Last week I asked the question, what price revival, and this week we ask, what price holiness? ? We explored the notion that, though we say we want revival, few of us are willing to pay the price for it. As part of that discussion, I want to ask a similar and interrelated question today… What price Holiness? Because holiness is an essential forerunner to revival, and it definitely has a cost because, as you grow in holiness, the enemy attacks more and more.
Holiness is what God is, and what we are not. He is holy, He is completely without sin and let’s face it we, this side of glory, we will never be completely without sin. Sin is anything that we do, or say, or even think that comes between us and God.
Hebrews 12:14 (ESV)
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord..
Now if sin separates us from God, holiness removes this separation. Despite the fact that it is impossible for us to achieve complete holiness, God makes it clear that He expects us to strive for it. Why is it so important to God that we strive to be holy, as He is holy, why can’t we just accept Him as our Saviour and wilfully keep on sinning, doing whatever we want?
I have a lot of passionfruit growing at my house right now, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am suggesting to you is that if you are passionate for Christ, if you are in love with Jesus, then your actions should bear fruit that reflects this love and passion.
1 Peter 1:14-16 (ESV)
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 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.”
Holiness is not just about being religious and judgemental. It’s not about rituals or bells and smells. Holiness is about love, devotion, passion, and it is the byproduct of true devotion to Jesus. Holiness is a calling to every one of us, saying that if we claim to love Jesus but never obey Him, we are kidding ourselves. Love, devotion, passion should lead us to pleasing the one we claim we are devoted to.
A man I once counselled told me he loved his wife and kids, but he was having an affair, and wouldn’t give it up. I’m sorry, that’s not love. It might be a feeling, but love is more than a feeling, it’s an act of the will. If you truly loved her, you wouldn’t do it. Or repent and come back.
WHERE IS THE BAR SET?
God calls us to be holy because He is holy. He sets the bar. I heard about a young boy playing basketball, doing these incredible slam dunks. Looked amazing, felt great, was impressive until you realise that he had lowered the basket. Instead of 10 feet or 3 metres he had set it at 2 metres.
We are like that. We do what we think is right, we look good, but we often lower the bar to suit our standards. We compromise and water down God’s standards to suit ourselves or society.
Think about Australia in 2022. If you believe in the sanctity of life and are against abortion, you are in the minority. If you believe in traditional marriage…if you believe that homosexuality is a sin and is unnatural, then according to all the polls I’ve seen, you are becoming more and more the minority. If you believe in abstinence… that men and women should abstain from sex until marriage, you are certainly in the minority, even in Christian churches! If you believe God creates male and female and doesn’t make mistakes, you are once again in the minority.
Latest census results show that, for the first time, fewer than half of Australians identified as Christian, though Christianity remained the nation’s most common religion (declared by 43.9 per cent of the population). Meanwhile, the number of Australians who said they had no religion rose to 38.9 per cent (from 30.1 per cent in 2016). We live in a secular country, and while the world tells us Christianity is in the wane, I’m excited. Christianity is being pruned right now, and God has done this all though history to get rid of deadwood and produce a bigger harvest!
In the 21st century in Australia, Christians are bending and compromising what has been considered basic truth and common sense since the dawn of time, and they are doing it to try to fit it, to be inclusive and to avoid controversy. Paul warns Timothy prophetically about Christians who are
2 Timothy 3:4-5 (ESV)
treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
The Greek for appearance is MORPHOSIS, which means the shape of, the resemblance of, the form of godliness, but devoid of the power that true holiness contains, the power of the Spirit of God. Tall steeple few people churches are emptying, because they are compromising God’s standards. They lack power.
SIN IS MISSING THE MARK
Look, none of us are perfect. We all sin, so why does God set the bar so high?
Romans 3:23 (ESV)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
The Word for sin is HAMAR-YANO, which literally means “to miss the mark”. God has a standard, a mark, a level of holiness, and we all miss it.
I was watching a penalty shoot out in football recently. One guy slipped, and put the ball into row Z. Another guy beat the goalkeeper, but hit the post. Close but no cigar. They both failed, both did not hit the mark. Whether you fail to hit God’s standards by a lot or a little is irrelevant, that fact is you’ve failed, and you need to repent and let His blood wash you clean.
The way to be reconnected to God, the way to be free from sin, they way to have eternal life is not in God lowering His standards so you can make the cut, it’s by Him keeping His standards of holiness high, but sacrificing His Son to pay the penalty for you, and restore your soul to God.
