Ordinary People Set Apart to be Holy (8/10/14)

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Sermons | 5 comments

Pastor Jim’s sermon on August 10 continued our look at the attributes of God.  Last week we looked at His Awesomeness and power.  This week we look at His holiness. 
 
Click the below “Play” button to listen to a recording of the sermon (from the 11:00 service).  While you’re listening, scroll down and use the summary to follow along (and don’t forget to try the quiz!).

 

 

The text for the message was from Isaiah 6:1-8.  Click the arrow below to open up the passage…

Isaiah 6

Isaiah 6:1-8

6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.

3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” NIV

 

Having the right answers matters.  1 Peter 3:15 says that we should always be prepared to give an answer to anyone for the hope we have.  Why are you a Christian?  And so, if someone asked you “What does it mean when the Bible says that God is holy?”, would you have an answer?  We believe in a Holy God… what does that mean?

 

Holy Scene…

In this passage, we get a glimpse of what God’s holiness is.  King Uzziah (see 2 Chronicles 26) was the last king in Judah who followed the Lord.  After that,  it was all downhill.  Isaiah lived during the time of King Uzziah, so when Uzziah died it was a big deal for a righteous man like Isaiah.  The king is gone- who’s going to be in charge?  Who is going to prevent the country from slipping back into the idolatry that it had kept throughout most of its history?  Isaiah was worried, and he goes into the temple to pray.

God answers his prayers by showing him a vision of His Holiness. Isaiah got to see the Lord.  He saw God high and lifted up- high above sin, worry, and trouble.  And so we have a scene of of God sitting on a huge throne surrounded by angels and seraphs.  Isaiah realizes that he can’t measure up to this scene; he doesn’t belong here!  But God acknowledges his humility and symbolically cleans him with the burning coals.

This isn’t the only place in the bible where we see scenes like this which speak of God’s holiness.  Take a look at the following passages; they’re all describing how God is holy.  Like Isaiah, we must recognize that we are people with “unclean lips” and be humble in His presence…

 

Hope…

Once Isaiah realized that God wasn’t a weak person like himself, he had hope. God isn’t one who must go back to the drawing board and consult with His colleagues.  He doesn’t have any equals to consult with!  Isaiah got a glimpse of God’s holiness, awesomeness, and beauty,  and he knew that there was a future.  God’s in control; He’s got it all in the palm of His hand.

Could it be that God is telling us, “don’t worry. We’ve got this thing licked.”  We serve a God who is bigger than any circumstance in our lives.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that our “little troubles” in this life are getting us ready for something far better when we see God’s glory.  These little troubles will seem like nothing.

 

Holy, Holy, Holy…

Holiness is the essential part of God’s character.  Psalm 99 tells us to praise His awesome Name because He is holy.     In Amos 4:2 God “swears by His holiness.”  God will keep every promise that He ever makes.

Can you describe for me what holiness means?

(Cue the Jeopardy theme…)

Holiness is the backdrop for all that God does.  God is love, but it wouldn’t happen without His holiness (notice that the seraphs sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”, not “Love, Love, Love.”)  God’s holiness demands that we also be holy (Lev. 19:1).  Holiness demands justice, and this justice was met by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  God’s Love wouldn’t be evident without His holiness.  Without holiness, there’s no need for grace or mercy, and we wouldn’t know God’s love.  Without the holiness of God, there would be a lot of gaps in scripture.  Everything comes out of God’s holiness.

So we are called to practice holiness every day of our lives.  What we say we have on the inside has to be seen on the outside.  If we hold sin in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers.

 

The word “to be Holy” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “the essential nature of that which Holy- Matchbox Cars _IMG_0689belongs to the sphere of the sacred, and which is thus distinct from the common.”  The literal meaning means to cut, or to separate.

In other words, to be “Holy” means that we’re to be separated (or “cut away” ) from the World’s sinful ways so that we can be with God.

 

 

Even though we are surrounded by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit holds us back from sin, we are still sinful in many ways. We miss the mark.

