Summary: The New Testament calls upon Christians to be holy, as God is holy. Is that even possible? Does a single sin nullify our holiness irrevocably? What does the phrase mean, and how are we to respond?
BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY
Note: I have a presentation in PowerPoint 10 to go with the following sermon. If you are interested in the PowerPoint file I will send it directly, along with the sermon text in a Word 10 docx file with cues for slide changes and animations. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Be Holy for I am Holy Powerpoint.
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” - So called the seraphim standing above the throne of God when Isaiah was called to duty as a prophet.
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" – so declared the four living creatures around the throne of God, as John visited the scene of God’s throne in heaven.
The escarpment on the screen is called the Rock of Ages.
It is so named because of an event said to have occurred at that place in 1763, just over 250 years ago.
A young preacher, Augustus Toplady, was walking in Burrington Combe, a gorge in Somerset County, England, to a nearby town for an engagement.
Caught in a sudden, severe storm, he took shelter in a fissure in this escarpment.
Waiting there for the storm to subside, he reflected on the soul’s refuge from the devastation of sin in Jesus’ wounded side.
He noticed a playing card on the ground. Though it was considered an instrument of evil, he picked it up, took out a pencil and began to write his thoughts:
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee.
Four years would pass before the finished poem was published, and almost 70 years before it was put to the melody we use, but the hymn became one of the best known and loved hymns in the English language, and has remained so for 2 ½ centuries.
Toplady was 23 when he wrote these lines. In poor health all his life, he died at 38.
The expression “Rock of ages” is not found in the Bible, but in the intervening years, many songs have picked up the visualization of the cleft rock as a refuge for the soul.
I. Be Holy
If asked to choose one word that describes yourself, I doubt if anyone would choose the word “holy.”
Lev 11:45 – “I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."
1 Pet 1:14-16 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’"
“Be holy, for I am holy” says the command.
For us to be holy is to be God-like (and that’s a heady thing).
One may say, “I could never be holy.”
“That’s just not the way I’m made”
May I remind us in whose image we are made?
We are made in the very image of God himself.
We are built specifically for holiness. That is our design.
To be less than holy, as God is holy, is to fall short of what you and I are built for.
If we are not holy, we’re like a well with no water, a song without music.
II. So what does God expect of us?
Is it even possible for you and me to be holy at all – in any way, to any degree?