Holiness is fundamental, a foundation, and the irreducible minimum that we must possess to see God. It is not optional, it is mandatory; there is no alternative to it. Hebrews 12:14b declares "..without holiness, no one will see God." The hope we have in Jesus will not come to fruition for us if we do not live in holiness as God requires of us.
Holiness is not a spiritual luxury that was enjoyed by those saints gone before us, it is a priviledge and duty of the believer in the Lord. Each and every one of us must make the effort at living a holy life, we are responsible for it and we must work at it just in the way that Paul asks that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Holiness is not about what we wear or how we walk, there are certain aspects to it.
The Scriptures promise the believers that when we get to heaven we shall see God, this is what glorification is all about. But before that, we must be holy; this entails consecration or setting apart for God. The pulpit and the equipment used therein are dedicated to God and are to be treated as holy. In Daniel 5 we read of the punishment of Belshazzar who used the goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem to entertain his nobles, wives and concubines. Holiness starts with giving glory to God. But once we are consecrated for God, we must be willing to make a choice concerning Him.; Esau had the blessings but was not willing to go all the way. Being saved therefore is not enough, we must consistently work at our salvation.
Sanctification is also a requirement- that we may be of God's standards, that we may be of one mind with Him. This means loving what He loves, and hating those things that He hates. We may wonder what God really hates but even that unwholesome talk that the Scriptures warn us against is hateful to God and could be stealing at our holiness. Yet, many have forsaken God and loved the world more as explained in 2Timothy 4:3, "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."
We must therefore put off the old man and let the new one, who has been washed in the blood of Christ, to prevail. Ephesians 4:22 explains, "You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." How then do we put off this old man that keeps springing on us?
The first thing would be to examine ourselves for hindrances and weights that cause us not to walk in the right way. When we walk with the Lord, certain things that may not have bothered us before start becoming weighty and are likely to make us sin if we do not shed them off; Hebrews 12:1 explains, " Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" We may have the spirit of despondence and giving up which would then makes us lose our holiness.
We should also make every effort to be at peace with other men as explained in Hebrew 12:14, "Make every effort to live with other men and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord." We should be careful how we treat others and avoid breaking hearts or taking away another person's holiness.
We are all born blessed but if we are casual with our blessing as Esau was, then we may lose out all together; Hebrews 12:16 speaks of him, "See to it that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son."
Aggressive and lewd language is not holy. Our dressing may also be suggestive and lead certain people astray. Job did what he thought could help him and in 31:1 proclaims, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl."
God wants us to be holy so that He can step into our situations and save us, but our lack of holiness works against us; Isaiah 59:1-2 explains how, " Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden His face from you so that you will not hear." Why then do we pray with anointed lips yet have no answers for our prayers? Maybe it is because we are not walking right with God. Isaiah 59:3 admonishes, "For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue matters wicked things."
We should say no! to stealing, lies, deception, suggestive talk etc. then we will be able to see Him. God wants us to re-discover holiness and like Daniel, make a resolve not to defile ourselves with the things of this world. If we look to Jesus, and away from the world, then there are things that we need to forsake in order for holiness to come to us. Look away from hardship and be like Jesus. Learn to scorn and despise the things of the world. Hardships will follow our obedience but it is also through this that victory will come.
Peer pressure may try and force us to conform to the world but that too we should ignore. At one time even Peter tried to talk Jesus put off crucifixion but Christ knew His mission and He sternly rebuked the disciple. Indeed where would we be if crucifixion had not taken place?
It is outside the church, and in the market place that out witness is seen. We should therefore be separated from our sins and our wickedness and surrender to God. Holiness is only possible at the foot of the cross!
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May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.