Have you ever stopped to ask yourself the question – what does it mean to be holy?
When you mention the term, "holiness," what do you think the average person in society thinks? Well, where I grew up, they think of holy rollers. They would think of Pentecostals, or the holiness church of the same thing.
I live in Cleveland, Tennessee, and it happens to be the headquarters for the Church of God, which is the Pentecostal Church of God, several of them there. Many say or think that Christians claim to be holy, but they don't see any difference between a Christian and a Non-Christian. Gandhi, many of you will remember, Mohandas Gandhi, made this statement. "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are unlike your Christ." And of course, that's an indictment against Christianity.
A recent Barna study dealt with the fact that so many people today are choosing their own religion, or what they believe. Let me quote from that. "By a three to one margin, seventy-one percent to twenty-six percent, adults noted that they are personally more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by particular church. Evidence of people's willingness to part with church teachings was shown another data. The Christian faith is less a life-perspective that challenges the supremacy of the individual as it is a faith being defined through individualism." So instead of allowing your faith to correct you, and to show you where you're wrong, people are deciding for themselves individually what they're going to believe.
Americans are increasingly comfortably picking and choosing what they deem to be helpful and accurate theological views. They have become comfortable discarding the rest of the teachings in the Bible. So we're not just talking about them discarding the teachings of an organization. They're discarding the teaching of the Bible itself.
Growing numbers of people now serve as their own theologians in residence. One consequence is that Americans are embracing an unpredictable and contradictory body of beliefs. Barna pointed out as an example millions of people consider themselves Christians. They believe that the Bible is totally accurate when you ask them, but they believe that Jesus Christ sinned. Now those two don't jive. Not if you believe the Bible.
Among individuals who describe themselves as Christians, for instance, close to half believe that Satan does not exist. One third contend that Jesus sinned while He was on the earth; two fifths say they do not have a responsibility to share their Christian faith with anyone else, and one quarter dismiss the Bible as being accurate in all of its principles.
Now, the question is, how can a person be holy and do what is right if he doesn't believe that the Bible is the standard to live by? Or that the doctrines of the Bible are not accurate? Or that Jesus Christ, who is our example, sinned? How can we follow Him, if He's supposed to be the example for us, if we believe that He was fatally flawed and that He sinned in so many ways?
When you have your own standards, what you're basically doing is deciding for yourself what is good, what is right and wrong, what is good and evil. And so today many people consider themselves to be religious, but their religion is a hodge-podge of their own ideas. They borrow some from this religion, that religion, from Eastern religions, from whatever it might be, and they put it all together, and they come up with their own theology. And they claim, "Well, yes, I'm a Christian, I'm religious, but it's not based upon the Bible.
Now, today people decide for themselves what sin is. What might be sin for you, they say, is not sin for me. So you can't tell me that I'm doing wrong because that's only what you believe. I believe something different. So, is there a universal belief or definition for sin? Can you as an individual determine what you think is sin and somebody else comes up with something else and they're both contradictory to one another. This is the way our society is going, and we are called a Christian nation, and yet when you begin to look at what people believe, profess, you find that it's completely different.
As Mr. Strauss mentioned, the Days of Unleavened Bread and Passover are coming up here quickly. Beginning tomorrow, I think when I counted, there are about thirty-six days until the Passover. That doesn't seem possible, but it's coming towards us. The spring holy days picture, as we know, putting sin out and putting the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth into our lives. In I Corinthians 5:7, we read this:
I Corinthians 5:7 - Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Verse 8 – Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Now I want you to notice that there is a standard to live by. It's called the truth.
Now many of us, over the years, when you see a new person come into the church, you ask him a question. "When did you learn the truth? How did you learn the truth?" And what we mean the body of beliefs that we have, the correct body of beliefs and teachings that the church has. The Bible is accurate and it is the standard that we are supposed to base our life on. The word – truth – if you look it up in the Greek implies true things that pertain to God. It refers to moral and religious truth, that there is a moral standard. There is a religious standard. It also has to do with respecting the duties of man, that there are certain duties and responsibilities that we have toward one another, and part of that is you are to love your neighbor as yourself. You are to love God with all your heart, as we know. So today, I want to focus on one of the central truths of the Bible. And it has to do with the quality of character that you and I should have. It's called, holiness. You and I are to be holy.
