Summary: Sermon describes basic Christian disciplines, and how they should be done.
IS YOUR LIFE HOLY?
Have you ever met someone who made you say, “The only thing holy about him is his socks!” Were you looking in the mirror at the time? It is so easy to see the faults in others. Yet, the saying of our school teachers still rings true: Whenever you point the finger at others there are four others pointing back at you.
The Apostle Paul gives strong instruction in 1 Thessalonians 4:7: FOR GOD DID NOT CALL US TO BE IMPURE, BUT TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE. God expects us to live holy, but how do we do it? We learn to live holy the way we learn anything–by being around it. Holy living is the product of being close to the holy God.
Jesus set a beautiful example for living holy by staying close to God. Before Jesus began his ministry, what did He do? He spent 40 days on a fasting retreat, alone with God, in the desert. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, what did he do? He spoke with God–giving him glory in advance. Before Jesus faced imprisonment, crucifixion and death, what did He do? He prayed earnestly to God, asking for a way of escape, or strength for the ordeal. Before Jesus breathed his last breath, what did He do? He prayed to God–Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
Not only did Jesus set the example, he explained what we should do. The command of Jesus was that we should pray at least daily. The model prayer he taught us says, “Give us this day our DAILY bread,” The Apostle Paul explained further that prayer is a life style. He said that we should pray without ceasing. Probably one of the greatest apostles of our day is neither an American, nor even a Westerner. Dr. Cho prays three hours every day when he is in his home country of Korea. When he travels to Japan he says the spiritual darkness there requires that he pray five hours. Perhaps in America it is even more! And, do you not believe that if he were at FDC-Miami he would indeed “pray without ceasing?”
Why can we expect that our lives will become holy if we will spend time with a holy God? Scripture describes the exact holy behavior that will come out of such living. Galations 5:22-23 proclaims: BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW.
Not only must we stay close to a holy God to learn holy living, we must practice holy living. Holy living is the product of DOING holy deeds. We have already mentioned prayer. Fasting is also powerful. Note that Jesus never argued THAT we should fast. In Matthew 6:16 He said: WHEN YOU FAST, DO NOT LOOK SOMBER AS THE HYPOCRITES DO.
Helping the helpless. Recall Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan. The community leaders have no time for their fellow Jew in trouble. The religious leaders are also too busy. Ultimately, it is a Samaritan–despised by the Jews–who takes the time to help the helpless. How sad it would be if one of our Christian brothers on the unit was depressed and no other Christian bothered to consol him. Finally, someone of another religion took care of him. Let it not be! Also, do not only help those you think need it more than you do. Sometimes by helping people with seemingly small problems, you win great favor from God. In Mark 9:41 Jesus said: I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, ANYONE WHO GIVES YOU A CUP OF WATER IN MY NAME BECAUSE YOU BELONG TO CHRIST WILL CERTAINLY NOT LOSE HIS REWARD.
The next area of holiness is a subject of some controversy. Scripture supports the principle of tithing. However, money always brings division. It is one of Satan’s best tools. Study this section carefully. If God is speaking, be obedient. If you find error, or perhaps overly strident legalism, ask God what is true, and discard all else. We will still love each other. Amen? When we think of tithing–or giving a tenth of what we have to God–we need not focus narrowly on money. Consider any gifts or talents you may have. However, if you do have money–think seriously about what your family is doing for God. The principle of giving our first fruits to God is not “an Old Testament commandment that is no longer valid in the New Testament.” Giving to God precedes the commandments. Cain and Abel both gave of the first fruits of their labor. It was Abraham who first gave a tenth of what he had to the priest, Melchizedek. Note that this was probably more than five hundred years prior to the giving of the commandments. (See Genesis 14:18-20). Jesus affirms the importance of giving to God in his teaching about treasures in heaven. In Matthew 6:19-21 He says: DO NOT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES ON EARTH, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DESTROY, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK IN AND STEAL. BUT STORE UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DO NOT DESTROY, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK IN AND STEAL. FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.