holy union ordained by God – set aside by God so that He can reveal – impute – part of Himself into it. So what is it that is imputed in a marriage? A lot of things. And here, Paul is just talking about some of them. He said:

Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×
Husbands, love your wives. Why? Or how? Just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Okay, husbands, if we understand the holiness of our role, we’re supposed to sacrifice for our wives the way Christ sacrificed himself for the church. There’s a holiness in this. Notice what it says here. Why did Christ do it? Verse 26:

V-26 – That He may sanctify…. Any time you see the word sanctify, it’s a derivative of the word hagios. It’s a derivative of the word holy in Greek, because, if something is holy, it takes on the qualities of holiness.

Holiness isn’t what people think it is. Here’s what people think holiness is. God looks at something filthy and says, “You are clean,” and the filthy person now says, “Boy, I’m clean,” and stays filthy. And that’s holiness. Holiness is to be declared and set aside by the Almighty God for His purpose and His reason, and in that, you begin to take on the qualities of holiness. It is not some kind of mumbo jumbo fiction. “I declare you holy.” “Oh good, I’m holy, but I stay the same.” If something, or somebody, or some time, or some place is declared holy by God, it begins to take on attributes of God. And that’s what sanctification is all about. You know, in the doctrinal classes, here sometime in the next couple months, we’re going start into the whole salvation process and we’ll talk about justification and sanctification. I’ll just, in a minute, talk a little bit about that, because this all zeroes down into what we’re about to do at the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and the Day of Pentecost. It all has to do with justification and sanctification. Sanctification is not that you’ve been declared holy – just been declared holy – you’re taking on the attributes of holiness. You are sanctified. Remember what David told the priests? “We didn’t do this right. We didn’t confer with God, therefore, go sanctify yourself.” In their case, they had to go pray, they had to do sacrifices, they had to put on certain clothes, they had to do washing, they had to take a bath, they had to put on certain, they had to become…they had to take on attributes of holiness. If God says, “This is holy,” and He says, “You’re holy and these are the attributes of holiness,” this is what they had to do. How much more are you and I to take on the attributes of real holiness, which is a whole lot more than taking a bath and putting on certain clothes?

We are to be sanctified. Christ died for the church so that we could take on the attributes of holiness. Let’s go back and look at what it says here. God says:

V-25 – Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word, and that He might present her to Himself – a glorious church – not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Now, God was concerned with some wood, with some stone in it, covered with gold – physical things. And because He had declared that holy, He was concerned with it being seen as having attributes of holiness. If God is that concerned over some physical junk – right? Just molecules – how much more is He concerned that, when He declares you holy, that you and I take on the attributes of holiness? It is God that has declared you holy. It is God that has said, “I want you to be My person to fulfill My will. And we keep saying to ourselves, “But I’m not qualified.” Of course not! That never was the issue. “But I’m not strong enough.” Of course not! That never was the issue! “But God, why me?” “Because you’re the weak and the small of the world, and I’m going to make you holy so that you will take on My attributes – that you will become holy.”

Look at what Peter said in 1 Peter 2 – 1 Peter, chapter 2. He’s talking about the church here. And in verse 1 – it starts the passage – he says:

1 Peter 2:1 1 Peter 2:1Why laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings,
American King James Version×
Therefore laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking, as newborn babes desiring the pure milk of the word, that you might grow thereby, if you, indeed, have tasted that the Lord is gracious, coming to Him as to a living Stone, rejected, indeed, by men, but chosen by God as precious…. So he goes through and he explains…“Now let’s look back…” and he goes back into the Old Testament, and he show how the Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah – the Christ – would be a stumblingblock – He would be a stone – He would be a rock of offense. Now God is using that Stone to build a new temple – a holy temple – and that each of us is a stone in that temple – that each of us is holy – a holy stone in the temple that He is building.