What does it mean to be holy? You know, holiness is a term in Hebrew that probably means to be separate from the ordinary or profane. Also in Hebrew and Greek, holy implies connection with God, or the divine, thus God is holy. And people and things and actions may be holy by association with God. Holiness may also include the idea of consecration to God, and purity from what is evil or improper.
So the Bible does talk about holiness, as we're going to see. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself the question – why is God holy? If you and I are to be holy, why is God holy? How holy are you as an individual? Do you consider yourself being holy? Are we as a church holy? What truly is holiness?
Let's begin by going back to Exodus 19:6 Exodus 19:6And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
American King James Version×in the Bible. When God brought Israel out of captivity, led them over to the land of Sinai, or Mount Sinai, let's notice what He said to the people, to Israel.
Exodus 19:6 Exodus 19:6And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
American King James Version×– "(And) you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, (and) a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." So Israel was to be a holy nation to God. What made them holy? How could they be holy? How can you and I be holy?
Well, Deuteronomy 7 gives us clue.
God said He was going to bring them into the promised land, that they were going to dispossess many nations who were greater and mightier than they were. God told them that they were to conquer the people, that they were not to make marriages with them, that they were not to follow their gods, they were not to follow the customs of the nations around them. They were to tear down their altars, their pillars, destroy all of their images. Why? Well, Verse 6.
Deuteronomy 7:6 Deuteronomy 7:6For you are an holy people to the LORD your God: the LORD your God has chosen you to be a special people to himself, above all people that are on the face of the earth.
American King James Version×- "For you are a holy people..." Now the word if you'll notice in the margin says, - a set apart people. "... to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth." So they were set apart, they were chosen by God, they were a special treasure. And actually what God is saying here, God demonstrated that He wanted to have a special relationship with these people. They were a special treasure, they were valued by God.
If you had a beautiful vase, you know, something that was hand crafted, maybe worth a few thousand dollars. I don't have anything like that in my home. I do have a duck, and it's worth a couple hundred dollars, but other than that, you know, if you had something really beautiful like that, you would cherish it. You'd look after it. You'd put it in a place where it would not be knocked off. You wouldn't leave it around for little children to knock it off the table.
Now if you had an old skillet, now I have a few of those, cook cornbread in those or whatever you want to, you can bang those around, you can throw them and it doesn't hurt them. But what you find Israel was a special treasure to God, and God was doing something here with them that He had never done with any other nation. He was going to establish a relationship with them that was going to be a holy relationship.
Now going on in Verse 7: "The Lord we read here did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all the peoples;
Verse 8 – but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep (the) His oath which He swore to you fathers,...
Verse 9 – Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy...so God was going to deal with them. He loved them. He had promised to Abraham that his seed would grow into a nation, and He was going to fulfill the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so Israel was a holy people.
Now in the book of Leviticus, chapter 11, we're all familiar with chapter 11, the clean and unclean meats, but in Leviticus 11:44 Leviticus 11:44For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×, God says:
Leviticus 11:44 Leviticus 11:44For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×- For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy;...now, why? God says, ... for I am holy....So, if God is holy, we are to be holy, in other words, we are to imitate God; we're to live like God lives. We are to have His mind, His attitude, His approach, so ...I'm holy and you are to be holy....God says. ...For I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
Verse 45 - For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. And You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. So, brethren, if we're going to become like God, if we're going to be members of His family, then we must imitate God. Why is God holy? What makes Him holy? What unique characteristics does He have? Well, God is the standard to live by. He lives a life as we know that is absolutely full, brimming full, joyful, productive, wonderful always bears the right results, and it's a life that He's lived forever, and He will continue to live forever. It is a life that is based upon His very being, his very character, His very nature. It is what He is. That's how He lives.
He is separate or apart from every other way, every other approach. He knows that any other way, any other approach is wrong. He lives in any other approach will only produce eventually misery, suffering, pain heartaches, sorrow, violence, death, wars, whatever. God is devoted to His very nature and being to righteousness. God can no more go against His own nature because His very nature is one of righteousness, of doing what is right, avoiding the evil, and so therefore God is holy. He is the example that we are to follow.
