Summary: An invitation to holy living
1. If God told you this morning that He was going to give you a lot of money, would you believe it? Would you expect it? Would you be waiting for it? Or would you tell Him, don’t bother, I like living without?
2. Or what if God told you He was going to give you a new car? Would you believe Him? Would you tell Him not to waste His time? Or if God promised you a brand new home? Would you take Him at His word and wait for the keys? Would you begin to plan the move and prepare for the time when you would no longer be in your old home? Or would you say, “never mind, I don’t want a nicer house?”
3. If God promised you these sorts of things, would you believe Him? Would you trust Him to be telling the truth?
4. But here’s another question, if we believe God would deliver, if He promised these things to us, if people can believe it, then why is it so many people struggle to believe when God says, “I want to make you holy” and instead seem to think that God is teasing, or that He can’t do what He says He will do? Or even yet, say, “I don’t want that. Don’t bother making me holy.”
5. If we are willing to accept so many other gifts from God that will make this world better, lots of money, a new house, new cars, why is it we seem so reluctant to refuse the one gift that not only makes this world better but helps us live better prepared for the world to come?
6. Some reasons this could be true is because we have a wrong focus. We look around and we talk to people and from what we see, it would seem that most people don’t have any kind of experience like this. People believe they are Christian but sin is still a part of their lives, they still fall on a regular basis. At the same time, we see people in nice cars, nice homes, living pretty well, and we think and believe these things come from God. And sometimes they do, but comparing ourselves to others is a wrong focus.
7. Second, we have a wrong understanding. We don’t know what will happen to us so we are sometimes reluctant. Illustration: Letter written about the Baptist Church.
8. There is only one way to deal with a wrong focus and a wrong understanding or whatever it is that holds us back from seeking this gift from God. The Word of God. One passage that will help us is found in Ephesians 4.20-24 where Paul writes to the church in Ephesus about holiness. In chapter 4.20-24, Paul wrote, [read text].
9. Paul calls the church to “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” In other words, quit acting like you used to act. And the fact that Paul says it like this can lead us to believe that the work is ours, and up to us. However, we need to understand the way in which we work alongside of the Holy Spirit. The work of holiness is the job of the Holy Spirit which we receive by faith. Yet, there we participate in the work as well. Our hearts must be in alignment or in agreement with the Holy Spirit. Our hearts must be open to listening to the work of the Holy Spirit.
10. And as we remain open to the Spirit, He can change us as Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians, “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” Ladies, in the middle of your clothes washer, there is a piece that sits there. You know what it’s called, it’s the agitator. And when dirty clothes are put into the washing machine, soap is added, then water, at some point in the process, the agitator begins to shake and it agitates the dirt and mud from the clothes. It helps in the process of making the clothes clean. They went in dirty, but the agitator helps to make the clothes clean. And the Holy Spirit works that way within us as well. We come with our dirt and junk and filth, and the Holy Spirit convicts, and guides, and directs, and He helps us to stay clean.
11. And this last verse tells us that we are changed to look like God. We get to put on the new self, and this new self is created to be like God. Paul even uses the words, “true righteousness and holiness”. This is the relationship we were intended to have from the beginning. To walk with God, not as an enemy, or as someone to be feared, but as a friend. God possesses these characteristics, true righteousness and holiness, and he asks us to partake in these characteristics as well. He allows us to be holy. He allows us to be righteous. He lives within us to make this a reality for each and every one of us.