Summary: If a letter came to your house addressed to "the saints" at your residence, how would you respond? Or, when you read the challenge anywhere in the Bible: "Be ye holy for I the Lord your God Am Holy!" how do you receive it?
Ephesians 5:25 "... Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it, that he might make it holy with His own blood, and present it to Himself pure and radiant, without any spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless."
In the Bible account of Gideon you may recall that Israel was being menaced by enemies (Midian) and the nation was in terror. Gideon, the hero of the story was himself hiding as he threshed out his harvest when an angel appeared to him and said, "Hail, mighty man of valor! The LORD is with thee!"
Gideon didn't know if the angel was making fun of him, or was just very near-sighted! He did not know either hiw own potential or God's design for his life!
By the same terms, if a letter came to your house addressed to "the saints" at your residence, how would you respond? Or, when you read or hear read the challenge anywhere in the Bible: "Be ye holy for I the Lord your God Am Holy!" how do you receive it?
The very idea of "holy" or "holiness" invokes strong reactions. In general there are two:
One response to holiness says, "Who me?" Then with a great show of humility the heavy responsibility of sainthood or holiness is ever so lightly pushed aside.
The other response says, "I will be holy!" But then it proceeds to define the beginning and ending of the call to holiness strictly in the individual, in the "me."
THERE IS A PERSONAL CALL TO HOLINESS
...which cannot be ignored. YES, GOD CALLS US PERSONALLY: (re: Romans 12:1,2)
God calls EACH of us, deals with us, convicts and convinces us, so that we might be enabled to fellowship with Him. God calls EACH OF US TO HIMSELF. To be "holy" means we are in a special relationship to God.
Our "holiness" is not a "LOAD OF GOODNESS" that makes US "holy" in all we do or say. ONLY GOD IS HOLY in any underived way. All holiness comes from HIM.
But God cannot fellowship with the unholy. He wants us to fellowship with Him. So we have this dilemma: you have to be holy to come near to God, and you can't come near to God unless you are holy. It is sort of like you can't get a job without experience, and you can't get experience without a job.
So— what can be done? The thing to realize is what HOLY is, what it means. "Holy" means "set apart." My parking space is "set apart" to me; this church building is "holy" in a sense in that it is "set apart" for theworship of God. TO BE GOD'S IS TO BE HOLY:
But things don't have any say in whom they shall belong to; people do. Still, what is God's IS holy! So, the struggle is not to make ourselves holy so that we can approach God; WE CANNOT DO THAT OURSELVES!
Somehow the struggle is not to be HOLY— but to give ourselves wholly away to God, and to know that He has accepted our gift. What is HIS— He makes holy!
And strange as it may seem, part of the "giving away," the consecration, involves identifying with God's holy church!
TO BE HOLY INVOLVES BEING PART OF GOD'S HOLY CHURCH
Our passion for personal holiness must flow into a holy love for Christ's church if it reflects Christ's own kind of love.
"Holy" has been preached almost exclusively from a personal, experiential approach. We have measured our holiness by the inner, emotional response ("I feel sweet, or peace, or feel love"), by what we sense personally, enabling: ("I am not ashamed to testify" "I find that I can forgive.") And while this personal side is absolutely valid and necessary, yet it can be extremely centered in self!
The corrective for self-centered holiness, an oxymoron if there ever was one, is remembering that we are to be sanctified in relationship to Christ's church, which is to be HOLY!
GOD'S CALL "BE HOLY!" IS ALWAYS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CHURCH
THE CHURCH IS THE FOCUS OF CHRIST'S LOVE. Look again at the scripture which declares: "... Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it, that he might make it holy with His own blood, and present it to Himself pure and radiant, without any spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless." (Ephesians 5:25)
THE CHURCH CAME TO LIFE ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Peter preached: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel!" THE CHURCH'S CALL TO HOLINESS INCORPORATES THE INDIVIDUAL 'PERSONAL CALL TO HOLINESS' AND MORE:
The CHURCH is to be united with God by the sanctifying grace: Jesus prayed (John 17:17) Sanctify them: "That they may be one with us." The CHURCH is promised the empowering Spirit: Acts 1:8 - The CHURCH received admonition and challenge from the glorified Savior in Revelation 2,3