Summary: This message gives a practical explanation to those seeking to learn how authentic holiness is lived out in the life of a committed Christian.
What is Holiness?
This morning I would like for us to take a look at one of the most amazing, overwhelming, misunderstood appeals in scripture.
Leviticus 11:45 NIV
I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
That’s quite a challenge! A call, from God Himself, for and me to be holy. Peter reiterated this appeal…
1 Peter 1:16 NLT
For it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
The Church of the Nazarene is a holiness church. We believe God has called us to be holy people. That seems consistent with God’s Word and certainly with these and many other passages of scripture.
I’ll never forget discussing doctrinal differences with a fellow pastor a few years ago. He said, “Steve, is your church a holiness church?” I said, “Absolutely!” His next comment was so shocking to me. I haven’t gotten over it. He said, “Our church is not a holiness church.” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks.
I knew there were holiness churches, and I knew there were churches that did not preach or teach holiness. But I had never heard anyone come right out and make such a bold statement. “Our church is not a holiness church.” His remark made me uneasy.
Didn’t God call us to live a holy life? “Be Holy because I am holy.” What’s so hard to understand about that? And I could give you numerous passages of scripture, Old and New Testaments, that affirm the same appeal. We are all familiar with Romans12:1-2.
Romans 12:1-2 NIV
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
That’s a great verse on holiness. God has called us to a life of holiness. There is no question about that.
What might be confusing is the term itself. What is holiness? How is holiness is lived out? What does true, biblical holiness look like in the life of a committed Christian? I want to look at a few of the qualities of the holy life this morning.
I am sorry to report that the church has done a very poor job at times, representing Christ to our world. And in the most basic sense, that’s what holiness is all about. We are to reflect the image of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
Holiness is Christ-likeness. Holy people are in the process of becoming like Jesus
I know that word “process” scares some people. There have been some who have taught that holiness is strictly a crisis experience that happens in a moment of time.
When we talk about a crisis experience, we are not talking about a tragedy or something that is bad. A crisis, when used in this context, is an experience that takes place at a particular moment in time. It can be measured by a date and time and place.
So, how do we become holy? Is it a crisis or is it a process?
I believe it is both. A decision is made to surrender our will to Christ in a moment. I decide to turn over ownership and control of my life to Him. At that point we initiate a process of growth that will continue until we die. We may stop that process through rebellion, disobedience or neglect. But God’s plan is to grow us up in Christ. He wants us to be like His Son. That’s His goal for you and me. And through people, circumstances, trials, tribulations and life itself He will begin the process of making you like His Son. But He does not force this experience upon us. It is our choice.
My concern is that some have given up on holy living believing it to be an impossibility this side of heaven. I want you to see that holiness is God’s will for all of us, but it may not look like what you think. But first, we need to define our terms.
How many have ever heard or said, “We sin in word, thought and deed every day”?
I believe that statement, that has almost become a cliché in certain pockets of Christianity, is false teaching, it leads to misunderstanding among well meaning Christians and it is contrary to God’s will for His people.
First, it is important that we know what sin is. Sometimes statements like this are confusing because of semantics. We have different definitions of what sins is. Some think that nobody bats 1,000, no body is perfect, so that means we sin. That’s not a Wesleyan definition of sin. We come from a Wesleyan perspective in our theology and we therefore have a Wesleyan definition of sin.