Imagine what the world would be like without the Holy Spirit; without absolutes, without a church striving to be holy.  Take a look at the book of Judges (especially chapters 19-21)!  Everyone did what was right in their own eyes; it wasn’t a good situation.

God is holy.  We can’t dabble in sin and walk with Christ.  Instead we must avoid sin and yield to God’s sanctifying grace and be molded into His image.

 

 Can you describe what Holiness means?  How can we wrap our head around it?   Here are three things to remember:

 

 1:  God’s Holiness is Incomparable

There’s no way to compare God to anything else.  You can’t measure Him in any way.  Instead,  He is the standard.  God is the measuring stick.  So in order to “measure up” and to remain on the path of becoming more like Him, we must understand Holiness.  The Bible refers to holiness more than any other of God’s attributes (take a look at  Exodus 15:11, or 1 Samuel 2:2 for just two examples).  God is unique; don’t try to compare Him to anything else.

Barometer:- Ask yourself: 

Do I look more like God now than I did at this time last year?

We need to conform to God, not to our image of what we think we should be.  Don’t compare yourselves to others; the Measuring Stick is Jesus.  Are we growing closer to Him?  Holiness is a journey, but it’s a journey in grace.  God looks at us, sees Jesus and Jesus says, “it’s ok… he’s one of mine.” 

 

 

2:  God’s Holiness Cannot Tolerate Sin

God’s holiness cannot tolerate sin- and neither should we.  When we tolerate sin, we’re just asking for trouble.  Would anyone put on a white wedding gown and walk into a dusty coal mine?  The reality of holiness is that it calls us to stop dabbling in sin and instead and strive to keep “clean.”

God called David “a man after His own heart.”  And yet, David’s sin with Bathsheba couldn’t be swept under the rug.  David “displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).  If even David could displease God, what about us?  God doesn’t average things out or look on the periphery.  Luke 16:15 tells us that God looks  into the heart and has higher standards.  We may focus on some little things that we think are good, but God digs deeper into the motives and views the things we value as detestable.

Who are WE trying to please?

Life on earth lasts maybe 80 or 90 years; after we die, life with God is an eternity.  So why do we put so much into pleasing other people during our short time on earth instead of daring to be different and pleasing God?  Eliminating sin from our own lives may stress or even break our earthly relationships.  But we shouldn’t tolerate sin in our lives- our eternal relationship with God is far more important. 

Being “sanctified” or moving towards being “holy” means that we need to cut off and separate ourselves from the sinful ways that pull us away from God instead of drawing us towards Him.

John 3:16 is God’s holiness at work.  God didn’t hit “delete.”  God didn’t take the eraser to the chalkboard.   God said that “My holiness demands that I pay the penalty, but also love you and save you.”  Awesome!

 

3:  God’s Holiness is to be Imitated

John Wesley talked about “Inward Holiness” and “Outward Holiness. (see This Article, especially the Third Point which discusses Inward & Outward holiness).   But are we striving to allow the “Inward Holiness” that the Holy Spirit builds within us to be transformed into the “Outward Holiness” that can be seen by everyone?

  • Hebrews 12:14 says “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy;  without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  In other words, no compromise; no watering down.  Stay faithful to the God who has called us.
  • 1 Peter 1:15 says “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

But- the Beautiful Thing is:  The One who calls us to be holy, also gives us the “Manual” to be holy (the Bible),  and the support we need to be holy, the protection to remain holy; and will be with us- Himself- to teach us and guide us and show us.  Awesome!!!

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WE are Called to Be a Holy Generation…

Christ puts a hedge of protection around us so that we can remain holy and true to God.  It’s time for Christians around the world to use that power and protection, march forward, and stop looking to be fair weather Christian-ettes.  God has called US to be a holy generation.  And He’s called us to be holy for a time such as this (see Esther 4:12-14).

Do we compromise with the world?  Does our manner of speech change depending on the friends we’re hanging around?   Can the things you say at work on Monday be said in church on Sunday? Dr. Stanely always said, “no matter where you’re at, no matter what you say- God’s right there with you… listening, watching.”  If you’re living a holy life, that truth is comforting, not scary.