The main Hebrew word for holy signifies to be consecrated to be set apart, to be devoted, to be consecrated, to keep oneself apart or separate. So when God called Israel, what did He do? He brought them out of Egypt. He separated them from where they were, their environment. He brought them out; He gave them the ten commandments; He gave them His statutes and judgments. He told them if you do these things, you'll be able to live, you know, you'll be blessed in every way, and they were set apart. They were shown the way that if they had obeyed it, if they had kept it, it would have directed them toward God and being truly holy.
So what made Israel holy? Well, simply God had separated them, they were set apart by God, that they were devoted to God. Of all the nations on the face of the earth, they were the only one that God was dealing with directly. Now remember that, because we'll come back to it. God dealt with them directly. As Leviticus 20:26 Leviticus 20:26And you shall be holy to me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.
American King James Version×says:
Leviticus 20:26 Leviticus 20:26And you shall be holy to me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.
American King James Version×– You shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. So God separated them from all of the other people. And they were to be His. They were to live like He did. Notice it goes right on in to Verse 27. It says:
Verse 27 – 'A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.'" Anyone who seeks a medium goes to spirits, goes that route, is not separating himself from the world. He is looking to another spirit, another approach, rather than looking to God for direction and guidance. So they were holy and separated to God. They didn't choose God. God chose them. They didn't say, "Well I think we'll become God's nation."
No, God says, "You're my people. He chose them." Exodus 25:8 Exodus 25:8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
American King James Version×shows that God did something here that He had not done before.
Exodus 25:8 Exodus 25:8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
American King James Version×– God says, "(And) let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." When God chose Israel, He wanted to dwell among them. The holy God was in their midst leading them, guiding them, directing them. God wanted to be close to His people in a loving relationship. He wanted to develop a family and to create that family. Now, when you go through the Old Testament you find that objects are holy if they come in contact with what is holy. Back here in Exodus 3, if you'll back up in the book of Exodus. We're all familiar with the story where Moses was walking along one day, and he saw a bush burning. Exodus 3:5 Exodus 3:5And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground.
American King James Version×. And he thought he'd go over and investigate it because the bush didn't burn up, and when God spoke to him, He says:
Exodus 3:5 Exodus 3:5And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground.
American King James Version×- (Then He said,) "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Now why was it holy ground? Well, God's presence was there, that's why. God Himself was there. God's very presence makes things holy. The holy God said that He wanted to dwell with His people.
Now, you'll find when God gave Moses the directions about building the tabernacle, there were two rooms. There was the Holy Place, and there was the Holy of Holies. And you find that the Holy Place was a type of the church, and the Holy of Holies, the type of the very throne of God in the third heaven.
Back in Hebrews 9, Hebrews 9, we find this referred to in the New Testament, Hebrews 9:1 Hebrews 9:1Then truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
American King James Version×:
Hebrews 9:1 Hebrews 9:1Then truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
American King James Version×– Then indeed, (even) the first covenant beginning in Verse 1, Hebrews 9:1 Hebrews 9:1Then truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
American King James Version×... had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.
Verse 2 – For a tabernacle was prepared; the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, (and) the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; Now, they changed the twelve loaves of bread out every Sabbath. Every Sabbath you come to church and you're fed the word of God, the food of God. And you find that the lampstand was there that gave light. You and I, the church is to be the light of the world.
Verse 3 - and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, the High Priest went once a year on the Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies was a type, again, of heaven and the throne room of God. Now I mentioned that because, again, we will come back to that when we get to the New Testament church.
In Exodus 31, we find that God in dealing with ancient Israel in order to make them a holy people gave to them a law that He said was holy.
Verse 13 – "Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. The word sanctified meaning – set apart. They were set apart by God. And when God looked down and He saw how people were living, one of the identifying signs of where His people are is the Sabbath.
Verse 14 – " 'You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore (for) it is holy to you....'" So the Sabbath day is holy. Now you'll find in Verse 15,
Verse 15 – Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord....Why is the Sabbath holy? Why is this day from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset holy?
