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Sunday, January 3, 2010  am – Bellflower

 NOTE: The following is TWO lessons on how to be holy.

How Can I Be Holy? (1)

When we think of holiness, what often comes to mind is God.  Truly He is HOLY.  And that is something we must understand if we are to be pleasing to Him.  But holiness is also an attribute every Christian ought to strive to perfect in their lives. 

In our lesson this morning, we want to talk about the need for holiness and make some recommendations to help us become holy.  With a New Year having just begun, as we examine ourselves, this is a good time to give consideration of this point.

 I.                    What does it mean to be holy?

a.        Defined – the word holy is from the Greek word, hagios, which means first, revered or worthy of veneration, but after that it means to be set apart for God. (Thayer).  It also has a common root with one of the words for purity, cleanness.
To help understand this word, it is interesting to note that the words saints, sanctification and holy are all derivatives of this same word.

b.       In its first definition, it has reference to God – Truly He is Holy!
He is to be revered - Heb 12:28 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”  While the verse does not use the term holy, it demonstrates His holiness.
Rev. 4:8 DOES describe His holiness, which describes His throne in heaven and all creatures worshipping Him and saying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come”

 Luke 1:49, “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
Another consideration is that nothing Unholy can approach Him! 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message which we have herd from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

c.        In its second definition, it has reference to all that belongs to Him, including us.  It points to our need to set ourselves apart as special (i.e. pure and clean) because we belong to Him.  In the same way that an ambassador is to act dignified because he represents a company or country, so we need to give consideration to HOW we live because we belong to and represent God.
1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter calls upon these brethren, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”
Since we are to be holy, we need to give thought to how our conduct helps us set ourselves (i.e. sanctify) ourselves) apart for God.
 Just exactly what is expected of us is revealed in the pages of His word.   That is what we want to address in this lesson.

II.           How do I become holy?

a.        Sin makes us unholy.  We cannot thoroughly examine the subject of holiness without an understanding of the consequences of sin.  Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
1 John 3:4-6 says, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.  And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.  Whoever abides in Him does not sin.  Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”

b.       When there is sin in our lives, we must purify ourselves before God.  That is how we become holy.  To do that we must cleanse ourselves of our sins.

c.        If we have never obeyed the gospel, we need to do so.   Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27.

d.       If as a child of God, we have been overtaken by sin, then we must again make ourselves right in His eyes.  This is done through repentance (Acts 8:22), confession of our sins and prayer to God (1 John 1:9).

 

 III.                    What can I stay holy?

a.        Our focus in this lesson addresses HOW to remain holy in the midst of this unholy world.  Let us consider some things we should think about and do that can help us in this.

b.       The first thing that will help us is to recognize what leads to unholiness.  When we speak of unholiness we are noting lives corrupted by sin. 

                                                               i.      1 John 2:15-17 speaks of the three avenues of sin. The lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.  It has been said that this verse identifies the root cause of EVERY sin we commit. 

James 1:12-15 speaks of how we are enticed or tempted to sin.  We are familiar with these verses, but are there other things to consider about what leads to unholiness?  What prompted me to prepare this lesson was this point.  Let us consider this for a few moments.

                                                              ii.      First, realize that such is usually a gradual process.  It is rare that one is carried away by sin overnight.  It usually happens over time. Hebrews 2:1 warns us of this very thing, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”
We expect the world to sin (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9-10, 1 John 4:4-5, Eph. 2:2, etc.), but sadly, Christians are often caught up in sinful behaviors as well.   They wander from the truth (James 5:19-20) or are overtaken by sin (Gal. 6:1).   We grieve, especially when we have no choice but to deliver such a one to Satan (1 cor. 5:4-5).  We wonder, HOW did it happen?  That really IS a good question that we need to ponder lest we fall into the same trap.
Consider this application: We know that if one sins there are going to be consequences (cf. Num. 32:23, 1 Cor. 4:5).  But at times we seem to get away with it.  We do something and there seems to be no consequence. But is that really true?  Can we be sure? How do we know that no damage is actually done?  How do know that by committing a particular sin (and getting away with it) has not weakened our resolve to do right?  Perhaps, our punishment is guilt.  We “repent” and move on.  But then we commit the same sin again and we are a little less guilty about it than the last time.  Sometimes it is the subtle damage that is the greatest. 
What usually causes a heart attack?  Maybe it is our diet or failure to exercise.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  But in time, the damage builds up and then all of a sudden, you are in severe trouble.  Maybe you die!
Friends, that is how Satan works.  He is subtle and sly in his actions (2 Cor. 2:11,  2 Tim. 2:26, Ephesians 6:11 speaks of the “wiles of the devil”, etc.)

