Summary: This sermons takes a look at why it is that we as Christians should strive for holiness and then looks at three practical applications to help us to strive for that holiness.
A Man was sitting in his recliner when his youngest son walked in and asked if he could ask his a few questions. The Father said sure but he asked what is this for? The young boy replied, “It’s for a project as school. We have to write a report about a role model in our life.” His father was touched, and said, “Son, I’m so pleased that you chose me to be your role-model. Why did you choose me?” The son said, “Yeah, well the kids next to me already picked Arnold Swartzenegger and the Rock, so you were the only one left.”
So who is your role model in life? Who is it that you are trying to imitate in your daily walk. For most of us in our day and age, we have chosen the wrong role models. We pick our role models off whether they can throw a football, sing and dance, or shoot a quick jump-shot. When people pick their heroes, holiness isn’t usually part of the requirements. Integrity and purity are left out of the equation.
Now we can choose to imitate God or man. And more often than not sadly to say, we choose to imitate man. But in his word, we are told “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Tonight I want us to take a look at the topic of holiness. If there is one teaching that is missing in our church today it is this, the need for holiness, the need to lead a holy life. Now to start off our discussion, let’s first look at why it is we strive for holiness. Why do we strive for holiness?
The first reason why we strive for holiness is because scripture demands it of us. Scripture demands it. Over and over throughout the Word of God we are told to flee immorality, to flee wickedness, to pursue that which is righteous and good and to be holy. Ephesians 4:22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” We are told the same thing in Colossians 3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” And then we told of the necessity of holiness in Hebrews 12:24 which says, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Now I don’t know about you, but I want to see the Lord.
These and many more passages point to the importance of the Christian to live a holy life. In fact, the pursuit of holiness is one of the pillars of our Methodist movement. But the sad reality is, not to many people are striving for holiness anymore, in fact not to many are even looking for it. And the result has been that we now have a church that is no longer distinguishable from the world.
George Barna did a survey and wrote a book about the status of today’s church, and it was shocking. He found that the divorce rate for non-Christians was 23%, and the divorce rate for Born Again Christians was 27%. That’s right, the Christians had a higher divorce rate than the non-Christian. The question was asked, “Have you gave money to a homeless or a poor person in the past year?” The results, Born Again Christians 24%, non Christians 34%. What’s the matter with this picture.
The church is called to stand out. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” We are called to shine, to give light to this world darkened by sin, but if we are no different from the world our light just simply tends to just blend in. What is the cause of this? I think its because we’ve tried to water down the Christian faith to make it more approachable to others. We emphasize the positives and negate to mentions the calls of Christ. “If anyone comes after Me he must deny Himself, take up his cross and follow me.” A call to receive Christ is a call to forsake the world, and since we haven’t emphasized this, we have a generation of Christians who think they can come to Christ and not have to make any changes in their lifestyle, no commitment or anything. We say come, but we forget to say “Repent!”