So let’s go down to verse 9. Now remember, Peter isn’t just talking here to Jews. He’s talking to the church. He says:

V- 9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation – His own special people – that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who were once not a people – and this is a play on the words of Hosea (if you remember, we did the Bible study on Hosea, where he had to name one of his children, You Were My People, But You’re Not My People. This is a play on what Hosea said.) You were once not a people, but now are the people of God; who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (Remember, the one child was named You Have Not Obtained Mercy, but was changed to You Have Obtained Mercy.) So he goes back to Hosea and uses this and says, “Look, this is us! We are the people who were not chosen. We were the people who had not received the mercy. But God has given this to us. Why? So that we may be a holy nation.”

As a holy nation, what are we supposed to do? And this is very important for us in the Church of God, because there are times that we have forgotten this, if we’re really honest about this. We are to proclaim what? That we are the special people of God? That we are the holy people? Boy, aren’t we special! It says we are a holy people. Why? That you may proclaim – this is last part of verse 9 – the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light. Everything that we do is to be pictured on God’s holiness, because it’s the only place we get holiness from. You and I can’t manufacture it. We can’t do the right chant, we can’t do the right dance, we can’t say the right words. We can’t manufacture holiness! We can only take on, as we submit – yes, we have a part to play – we have to submit to God. That means there’s effort, there’s obedience – all those things – but you and I can’t manufacture holiness, because holiness can only come from God. By the very definition of the way the word is used in Hebrew, and in Greek, and in English, you and I can’t do that. And so, God has said, “You are a chosen people, you are a holy people, and you will take on My holiness.”

Are we taking on His holiness? Has God declared us holy, but we are not being sanctified? When we get into justification and sanctification – they’re two different things…so, Paul was very strong with this. And this is where people misunderstand Paul. They say, “Well, you can’t be justified by the works of the law.” “Oh, so you don’t have to do the law.” That’s not what he’s saying, because later he talks about sanctification and he talks about obeying God as part of our sanctification. You are made holy – you take on attributes of holiness – by what we do, what we say. You can’t remain holy and be a thief. That’s why Paul said, “If you’re a thief, steal no more.” You can’t be holy and be a practicing adulterer. And he says that. He says, “You will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” You can’t be holy and be a practicing liar. He says that. You can’t be a practicing homosexual and be in the Kingdom of God. He says that. It all has to do with sanctification. It all has to do with taking on the attributes of holiness. So, when he talks about justification – how we’re justified – you can’t justify yourself. I can’t justify myself. But once we are justified – in other words, made right with God – once that happens, we must take on the attributes of God. We must become holy. We come before a holy God who says you’re holy and you must be sanctified. And the spring holy days teach us all about that. We are a holy priesthood.

1 Peter 1, verse 13 – this metaphor is really strange to me, because it’s not something, in English, that makes a lot of sense, but it surely did in Greek in the 1st century.

1 Peter 1:13 1 Peter 1:13Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind – in other words, put on the pants of your mind…. (So this one goes over my head, okay?) I know what he’s saying: “Get ready. Get prepared.” Okay? So that’s what we say in English: “Get prepared with your mind.” Prepare your mind. Gird up the loins of your mind. Be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ – be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ – as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance – not going back to what you used to be – but being holy…. We can becoming the church and not be holy at all. You know, Christ gave the parable about the people that would appear before Him, it says, and their white wedding garment will be covered with spots – be filthy – and He’ll say, “You don’t belong here.” And they’ll, “I’ve got a wedding gown on. I was invited.” “No, you’re not sanctified. You’re not washed. You’re not really holy.” We are called to become holy.

And you say, “How do I do that?” Well, it’s an effort on our part, but you can’t do it yourself, because holiness doesn’t come from us. So this relies on God doing something in us and us submitting to that. That’s letting Him do that work.

So, we have to be obedient, as it says in verse 14. We have to obey the law.

V-14 - …as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy – now this verse 15 is amazing – as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. See, we’re getting away from this, “Well, God saved you, you’re okay, you can do whatever you want – you know, you’re saved, you’re okay.”

