I was pondering preaching on Holiness for some weeks now. A topic that pops up in conversation lately with pastoral leaders and friends, but there is varied thought on what it is today. It just happened to that last Monday evening, my family and I gathered with some other friends to listen to Ben & Brenda Peters.
Ben & Brenda Peters have been in ministry for a long time. They are in their 70’s and have made their mark in the prophetic ministry, and have hung out with the Heidi Bakers, and Bob Jones of the prophetic world and happen to know Kenosha and have ministered here before. So it was pretty awesome to be in contact with a couple who are very loving, humble, and sweet “giants in the faith” as they are seen, come in and minister to a small group of people. Truly prophetic apostolic ministers. And they even have two of their kids who work for Jesus Culture, and I thought that was cool. Brenda wants to set up Alyssa with one of her sons. Haha…… Well, now I am in trouble!
At the beginning of the meeting, Ben Peters spoke to us, and he dialoged about the believer and the need to be holy. It struck a chord in me because I have been thinking about this and what God expects from the true believer. I believe that in the church today; this isn’t a subject preached about much because it does involve our sinful nature and our relationship with God.
I wonder how the current church of Jesus Christ views it? How are we supposed to live it? Is there a line crossed between grace, and the law in an attempt to be holy? What is Holiness? What should our lives look like if we are holy by biblical standards. What are the standards. What are the parameters? I guess I view things in black and white, and is this subject black and white?
Years ago, when I was a kid, my view of holiness, was created by pulpit teaching, and from the adults that I was around. It was about being different, and set-apart, and not doing bad things. Those bad things were explained out. No booze, dancing, gambling, moral indecency, not dressing worldly, especially for women, and it was funny because smoking seemed to be okay, then it went to being bad, and it included general biblical rules you followed, no lying, gossip, stealing, adultery, etc., etc. It was in my mind, fairly black and white that to be holy was to not do bad stuff.
You accept Christ as your Savior and quit doing bad things. And we can see that over time, some rules left us, and new ones were added in. I found it to be a cultural thing.
There was no Grace in this thought process, and really this thinking was based on works. If I don’t do this, then I will be this, but will I be? Am I just following rules to get some kind of outcome. Now yes I should restrain or not get involved with some life activities, they can hurt me, but what is my motivation to end or not be involved in them? I wanted to be Holy, I believe many of us do, maybe, but how? Is it that easy of a process? Just be good.
So switching gears, lets first look at the Word of God on being holy. The first thing I think of is what God says first about Himself and the first verse I remember:
1 Peter 1:13- 15, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
The Apostle Peter here is referencing Leviticus 11:44, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And Leviticus 11:45 “For I am Jehovah who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
In Leviticus, God was speaking about taking things into us that was clean and not what He described as unclean. He was laying out the law. In Leviticus 19, being holy is referenced again. God speaking through Moses about the law.
Leviticus 19:1-2 “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, you shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
Leviticus 20:26 “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” Hmm separated, key word here.
So God is saying in the English, “Be Holy, like I am Holy.” God is perfect. So that kinda takes us right out of the equation right?
For some or all of us, our being holy like God is holy is not an attainable standard while we are on this earth in our eyes. Yes, when we die, we who have professed Christ and have lived for Him will be perfect again, but what about now? It seems like a high lofty unattainable standard for this life that we have.
Holy in the dictionary is: “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness, one who is devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity, having a divine quality.” Perfect.
What words are synonymous with Holy? There is a ton of them.
Divine, hallowed, humble, pure, righteous, spiritual, clean, faithful, good, innocent, moral, pure, upright, blessed, consecrated, devout, faultless, godly, god like, just, reverent, sanctified, spotless, unworldly, and virtuous.
The word Holy in Leviticus that I referenced is the Greek word, “qadosh” (kaw-dosh), which means sacred, like God, coming from the root “qadash”, that has meanings like the synonyms I said, to be clean, consecrated, hallowed, pure and sanctified.
A lofty ambition to attain looking through fleshly eyes.
But spiritually, Holy does mean to be set apart and be devoted to God and His purposes because we walk in a divine supernatural quality of life. Holiness is within reach of the believer.
When you look at what the writer in Leviticus is saying. He is saying: Become, or make it come to pass, Hayah in the Greek, the root word is havah, to breath, or breath into existence.
It also means to greatly desire it. In other words, God is saying, “greatly desire and become Holy like I am Holy”. He is saying that it is something that we can attain.
It is a process. Now I have had some “Grace” people say, “Oh when you accept Christ, you are Holy.” I looked at them and said, “I don’t think so. The Word does not imply that. I am redeemed by the Blood of lamb, I am Forgiven. My hope now is in Jesus. But as a new believer, I must follow Jesus. There must be a change of heart and mind through repentance.
