Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering Church This I Believe Series: Holiness (Lesson 5) To hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM
Be Holy Leviticus 19:1-2, Ephesians 2:1-10, Matthew 5:14-16, John 17:14-21
In our last lesson we learned that God commands His children to be Holy. We also learned that this command is impossible except through the shed blood of Christ on our behalf. The Apostle Paul explained in his letter to the Ephesians that apart from Christ we are dead in our transgressions and sin. We are like zombies following “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (the Devil: Satan is the ruler of the demonic kingdom that resides between earth and space.) Christ has made those of us who trust in Him “alive” through His grace and seated us with Him “in the heavenly realms” (with Heaven as our inheritance). Paul makes it clear that we have been saved by God’s grace (a “gift” through faith in Jesus: Grace= unmerited favor) and by no work of ourselves. God has done this so that we would do “good works” that He prepared for us to do even in advance of our salvation. In other words, any good thing that we do as believers is accomplished because of the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us brought by salvation through the work of Jesus Christ who saved us (as a gift) when we believed!
The “good works” Paul speaks of are the ones Jesus talked about in His Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5:13-16). As Christians we are to be “salt” (bringing good taste and preventing decay) and “light” (making truth visible) in this world thereby glorifying God. Mark this, we can never work our way into Heaven by doing good works; however, “good works” is what will flow out of a person’s life who lives by faith in Jesus. “Good works” is the by product (fruit) of a person who has received Christ as Lord because the Holy Spirit is in him.
As God’s children we should desire holiness because to be holy is to be like our God. We are no longer children of the world that we should reflect the Prince of this world (the Devil). We are children of God and we are to reflect Him. As Jesus said, ( John 17:14-21) we are to be sanctified (set apart) by God’s word so that the world (unbelievers) may believe in Jesus. By living in holiness we make Him visible who is invisible to a lost world.
The Pursuit of Happiness Romans 8:5-15, Matthew 6:33-34, Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-13 If we were as intent in being holy as we are in being happy we would be both more holy and more happy as a result. Oswald Chambers (early twentieth-century Scottish Baptist evangelist/ teacher) said “Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man” You can be sure that no man ever said on his death bed “I wish I had been less holy”. In fact there is usually a rush to holiness once one has been given his death sentence, but dying men may often say “I wish I had experienced a happier life”. Those men, I assure you, are those who lived an unholy life.
Being holy is not work — it is allowing God to work in you. The problem is that our constant pursuit of happiness most often gets in the way of what God’s Spirit wants to do in us. We make a tragic mistake when we make the distinction between being happy and being holy because they are one and the same. We can only be blessed (made happy through God’s favor) when we do God’s will and it is His will for us to be holy.
The Apostle Paul explained it beautifully for us in Romans 8:5-6: “Those who live according to the flesh (Pursue happiness in a worldly way) have their minds set on what the flesh (world) desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit (pursue holiness) have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (Which is your happiness!). He goes on to say: The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Do you desire life and peace? Then stop pursuing happiness and pursue God!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. John 10:10
At His Sermon On The Mount Jesus reminded those people then, who were in pursuit of their own happiness , to seek God’s kingdom first and then they would have all that they needed (Matthew 6:33-34). Hundreds of years earlier the prophet Isaiah reminded his people of the same thing… “seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-9), he prophesied. He went on to say that God’s ways are not our ways. His “ways are higher.” This is why today we must pursue Him and not happiness. As we pursue God and His word He will accomplish what He desires (Isaiah 55:11-13) in us which is indeed happiness… joy forever! We can never be truly happy without holiness.
“Dead Things” and New Creations 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Jackie Hill Perry (Christian writer, poet, hip-hop artist and author) said: “Sinners don’t just sin because, being sinners, they have to. Sinners sin because they want to — they enjoy sinning (John 3:19). Being made in the image of God, we were made for joy, but not the shallow and temporary joy we feel when we sin”. God wants us to have life to the full.
Although we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and no longer slaves to loving “dead things” (Ephesians 2:1), we are still tempted to believe that they will provide the joy we want. We must see this for the lie that it is and choose to live delighting in obedience to the one we love. He is all about bringing life so how are we, His children, to play with “dead things”?
Holiness is happiness and anyone practicing the art will see. Let us reject the shallow and realize all the eternal riches we have been given in Christ. We are His “ambassadors”— “lights of the world!”. Let His Spirit shine through you.