May God give us the strength to walk the walk that He’s called true believers to walk.

 

Quiz Time!

Just for the fun of it, try out these True/False questions.   Don’t Worry- there’s no gradebook!

When you’re done, click the “Review” button to see the right answers.  If you missed any questions, re-read the scripture and try it again.  If you’re stuck (or disagree with the answer!), feel free to post a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Larry

    My daily Bible reading plan recently took me to 2 Chronicles 26; the chapter that talks about King Uzziah (the one who died at the beginning of Isaiah’s ministry in IS 6).

    Uzziah’s downfall happened in the Temple (in his pride he entered the sanctuary to burn incense; something only the priests were supposed to do). Uzziah ended up getting leprosy and dying after suffering with the disease for a long time.

    It’s interesting that Isaiah’s vision happens in the temple. There’s a contrast. Uzziah approached God with pride, ignoring the laws and holiness of the Temple. Isaiah entered God’s presence in total humility. Uzziah ended up dying, but Isaiah ended up being used by God in a mighty way.

    It reminds us that we can’t approach God based on our own merits. But we can come to Him because we’re “In Christ.” God is Holy!

  2. Steve

    what does OF mean and Holiness means to be separated or “cut away.”

  3. Pastor Jim

    Greetings Friends;
    I want to offer a word of thanks to all who participated in some way with worship yesterday (Sunday August 10, 2014). You all were wonderful and the presence of the Holy Spirit was obvious. In a follow up to yesterday’s focus, I offer this humble reflection below.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    PLEASE READ:

    Leviticus 11:44
    “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

    1 Peter 1:15-16
    But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

    Matthew 5:48
    Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    ===============================================

    These verses listed above are prone to send many into a time of thinking and reflection and to be sure there have been many artful interpretations on them throughout the years. Yet the Biblical text is clear; God has called His people to live a “holy” life, both in and outside of the Church. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, taught our ancestors in the faith that “outward holiness” is to equal the “inner holiness.”

    For the Christian, holiness is the fruit or the evidence if-you-will, of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The “holiness” sets us apart and ensures that we are not “unequally yoked” to this world or the ways of this world (2 Corinthians 6:14). As one author has stated, the holiness of a Christian “seems to set us apart, not in the sense of being other-worldly; but rather in the sense of being grasped by the Kingdom vision that formed the center of Jesus’ life and message.” In other words, our life and ministry of holiness allows us to walk, talk, think, act, have the same values, and share the same vision which Jesus did. In holiness we will strive for those things which Jesus desires.

    Every aspect of our lives and ministry comes into conformity to that sacred call of God.
    In short, as we open ourselves to the relationship Jesus offers, we begin living our lives and serving through the Church as the Holy Spirit leads and directs. This is done through prayer, studying the Scriptures, holy conferencing, worshiping together, visioning together, dreaming together, having fellowship together, and serving together. Acts 2:42-47 clearly says that the 1st century Christians,

    “Devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

    All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

    And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

    This is illustrated beautifully in an old Native American story I read recently.

    The story is about a tribal chief who had gathered some young braves together and was telling them about the daily struggle within each of us. The chief said, “It is like two dogs fighting inside of us. There is one good dog who wants to do the right thing and the other dog always wants to do the wrong thing. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and appears to be winning the fight.”

    One young brave asked the chief, “Which dog is going to win in the end?” The chief answered “The one you feed.”

    As God’s people called to be different, called to make an eternal difference, let us strive to be fed daily so we can be a holy people as God has called us to be (1 Peter 1:13-16).

    Shalom,
    Pastor Jim

    • Larry

      I love the story about the two dogs. So, being holy isn’t so much about trying to be a “bigger dog” and trying to fight sin on your own, it’s really about feeding the “right dog.”

      Sometimes that’s not easy; you have to keep “buying” the right food and you have to remember to keep “feeding” him regularly (not just on Sunday morning!)

      • Pastor Jim

        Yes that is correct. As we continue to feed on God’s Word, feed off of worship, feed off of Christian fellowship, and feed off of service to God, we then feed the “good dog.” It is the Holy Spirit that brings about the growth.

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