The Question: Are You Holy? 1. Objections a. “I feel much, and think much about these things: far more than many suppose.” The question is not what you think or feel but what you do. b. “It was never meant that all Christians should be holy, and holiness is only for great saints and people of uncommon gifts.” I cannot see that in Scripture. “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” c. “It is impossible to be so holy and to do our duty in this life at the same time: It cannot be done.” People like Daniel and those in Caesar’s house did it. d. “If I were so holy I would be unlike other people.” That’s the point. We are a separate nation set apart by God for salvation. e. “At this rate very few will be saved.” Straight is the gate and narrow the path. Heaven is not “easy” to get in. f. “These are hard sayings: the way is very narrow.” “That which costs nothing is worth nothing.” 2. Do you think you feel the importance of holiness as much as you should? a. A person can go very far in a profession of faith without growth in holiness. When Jesus said that one would betray him they didn’t all just turn and point to Judas. b. We cannot replace the work of Christ with our personal holiness but God has linked them together. We cannot boast of Christ’s work for us if we cannot show the Spirit’s work in us. c. Samuel Rutherford said, “The way that crieth down duties and sanctification, is not the way of grace. Believing and doing are blood-friends.” d. John Owen spoke of people whose whole religion was complaining of their corruptions and telling everyone that they could do nothing of themselves. Ryle says that this is just a cover for spiritual laziness. Paul complained that he was a wretched man but he also said he was pressing toward the mark. e. We should not think of ourselves as better than others. But we should have a desire to see many believers become more spiritual, more holy, more heavenly-minded, and more wholehearted toward God. f. “Is it not true that we need a higher standard of personal holiness in this day? Where is the unmistakable tone which used to distinguish the saints of old, and shake the world? Oh, where is the spirit of him, who by the cross of Christ was crucified to the world, and the world to him!” Advice to All Who Desire to Be Holy 1. You must begin with Christ. You will make no progress until you feel your sin and weakness and flee to Him. You cannot make yourself holy and then come to Christ. It is like the woman who had the flow of blood who tried everything to be better but only got worse until she touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. 2. If you want holiness then begin with these words, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling; Naked, flee to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace.” 3. Say to Christ, “Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom you promised, and save me from sin’s power. Make me holy. Teach me to do your will.” 4. Do you want to continue to be holy? Then abide in Christ. John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” “Paul was a man of God indeed, a holy man, a growing, thriving Christ – and what was the secret of it all? He was one to whom Christ was “all in all”. He was ever “looking unto Jesus.” “I can do all things,” he says, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
3. Holiness and Sin a. Holiness does not destroy the presence of indwelling sin. But it does cause hatred toward it and a desire to be free from it. b. Sanctification is a progressive work and does not come to perfection all at once. c. Sanctification is an imperfect work. The best of men is a man at best. d. True holiness is a reality. It is something that can be seen, known and pointed out. If it exists it will be seen. e. We need to make allowances for backsliding. Every road has some twists and turns. But a person who willfully and unashamedly sins and willfully neglects what God says to do cannot be called holy. John Owen said, “I do not understand how a man can be a true believer unto whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow and trouble.” Why True, Practical Holiness Is So Important 1. Can holiness save us? Holiness cannot put away sin, cover iniquities, make satisfaction for transgression, or pay our debt to God. “Our best things are stained and tainted with imperfection. They are all more or less incomplete, wrong in the motive or defective in the performance. By the deeds of the law shall no child of Adam ever be justified.” 2. We must be holy because God commands it. 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” 1 Peter 1:15-16, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 3. We must be holy because it is the end and purpose for which Christ came into the world. Jesus is a complete savior in that he not only to away the guilt of sin but the power. 2 Corinthians 5:15, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Ephesians 5:25-26, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. The Definition of True, Practical Holiness 1. What a holy person is not. a. Not just knowledge b. Not just a great profession c. Not just doing a lot of things d. Not just morality and outward respectability e. Not just taking pleasure in listening to preachers f. Not just keeping company with godly people 2. What a holy person is. a. They have the habit of being of one mind with God as described in Scripture. Loving what God loves and hating what God hates. b. They endeavor to shun every known sin and to keep every known commandment. c. They strive to be like Jesus. 1 John 2:6 “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” d. They strive to be meek, longsuffering, gentle, patient, kind and control their tongue. e. They strive to be self-controlled and self-denying. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” f. They strive to be forgiving and to show brotherly kindness. They desire to practice the golden rule and to show the love toward the church mentioned 1 Corinthians 13. g. They strive to be merciful and benevolent towards others. They seek to do good to others not being content with doing no harm. Acts 9:36 “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.” h. They strive for purity of heart. They dread their sin and anything that would draw them into it. The heart is like tinder and a holy person keeps the sparks of temptation away. i. They desire the fear of God. Not the fear of a slave that fears punishment but that of a child who acts out of love toward their father. j. They will desire humility. They will see others better than themselves. Abraham said, “I am dust and ashes.” Jacob said, “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant.” Job said, “Behold, I am of small account.” Paul says out of sinners he was “the foremost.” k. They strive to be faithful in all duties and relationships. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Paul in his letters describes the duties and nature of relationships on many levels including social, economic, gender, familial, ethnic and church. l. They desire to be spiritually minded. They hold the things of this earth with a very loose hand. They understand that they are just pilgrims and strangers in this world. Ryle says, “To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people – these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments.” They will place a value on everything in relation to how it draws them closer to God.
