Summary: Know this - the formation of true holiness is a foundational part of preparing to prosper, of living in a way to enjoy God’s blessings. The Word says, “Without holiness, no one will see (that is, know and live close to) the Lord!”
“God loves to bless His children!” That is the declaration of the Bible, a promise that we can live by. In this series of messages, my aim has been to teach how we position ourselves to stand in the flow of God’s blessing, to live in a way that is prosperous, not so much in financial terms, but in the enjoyment of a life rich in purpose and meaning.
Last Sunday, I spoke about the importance of living as a spiritual person, prepared to ‘go deep’ in godly matters, moving away from living for the stuff of this temporary realm. Baseline for spirituality is a new birth, born as a child of God by the Spirit. Alive to the Lord, we set our sights on eternity and live for God.
Holiness can be a mysterious or frightening word to us. It is loaded with all kinds of meaning.
1. My early experience of Christianity was in a ‘holiness’ setting.
Intended or not those who discipled me led me to think that holiness was a set of rules for life, mostly about what I did not do. Christians did not touch alcohol, did not use tobacco products, didn’t even say the word, ‘sex,’ didn’t listen to popular music (at least around their parents), didn’t dress in a ‘worldly’ manner.... And if you did any of those things, God would know and punish you. Holiness was not a positive subject in any way. It was about “DON’T” and “PUNISHMENT.” I was wrong!1
The only people I thought could possibly be holy were those who were really old, cause I figured they didn’t want to do anything fun anymore! Did you catch what I just implied? That’s right. Holiness, as I understood it, was about killing any sense of fun and/or joy in life.
2. For some here today, the idea of ‘holiness’ is not about moral codes. Rather it is about priests in robes and or nuns in habit.
It is about religious rituals you didn’t really understand. “His Holiness” lives in Rome in the Vatican, and holiness, to you, is about “church” stuff, but it has no connection to the world you lived in.
Still others here today just don’t get any of this because to you ‘holiness’ is an undefined concept.
I am going to be talking about HOLINESS and my aim today is to help you
to define holiness,
to understand the benefit of being holy, and
to show you how to start to experience the formation of a holy character.
Know this - the formation of true holiness is a foundational part of preparing to prosper, of living in a way to
enjoy God’s blessings.
The Word says, “Without holiness, no one will see (that is, know and live close to) the Lord!”
TEXT - 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 7:1
1. What is holiness?
Holiness is best understood by thinking about ownership!
It is about belonging to God, not the sense of oppression, but like a husband and wife belong exclusively to each other. (Walk down to stand near Bev)
On the ring finger of my left hand is a gold band, set with small diamonds, that is well-worn after 32 years! It makes me a marked man. That little symbol declares that I am married, that my affections belong exclusively to Bev. The ring never comes off for it is a constant reminder of the vows we exchanged - to blend our lives in an interdependent relationship. I am not so naive as to believe that simply wearing a gold band on my finger make me a married man, nor is that ring a guarantee of the ‘holiness’ of my marriage vows! My wedding band is a symbol of my status as a married man, but fidelity to my wife comes from thinking of myself as a married man, keeping my eyes and my thoughts, as well as my body, faithful to Bev.
I have never thought of the exclusiveness of my marriage vows as a negative! The exclusivity of our relationship is one of the aspects that makes our marriage fulfilling and joyful. I am not one of those men who bemoans the ‘loss of freedom’ that supposedly accompanies marriage. My marriage is a place of safety, security, acceptance, and intimacy. Then, too, I realize that marriage provides me many opportunities to serve, to learn to forget myself, and to submit to another for her benefit. It is a place to grow up spiritually!
I am owned by Bev, she is owned by me - but neither of us feels enslaved. Our mutual commitment provides security. Our lives are connected in such a way that "me" is replaced by "we;" every decision made to benefit the "Jerry-Bev" unity that was created when we pledged ourselves to live in holy matrimony 32 years ago!