Summary: Sermon #5 Final sermon in Holiness series. This sermon looks at the question "What does a holy person look like"?
Habits of the Holy
It’s May again. Time for our annual reports. Every year, we are asked by our denomination to report the “number of people sanctified this year through local church ministries.” What does that mean?
For instance, shall we count how many prayed, or how many meant it? It’s a fair question these days.
And how do we know who meant it? Shall we measure the intensity of the seeker at the altar? Or the radical change to his or her lifestyle a year later?
But how do we measure intensity?
And what if there are radical changes, but we never saw him repent? Does this count?
Or worse, what if a person prayed and didn’t change much at all? Shall we count that? Or shall we cross him off the list before we report him in May?
And what if we have already reported him? Do we start next year with one in the hole? Or do we add a new category called: “total number of sanctified who petered out?” - Steve Deneff
Let’s face it. When we count the number of those saved or sanctified for annual reports, we are really counting good intentions. Some believe that if we can know just by counting them, as if adding them to a report for Assembly will somehow mean that our pen controls the pen to the Lamb’s Book of Life.
In the past, seekers sought sanctification until, one day, they “prayed through” with the people in the church. From this point forward, they were treated as sanctified, and added in the annual report. Sometimes, their lifestyle didn’t amount to the BIC in on the paper.
So how do we know? Is there any evidence that determines whether we are sanctified or not? What are the habits of the holy? Is there a way?
Yes there is. Today we will look at the points, and examine our lives. Paul would tell the folks in Corinth to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
1. Is My Conscience Clear or Exhausted?
We need to be careful with this one because both conditions feel the same. “Clear” means there is no rub off the good against the evil. “Exhausted” means there is a callus where the rub has been going on for years.
In a few weeks, I’ll donate blood again. One of the first tests that the nurses do, in case you have never donated blood before, is they check your iron by pricking your finger. I always give them the fingers on my left hand because of the calluses I have from playing the guitar. It doesn’t hurt as much as it does in my right hand fingers.
Daniel Steele, a holiness theologian from the 19th Century, taught that a man’s conscience has three capacities: 1) to discriminate between good and evil; 2) to supply him with an impulse to do what is right; and 3) to approve or disapprove his behaviour. He also pointed out that a new believer only has a slightly improved sense of the first capacity, but a heightened sense of the second and third capacity. The pure hear of completely surrendered person helps in all three, we just need to listen to our conscience.
The Living Bible says “a man’s conscience is the Lord’s searchlight, exposing his hidden motives” (Proverbs 20:27). It is wise, then, for a person to listen to their conscience.
So is there any friction against the will of God within me? That is the question. There are some that are afraid to ask it, for fear it may turn up things that compromise their claim to holiness.
2. Is My Religion an Obsession or a Hobby?
We must not confuse holy passion with obsessive compulsion. The later is largely a product of our culture. Holiness is not.
Holiness is not, however, the passion to reform society. It is not the hunger to know more about God. It is not the vision to build a great church for God, or even win souls. It is not a passion to express the eternal truths of God. A person may have all of these, but holiness is the passion to take upon himself the very image of God.
The writer of Hebrews called this passion “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV). This is the one element that pushes us right to the edge. It makes us abnormal in a society where easy does it; where wisdom is measured in terms of moderation and anything more is considered extreme, or even insane. But if we truly desire to live the life of being holy men and women, and not just to talk about it, we will find ourselves marginalized by the world around us. We will be out of step with the world, but perfectly in line with Heaven.