Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Root Of Holiness 

Text: I Thessalonians 4:7, “For God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness.”

Over the last 36 years, as I pastored Berean Baptist Church in Grand Blanc, Michigan, I emphasized over and over again a number of principles that are characteristics of holiness in the life of the believer. For those who sat under my ministry during these years you will have heard me emphasize these principles many times. I have personally tried to practice these principles in my daily walk as a Christian. In my last message to Berean during the Bible study hour before our morning worship service on September 30th, 2018 I shared these principles for the final time making one last plea that those, who were hearing my message, would commit themselves to being Christ-like Christians who exemplified these principles in their private and public life. Whenever these principles have been missing in the life of the New Testament Church the cause of Christ has suffered immeasurably. An unholy church is a scandal and a disgrace before the watching world. Only eternity will reveal the damage that has been done to the cause of Christ, not by outward enemies who openly hate the gospel, but by those professing believers who, lurking in the church, bring shame and reproach on the gospel by their personal failures and hypocrisies that are evident in their walk and profession of faith.

I want to examine this subject of the Root Of Holiness. I trust that we can discover what holiness really is and also discover the root of holiness and then be exhorted to strive for personal holiness in our daily lives.

What Is Holiness?

The word for holiness in Hebrew, qadhosh, “holy. In Greek it is  hagios, “holy”. The concept of holiness contains a number of things.

      1. Holiness is being set apart from that which is common or mundane.
      2. Holiness is obeying the laws and will of God.
      3. Holiness is being conformed into the image of Christ. Theologian R.C. Sproul made this observation regarding being conformed into the image of Christ:

“To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the "mind of Christ." We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things He considers weighty.” 

      1. Holiness is being God like in our attitude and actions.

J. C. Ryle said holiness is: “Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.”  

What Is The Root Of Holiness?

Anything that lives in the dirt of the earth that has been planted has roots. Trees, Plants of any kind, The crops that grow in our fields, etc. Roots draw forth from the ground the water, nutrients and minerals that are necessary for the life of any living thing.

Jesus is our root. From our spiritual union and connection to Jesus we draw from Him the spiritual power to live the Christian life. John 15:5, “I am the vine ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me the same bringeth forth much fruit for without Me ye can do nothing.” 

      By our mystical union with Christ we have the secret of our holiness and the secret of our power. Thomas Watson speaking of holiness said: “There is a great deal of difference between a stake in the hedge and a tree in the garden. A stake rots and moulders, but a tree, having life in it, abides and flourishes. When godliness has taken root in the soul, it abides to eternity; ‘His seed remaineth in him’ (I John 3:9). Godliness being engraved in the heart by the Holy Spirit, as with the point of a diamond, can never be erased.
The Godly Man's Picture, pg. 14.

The question we must all ask of ourselves is this, “Do we have a root of holiness in our lives? Do we live what we profess? Do we have any spiritual connection to Jesus that gives us the life giving power of His presence that enables us to produce spiritual fruit in our lives? Do we have an inner longing for holiness and conformity Christ? 

If we have a root of hotness, ie. A connection to the Vine, a mystical union with Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we will produce the fruits of holiness. Here are the fruits of holiness:

John 13:34-35

    • A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
    • Love is the distinguishing mark or sign of the true Christian.

Matthew 6:12, “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” 

    • Christians are to forgive others just as God has forgiven them.
    • Refusal to forgive is an indication of an unregenerate heart.

Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

    • God’s children are to be mercy showers just as they have received mercy from the Lord.
    • Being merciful is to be like God.
    • No one can claim to be a Christian if mercy is misisng in their life.

Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” 

    • God’s children are peacemakers.
    • Far too. often those in the church want to fight, argue, dispute and stir up trouble. 

Matthew 5:38-42, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 

    • This is the principal of the Extra-Mile.
    • It was not uncommon in biblical times for Roman soldiers to compel citizens to carry a pack or a load for a Roman soldier.
    • Jesus says we are to go the extra mile, or to give the shirt off our back so to speak. The world cannot understand this aspect of Christian character. The Christian life is a life of miracles as we are changed into the image of Jesus.

Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…

    • Enemies are those who usually are non-Christians. They have a tendency to hate Christians and to desire to do them ill.
    • We are told to love our enemies.
    • How much more should we love and be gracious, kind, and patient to those who are in the household of faith? 
    • How terribly contradictory is the life of one who claims to be the reciprient of God's love who himself shows little of that same love to others.

Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” 

John 8:7, “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." 

Romans 14:20, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.” 

James 4:11, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” 

Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” 

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,  longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…”

How easy it is to:

    • Take offense at something / or take up the offense of someone else.
    • Criticize and complain
    • Sow discord
    • Judge others
    • Be unforgiving
    • Be unkind
    • Throw the first stone
    • Demand our rights
    • Justify our ungodly attitudes and actions
    • Lash our in anger
    • Be a trouble maker rather than a peace maker
    • Walk in the flesh
    • Gossip
    • Find joy in hurting others rather than serving others
    • Destroy the work of God over petty and insignificant things
    • Speak evil of another brother or sister
    • To be carnal rather than Christlike
    • To be like ourselves rather than being like Christ
    • To forget we were saved to be holy
    • To love self rather than Christ
    • To refuse to take op our cross
    • To follow the world rather than Christ
    • To disobey rather than to obey
    • Be filled with self pity
    • Be jealous and envious

How Do We Maintain Holiness?

We maintains holiness by abiding in Christ, abiding in the Word of God, being filled with the Spirit, mortifying our flesh, maintaining fellowship with other believers, attending the means of grace, and spending time in prayer. C.H. Spurgeon hits the mark when he explains what makes holiness:

“Be dogmatically true, obstinately holy, immovably honest, desperately kind, fixed upright. I believe the holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him.A faith which works not for purification will work for putrefaction. Unless our faith makes us pine after holiness, it is no better than the faith of devils, and perhaps it is not even so good as that. A holy man is the workmanship of the Holy Spirit.I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this, that I may die to self, and live wholly to Him. In proportion as a church is holy, in that proportion will its testimony for Christ be powerful.”

Holiness must be the great longing of our hearts. All true Christians long to be holy. Far too many professing Christians spend too much time judging others without giving proper attention to the holiness in their own lives. A. W. Tozer wisely remarked:

“A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”

Are you producing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life? I have given you 13 practical principles of godly living. Do these show up in your life? Puritan minister Thomas Watson described the difference between the godly man and the wicked man. Here are his comments:

 “…the difference between the godly and the wicked. The heart of the godly is a temple; the heart of the wicked is a dunghill, “a cage of unclean birds,” Revelation 18:2. His mind is the devil’s mint; he is continually minting unchaste, impure thoughts; his heart is the anvil where he is daily hammering of sin. He is far from being a temple; he is a Sodom wherein are the heavings and boilings of lust. Proverbs 10:20, “The heart of the wicked is little worth.” A sinner’s heart is a common inn where all who will, may lodge; it is not a temple—but a pest house. He has the plague of the heart. But a godly man’s heart is a sacred temple which God highly values, and which He has promised to dwell in and revive,” Isaiah 57:15. ~ Sermon, The Mystical Temple.

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