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The penalty doesn’t change, the standard doesn’t change, God is and always will be holy, but He had made a way for you to be brought back to Himself. What’s the difference between Christianity and all the other religions in the world? Religion is man trying to reach God, trying to somehow meet God’s perfect standards, but Christianity is God in the form of Jesus Christ reaching out to man and making a way for us to come to Him.
WHAT EXACTLY IS HOLINESS?
1 Peter 1:15 (ESV)
but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
Holy is the word HAGIOS in Greek, and it means pure, without blemish, without stain, without compromise. God’s standards are without compromise.
Today the world’s standards changes every 5 minutes, and it amuses me that the whole world is blindly following a lobby group that don’t even know who they are themselves. Talk about the blind leading the blind. LGBTQQIP2SAA. The term stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, asexual, and ally. I think the last A should be alphabet soup.
WHO IS SHAPING YOU?
When we are called to holiness, we are called to be passionate for the things of God, not the world. Let’s have a close look at that.
1 Peter 1:14-15 (ESV)
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In both of these passages, the word conformed is SYSCHEM-ATIZO, which means shaped, formed or squeezed or moulded into the passions of this world. What does the world’s passion look like?
WHO ARE YOU REFLECTING?
1 John 2:15-16 (ESV)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
When the moon shines, it’s actually reflecting the light of the sun. Sometimes the earth gets in the way, though, so that the moon’s light is diminished. The sun still shines, but the moon is not reflecting it. Similarly, we have an enemy that prevents us from reflecting the Son’s light on us. That enemy is called the world. Here John is referring to the organised system headed by Satan that draws us away from God’s love and will.
You love the world when it rather than God owns your affections and passions, and when it governs your choices by getting you to exclude God.
What does the world offer you to compromise God’s holiness standards?
1. LUST OF THE FLESH
First, it promises to satisfy legitimate desires in illegitimate ways. Eating is legitimate; gluttony is worldly. Sex is legitimate; immorality is worldly. Anything that the world offers to satisfy your base, fleshly desires is a LUST of the flesh. So whether it is alcohol or drugs, TV, movies, video games, if it controls you rather than you controlling it, it’s LUST of the flesh.
Romans 8:6-8 (ESV)
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
2. LUST OF THE EYES
The biblical word for this is covetousness, which is desiring and pursuing that which is not legitimate for you to have. Whether it’s a lifestyle that you shouldn’t lead, or somebody else’s house, car or wife, your eyes open the door to temptation. We need to be on guard for our eyes, Job said
Job 31:1 (ESV)
“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
3. PRIDE OF LIFE
How interesting that June has been declared pride month, celebrating all things alphabet soupish. I think it is fascinating that they have called it pride month. Pride is the original sin, when we say to God, I don’t need you, I don’t honour you, instead I elevate myself in Your place. It was pride that cause Lucifer to become the evil satan, and the Bible says
Proverbs 11:2 (ESV)
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Psalms 10:4 (ESV)
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
God says, about pride,
Proverbs 6:16-17 (ESV)
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, (first cab off the rank is pride)
James 4:6 (ESV)
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
And what’s more, here’s what God is going to do about it
Psalms 59:12 (ESV)
For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter,
Bottom line, if you want to get close to God, if you want to be someone in the Kingdom of God, you cannot tolerate being squeezed into the mould of this world order. We must submit our pride to God’s sovereignty. Let’s have lay aside pride month!
CONFORM OR TRANSFORM… IT’S YOUR CHOICE
Without holiness, no one will see the Lord, Hebrews 12:14 says. Holiness might be expressed in our attitudes and opinions and conduct, but how we act is really just a reflection of our inner life. Any dead fish can float with the tide, but it takes an alive fish, a strong fish to swim against the tide.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
So we can conform, or we can transform. We can’t renew our minds by ourselves, but we face a simple decision… Conform or transform. Lower the bar or aim high. Obey God or not. Society changes its standards daily, but the word of God stands forever. When we make the choice to transform our minds, God then renews them.
How can our minds be renewed? It’s the opposite of the 3 lusts we saw before.
LUST of the flesh, don’t let anything control you. Resist addictions and things that promise satisfaction but harbour in the long term being controlled by someone or something else.
LUST of the eyes, guard what you look at, be it movies, TV, books, news sites, pornography, shopping sales, etc.
And pride of life, be humble and serve instead of promoting your own agenda all the time. They gave me a badge for humility, but they took it off me because I wore it!