I think I told you this. Did I tell you about something I read here a couple weeks ago? It just blew my mind. It was actually an article where a guy was quoting this girl, because he said he couldn’t believe it – this idea that Christians have – once saved, always – you know, “God forgave me, made me holy, so it doesn’t matter what I do.” And her argument was, “Look, when the rapture comes, I could be in the arms of the man I’m committing adultery with, and I’ll be immediately raptured, and he’ll be left behind – even though we’re both doing the same sin, since Jesus forgave me, and Jesus is in my heart, it won’t matter.” So she bragged about committing adultery, and she said, “It doesn't matter, because when Jesus comes back, I get changed – the poor guy is left behind – but I get changed.” I don’t know how you read this verse and believe that kind of heresy – rebellion against God. Verse 15:

V-15 - …but as He who called you – God – is holy – see, holiness isn’t just God setting something apart and saying, “That’s for my use.” He’s setting something apart and saying, “This is Mine! This reflects Me. This has something to do with Me personally. And he says about us, as He is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because, as it is written – and it’s interesting…Peter goes back to what to what he told ancient Israel they failed in – “Be you holy, for I am holy.” They failed because they did not have the Holy Spirit in them. You and I have been given God’s Holy Spirit to make us holy. Holiness is very, very real. It is what God is doing in us. And, if you live your life in the world just like everybody else, but come to church on Saturday and say, “I am holy,” no, you’re not. Holiness is a state of being. It is a state of being. It is letting God live in you every day. 

Now, it’s interesting how he talks about this holiness comes about. We’re starting to into, now, what we’re going to be talking about at the Passover. He says, in verse 17:

V-17 – And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear. You say, “Why would we be in fear?” I’ll tell you why. Your life is holy. Remember Uzzah. If Uzzah was killed by God because he touched something holy in an illegal manner, then we should be fearful to live our lives as unholy, because God made you holy. God called you. You didn’t come to God. God justified you. You say, “How did justification take place?” Justification is the way God made you right with Him. Did justification come because you were a good person? No. God didn’t say, “Look, that person is really better than everybody else, so I’m going to justify that person?” In other words, I justified myself. Justification comes one way only. Verse 18:

V-18 – Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without blemish, without spot. You were redeemed by the holy Passover, who was the holy God Himself – the Word of God, who was with God and who was God. It took holy action by a holy person, and a holy God to redeem you, to justify you, to bring you into relationship with God. He, indeed, was foreordained from the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, that through Him, believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have purified – this is very interesting, because holiness has to do with being pure – that’s why they had to take a bath, that’s why they had to wash their clothes, that’s why they had pray, they had to bring a sacrifice, the had to do all these things – because you had to be pure before God. And he says, Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth….

Notice you may be justified – you may be justified – by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but you are sanctified by obeying the truth. The purification process involves God doing something first – justifying us – bringing us into a relationship that you and I don’t deserve. Then it involves Him making us holy and we becoming holy – we, literally, becoming holy. We obey, we follow, we worship, we serve. Or do we just live like, “Well, the church saves me.” The church does not save us! The church never saved anybody. The Sabbath doesn’t save us. It doesn’t justify us. Now, stop keeping the Sabbath and you will become unholy. We’re talking about sanctification. Okay? Stop keeping the Sabbath and you’ll become unholy. But you aren’t justified by the Sabbath. God didn’t say, “Oh, you keep the Sabbath. You can have a relationship with Me.” It didn’t happen that way. God introduced you to Him and then said, “Here are some holy things I want you to do. I want you to have a holy marriage. I want you to keep the holy and righteous law. I want you to keep holy days. I want you to keep other people as holy. I want you to proclaim My holy name.” What is the second commandment? Do not use God’s name in vain! “Hallowed be Thy Name,” Jesus said in the prayer. “God, your name is holy. You are holy. You are a holy person. So I come before You as holy, because you have made me holy – therefore I act holy, I think holy, I conduct my life as holy.” To be declared holy by God, and then to be corrupt, we can become useless to God. Think about how serious that is. Think about how serious that is – to be made holy by God, to be declared by God, “You are Mine – for Me to impute some on Myself into you.” Verse 22:

V-22 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not with the corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the Word of God, which living abides forever. He says you are begotten by what? He takes us back to where did we get the holiness from? The term begotten refers to when we receive the Holy Spirit. You received the Holy Spirit. And that began holiness. That began holiness in us, so we can truly become holy. Paul talks about this in 2 Thessalonians.

