Summary: What is there to holiness that is so special?
i. I wonder if I can conduct a quick quiz this morning. Can everyone grab a pencil or pen and jot down on the top line on your sermon guide, three or four things that are distinctive about yourself.
1. What words would others use to describe you?
ii. I wonder now, how many of you included the word “holy” or “godly” in your list?
iii. I bet few or none of you have because most of us wouldn’t ever describe ourselves as “holy.”
iv. I believe this is because few of us have a biblical understanding of holiness.
v. Much of what we hold to about holiness has been learned from our Sunday School classes, hearsay, and assumptions we have absorbed from the world around us.
II. Views of Holiness
a. If we asked people on the street to describe a holy person, it is likely that we would get some of these responses:
i. Someone who hides their troubles, carries a big bible and tells other people what not to do.
ii. A holy person is someone who is very religious.
iii. To be holy is to live in the valley of “no.”
iv. Holiness is to live in the town of Pleasantville, where there is no color. Perhaps you remember that movie…it was a strong attack on traditional values.
v. Holiness is the opposite of fun!
b. God created us for Holiness not Happiness.
i. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “How little people know who think holiness is dull.”
ii. I was recently emailed a request from a member of our church to check out a popular self-help speaker. When I did, I discovered a great deal of mushy teachings by this person, including a quote that struck me wrong. It said, “God is happy when His children are happy.”
iii. This quotation made it sound as if somehow God created mankind to discover happiness and God was here to guarantee it. The highest goal of mankind, according to this teacher, is to be happy.
iv. My bible says something else. My bible says that mankind can never be happy if he isn’t holy. Holiness is the only thing that guarantees happiness.
v. Could it be that when you meet someone who is genuinely holy, he or she is one of the few people who are genuinely happy?
vi. Oswald Chambers said, “The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. God is not an eternal blessing machine for men. He did not come to save me out of pity; He came to save me because He had created them to be holy.”
c. Even Christians have trouble agreeing on what Holiness is.
i. Different denominations say different things about it, how it is attained, and what its purpose is.
ii. The bible has so much to say about holiness that it is nearly impossible to do a subject like this justice in just a short sermon. I will lay the groundwork for it, and God willing, we may continue this subject next week.
a. The clearest illustration of holiness is evident in a passage from Exodus 3:3-5, uncovered in the drama of the burning bush:
i. So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up." When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
ii. How could the ground be holy? Why did God declare the ground holy? Had the sand changed in its character? Could a scientist have viewed that sand and seen a difference between it and the sand that wasn’t holy?
iii. Holy means separation or otherness.
1. The ground had become holy because God had separated it as the unique place where he would reveal Himself to Moses. Had God chosen another place, it would have been equally holy.
2. We can further illustrate this with a hypothetical example: Imagine a Levitical priest during the temple sacrifices coming home at the end of a hard day and saying to his wife…”My sacrificial knife is dull. I am going to have to take one of our personal collection to work with me tomorrow.”
a. The instant that the priest had dedicated that knife to the Lord’s service, the unholy, or “common” knife would have become a holy knife.
b. This is because holiness can describe “separation” in a person’s mind regarding any object. As he sees it no longer as common or ordinary, but especially dedicated or separated to God, it becomes holy in a biblical sense of the word.