Well, God's presence is in it. God is here with us. And we hope that He's inspiring, you know, those who speak, all of us. You realize that the Bible talks about worshipping God, that there is an individual approach to worshipping God, all of us in our own homes study our Bible. We all pray; we send our tithes and offerings in. Maybe you go around singing at home, some of the hymns. Those are all ways and means of methods of praising God. But we also worship God collectively. And collectively, one of the commandments is to assemble together on the Sabbath. That's one way that we worship God. And we do it collectively. Our singing is part of the worship of God. Our fellowship is part of the worship of God. The sermons, the instructions are part of helping to worship God, and when people decide that they don't want to attend services; they're just going to stay home, and many I think fall into this pitfall, they begin to think, "Well, I can watch, you know, a service on my computer, I can get a CD and I can listen to it. And obviously if you're sick, or you've got a broken leg, you've been operated on; it's snowing outside and you can't get to church, those are all wonderful opportunities.
But do you realize that there is a tremendous blessing that comes when we come together to worship God? There is an energy that flows that is God's Spirit from God's people as we interact with one another. We talk to one another; we encourage one another; we inspire one another. We're here, you know, somebody's discouraged, and you come along and you encourage them. Or you're down, and they pull you up. We talk to each other, and when you walk away, there is a new life, a new spirit, a new dynamic, the synergism that flows from our being able to be together is inspiring and you know, that's something that God has ordained.
So God's presence is here with us. God made this day. He set it apart. And we read that back when God created everything; it's devoted to God; it's devoted to His greater glory. It's a gift that God has given to mankind, and yet it marked Israel as the people of God.
So brethren, this is a day that is holy. And by our keeping it, it helps us to become holy as God is holy because if God were on the earth, and let's remember Jesus Christ for thirty-three and a half year was on the earth, guess what? He kept this day. He observed it. And it was created and He followed that example. In Leviticus 23, we also read what I've just been mentioning to you here.
Verse 2 – "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: that 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be hold convocations, these are My feasts. So this is a holy convocation. What makes it holy is God's presence here. We have His holy word. We have the Bible; we have the scriptures. It is a set apart meeting with God, and it's holy because God's a part of it.
God has called us to be here to be fed. They had a responsibility, and I won't read all the scriptures, I think we're all familiar with the fact that they as a nation had a responsibility of setting an example before all the other nations. And the reason for this is they were to model God's way of life. They were to model His character. They were to model how to be holy. The problem is they began to following all the nations around them.
Now, with all of that in mind, let's go back to I Peter 2:9, and let's focus on the church today. I Peter 2:9. We are the Israel of God today. And as we read here, same thing that God said to ancient Israel, physical Israel.
I Peter 2:9 – (But) you are a chosen generation,...So that means YOU, you and I, we are a chosen generation. ... a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people...So notice, we are His special treasure, His special people. ...that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; So we find today that we have been chosen by God, that we are a holy nation; we're God's special people, that God wants to maintain a close bond, a loving association, a proper relationship with these people, and we have been called and set apart – why? That we might (may) proclaim (the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.) God's praises. That we might show, we might set an example to all of the nations, all the people around us, whoever we come into contact with. They should be able to say – There goes a Christian, by our example, by our actions.
Verse 10 –We find here, who once were not a people...as Derek mentioned, you know, we at one time would have never known one another. You and I would have probably never met, except for God's church. And here we are, God's people, the ones who've been called by God, and we come together. ... we were (but are) not a people of God, but are now we are the people; of God,...We're the church of God, the family of God. ... who had not obtained mercy but now we have obtained mercy.
Verse 11 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts (which) that war (against the) on your souls
Verse 12 – having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles,...So we're to set a right example, our conduct. ... that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works...by your example, your good works. ... which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. They may not glorify God today. You know, they may think you're crazy, but one day, when their minds are opened, they're going to say, "Aha, I remember. There was somebody who lived this way of life," and they will respond at that time.
Remember what Gandhi said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are unlike your Christ." You and I as true Christians are to model Jesus Christ to the world, and the world should see Him in us. Back up here to I Peter 1:15.
I Peter 1:15 – but (as) He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, So, now we're told how to be holy. Our conduct is to exemplify one who's been set apart and who's had the right way revealed to Him.
Verse 16 – because it is written, "Be holy,...Why? because (for) I am holy." If you and I are going to be members of the family of God, we have to imitate our Father. We're got to imitate our older brother. We've got to be like Him.
