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Holiness

Luke 1:67-75

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us -- 72 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (NIV84)

Upon naming his son, John (the baptizer,) Zechariah spoke by the Holy Spirit this prophesy concerning Jesus Christ. It speaks of the eminent fulfillment of the covenant promised to Abraham.

A covenant is an agreement between two parties. In the case of the Abrahamic covenant God said: As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. Genesis 17:4-8 (NIV84)

There are two parties of the Abrahamic covenant. Above we see what God promised to do, but what was Abraham and his descendants to do? Was Abraham free to do as he chose, and just say: "Thanks God, that sounds great."

No, Abraham was not free to do as he pleased. For God said: I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. Genesis 17:1 (NIV84) The prophesy in Luke above speaks of this also, when it says that Jesus enables us to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

God expects us to walk blameless before him all of our lives. I don't want you to be tricked by those who teach only the God half of the gospel message. The truth is what agrees with every verse.

I have heard so much teaching about what God will do for you. How God in Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation on the cross. How all of our sins were atoned for by him. How God does it all and we can do nothing. This teaching is only half right.

God, all by himself, did rescue us from Satan and from the power of death. This is a fact, and we had nothing to do with it. But what does that have to do with you? Unless of course you repent and walk holy and blameless before him in faith. Unless you enter into the covenant. Unless you become a covenant partner with Jesus Christ.

Does this frighten you? Good! Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. Romans 11:20-22 (NIV84)

Being a Christian is not a matter of being a 'good' person, of not smoking or drinking or swearing. It is not a matter of how good you are, but who and what you are, and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus rendered sin's power over us impotent, so that we can live holy and pure and righteous lives before God in him.

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ -- their Lord and ours: 1 Corinthians 1:2 (NIV84) Now this word 'sanctified' means to be set apart. For example: In the temple worship, during the Old Covenant, there were articles used in the temple worship. Bowls, lamps, special clothes etc. These were sanctified. Being sanctified, they were not used for common purposes. They were holy and were to be used with reverence.

And if you be in Christ, so are you sanctified and you are to conduct your body with reverence, for it no longer belongs to you, but to God. You are sanctified and called to be holy.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (NIV84)

What can I say, Jesus enables us to be holy, but we must be holy. This you must do, not him. He makes it possible--you live it.

I've seen signs on the back of people's cars that say, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." O how much my heart grieves when I see such arrogant folly. Out of Jesus' own mouth came these words, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 (NIV84) Such contempt for God's precious and holy gift.

I look at people who go to church and claim to be in Christ, and look at people in the work place who make no such claim, and I can't see any difference! They tell me they have God's HOLY Spirit in their hearts, but I don't see holiness. Jesus said Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV84)

A prophet is one who speaks the words of God. There are many, many people in the 'Church' who claim to be teaching the Word of God, but they don't look like Jesus to me. They are arrogant, boastful and abusive--not servants at all.

O that people would listen and not go their own way. O that they would seek God with their whole hearts. Listen to me and I will show you wisdom. If your love for God is sincere; then open your heart to my words. I don't want you to be lost or defeated because of all the bad teaching out there. Sound doctrine is hard to find. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NIV84)

Don't let fear rise up in your heart and chase you away from my words. There is no need for fear, for God's gift is freely given to any who will receive it with a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

This is the bargain God is offering you: His life for your life. He is life. To enter into him we must die to the world and be buried with Christ in baptism and then resurrected with him as new creatures in Christ.

This is the meaning of our Lord's words: Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV84) And consider this scripture: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV84)

If you belong to Jesus Christ then you are not free to live as you like. You are called to be: hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. Titus 1:8 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life -- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV84)

God knows that we are not perfect. He knows that we will make mistakes and frequently stumble. Our relationship is not gained or maintained by our actions, but by faith. We are rescued from our dead and rebellious state into an obedience that comes from faith. Romans 1:5 (NIV84) If you truly love God you will acknowledge his authority and humbly obey him. You will delight in obedience to him because you know that this pleases God. You can be sure that there is joy in pleasing the one you love.

Living an obedient life that pleases God is not an optional request, but a command. God has told us that if we are to live in his house, we must fully acknowledge that he is God and Father over us and that when he speaks we will obey.

Obedience is everything. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6 (NIV84)

And just how did Jesus walk?

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV84) Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV84)

As 'imitators' of God, we too must empty ourselves of everything and humbly serve our beloved Lord God. God is good and gentle and kind and he expects us to be like him. Being conformed into the image and likeness of our Creator takes time, to be sure, but we must be on the path that leads to that end. If you want to be God's child then you must receive God as your Father and obey him. There is no other way.

Have faith in God. Give your life, whole-heartedly, over to him, and live a life worthy of his love for you. God loves you. He sent his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross to die for you. Do not treat his gift to you with contempt; but with joy and reverence accept it, humbly acknowledging your past rebellion, and walk in newness of life, holy and pure, children of God.

I have only just touched this subject of a holy and sanctified life. It is covered from the very start of the Bible to the end. This notion of being a part time Christian is pure folly. There are no part time Christians. If you won't give yourself completely over to him, don't be fooled and think that you will be accepted by God. You are either his child or not. He is either your Father or not. If you don't think that God is worthy of you, then you won't be worthy of him.

 

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