Let’s go to 2 Thessalonians. I want to wrap this up with this scripture – 2 Thessalonians – and we’ll start in chapter 3, and we’ll start in verse 11. I’m sorry, 1 Thessalonians – 1 Thessalonians 3:11 1 Thessalonians 3:11Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.
American King James Version×
. He’s encouraging the people of Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians is an encouraging book – letter that he sent to them. And he says in verse 11 of 1 Thessalonians, chapter 3:

1 Thessalonians 3:11 1 Thessalonians 3:11Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.
American King James Version×
May our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts – now he says, “This is what God wants you to do. This is where He’s leading you – that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness ­– blameless in holiness – before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. Now the word holiness there is very interesting, because it’s a derivative of the word hagios and it doesn’t mean exactly what usually holiness means. Holiness here, the way it’s used, it means blameless in God’s way, in God’s character, in godliness. You could translate that godliness there. He wants to establish us so that we become blameless in godliness – literally, holy. Chapter 4, verse 1;

1 Thessalonians 4:1 1 Thessalonians 4:1Furthermore then we beseech you, brothers, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more.
American King James Version×
Finally then, brethren, we urge you and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. He’s talking about blameless and holiness. He’s talking about sanctification. Since you are justified through the blood of Jesus Christ, how must we walk? That you ought to please God. Every day, we should to be asking ourselves, “Is this pleasing to God?” Think about that – if you asked yourself that all the time. What if you took and put “Is this pleasing to God?” on little 3 x 5 card and put it by the TV set? Think about that. “Is this pleasing to God?” What if you just put 3 x 5 cards all over the place – I’m not saying to do that – and ask “Is this pleasing to God?” You could be at work and having trouble with your coworkers and you look at a 3 x 5 card on your desk that says, “Is this pleasing to God?” Well, okay. Because we are holy to please God, because we have a relationship with Him.  Verse 2 says:

V-2 – For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, the will of God is your sanctification. The will of God isn’t just your justification. It is your sanctification. It is you being made holy. It’s not just God declaring you holy. In justification, He says, “I declare you holy. You now can come before Me. You have a special privilege. You are for my use through the blood of Jesus Christ.” Now you are to be sanctified. You are to actually become holy. This is the will of God: your sanctification. Put your name in there – my sanctification. That’s the will of God. …that you should abstain from sexual immorality, that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor – not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know. He goes on and really talks about here for a few more verses about how we’re supposed to treat other people – what we’re supposed to do as sanctified people – justified people, sanctified people – forgiven by God and then made holy by God – not just in some declaration, but in reality.

I said that was going to be the last verse, but I will repent, because there’s something I wasn’t going to go to, but let’s go to it. Okay? Romans 3. I repent. I’m sorry. Romans 6. I always have people read Romans 6, 7 and 8 when doing baptism counseling and study it in great detail, because verse 14 says that you and I are under grace.

Now, I want you to think about this in terms of the holy days just for a second. You and I are about to keep the holy days, but it’s important that you and I understand the order in which the holy days take place. We have to really careful about something. I’ve been thinking about this. I may do a whole…I may do a sermon on…we have to be careful not to make things superstition or lose the meaning of rituals that God gives to us. How many times…especially women will do this…they will exhaust themselves cleaning the house before the Days of Unleavened Bread, and then it’s two days before the Passover, and they’re saying, “No more leavening in this house! It’s clean for the Days of Unleavened Bread.”