The main Greek word for – holy – in the New Testament describes the quality or person or thing that can be brought near unto God's presence. Do you and I come into God's presence on a daily basis? Well, we should be through our prayers, through our study. It also means things set apart for God's purpose, you and I have been called by God for a purpose, for a reason, we are rulers in training. That's one purpose. We're also here to set an example. We're here to do the work of God. It also, the word is used and translated – saint – in the Bible.
So what makes the church holy today? Well, God has separated us from this world, called us out of this society, we have been devoted to Him. Of all the people on the face of the earth, we are the few that God is working through, that God has called. Remember John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×, that
"...no one can come to Me," Christ said, "...unless the Father who sent Me draws him." So, God called us. He draws us; He works with us. Now I Corinthians 1:2. A very simple scripture that generally we tend to read over.
I Corinthians 1:2 – Let's notice: To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: You and I have been sanctified and called to be saints.
Now the word – sanctified – in the Greek means to be separated from profane things and to be dedicated to God. Can we honestly say that our whole life and our whole being is dedicated to God? Do we love God with all of our being, with every fiber there is within us? It means to be purified, to cleanse externally, to purify by expiation, be free from the guilt of sin. How can you and I be free from the guilt of sin, be forgiven, be expiated? Well, it's through Christ's sacrifice. So when God called us, He drawed us, He chose us, we responded. We repented. We were baptized. We had hands laid on us, we then received the holy Spirit of God. Our past sins were forgiven, and we now have something dwelling in us that is holy.
Now the word – saint – here, these basically come from the same root, but the word – saint – is translated – holy – 161 times in the New Testament, and translated – saint – 61 times. And it's referring to those who have been separated, set apart by God. That's us. We have been chosen by God. We didn't choose God; He chose us.
There's not a one of us sitting here today who called himself. The calling is of God. Ephesians 1:4 Ephesians 1:4According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
American King James Version×shows that not only have we been called by God, but let's notice when God determined He was going to do this. I'll back up to Verse 3.
Ephesians 1:3 Ephesians 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
American King James Version×– Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
Verse 4 – just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,...So before God created the earth, God determined that He was going to choose people.... that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, What were we chosen to do ? The choosing had to do with us becoming holy.
Remember in the Old Testament, they had a sanctuary? A sacred place, so that God could dwell among them? The holy God dwelt in their midst and He led them. God dwells today in His church through the Holy Spirit, and we, today, are the temple of God. It's not a matter of a physical temple; the church is the temple of God. Back up to I Corinthians 3:16.
I Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? So God has revealed that He wanted to dwell with His people, and with ancient Israel, He dwelt in a physical tabernacle or temple. Here you find God dwells in a spiritual temple, the church within us.
I Corinthians 3:17 – If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy which temple you are. So brethren, what makes us holy? Well, we have God's Spirit dwelling within us. It's called, what? The Holy Spirit. It comes from God, and God places His very nature within us, His divine attributes within us.
Now in II Corinthians 6:14. Let's turn over there. We find today that you and I as a church would be an analogy to the holy place and the sanctuary of old. We have access to the holy of holies today as we will see. But let's notice here, first. We're told:
II Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers...Now here's a very clear section of the Bible that tells how to be holy. If we're not to be yoked together with unbelievers, now that can be applied in many different ways, but especially in practices and customs, traditions, beliefs, doctrines, we are to base what we believe on the truth of the Bible, the scriptures, not just man's ideas. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? (And) what communion has light with darkness?
Verse 15 – And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? It doesn't mean that we don't rub shoulders with everyone. It's just talking about we don't participate in the same customs.
Verse 16 – (And) what agreement has the temple of God...that's us... with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them (and) walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
Verse 17 – Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate,..." be holy, be set apart, don't go the ways and follow the customs of the world around us. We find that one of the lessons of the Days of Unleavened Bread is that we are to come out of this world, and we're to come out and live God's way, so God says be separate. do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you."
Verse 18 – "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord God Almighty." So what is God's desire with His church? God wants to develop a family relationship with us. That we be His family. It's called the kingdom of God, the family of God, and God wants to live forever with us.
Now you can run all the way to the end of the story and you get back to Revelation 21 and 22, and you find the new heavens and new earth. You find a new Jerusalem, and you find God Himself dwelling with man made immortal.
Now objects are holy if they come in contact with what is holy. So you and I have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. There is something divine, the holy nature of God that dwells inside of us. So therefore, we're called – saints, the holy ones of God, the set apart ones of God. The holy God dwells in His temple. Now I want you to notice in Hebrews 10:19 Hebrews 10:19Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
American King James Version×.