                                                            iii.      Some avenues of sin in our lives – beside the obvious rebellious actions, note some avenues through which we might subtlety get caught up in sin:

1.       Our own physical desires.  It is not secret that many sins feel good while we do them.  That is why it is described as bait in James 1:12-15.  Hebrew 11:25 speaks of “the passing pleasures of sin.”  The simple truth of life, both commission and omission is, WE DO WHAT WE WANT TO DO!  And we live in a selfish society that says, “If it feels good, do it!”  So we do it.

2.       What others want me to do.  How often do we act out of a desire to conform?  How often do we find ourselves willing to compromise a little just to “fit in”?  Such is a dangerous path to put oneself on.  1 Cor. 15:33 warns us about evil companions. 

3.       The influence of my own identity.  Perhaps you have heard the expression, “You are what you eat.”  The point is that the foods you eat will determine how healthy you are (as a rule).  The same is true with those things we identify with – such as the music we listen to, what we watch on television and at the movies, where we work and spend our time, the types of clothing we wear, etc.  These are things that identify our character.  I ask how much do we let these things affect who we are?  Do they influence us for good or evil?  Is the music we listen to wholesome?  What is the content of what we let our eyes bring into our body?  Consider 1 Corinthians 6:12 where Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

4.       That which no one sees.  We live in a society where it is easier to sin in secret.  With all the good the internet can provide, it is also a cesspool of evil.  Pornography, idle chatter and activities, gossip, hidden identities (people who are completely different when they are online), online gambling, and other things can make it sinful.  And it is possible you will not be seen by anyone else.  Therefore, “repentance is easy” (or is it?  See above).  We must remind ourselves, that God sees everything!  Heb. 4:13 tells us this.

5.       Intellectual arrogance – how often does the Bible warn against sinful pride (Rom. 1:19-20)?   Often, we become too smart for our own good.  We begin to reason away our need to repent!  There are many who seek justification for their sins!  Some find ways around them (such as MDR, modesty, etc.), but others seeks reasons to justify what they are doing.  Some say, “I can’t help it” or “It is in my nature”.   We seek sympathy for our “struggles” when we really don’t intend to give it up.  The New Testament constantly addresses man’s wisdom as it reason’s away God’s wisdom.  Paul dealt with that in 1 Cor. 1:18-30, etc.

                                                            iv.      If we will think on these things perhaps we will take measures to avoid them.

To be continued in our next lesson

Presented, January 10, 2010 am

 How Can I Be Holy? (2)

Last week a lesson was presented asking the question, “How can I be Holy?”  In that lesson we identified different ways that the word holy is used in scripture.  Namely, we noted it has reference to God as being Holy (worthy of great veneration) and our need to live a life set apart from the world.  This is summarized in the statement, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

I addressing the need to be holy we noted that you become holy (pure in God’s eyes) by having your sins removed, but then you must strive to STAY holy.  This means you must maintain a proper relationship with God.  We began that by noting that the first step is to realize what leads one to an UNHOLY life.  We warned about the dangers of sin and how it is possible to drift into an unholy state.

Today, we want to conclude this study by noting some more things that will help us to stay holy.  Since this is a continuation of a lesson presented last week, I have expanded it.  The text I would like for us to consider as an introduction today is 1 Peter 1:13-16.  We just read vs. 16.  Let us now notice vs. 13-15, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

 IV.          How Can I Stay Holy? (Continued)

a.    Resolve to set yourself apart

                                                               i.      1 Peter 1:13 – “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…   In this text Peter admonishes his audience to get their minds ready.  The NASU says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action…”

                                                              ii.      If you want to be holy, you have to MAKE UP YOUR MIND to become holy and stay that way.  That is what resolve is about. IF you really want to be holy, you will find a way to do it. As the saying goes, WE DO WHAT WE WANT TO DO!   
Romans 12:1-2 reminds us that we are not to be conformed, but rather we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

                                                            iii.      Sanctify yourself means to set yourself apart – 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…”

                                                            iv.      2 Cor. 6:17 calls for us to “come out from among them and be separate…”

                                                              v.      Purify yourself – James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

 b.       Commitment to flee those things which are unholy

                                                               i.      Deciding that you want to go in the right direction is a good start.  In fact, it is the EASY part (all of us want to be better people).  But it will be followed by the HARDEST thing to do – namely putting your words and thoughts into action.