I can remember when Kim and I were newly married. I remember there was one year we did that. We cleaned everything so well, and we started eating matzos three days before the Passover, because we weren’t going to have any leavening in the house. But you know, that misses the point. It’s just a ritual that way, because we’re told to put the leavening out on the fourteenth. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t clean your house and prepare for the Days of Unleavened Bread. I’m saying that cleaning your house can’t justify you. You can’t go before God and say, “My toaster is clean, so You must be pleased with me.” You can’t get it all out of the toaster. I’ve tried. I know people who threw their toaster away and bought a new one every year. We don’t have to do that either, okay? You can’t get all the crumbs out and finally be justified by God because you got all the crumbs out. I’m saying, “Holiness requires you and I…sanctification requires that you and I deleaven, okay, but you can’t be justified by it.” You can’t say, “God, you and I must have a talk. I cleaned my house.”

So, you are justified – and we’re reminded of this every year – when you take that bread and wine…if somebody washes your feet and you wash somebody’s feet, and you take that bread and wine, there is a remarkable feeling of humbleness before God. I’m amazed. Every year I do it, it always there. It’s like, “I’m back to ground zero.” I mentioned that before – sometimes before the Passover – “You’re back to ground zero!” I’m back to “I can’t do this. I can’t save myself. I can’t resurrect myself. I’m back to I must be justified by You. I can’t enter into a relationship with You, unless you allow it – unless You make it happen. I am now justified.” And we’re brought back to justification. Right? And that’s why it’s such an intense experience. God brings us back to ground zero and says, “Now, remember how you got here.” But, you know, that’s not the end of what we celebrate, is it, because we’re reminded of where we’re supposed to go. The next day we throw out the leavening. And then we spend seven days taking in this unleavening that represents the resurrected Jesus Christ. “Oh yeah, I must be sanctified. I must live this way. I am justified. I am sanctified.”

Now, the problem is you and I don’t have the power – just like you and I don’t have the power to justify ourselves – you and I don’t have the power to sanctify ourselves, because that means we’d have to declare ourselves holy. So guess what Pentecost is all about? Oh yeah, we really the Holy Spirit, so that now we do have the power to be sanctified. We can live holy lives. To receive the Holy Spirit and stay the way we are is to spit in the face of God! It is to deny sanctification! So we know these extremes. We think we justify ourselves. We can’t. And the Passover brings us back to ground zero. We think that we can sanctify ourselves. No, we participate in sanctification. That’s why you remove leavening, but you’ve got to take something in, and then, fifty days after the wave sheaf offering, what do we do? We celebrate the fact that you and I receive the Holy Spirit. That’s sanctification, so that we can become holy. This is the reality. These are not words – not some kind of ritual. This is the reality of what God is doing. He has already justified you. And when you were baptized, you were justified. You were allowed to come into a relationship with God and He declared you holy and He gave you His Spirit. And now you’re supposed to live a lifetime – and I’m supposed to live a lifetime – of sanctification. “I must be sanctified. I must be made pure.”

We talk about Christian living all the time. Do you know what we’re talking about? We’re talking about sanctification. That’s the theological term. We’re talking about being sanctified.

Look what he says here in Romans 6:15 Romans 6:15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
American King James Version×
, because he says that we’re under grace, and then Paul says, “Wait a minute, before you say, ‘Oh good, I’m under grace. I can live however I want,’ whoa, whoa, I’m talking about justification here.” Paul, when he always against the law, people say, “Well, he’s so against the law.” No, he’s saying, “You can’t be justified by the law.” You can’t go before God and say, “Okay God, I tell you what. I would like to be made holy, so I’m going to keep Your law perfectly from now on, and then You can make me holy.” It doesn’t work that way!

