"Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Peter 1.16)
Holiness. What do think of when you hear the word "holiness"?
Women in dresses, conservatively dressed, little or no jewelry? List no’s: no movie theatres; no dancing, etc.
Last week we talked about “Boundaries.” God places boundaries that are “good and pleasant,” so that we prosper, so that we can be content, so that we can live a full life. But we have to trust his boundaries.
Several weeks ago, on Pentecost Sunday, we talked about the symbol of fire as the Holy Spirit looked like fire and came to rest on those gathered together. We talked about that fire being a fiery zeal leading them to be bold witnesses of the Gospel and for the Lord and a consuming fire that refines or burns away those things the impurities of our lives or those things that stand between us and God.
Holiness is too often misunderstood as a list that someone sometime drew up and some churches enforce. If you are Christian you are going to look a particular way. Mostly this comes from an interpretation of “be not conformed to the world” (Romans 12.2).
Conservative Amish and Mennonite sects live by that rule. Clothing has always been a big part of that. Recently there was an article in the Huntingdon Daily News regarding a website that sold “plain clothes.” Website for Amish!!!
Holiness is far more than this and it boils down to one verse; one/two command: Read Luke 10.25-27.
Holiness is loving God and loving neighbor. Holiness is loving God with all of our being. Seeking to love God more than anything or anyone.
Read Matthew 19.16-22. This story always makes my heart sad. I always wonder how could anyone turn and walk away from God and here is God in human flesh, and this young man just turns and walks away. The price of following Christ was just too much. This young man knew God’s Word. He probably like all good Jewish boys sat under a Rabbi and studied the laws and commands of Scriptures. He had all the right answers. But it wasn’t about giving the right intellectual answer; it was about his heart.
This young man yearned for something more. There was something missing in his life. He sought Jesus out; he approached Jesus. He’s keeping the commands, but says, “What do I still lack?”
“We who see ourselves as lacking are the most hopeful of people.” (Jim and Molly Davis Scott)
Perfect. If you want to be holy. If you want to go to the next step with me, this is what you need to do. Holiness is about growing. Holiness is about becoming more and more in the image of Christ. It’s about having the heart of God. Loving the things that God loves.
The young man decides he’d rather live with that empty feeling in his life than become more like Christ. He wasn’t willing to take the next step of transformation.
Holiness is not about law. It’s not about a manmade list of things we must do or must not do. It is a matter of the heart. It is God guiding each of us in our walk, knowing where each of us is and guiding us according to where we are.
“God doesn’t care where we are; as long as we are on the journey.”
God is involved. It is both God and us that walk this road. None of us are able to make the right decisions, none are willing to pay the cost of discipleship, without God empowering us to do so.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." (2 Peter 3.18)
2 Thessalonians 2.14; Romans 5.5; Matthew 10.39; 16.25
“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” (Bruce Barton)
"The Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 15.13)
As you have seen and heard God’s Word, go forth as witnesses of Jesus Christ, living lives that proclaim his presence in you. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, go forth with the Spirit’s blessing. Amen.