                                                              ii.      That means you are going to have to give up ungodliness in its every form.  To say it another way, you have to LET GO!

                                                            iii.      Our text, 1 Peter 1:13-14  says, “Not conforming yourselves to the former lusts…

                                                            iv.      1 Peter 4:2-3 says that we need to live for God and not ourselves.  We have spent enough of our past living in sin.  GIVE IT UP!

                                                              v.      I am reminded of what our Lord told the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19:21, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  The POINT – he needed to let go of whatever it was that stood in his way of sanctifying himself to God.  In his case, it was his material prosperity.

                                                            vi.      1 Thess. 4:3-7 calls for us to abstain from sexual immorality.  It is a passage that deals with our sanctification.  Vs. 7 says, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”

                                                           vii.      This means that holiness requires self-control.  The Bible speaks of self-control -
1 Peter 1:6 – it is a “Christian grace”
Galatians 5:23 – it is a “fruit of the Spirit”
It was taught by Paul as he sought to gain heaven – 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 which speaks of temperance and self-discipline.

 c.        Commitment to serve God will all your heart

                                                               i.      1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children,…be holy in all your conduct…”

                                                              ii.      It is NOT enough to resolve to give up the unholy things.  If all you do is quit the wrong things, you will still be empty.  You HAVE to replace it with the good things.
Sometimes Christians live miserable lives because they focus on what they CANNOT do.  Such is no way to live.  The true quality Christian life is manifested by what he does.
VS. 15 calls for us to BE holy in our conduct – a POSITIVE command.

                                                            iii.      Matt. 12:43-45 tells of a man whose soul had been cleansed of demons, he didn’t fill his heart with anything worthwhile, so when the demon came back and found it “clean and swept” he went and found wicked friends who made the man worse than before.
THINK of a diet!  You need to loose weight and struggle to reach your goal.  When you do there is victory, but you have NOT truly won if you haven’t changed the way you live your life.

                                                            iv.      Romans 6:19, 22 speaks of how we have changed masters.  NEVER forget this!

                                                              v.      Heb. 12:14, “pursue peace and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

                                                            vi.      Realize who you belong to – 1 Cor. 6:19-20 – while dealing with fornication, the principle needs to OCCUPY our lives.

                                                           vii.      Resolve to love God with all your heart – Matt. 22:37.  Anything LESS will not be sufficient.

                                                         viii.      For example:

1.       We need to pray and study – John 17:17,19 – His word can sanctify us.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

2.       Do good deeds – Titus 2:14, we are to be a people, zealous for good works.

3.       Spend time trying to reach the lost

4.       Whatever God tells you to do in His word – DO IT!  That is what obedience is about!  Remember Matthew 7:21-23

 d.       Associate with the holy

                                                               i.      Not specifically mentioned in our text, it is another key to a holy life and one of vital importance.  If you want to be holy, be around those who seek holiness in theirs and your life.  We cannot emphasize enough our need to prefer one another over the world.

                                                              ii.      Romans 12:16 says, “Be of the same mind toward one another.  Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.  Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

                                                            iii.      Hebrews 3:13 says, “exhort one another daily, while it is called today…”

                                                            iv.      Hebrews 10:24-25 calls for us to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.

 e.       Rest your hope upon Christ

                                                               i.      NEVER forget the goal.  It is to be with God and Christ in heaven for eternity.   Our life DOES have a purpose.  There is a reason why we are here.  We as Christians understand this.  It is something that if we keep at the forefront of our minds will help us strive for holiness in our lives.

                                                              ii.      Hebrews 6:19, we have hope “as an anchor of the soul…”

                                                            iii.      Philippians 3:7-11, Paul speaks of all he gave up for Christ and how he counted it as rubbish, “that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

                                                            iv.      1 John 3:3 says, “and everyone who has this hope, purifies himself just as He is pure.”

                                                              v.      Let your reward also be your motivation.

 As we begin a New Year, if there is no other resolution in our lives, let us seek to be more holy this year.  Of course, in so doing we may need to change everything we do.  May we have such resolve.  The reward will a more content year, and eventually an eternal home in heaven with our HOLY Father and His Son.  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)