Be Holy In All Your Conduct
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019
Be Holy In All Your Conduct
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
November 10, 2019 am
Lights in a Dark World (36)
Our theme this year has addressed how we are to be lights in the midst of this dark world. Our emphasis has been about how we need to let our lights shine in every aspect of our lives, that is, be a proper example in all things.
As we begin to bring this theme to its conclusion, this month I was going to address several specific moral issues. But time will not permit that due to scheduling, so I am going to present here a general lesson that will address every moral issue we face. Then next year, as a part of my schedule, I plan to address these varying issues in specific detail, on the 4th Sunday of each month as part of our ongoing study of problems we face as Christians.
Today, I want to talk about holiness and how that factors into our example in every aspect of life and every decision we make.
What is holiness?
- What is holiness?
According to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, “The quality of God that sets him utterly apart from the world, especially in terms of purity and sanctity.”
When we think of holiness, what usually comes to mind is purity and being set apart – as in being distinct from the world.
In the Hebrew language (OT), the word most often translated “holy” means to be pure, clean or free from defilement…”
In the New Testament, the words “holy”, “saint” and “sanctify” are all based upon the same root word meaning “holy.” For us, as Christians, it is associated with reverence and godliness. We have a profound awe and respect for God that causes us to seek purity in our lives so that we can be in His presence. Psalm 15:1-5, Psalm 24:3-4, etc.
- Where does holiness begin?
With God. 1 Peter 1:13-16, Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:1.
He often referred to Himself as, “The Holy One” – Isaiah 1:4, and more than 25 more times in that books. 1 Samuel 2:1 – Hannah’s prayer, Psalm 99 3 times proclaims, “He is Holy” (vs. 3, 5, 9)
- Holiness under the Old Law – If you want to understand holiness, study the Levitical priesthood. There are many things found therein that help us understand what God expects of us in the realm of holiness. While we are NOT under the Old Law anymore, it was written for our learning (Romans 15:4). When we are called upon to be holy (and we are), we can study what holiness was in the Old Testament.
- From the very outset of the giving of the Law of Moses, and even prior to that, with promises to the patriarchs, it is clear that God intended to create for Himself a nation that was holy – separated from the world, AND pure in its conduct, based upon God’s standard.
- Moses was on “holy ground” at the burning bush. Exodus 3:4-6 – Moses was told to take of his shoes because it was holy ground? What made that ground holy? Likely it was not chemical structure of the dirt. It was the presence of God that made it holy.
- Exodus 19:6 – a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
- Consider Israel at Mt. Sinai – Exodus 19:10-12 – instructions for the children of Israel to consecrate themselves. Boundaries were put up around the mountain, warning the people that if they touched it, they were to be shot with an arrow.
Vs. 17- Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God. Again they were warned not to touch the mountain. Vs. 22, the priests were to consecrate themselves.
- The book of Leviticus – written to govern the priesthood and regulate the PURITY of Israel. While often avoided or passed over because of its technical details about various sacrifices – when and how to offer them, instructions about purification, the purity of leaders, etc., an understanding of this book was crucial for the purity of Israel AND UNDERSTANDING purity in the presence of God.
It is said that when children were being raised among Jews, the first book they were taught in synagogue was Leviticus. That is because of its dealing with holiness (being set apart, and purity).
The priesthood was about purity – we find consecration and the shedding of blood to purify priests. They had very strict instructions.
Foods offered as sacrifices were permitted to be eaten by them – All the males among the children of Aaron may eat it. It shall be a statute forever in your generations concerning the offerings made by fire to the Lord. Everyone who touches them must be holy.’ ” (Leviticus 6:18.
Consider Leviticus 10:1-3 – I must be regarded as holy – spoken after Nadab and Abihu were burned to death. This explains HOW SERIOUS this is to God.
In the book of Leviticus you find moral laws – about pure behavior; laws of cleanliness (including dealing with contagious diseases); and even dietary laws (which animals could be eaten – and we know why most of these were permitted or forbidden). All of this has to do with purity.
- The tabernacle was a pure place – built with 2 chambers requiring washing before they could enter. Within the tabernacle we have the holy place, and the “holy of holies” – Hebrews 9:3 (Exodus 26:33). These were designed according to God’s pattern.
Consider the expression, “Holiest of All” (NKJV, KJV). The expression literally means, “holy of holies” or the holiest place. What made that second chamber more holy? It was where the Ark of the Covenant was, where the High Priest would go to meet with God to atone for the sins of the people.
Everything about the priesthood, sacrifices and the tabernacle was designed to emphasize the holiness of God AND the need for those who approached and served Him to be holy.
How holiness will affect our influence.
- The command to be holy – understanding the holiness of God, consider 1 Peter 1:13-16.
We are called upon to be holy, even as He is holy. That is an awesome thought.
Romans 6:19 – present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness
Ephesians 4:24 – put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7 – this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication…God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
The book of Hebrews, which deals with how everything about our covenant is better, appeals to various elements of this holiness for us to apply and learn from – better sacrifices, a batter priesthood, a better covenant, a better tabernacle, a better hope, etc.
Hebrews 12:10 – God chastens us, “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
Hebrews 12:14, Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
Romans 12:1-2 and the command to presecnt our bodies as living sacrifices, goes back to God’s holiness. That is what sacrifices were about.
- When we are holy as God would have us to be, we will be reflecting the light of the gospel.
By default we will be shunning darkness. Philippians 2:15 – we shine as lights in this dark world. Matthew 5:16 – we glorify God.
People will see God in us. They will see that we are different – cf. 1 Peter 4:3-4, etc.
- If we are striving to be holy, in every area of life we will be concerned about how we are perceived. That is, how the world sees the holiness of God reflected in us.
- Via social media
- Ask, Should I go to this dance? Is being popular with my peers more important than being acceptable to God?
- Ask, Should I be drinking, even socially? What about marijuana? Even though it is legal, should I be partaking? Considering how such hinders my sobriety.
- Ask, Is what I am wearing consistent with God’s pattern of modesty? Am I pressing the line? Does my choice of wardrobe provoke lust?
- When I am watching television, on the internet, etc., is that which I am watching conducive to holiness or ungodliness? Of course there is the outright immoral content (pornography, ungodly movies, blasphemous shows, etc.), but there are other things that just portray the world as being wonderful as it is.
- Does the relationship I am in matter? Does God recognize this marriage? Am I engaging in fornication? (An act which at its very foundation destroys purity – cf. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.
- Ask, should I be gambling? Should I be participating in the lottery? Conduct that is associated with covetousness and other sins.
- WILL I seek fellowship with the ungodly? Ephesians 5:11, 2 John 9-11, etc.
Unequivocally, IF we desire to let our lights shine, it will have an impact on EVERY area of our lives. If we are engaged in unholy conduct, we are NOT being holy and God’s light is hidden at best. Don’t hide your light. How does His Holiness govern your decisions? Think about it.