Today, June 4, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series on Holiness, using the text 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.
He began with a visual illustration of two aspects of the meaning of holiness.
The first meaning is "separate, other, set apart, completely unique."
Another concept tied with holiness is pure, absolute perfection, moral purity.
God fits both aspects. God is in a completely different category from everything else that exists. And God is good.
The Shocker: God intends for us to be holy as well. (2 Timothy 1:9 - God saved us and called us to a holy life.)
What motivates us to be holy? We looked at 3 "Don't Miss This" Principles:
1) Our holiness is motivated by what God offers us.
7:1 - "because of God's promises." We do want what's best for us in the long run. God designed us such that our desires are met in Him. He offers holiness - and true happiness.
God offers us an intimate connection with Him. That offer is NOT conditional, but it is consequential. As a consequence of being holy, God's blessing moves in and through us.
In our desire for happiness, we often chase short-term solutions.
C. S. Lewis: Our desires aren't strong enough. God offers infinite joy. "We are far too easily pleased." Our problem isn't that we want to be happy. It's that we settle for short-term solutions.
2) Our holiness is also motivated by our reverence for God.
We forget how awesome God is. We have a casual understanding of what God expects of us.
We live thinking that if we're generally kind, God will provide therapeutic benefits. We treat God like a vending machine, or a kind grandfather, or a really great counsellor. These don't go far enough.
When we see God for what He really is, we are filled with awe.
What is NOT a motivation for holiness: Guilt!
This isn't about a list of Do's and Don't's. Guilt isn't sufficient motivation.
3) We grow in holiness through discipline and effort.
If we're standing still, we're losing ground.
Let's be clear: Holiness is work that God does in our lives.
But: We aren't robots and God won't force it on us. We must pursue it. "Let us purify ourselves."
We also looked at 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being equally yoked. Don't put ourselves in a close connection with someone who's not pulling in the same direction as we are.
[Ed did point out that Paul is the same person who wrote that Christians shouldn't leave a marriage with an unbeliever. But here he's suggesting it's not a good idea to start one that way.]
Why not form a relationship where we're not heading in the same direction? Because we're holy. It's who we are.
Pursuing anything else is against God and His purposes.
If we pursue holiness, our lives will become more gracious and more like God.
Pursuing the opposite makes us more and more self-centered.
Do what you must to purify yourself.
Lord, make our desires LARGE! Show us what You are offering! We will stop settling for less.