Hebrews 10:19 Hebrews 10:19Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
American King James Version×– Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, So through Christ's sacrifice, you and I can enter into the holiest. How?
Verse 20 – by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh. So when Christ was sacrificed, you might remember, the veil in the temple was ripped and the way was made for us to be able to approach God. You and I can go into the holy of holies. How? Well, through prayer, basically today. But we have access it was made possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ makes it possible for us, gives us the right and the privilege to come to the Father and to have access to that holy of holies and to be able to pray to him.
So, God has given us, I'll just refer to it, II Timothy 3:15, you might remember II Timothy 3:15 where He talked about Timothy that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures. Why are these holy? Because they are God breathed. That's why. They're God inspired. They were written by human beings, but God inspired their minds to write down what He wanted recorded for us so that we would have the words of eternal life. They reveal the mind of God. They reveal the way of God to us. The eternal truths of God, the holy righteous approach of God.
Romans 7:12 Romans 7:12Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
American King James Version×tells us the commandment is holy, just and good. So you find that God's commandments, His laws are holy. They radiate from God. They show how God does live and how you and I are to live today. The Sabbath is a part of that holy law. That's why it's a holy day. Also, again we have holy convocations, and we're meeting here on one of those. We go to the annual feast days. They are called holy convocations. They're holy because, again, God's part of them. We have a responsibility as God's people to set an example for people around the world.
Notice another definition of holiness taken from Bible Dictionary. Holiness is a chief attribute of God, a quality to be developed in His people. Holiness and the adjective – holy – occurs more than 900 times in the Bible. So this isn't a small topic. It's a big topic as far as the scriptures. The primary Old Testament word means to cut or to separate. It's like cutting a piece of meat. You separate it. Fundamentally, holiness is cutting off or separation from what is unclean and a consecration to what is pure, So in the past, we've done things that are unclean, that are wrong, that are evil, that are unrighteous. Now we are consecrated, we are dedicated to the things that are pure. In the Old Testament, holiness as applied to God, signifies His transience over creation and the moral perfection in His character.
God is holy in that He is utterly distinct from His creation and exercises sovereign majesty and power over it. In the Old Testament, God's holiness denotes that the Lord is separate from all this is evil and defiled. He character is the standard of absolute moral perfection.
So, you and I, if you'll remember over the years, have been told that we are supposed to be developing Godly character. You and I are to become like God.
The New Testament equivalent of the common Hebrew word for holiness signifies an inner state of freedom from moral fault and a relative harmony with the moral perfection of God. That we are striving to become like God. The word – God likeness – or Godliness captures the sense of the primary Greek word for holiness. You and I are to be Godly in our conduct. We are to ask ourselves always, what would God do? How would God think? How would God react to this?
In Ephesians 4. It's a very interesting scripture here, Ephesians 4:22 Ephesians 4:22That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
American King James Version×.
Ephesians 4:22 Ephesians 4:22That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
American King James Version×Let's read this and we'll come back and look at it. – that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
Verse 23 – and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
Verse 24 – and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Now in Verse 22 we are told that we are to put off concerning the old man or the former conduct. Old, in the sense of being worn out, decrepit, useless. The word – man – refers to the individual self. The expression the old man therefore used here refers to the unconverted person dominated by his depraved nature. Remember in Romans 6, you don't turn there, but in Verse 6, it talks about being baptized knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away and that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
So the old man, the old way is to be removed and we become a new man. Now part of being holy means that sin is no longer to dominate us. We all sin, but prior to being converted, the average person in the world who is not conscious of God's laws, not striving to obey it lives in sin, practices sin. Sin dominates them. They're not conscious of trying to live a different way of life. Now you and I do, but we still sin. We still have to repent on a daily basis, but it's not to dominate us.
Verse 22 - Now notice going on here, it says – your former conduct. That means the way we used to live, our manner of life. ...which grows corrupt...and the word here is the present participle, the idea is, which is growing corrupt. And you find it speaks of the progressive condition of corruption that characterizes the old way of life that we've lived in the past.
