Accepting the Call to Holiness
1 Peter 1:14-16 (NIV)
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 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.”
When the phone rings, we can choose to answer the phone (let the one placing the call speak to you personally), let the answering machine get it (Don’t let it address you personally), or let it it ring (ignore it). When we hear the call of God on our lives to follow him in Holiness, we can either ignore it, let the machine answer it, or let God speak to us personally. When God places the call of holiness on your life, accept the call. Holiness is not presented as an option, but as a requirement:
I. Accept Holiness As A Proclamation to Hear
A. The Call of Authority
- The obedience we display is exactly proportionate to the authority we recognize.
Illust.: "Sirs," said the Duke of Wellington to an office of engineers who complained of the impossibility of executing the directions he had received, "I did not ask your opinion. I gave you my orders, and I expect them to be obeyed." Such should be the obedience of every follower of Jesus. The words which he has spoken are our law, not our judgments or fancies. Even if death appears in the way, it is not ours to reason why- Ours, but to dare and die, and, at our Master's bidding, advance through flood or flame.
-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
B. The Call to Obedience
Quote: Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God.
---Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Romans 1:5 (NIV) - Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV) - But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
C. The Call to Noncomformity
· Old habits must be broken. We must no longer live under the pull of our old desire.
Illust.: - A warped board tends to stay warped. It is hard to work with a piece of lumber once it has been warped. You can nail it down, but if it is twisted, it will still tend to bend to conform to its warped and twisted form. We are warped and twisted too, and we will conform to our warped and twisted ways, but the power of God in salvation can take the warped and twisted people, and make them straight. He can take away our bent to sinning.
Illust.: The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.
---Leonard Ravenhill (1867-1942)
II. Accept Holiness As A Possibility For Believers
A. Covering not Plausible
· God loves us enough to not just cover us over, but to provide a remedy for our sin.
Illust.: How ridiculous it would be if an ambulance came to an accident scene where people lay around hurt and bleeding, and the paramedics ran around covering people with blankets so that their wounds could not be seen, and once the victims were covered they said there, now the job is done. Some people think that that is how God deals with our sin.
Quote: God is holy with an absolute holiness that knows no degrees, and this he cannot impart to his creatures. But there is a relative and contingent holiness which he shares with angels and seraphim in heaven and with redeemed men on earth as their preparation for heaven. This holiness God can and does impart to his children. He shares it with them by imputation and by impartation, and because he has made it available to them through the blood of the Lamb, he requires it of them.
--- A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
B. Command is Promise
- If God commands us to do something, He would not be a fair and just God, if the command was issued without the provision to make it possible. If it were not possible for us, yet He insisted we do it, He would be not only unfair, but inconsistent. This is something that God cannot be, and still be God. This is the basis for taking His command as a promise. This is the basis for our righteousness. It is by faith in the promises of God, and that the God who calls us does not call us in futility. He calls us to be Holy because he has made provision for our holiness in Christ Jesus. That is why the Scriptures say, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
C. Calvary is Provision
2 Peter 1:2-3 (NIV) Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Quote: is quite true to say, "I can't live a holy life," but you can decide to let Jesus make you holy.
---Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
1 Jn 1:7 (NIV)But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
III. Accept Holiness As A Pattern Throughout Scripture
A. The Witness of the Old Testament to Holiness
-Enoch, Noah, and a host of others are declared to have been righteous in their relationship with God.
- - The Psalms declare Holiness as a prerequisite to proper worship.
Psalm 24:3-4 (NIV) Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. Psalm 29:2 (NIV) Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) David prays for a holiness imparted by God, after he is confronted with his sin.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
- - There is a continual Call of God on the Israelites to be Holy.
Leviticus 11:45 (NIV) I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
B. The Witness of the Gospels to Holiness
Luke 1:73-75 (NIV) the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Matthew 5:20 (NIV) For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
John 17:17 (NIV) Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
C. The Witness of the Epistles to Holiness
1 Timothy 2:8 (NIV) I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 2:10 (NIV) You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.
Romans 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
IV. Accept Holiness As A Proof of Parentage
A. Testing Positive for Paternity
- Before DNA testing, there was one simple test to determine who a childs father was. The question was simply asked, Who does the child look like?
John 8:42-47 (NIV)Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
B. Testing Negative for Illegitimacy
Illust.: Our word thug comes from a secret organization in India. For centuries members committed robbery and murder in the name of their patron goddess, Kali, who required it of them. Every act of violence was preceded by worship, and a share of the goods they got in the robbery was given to the goddess in one of her temples. The organization was finally put down in the first half of the nineteenth century by the British authorities. How strikingly different is Christian faith, teaching giving, not taking; peace, not violence; and generosity, not greed.
-- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
Quote: If the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.
-- Feodor Dostoevski in The Brothers Karamazov. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4.
C. Testing Continued until Eternity
2 Pe 3:10-18 (NIV) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Illust.: Several centuries before Christ, Alexander the Great came out of Macedonia and Greece to conquer the Mediterranean world. He didn't know it, but God was using him to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah--for it was as a result of Alexander's conquests that Greek was established as the common language of the Grecian and later even Roman Empire. On one of his campaigns, Alexander received a message that one of his soldiers had been continually, and seriously, misbehaving and thereby shedding a bad light on the character of all the Greek troops. And what made it even worse was that this soldier's name was also Alexander. When the commander learned this, he sent word that he wanted to talk to the errant soldier in person. When the young man arrived at the tent of Alexander the Great, the commander asked him, "What is your name?" The reply came back, "Alexander, sir." The commander looked him straight in the eye and said forcefully, "Soldier, either change your behavior or change your name." This story has a lesson for each of us. When we call ourselves Christians, we are identifying with Jesus Christ. When we wear a cross, or ICHTHUS, or put Christian stickers on our cars, we are being a witness for Him. We are being identified with the name of Christ. Is your behavior compatible with that name and with the symbol that shows that you are a Christian?
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 299-300.
God is calling us to a Holy life. Do you hear the Holy Spirit now? Don’t ignore it and think it will keep on ringing. God will not strive with man forever. Do you hear the Holy Spirit calling you to a holy life? Don’t think that you can treat it in a detached way, as though you can treat it impersonally. God knows your home, and you can’t remain under cover by pretending your not home. Take the Call. Let God talk to you and listen like you never have before. As the one who calls you is Holy, be holy in all that you do. Hear the Call as a possibility. Hear it as a promise. Hear the Call as a it echoes throughout the Scriptures and reverberates in the through the corridors of time. God has not left himself without a witness. Hear the Call as it measures your relationship to your heavenly Father, and says, like Father, like son. Answer the call God is making to you, to draw you to Calvary where the provision is made for the washing of dirty hearts. Answer the Call to Godliness, and Christ-likeness. Answer the call to Holiness. Whatever you do, Don’t hang up.