Simplicity of holiness
Dear friends, I trust that the Lord had been watching over you and blessing you. The most common sermon most ministers preach is the message of holiness. That would have been wonderful and necessary (2 Corinthians 7:1, Hebrews 12:14) if only the minister preached it in context and with a good intention. Most preachers simply used it a stick to brow-beat their parishioners and are often expressing their own anxieties, temptations, and weaknesses. Holiness is something that ought to be the easiest and most natural way of life for a truly born again saint and isn’t a restricted life as most preachers make it out to be.
Please turn with me To Acts 15:1-29. Most of you are familiar with this narrative where there was a sharp dispute between two different factions in the Church, one made of former Jews who were now believers and the other of gentiles who turned from paganism to Christ. The Judaic faction was teaching saints that one can’t truly be a Christian without being circumcised (Acts 15:1). In other words they were resorting to legalism as opposed to grace. There was such a sharp disagreement between the brothers that even Paul and Barnabas were drawn into a debate with them (Acts 15:2) and eventually parted company (Acts 15:36-40). The Apostle Paul reiterates this in his epistle to the Galatian church (Galatians 5:2-6). Finally, the Apostles decided to lay down guidelines for holiness that were much simpler and easier to obey (Acts 15:29).
When most preachers cite Matthew 5:27-30 where the Lord Jesus emphasized spiritual discipline to maintain holiness they merely refer to distancing ourselves from the act of sin. What they fail to explain and in some cases understand is that distancing ourselves from sin doesn’t remove it from our heart. For example if a man is living in incest or immoral relationship (1 Corinthians 5:1) he has to necessarily come out of such a relationship, repent and receive forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:10) but that doesn’t change his heart as he may fall back into the same sin. Distancing oneself from sin is essential but not sufficient as what has to really happen there is a change of heart, i.e. a transformation in spirit.
This was the problem with the Pharisees as well. They led outwardly moral lives (Matthew 23) but inside they were completely dead (Matthew 23:27-28). A man may not sleep with his neighbor’s wife but per the Lord Jesus even thinking about her in an ungodly way is also sinful (Matthew 5:28). These people were so wrapped up in their own little holier than thou world that they were afraid of even reaching out in love and accused the Son of God of being a drunk and womanizer (Luke 7:34, Luke 7:36-50). When a saint is afraid to walk in God’s love, he is still controlled by the law and not by grace and hence not perfected in love (1 John 4:17-19).
God’s holiness is absolute and can’t be compromised with (Revelation 4:8-11) but it’s a holiness that comes naturally to every blood-washed and Holy Spirit led saint (Ezekiel 36:26). It’s not as much an alteration in the outward as inward. As much as sin originates in the heart (Luke 6:45) it’s that sinful heart that needs to be circumcised by the Holy Spirit (Romans 2:29, Colossians 2:11). If we’re trying to be holy we’ll always fail. What we eat, drink, or wear doesn’t make us holy as much as what we are on the inside. But if we decide consciously to consecrate ourselves and to be set apart to God (Joshua 3:5) then the Holy Spirit will cleanse us of our personal and unique sins as he had with the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:7) and a life of holiness will be as natural and easy as breathing. Amen.
Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any amongst you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen.