Summary: Sermon #1 Using Steve Deneff’s book entitled "Whatever became of Holiness" as a guideline, this sermon talks about rediscovering a Holy God is the first step in the journey of Holiness.
Rediscovering the Holiness of God
Over the next few weeks, I want to take the time to look at holiness. The Nazarene church is founded upon the Holiness traditions of the Wesley’s. In a nutshell, they taught there was more to this Christian experience than just salvation. John Wesley taught that God was calling from our salvation experience to a deeper, more committed walk with the Master.
This thing called holiness calls the believer to be “set apart” from the rest of the world, and make a conscious effort to become more like Christ. We are called to a thing called “Christian perfection.” While we will talk about this topic at a later time, Christian perfection can be described as having our wills bent to the will of God.
Imagine a piece of iron that has been bent. No matter how much we try on our own, we cannot bend it back to its original form. Then imagine a strong magnet. If the magnet is strong enough, the iron will be attracted to both poles of the magnet, thus conforming to the will of the magnet. That is what holiness is like.
For us today to get a better view of holiness, we need to have a better vision of the One who is pure and holy... God!
For years, Christians, instead of striving become more like God, have sold themselves short, and have tried to make God more manageable. Why? It’s easier to deal with a big, fluffy Santa Claus who sits on the shelf until we need then to be faced with an Almighty, All knowing, All Holy God. We feel that we needn’t live up to the expectation of a God when we control what He expects from us.
If we continue to lessen the holiness of God, there is no law because law is based on a commonly accepted morality. If we lessen the view of God, there is no sin, only “alternative lifestyles” and minor steps in goodness. Where God is not holy, there is little incentive to change our behaviour. If God is not holy, there is no gospel. If we forfeit the doctrine of holiness of God, there is a lower level pf commitment among those who would be Christian. In fact, the whole doctrine of God disintegrates if His holiness is diminished.
His Holiness is what makes him “God!” Isaiah came face to face with a Holy God. This morning, before we can journey into holiness, we must come face to face with a holy God. The ideas expressed in this message have come from the book “Whatever became of Holiness?” by Steve Deneff, pastor of College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.
To grasp the truest sense of holiness, we too must come like Isaiah and seek out this holy God.
1. First, where God’s Holiness is observed, the Lord is “HIGH and EXALTED!”
When we truly come into His presence, and not the presence of our far out view of who He is, He ceases to be a private possession of a few people who live inside a certain denomination or era in history. He becomes bigger than life. This inspires real and spontaneous worship. It maximizes our faith! Christ’s words become even more real when He said, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). All of this, and more, happens when the Lord is lifted up!
2. When we come into His Holy Presence, We are humbled!
One of the oddities of this passage is that Isaiah dated this passage “in the year that King Uzziah died...” (Is 6:1) Uzziah became king at the age of sixteen. He became very rich, famous and powerful, which would become his eventual downfall.
If you recall the story from 2 Chronicles, Uzziah entered the temple to burn incense on the golden altar. That job was for the priest alone to perform. As a result, Uzziah was stricken with leprosy, and forced to live outside the city. His son, Jotham, ruled in his stead.
Steve Deneff writes the following: “ As the Prophet Isaiah stood in the Temple where Uzziah was cursed, he must have replayed the mental videos of that tragic day and remembered the holiness of God is never to be presumed upon. For it was here that God drew a memorable line of distinction between Himself and the creature. Isaiah would not have missed the point.” (page 25)
Isaiah noted that God was “high and exalted” and remembered that the king was wasting away outside the city. God was seen “seated on a throne”; Uzziah had lost his. God was “holy, holy, holy”; Uzziah shouted “unclean, unclean” each time he left his compound. God was glorified by a multitude; Uzziah was awaiting his grave in solitude.
J.I. Packer wrote, “Genuine worshippers want to blot themselves out of the picture so that all can concentrate, without distraction, on God alone.” Each time we meditate on the holiness of God, each time He enters the room where we are worshipping, we are struck first with His greatness, and then with our own unworthiness.