The Distinction Between Justification and Sanctification How are they alike? 1. Both proceed from the free grace of God. They are a gift. 2. Both are part of the work of salvation of Jesus. 3. Both are to be found in a person. One who is justified is sanctified and one who is sanctified is justified. 4. Both begin at the same time. At the moment of justification and person has begun sanctification, though they may not see it fully. 5. Both are necessary for salvation. How are they different? 1. Justification is God counting a person righteous on the account of the work of Jesus. Sanctification is God making a person inwardly righteous. 2. The righteousness we have through justification is not our own and is imputed to us by faith in Christ. The righteousness we have in sanctification is our own righteousness worked in us by the Holy Spirit but mingled with our own imperfection. 3. In justification, our works play no part. In sanctification, our own works are very important. God bids us to fight, watch, pray, strive, take pains, and work. 4. Justification is a finished and complete work and a person is perfectly justified the moment they believe. Sanctification is a process that will not be finished until we are in heaven. 5. Justification does not grow or increase. Sanctification will continue to grow and increase as long as a person lives. 6. Justification deals with our standing in God’s sight our guiltiness. Sanctification deals with our nature and the renewal of our hearts. 7. Justification is the act of God about us and not discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us and cannot be hidden from others.
Not religious talk. 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Many people can talk like a Christian but they still serve sin and the world. Not religious feelings. Many people go to church services or conferences or revivals and have their emotions greatly stirred and may even respond in action but their hearts are not changed at all. Ryle calls this “a kind of animal excitement from the contagion of seeing others weeping, rejoicing, or affected.” He points to the parable of the soils, the casting out of demons out of a person only to have more return, not counting the cost or Lot’s wife who turns back. It is a dangerous place to be if you believe you are born again based on some religious feelings. Not outward formalism or external devoutness. Many people replace inward sanctification with outward activity. They never deal with their heart problem instead they increase the amount or severity of their actions. Not a retreat from society or social obligations. Becoming a monk does not automatically make you sanctified. Martin Luther testified to that. The devil can find you anywhere and the root of evil we carry in our hearts. Ryle says “True holiness does not make a Christian evade difficulties, but face and overcome them.” Jesus did not pray that we run and hide from the world. John 17:15 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Genuine sanctification shows itself in a habitual desire to live up to the biblical standard. A Christian will desire to follow all of the practical commands given like those found at the end of most of Paul’s epistles. Genuine sanctification shows itself in habitual attention to gracious actions exemplified by Jesus. For example, John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” Genuine sanctification shows itself in habitual attention to “passive graces”. That is things like gentleness, longsuffering, meekness, and forgiveness. Genuine sanctification is something that can be seen. These visible marks are seen in a sanctified person. They may not all be seen equally in every believer or be fully and perfectly shown but a person who knows nothing of them does not know God’s grace at all.
There are three things that the Bible says are absolutely necessary for salvation are justification, regeneration, and sanctification. If you do not have these three then you are not a Christian in the sight of God. The Nature of Sanctification Sanctification is the inward spiritual work that Jesus works in a person by the Holy Spirit when they become a true believer. Jesus cleanses believers from their sins, separates them from their natural love of sin and the world, puts a new standard in their hearts, and makes them practically godly. Jesus’ death not only delivered believers from the guilt of sin (justification) but also the dominion of their sin (sanctification) by placing the Holy Spirit in them.
If we want to have a right view of holiness we must start with a right view of sin. Wrong views of holiness usually begin with wrong views of sin. Right knowledge of sin is at the root of the doctrine of salvation and its parts such as justification, regeneration, and sanctification. If you don’t know the nature and severity of the disease of your soul you can’t apply the correct remedy.
To advance the cause of scriptural holiness.
Every Christian who loves Christ and desires to advance the kingdom of God should work in holiness.
The Need for a Holy Life
Practical holiness and the desire to live a life consecrated to God is something that is missing in the lives of many professing Christians. Worldliness, politics, infighting, fear of man, etc. have eaten the heart of the Christian life. The standard of the Christian life is miserably low. In Titus 2:10 Paul, speaking to the Christian slaves says that ought to be, “showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Christians don’t get this. People complain about Christians being hypocritical or selfish or they are no different from non-Christians and that, in many places, is a fair assessment. But sanctification is as important as justification. Good and sound doctrine is useless unless it is accompanied by a holy life. We need a revival of scriptural holiness.