Summary: A look at what Holiness isn’t and what Holiness is.
You ever feel like you’ve just received an impossible mission? A goal that is just too great, a target that’s just too far away. I would suspect that when the people of Israel heard the prophet Isaiah make the proclamation that Mike read this morning that is how they felt. It’s one thing to be called a chosen people, or a special people, even a redeemed people, but what is this “Holy People” thing that Isaiah is speaking of? Listen again to the prophet’s words “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Saviour is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’ They will be called the Holy People and the People Redeemed by the Lord.” A Holy People, the People Redeemed by the Lord. That’s pretty heavy isn’t it.
And for all you who think, “Well yeah but that was the Israelites.” Listen to what Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:15-16 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.” That’s quite a statement isn’t it, you must be holy in everything you do. Why? Because you are a Holy People, the People Redeemed by the Lord. And it’s gets even heavier because the word that Peter uses here for holy is a Greek word. Now I was probably the dumbest person in the world but when I first became a believer, I thought the Bible had been written in English. Duhh. But it had actually been written in Greek, at least the New Testament, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. And the Greek word that Peter used here is Hagios and it means, “Sacred, (physically pure, morally blameless and religiously and ceremonially consecrated.) What do you think? Pretty accurate description of you? No?
In 2004 too many Christians think that holiness is just for certain people, and they would certainly never think of themselves as a Holy People. Instead they figure that holiness is for the Super Saints or else it comes with age. When I was in Bible College I had a theology professor by the name of Bruce Bridgeo, a saint of a man confirmed by the fact that his mother-in-law lived with them. Now Rev. Bridgeo’s mother-in-law’s name was Grammy Hayward and she was a thousand years old. Well I was nineteen and she looked a thousand years old. And anyone who says there’s no such thing as Christian perfection had never met Grammy Hayward. And we think “When I’m a thousand years old then I’ll be holy too.” But the word of God does not say that old people shall be called a Holy People and It doesn’t say Super Saints will be called a Holy People, instead It says that those who have been redeemed will be called a Holy People. And if’n you’re a Christian then you have been redeemed and you can figure out the rest of it for yourself.
God could have personalized it by saying, Denn you must be holy because I am holy, or Mike you must be holy because I am holy, or Karen you must be holy because I am holy. You, each of you who make up Bedford Community Church are to be holy people.
Do you remember what Peter said “But now you must be holy in everything you do,” Not some of what you do, not part of what you do, not most of what you do, not what you do on Sunday mornings between 10:30 and 11:30. The Bible the word of God says “be holy in everything you do.” In what you do with your family, what you do with your business, what you do for recreation and what you do in your spiritual life.
Now in 2004 we try not to read it that way, most preachers won’t preach it that way and most of us wouldn’t have written it that way. Most of us would have been a lot more comfortable if Peter had of written; be mediocre in everything you do or be average in everything you do or try to do your best in everything you do. And if Isaiah had of written and they shall be an ordinary people. But it wasn’t written that way because that isn’t what God wanted us to do or be.
The book of Isaiah is the 23rd book of the Bible and the author is identified as Isaiah the son of Amoz. The book was written around 700 B.C. and the purpose for writing the book? Well, Isaiah focuses on repentance and salvation for the entire nation of Israel and their resulting holiness.
And that call for Holiness extends to his people today and if God had of meant that holiness was a nice touch but only if you wanted to go that route then he wouldn’t have included Hebrews 12:14 Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Now that’s kind of in your face isn’t it? For those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Now I know that you are sitting there thinking “Well he doesn’t mean that.” Ok, so what does he mean?