WE ARE CALLED TO RENEW OUR MINDS AND BE HOLY
How can we renew our minds and become holy? It’s starts with a decision, a choice to not conform and to stand for what is right and true. Be careful how you choose
James 4:4 (ESV)
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
While so many church people are compromising today to stay tight with the world, they are making themselves enemies of God. No wonder church attendance is down… tolerance has become a mantra to some churches.
I have been very proud this week to see my daughter Kristi defending the cause of the unborn as a doctor on FB, and doing so with dignity and respect for those who oppose her. And some have attacked her, even suggesting she is not worthy to be a doctor, but allow me to quote how she responded to one such attack…
The fundamentals of medical ethics were said to have been born in the Hippocratic oath, which includes the sentence “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion”. Though now our society has made us swear a modified version without that in it, to allow doctors to perform euthanasia and abortion in Australia. But that doesn’t make it morally right. Additionally, making something legal is condoning that it is socially acceptable. Even in Australian law being pro-life does not mean someone can’t be a doctor
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
We need to be tolerant towards people, even people we don’t agree with, loving them unconditionally and being kind and caring, but we must remain intolerant to bad, ungodly ideas.
Romans 12:9-10 (ESV)
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.
Tolerate people, but not sin… Hate that! The world is tolerant of people’s bad ideas, even if they are a disaster, but they are intolerant of people, especially those who disagree with the current narrative. The world tolerates and champions any and every minority except Christians. Yet this could be our finest hour!
We can become holy and shine for Christ in our sin soaked society right now.
Philippians 2:15 (ESV)
that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
WHAT PRICE HOLINESS?
So what price do we place on holiness? We should be prepared to stand for holiness, for God’s truth, no matter the cost, even if it costs us everything. Are you are ready to be a soldier for Christ, standing for truth in this perverse generation? If you are, then here are some steps towards holiness.
1. DECIDE THAT GOD’S WORD IS THE STANDARD FOR HOLINESS
God’s Word says that if you are a friend of the world and it’s standards, you are an enemy of God. Society changes its standards every 2 minutes, depending on who is in charge, what modern opinion is, and forces like the media. If you find yourself saying that the Bible should change with the times, you’re on shaky ground!
Matthew 24:35 (ESV)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
You have to have some kind of standard, so decide that God’s Word is true, then stand on it. Are you looking at the Bible through society, or society through the Bible?
2. GUARD YOUR HEART AND EYES
Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
When you choose holiness, you have to guard yourself against attacks from the enemy, and there are plenty of enemies out there ready to attack. Remember, in the eyes of this modern world, you have to be tolerant to every person and agree with every point of view, except with Christians, who, you are free to attack mercilessly and with as much venom as you can muster.
When they attack, you have to guard you heart and eyes.
3. RENEW YOUR MIND
We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We can’t renew our own kinds, but God can. So what must we do?
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
That’s the key, covenant with the Lord to fill your mind with things that are good and wholesome. And what is? The Word of God, Christian movies, books, music.
4. STAND TOGETHER
There is strength in numbers, and that’s what church is about. We can stand together against the enemy, and join our shields of faith. Together we are stronger, even if we don’t agree on everything, we can collectively stand for Christ in this crooked generation. Alone the enemy will pick us off, but together we can make a stand for Jesus.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
DON’T BEND, BOW
So what price Holiness? Everything, we need to commit to standing for what is God’s truth, no matter what they throw at us. The challenge is to do this without judging and rejecting those who disagree with us, but loving and accepting them as people, even if we reject their ideas.
We are called to holiness, not holier than thou NESS, but holiness. If you stand for what God says, you can expect to be attacked by those who are aligned with this world’s system, and it’s master. But when we stand and when we are attacked, we need to not bend to the world, but bow to the Lord of hosts.
Sadly, even in the church we are seeing plenty of bending, but let me encourage you with these words from Jesus, who talked about weeds being sown into the field of good crop. This is the church, make no mistake, and I aim to be the good fruit. Listen to how Jesus explained this
Matthew 13:37-43 (ESV)
He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
If we decide to pay the price, we can remain holy, and we can stand against the great sins and excesses that society now tells us is acceptable.
2 Peter 3:14 (ESV)
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
As a young Christian I was inspired by the forceful, powerful words of Keith Green. He challenged me to say, no compromise, and I have continued to be uncompromising on God’s standards.
Ultimately, you and you alone are accountable to the Lord for your behaviour. You can tolerate sin in your life, or say no. You can stand for what is right or not. I want to be the one who stands for holiness in our nation. Will you join me? It’s a hard balance trying to love those who attack us while not compromising our faith or truth, but this nation needs men and women of God who are strong enough to stand firm.