I cannot live like the person I was. If there is no repentance in my heart and mind, there is no salvation. We are to repent and be saved and be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Acts 3:19, “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”
That’s the start. The process begins there. Then it is upon us to choose our walk.
Looking at my own life and my pursuit of holiness, again what was driving me to want it? Yes, God said to be Holy. But why be holy? For me it was a pursuit to know the heart of God and know Him, and that being a work of the Holy Spirit in me. The Holy Spirit moves us to know God.
It may sound goofy to you, but I want to know God like the High Priests did in the Old Testament, or like the Old Testament Prophets, or Moses. But reading the Bible, I saw process. These men who heard God did not act like other men.
When I read about the High Priests who entered into the Holy of Holies to commune with God, they had to be sanctified to enter to meet with God.
Sanctified means set apart, declared holy, free from sin, purified, and made acceptable.
So these mere men, had to go through a process to become clean to go before the Lord of Hosts. If they were unclean, they would die.
In Exodus God says,
“And also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.”
Now those were some high standards.
In Leviticus chapter 21, God speaks to Moses about these priests, They shall be holy to their God and cnot profane the name of their God. For they offer the Lord’s food offerings, dthe bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7 You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for gI, the Lord, who sanctify you, ham holy.”
It made an impact on me reading this in my thinking about God. He is so great. So high and lifted up as the Word says, and I’ve had a nonchalant relationship with Him. He is calling me to a higher place in Him, but how do I get there. This higher place, a call to holiness. A call really to be set apart and be devoted to God for His purposes.
But Praise be to God that we have Grace through Jesus Christ. By grace we have been saved though our belief in the truth.
1 Corinthians 6:11, says “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” Amen!
2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God chose us as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief and truth.”
So because of Jesus and the sanctifying Holy Spirit, we can come before a Holy God. The veil was torn. So now I can stand, we can now stand before God, face to face. So it is an awesome thing that I a stained man can stand before a Holy God. I can speak directly to Him, amen, but even though I could speak, the drive to move toward holiness was the question.
For me it was to come to a place of purity of heart. Come to a place where inside of me, I felt whole in the beloved, where I should not strive, because some of us strive. So I had to change my mind, my thinking, by the Word of God. I had to renew my mind. It is not by works I am saved. It is not by works for me to be holy.
The other issue was my sin. My sin keeps me from God. God wants my obedience. My obedience cannot be by works. Thanks be to God for confession and repentance, but what was my true motive behind that?
In reality, when it came down to it, I confess I was practicing religion to have a sense of holiness and not viewing the relationship that I should have been having with the Father.
You see my heart should have been driving me to be what my Father in Heaven wants me to be, and not following some system that those in the church created, the does and don’ts I stated at the beginning of my message. No striving, or checking off a day that I purposely tried to do no wrong that day in my eyes.
When I have relationship, when I have been in the presence of God, His heart moves me into obedience. Yes, obedience, that word that we think sometimes is hard to attain. But God’s heart when it is wrapped around ours, gives us a different perspective about how we live our life. So abstaining from those things that could harm us in one shape or form, is easy when we see through the eyes of God that we don’t need to go there anymore, or we don’t need things in our lives, or let things control us.
Holiness comes because of a heart change toward the Father. It’s about our disposition. If we want to know God, and we want to be in covenant with Him, we move ourselves into His corner.
Really it is about allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.
We position ourselves to be close to God. It is an act of submission toward Him. God sees our heart and our desires, He sees the repentant heart that comes from a renewed mind.
It is an act of will to come to the Father, but as we come into His presence, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps us in the beloved. That keeps us connected into the Father that moves our heart to righteousness. Holiness comes from a right relationship with God.
It is easy then to walk sanctified, free from sin, living in purity of heart. When our enemy throws stuff at us to trip us up, the truth of our relationship with God, defends our position with Him, and the enemy ends up shooting blanks. What come out of this, is that we are truly overcomers, and the result is supernatural peace because we now know in our heart, mind, and soul, that we have been totally captured by the heart of God, and we are what He wants us to be.
We are in the beloved. We are under the wings of God you can say, and in the will of the Father. So nothing can separate us from His love, nor His righteousness that is placed upon us. We are fully sanctified. We are Holy like the Lord. Yes, we mess up, but forgiveness is a breath away, and we go back under the wings.
To move into holiness only takes us as believers, sons and daughters of God to make a choice to move into the presence of God. Spend time with Him. To be raptured into His love that He wants to pour out on us. That is His glory to us. When we are in that secret place, we are whole, and protected, and at peace having full confidence that we can do anything through Christ Jesus, because we can, and when God looks at us, because of Jesus, we are like the High Priests that stood before Him in the Holy of Holies. Pure, Sanctified and Righteous before Him. The Sons and Daughters of God He meant us to be. Then our works for Him, our ministry, will move to new heights, and we will truly see heaven pulled down in front of us and see lives changed because God’s glory will surround us. Amen!