Intro to Holiness

* Disclaimer: The tone for part 1 is exaggerated sarcasm. The point is not to be insulting but to show the discrepancy between what is commonly accepted by the Christian community and what the scriptures actually say. This is simply a literary device to hopefully make the post more engaging and the distinction more apparent. It is intended to be mildly humorous, but not truly demeaning or condescending. 

The Facebook theologians represent a compilation of various arguments that I have seen posted in some form by different people when righteousness is discussed. When any post is made exhorting holiness, the #judgenot mafia comes out in full force. This post is not a rebuttal to any two specific persons, but instead a critique of a mindset and dogma that is prevalent. 

Part 1: Defining Holiness Awards - Excerpts from the Book… and the Facebook.

Facebook Theologian #1: “Holiness is not something that you do...blah, blah, blah, venom, blah, blah. You are all hypocrites anyway, blah, blah. I’m smug er I mean liberated now, blah, blah, culturally relevant, blah, blah, blah. ”

Facebook Theologian #2: “Holiness preaching is shame based religion. Our Heavenly Father loves us for who we are, not what we do. I’ll admit I actually blah, blah, blah all the time. It’s wrong, but I’m not ashamed, and you don’t have a right to judge me. There is one judge and He is my Father and loves me in spite of my rebellion and sins. ”

Apostle Peter : As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. (1 Peter 1:14-17)

Master of Ceremonies: So I’ve read each opinion and after a lengthy period of consideration, I think I’m going to have to go with Option #3, the Apostle Peter. This man not only has the keys to the kingdom, but he also has the right answer! I know this isn’t quite as big as that whole “Rock I’ll build my church on” revelation moment, but it must still feel great. Congratulations on winning the Sincere Servant Award!

Theo #1, I’ll call you that for short and to keep your identity anonymous, it all sounded good. You really had me going until your theology completely contradicted with the Word. You know, back around the very first thing that you said. Holiness is something that we do. Our CONDUCT must be holy. Also, keep the positive attitude toward sinners, but try to lighten up on the bitterness towards saints that are sincerely attempting to live righteously. They could use a little love too you know. Anyway, you get the Greasy Grace Award!

Theo #2, I feel what you are saying.  You do not blush! I see how you are. Nobody can talk you in to submitting to anything. Be strong. Do it your own way. No shame in your game. That is Bible, you know - the can’t blush, no shame thing. You call it a contemporary Christian. The Word called it backslidden. Oh well, who has time for semantics when you’re busy building your own theology? I would advise that you find time for a quick paternity test though. Even if the judge was your Father, He doesn’t show favoritism. Weren’t you listening to Pete? Here is your Delusional Doctrine Award!

Part 2: Servants

There aren’t really awards given, on earth anyway, for holiness. There is no Sincere Servant Award, but there really are sincere servants. Their lives really do matter to the Master.

Matthew 22:36-39 (KJV)

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The Master let us know that His expectation is that we be love servants. We are to love God with everything in us and love other people as much as we love our selves.

Many people look at holiness strictly through the lens of legalism. They are quick to label others who are simply diligent about holiness, as the scripture exhorts, as legalistic. They demand proof that their disregard for commandments, principles, and Godly traditions will send them to hell. The cry is always much the same; “Show me that my obedience to this standard is a heaven or hell issue.” They treat sacred things as common. They make every effort to get by with as little commitment, sacrifice, and cross as they can. It’s almost like paying taxes. What is the least that I must do? Legally, what is the least required to met my obligation? Legally, what is essential to avoid punishment? Legally, legally, legally!!! Now who is the legalistic? Surely it isn’t those looking for a minimum set of absolute rules. Or is it?

Don’t ask it because I won’t answer it. The heaven or hell question is not the right question. At least, it isn’t the right question when it comes to our service. It is entirely wrong to limit our discussion to just that. We are not just talking about ordinary service from compulsory servants because this is more than that. Our actions should be motivated by a heart full of love and appreciation.  

