Summary: This is the second in the holiness series of messages speaking of the importance of surrender in the life of the believer, as opposed to trying to be holy in our own efforts.
Holiness Unto the Lord
Scripture: 1 Thess. 4:1-8
Text: 1 Thess. 4:3
Last week I introduced a series called, “Holiness unto the Lord” and I suggested to you that most denominations have a doctrine of holiness. And we were reminded last week that God calls us - God’s will for us - is to BE holy. It’s not God’s will that we just pray a sinner’s prayer - go through some kind of formula - like picking up a “get-out-of-hell-free” card and then that’s it. That kind of thinking reverses and undermines the whole reason for our salvation in the first place. It perverts, to its fullest extent, John 3:16, that God so LOVED the world, that he gave His only son. It was because of God’s love, that we even have salvation in the first place, and God’s love, flows from His main attribute which is holiness. So he has called us to be holy. If we’re not holy, we can’t have the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness and self-control that the Bible tells us is the fruit of the spirit. God’s will for us, both individually, and as a church, is that we are holy.
Think of it this way. We just had a baby dedication here today. A man and a woman love each other - they get married and have a baby. The baby is born into the family and they give that baby a home and a new name. Are they done? No, of course not. It’s their responsibility to train and nurture that child until it becomes a true family member. One who will grow and eventually get to the point where it will also accept responsibility, grow to love someone, get married, and have babies. And the story has been repeating itself ever since the world began!
Now - it’s exactly the same with God, we are born again, new babies, into the family. We’re saved. God doesn’t look at us and say, “There, that’s done.” and leave it at that. Our text says, “God’s will for us is that we be sanctified.”
And it was with that premise established that we asked the question, “Where do we start.” And last week I suggested to you that we start with the altar and we looked at all that the altar meant, both the altar of our heart, and the physical altar and why it is so significant. Why it is important biblically that we have a good solid understanding of the altar.
Today, we’re going to look at one aspect of Holiness itself. You say, “Well, what really, is holiness.” It’s a great word. We throw it around a lot, but what is it? Holiness, is Christ-like-ness. It is being like Christ. God said, be holy, even as I am holy, and Jesus said, if you have seen me, you have seen the father. Jesus said, I have set you an example that you should follow in my steps. Holiness is being like Jesus. But we can’t be LIKE Jesus, if we don’t KNOW Jesus. We can’t be holy AS God is holy, if we don’t know GOD. But this holiness is not the kind of “Being like Jesus” that was so popular a few years ago, where we just work real hard to figure out What Jesus Would Do. You know, the WWJD - What would Jesus do? And then do it. It is that - but it’s less than that, and it’s more than that. Let me explain what I mean.
It’s less than that because it is not striving in our own efforts, working hard every day to figure out every little detail of what Jesus would do, and then doing it. That’s not holiness, that’s works righteousness and God has not called us to works righteousness. I say it’s less than that, because it is actually letting go of our works, it’s giving up anything and everything that we do to make us LOOK holy. It’s letting go of striving to be.
You’ve heard me say it before, “In Christ, I am, therefore I do not have to appear to be.”
Let me illustrate it this way. How many of you here have ever been on a diet? What’s the one thing you think about all the time, all day long when you’re on a diet? Right - FOOD!! Now - I want you to think about any number except the number 3 - what number are you thinking of right this second. 3!!! Yes - why - because the more we strive, the less we are. The more WE work at it, in our own strength, the more we open ourselves up for failure. The more we think about overcoming some sin in our lives, the more we will be drawn to THAT sin. The more we think about GOD and his holiness, the more we will be drawn to him and God is light - in him is no darkness at all. So as we draw near to the light, that light exposes the sin in our lives that need to be exposed, and when we repent and confess those sins, then he cleanses us from all unrighteousness.