People don't realize it, but as they progress through life, they become more and more corrupt in what they do. It goes on to talk about the deceitful lust. And we realize that we have to overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes. A lust is a craving or a passionate desire, it can be good or evil. Here it's used as a wrong desire, an evil desire.
Verse 23 – Talks about ...being renewed in the spirit of your mind. The word – renewed – is talking about a renovation, an inward transformation, or reformation, and notice where it takes place not just in the mind but in the spirit of the mind. The spirit of the mind. You and I have a human spirit. God's Spirit unites with that spirit and the renewal takes place in the spirit, and you and I are to have God's very nature implanted within us. Remember in Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×, I'll just refer to this: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Verse 2 – (And do not) Don't be conformed to this world,...see, we're to be separate from this world, not conformed to its standards, its way of life...that you may prove what is...be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is (that) good and acceptable and perfect will of God. So you and I are to put on the new man as coming back to Ephesians 4:24 Ephesians 4:24And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×. We're told to ...put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
So the converted person is to become dominated by God's Spirit, or led by God's Spirit, is the way the Bible puts it, guided by God's Spirit, directed by God's Spirit. The new man... is created in (true) righteousness and true holiness. So, you and I are to be holy.
So we pattern ourselves, brethren, after God, after the example that God gives us. You know, by and large, many alleged or so called Christians today go about their lives just as they did before they believed in Christ. A lot of people claim to be Christian, and they start attending church, maybe, but they never change. The result has been a disconnect from what they profess and what they believe. And that's what Barna has shown.
Gandhi, quoting him again, said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." If you want people to change, you've got to be that change yourself. And then he said, "My life is my message." How we live. You know, that's the way. That should be a message to those around us.
So the Spirit of God has to guide us, direct us, be the driving force and power in our lives. Colossians 3:8 Colossians 3:8 But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
American King James Version×. You and I as well when we were baptized, and as we examine ourselves, I want you to notice, that the old man is to disappear, the new man is to be there. In this case, the old clothing is to be removed and the new is to be applied.
Colossians 3:8 Colossians 3:8 But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
American King James Version×- (But) now you yourselves are to put off (all) these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. These are things that we put off. And this shows us how to be holy. You stop doing these things.
Verse 9 – Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,...For us to be holy, the old man has to be put off.
Verse 10 – (And have) put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. So you and I are to put on the new man. You and I are to become spiritually a different person.
One last scripture, let's notice in Ephesians 5, 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×. We read this and we talk about marriage quite often, but it certainly is talking about the topic I'm discussing here today.
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×– We're told – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Verse 26 – that He might sanctify and cleanse her...so the church has been set apart by Christ; we've been sanctified and we've been cleansed... with the washing of the water by the word. And this is part of how we get cleansed, brethren. We take the word of God and we wash our minds with it. We put these thoughts into our minds so we can have a pure mind, a wholesome mind. We know how to live, how to react because we have the example here. And then He goes on to say: ...that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.
Verse 27 – 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. What God is striving to do with His church today is to work with us so that we become holy and without blemish and as we and I all rightly know, that's a life-long process, is it not?
It doesn't happen overnight. You're baptized – BOOM – you're not made perfect. You have to continue to grow, struggle. Brethren, God has called us to be holy. True holiness begins with God's actions. He calls us. He draws us. He initiates the contact with us. He opens our mind; He reveals Himself to us. We are set apart. We're called saints in the New Testament. We're set apart to be the holy ones of God. We're set apart for God's service today to do the work of God.
God gives us his Spirit. God dwells in us. We are to be morally pure, morally upright, blameless in heart, life, in virtue, in other words, we're to be holy. We're to put off the old man; we're to put on the new man. We're to be examples to everybody we come in contact with. God has cleaned us up. You know, our sins have been forgiven through Christ's sacrifice. We've buried the old man; we've risen to be a new man. We've put on new garments, new clothes. We've put on righteousness, and one day in the resurrection, we will be clothed with a spiritual body to go along with the change of heart and the change of mind.
See God is not changing the body right now. I still have the aches and pains I woke up with this morning, and we still have the same physical bodies. But there will come a time if we do what the Bible has called us to do to become holy as God is holy, to develop His character, His very nature that God will change our bodies also, and they will be spirit. So brethren, God desires to have that warm loving relationship with His family, and God is in the process of developing a divine family and God has called us to be holy, therefore let us strive to be holy before God.