I think of that commercial. You’ve seen the commercial where the woman has pictures all over the wall, and she think it’s Facebook. She says, “My pictures are on the wall and I defriend you.” And there’s this one woman yelling, “It doesn’t work that way! None of this works that way!” Well, that’s the way this is. This is the way it works. It doesn’t work that you and I justify ourselves. We submit to it. We accept it. Sanctification isn’t something we can do ourselves. We submit to it, we obey it, we follow, we have a relationship, we do it, because God does it in us through the Holy Spirit. He makes us holy. You and I have to come to grips with the fact we have been declared by the Almighty God to be holy, therefore we must live holy, to why? Remember what we read in Ephesians. Not so we can go out and say, “Oh boy, I’m one of the holy people!” No, it’s because we are to show His praises. So people don’t say, “Wow, you’re a good guy!” They say, “Wow! God must have done something with you.” They’re supposed to see God, because it’s not our holiness that is the issue – because you and I can’t declare anything holy, including ourselves. So he says:

Romans 6:15 Romans 6:15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
American King James Version×
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Now Paul’s definitions here he gives himself. In this very same book he says that sin is the breaking of the law. Okay? So here’s what he says: Shall we break the law because we’re not under the law, but under grace? No. Well, if I’m not under the law, can I break the law? He says, “No.” But what’s he talking about then? The grace is justification. God does it for us, but we don’t deserve it. Justification is by the blood of Jesus Christ that we don’t deserve! It’s only through His grace that we receive this. Now people say, “Good, I’ve now been justified. I can go sin all I want.” And he says, “No, no, no, you can’t do that. You can’t break the law. You have to be sanctified. You have to live God’s way now.”  Verse 16 – now this ties right in with the Days of Unleavened Bread:

V-16 – Do you no know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are one’s slaves whom you obey  – whether it is of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness.

So, when we go through the Days of Unleavened Bread, we’re reminded – just like ancient Israel were slaves in Egypt – you and I are slaves to sin. We’re coming out of that sin. God is freeing us from that. Why? We are sanctified. Verse 17:

V-17 – But God be thanked that, though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. You became sanctified. You live holy lives. You become righteous. You don’t live two lives – a pretend life at church and a different life outside. You literally are righteous wherever you are. You are holy wherever you go, because God is with you – or in you – depending on the relationship – wherever you go. It doesn’t mean we don’t sin. It doesn’t mean we don’t fall down somewhere. It doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes and do stupid things. That’s why we have the Passover. It reminds us where justification comes from. It reminds us that we can be forgiven. We are forgiven – but not if we go become slaves to sin and decide that we like the slavery. A rejection of sanctification will lead you to where you are no longer justified. And that’s what the once saved, always saved false doctrine was. A rejection of sanctification – being holy – will eventually lead you to where you are not justified anymore. You’re separated from God. It goes on here and says – verse 19:

V-19 – I speak in human terms, because of the weakness of your flesh, but just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness and of lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. And notice, he mentions the law here. It helps us define holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in those things in which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now, having been set free from sin – how are you set free from sin? Justification – sacrifice of Jesus Christ – having become slaves to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and at the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You have been justified. And you have been sanctified. Live as a justified person by being sanctified – living as a sanctified person, living as a holy person. If we could ever grasp the remarkable privilege of the grace of God that’s been offered to us – His holy people imbued with His holiness – to live His way! And that comes down to everything – the way you talk, the way you dress. It comes down to everything we do. If we could somehow get our children to understand that they are already holy – now they can choose to remove that holiness – but the scripture says they are already holy. They are already told by God, “I have selected you for My purposes and you are already holy….” I don’t care if you are eight years old out there. I don’t care whether you’re twelve. I don’t care whether you’re sixteen. You say, “Well, I’m not baptized.” You’re already holy. You’ve been chosen to be holy. Now, you may choose not to be holy, but your justification is waiting for you. Your sanctification is waiting for you. You’ve already been chosen to be holy. It’s already been done. The question is, what are you going to do with it? Are you willing to be holy or do you want Satan’s world? And you say, “Well, I’ll be holy sometime in the future.” Well, I’ll tell you what, to give up your holiness is a scary thing. Remember Uzzah.

God has called you and we’re about to keep the spring holy days. In the spring holy days, understand…we always use these other terms, but I just wanted to go through the theological terms today…remember, you are justified. You will take that bread and that wine because you are already justified. “But I still have sins.” Yes, that’s why you do it! You are justified. You have a relationship with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But you are also being sanctified, which these days picture. Since you are being made holy, be you holy as the One who made you holy.