Summary: Holiness of the believer is a Biblical topic that seems to have been almost totally obscured by the false teaching of "cheap grace." Are Christians actually supposed to be "holier than thou"?
The second paragraph of Untied States Declaration of Independence begins with these words; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Whether you’re a citizen of the US or even just a visitor, I think we can all agree that we are blessed to live in a country that recognizes its citizens’ right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I think if we even casually observe our society today, we’ll see that people are indeed in hot pursuit of happiness. But if we look closely, we’ll notice, that for some reason, they tend to look for it in all the wrong places. For instance, many look for happiness in a career, in the heaping up of great wealth, personal accomplishments, or in another person. But most finally realize that true happiness cannot be found there. Still others seek happiness in alcohol, drugs and all forms of immorality only to sink into worse misery.
It appears that, despite our best efforts, true happiness continues to elude most of us. In fact, as people pursue happiness, many not only fail to find it but actually find depression instead.
Did you know that the use of antidepressants in the US is up by a whopping 65% over the last 15 years. (cbs news 2017) In fact, we currently have the second highest rate of depression in the entire world. Only France is more depressed than we are…
It doesn’t seem to make sense but studies have shown that wealthier countries tend to have much higher rates of depression. I know it sounds irrational, but could it be that our “relentless pursuit of happiness” is actually dragging us into depression?? And could it be that those who are not so obsessed with chasing after happiness are, ironically enough, among the happiest people in the world?
Reminds me of something Jesus tells us in the gospel of Mark chapter 8.
Mark 8:34-36 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
“whoever wants to save his life will lose it…” that is, whoever chooses not to live as a stranger and a pilgrim in this world but to make his or her home here—content with pursuing worldly allurements and happiness rather than using this life to grow spiritually closer to Christ and serve Him these few years we have on this earth.
Matthew 6:33 that great passage where Jesus commands us not to worry about our earthly lives, he finishes that powerful admonition with these words, “Seek ye first… (happiness??) the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Nowhere in Scripture are we told to “pursue happiness”—much less invest our entire lives in the vain attempt to find it. But we are told, quite often in fact, to diligently pursue something else—something much more enduring than happiness. Something that we may even perceive to be counterproductive to our happiness—we’re told to pursue holiness.
Hebrews 12:14 “14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Without holiness, how many will see the Lord??
Friends, God has impressed me to ask you this morning, are YOU holy?? In your thoughts, in your words, in your actions, in public and in private; are you holy? Am I holy?
This is a question I think that most of us hardly ever really consider.. But again, the Word of God tells us here that if we are not, we will not be saved.
Many professing Christians today think they are holy but, in reality, are far from it. You see, a lot of us get justification and sanctification confused. And that could be a deadly mistake. Justification and sanctification are certainly related—in fact one never exists without the other. But they are quite different and we need to understand that.
Justification happens when, after we are convicted of our sinful state realizing that we are deserving of death, we come to Christ in true repentance asking forgiveness for our sins. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins….” That’s justification, because of the sacrifice of Christ in our behalf and His imputed righteousness, we are looked upon by the Father “just as if” we’ve never sinned. Sanctification comes immediately after justification. The last part of 1 John 1:9 speaks, I believe, to sanctification. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins AND cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s sanctification—that’s the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.