Luke 17:10 (NIV)

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

A love servant can never be satisfied by simply doing his duty. A love servant strives to please the Master in every way.

Part 3: Dedication and Sanctification

Matthew 6:24 (KJV)

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other

Jesus was very clear that there are expectations of His holy servants. Primarily, they are to serve Him and Him alone. A beautiful illustration of this is seen in the instructions for the temple vessels. They were called the holy vessels of God. What made them holy? First, they were used for the service of the Lord. Secondly, they were restricted from being used for anything else. They were first dedicated (given) to Him and then sanctified (separated from all other uses). Dedication and sanctification result in holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

that you put off , concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Putting off the former conduct, the old man, and deceitful lusts = sanctification

Putting on the new man created according to God in righteousness and holiness = dedication

This post is long so let’s break it up a bit. Instead of me identifying which elements are sanctification and which are dedication, read the following scripture concerning the will of God and find them yourself.

Romans 12:1-2

12 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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Don’t give up. They are there…and all throughout the Bible. Here’s your homework: when you are doing your daily reading be watching for passages to include both dedication and sanctification. This is a recurring theme of a Holy God.

Part 4: Body and Soul

2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

(Yes, I know that you can find sanctification and dedication in this passage. I’m proud of you. I really am, but I want to discuss a different “pairing” of holiness.) We are to perfect holiness. How do we perfect it? By cleansing ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Holiness requires us to dedicate and sanctify (separate) ourselves both inwardly and physically.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Now I know what you are thinking. This can’t be right. God looks on the inside and man looks on the outside. In actuality, nothing is hid from God. While it is true that He is not limited like a man to only see the body, He actually sees both inward and outward. He is very aware of the deeds done in this body.

Also, remember as love servants we not only are concerned with our God but also our neighbor. We are God’s ambassadors. While they can’t see our hearts, the evidence is manifest bodily by our speech, actions, dress, and attitudes.

Part 5: The test

How can we know if we have properly dedicated and sanctified our lives? Is there a litmus test? Are we the love servant that we should be?

James 4:4

4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1 John 2:15-16

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

We must be careful to avoid anything that appeals to the lust of our flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This is the world. Loving or even getting friendly with this unholy trinity is adultery towards God.

Part 6: The teachers

Everyone struggles to be pure in thought and deed. The Lord did not give us a big command, “Be Holy” without giving up practical guides to help us obey His direct commands and the principles of His Word.

a. Scripture

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

b. Ministry

Ephesians 4:11-13

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

c. Holy Ghost

John 16:7-8

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Part 7: The Impact

Holiness is essential in our relationships with God, however, as mentioned earlier, it is also essential if we are to have the proper relationship with the lost world around us. This is difficult, but God expects us to be different. We are to be transformed instead of conformed.

Philippians 2:15

15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

In a perverse generation we must be blameless. In a dark world, we must shine as lights. Many Christians believe that Christ is the light of the world. Christ believes that we are the lights of the world.

John 9:5

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Notice that Jesus’s statement was conditional. Christ was a holy light as long as he was in the world. Now we are to be holy lights. Our lifestyle should contradict the accepted norms and values of this wicked generation as much as light contradicts darkness. We will not appeal to them by becoming like them. Sinners need to see that the church is different. The church is holy unto the Lord.

Acts 26:18

18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

This commission given to Paul is true for all of us. We are to turn the world from darkness to light, from Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness. Much of what we do is intended to send a clear message to the world regarding the will of God.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3

2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

The Word of God is powerful. It has the power to convince and convict. Its impact is limited in the life of the lost because they never read it. It never sparks faith because they don’t hear it. It is no coincidence that the major revivals in the history of Christianity, including modern Pentecost, were sparked by a desire for holiness. If the church will be holy and separate, the world can’t help but read the epistle of our lives.

We must be holy because He is holy. The only way that they will see a holy God is in His dedicated and sanctified, holy church.

Hebrews 12:14

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: