Holiness or Uncommoness?

May 27, 2013


1 Peter 1:14-1:16

I have a co-worker who is trying to share with the folks at his church his understanding of holiness and spiritual warfare. When I first heard him, I was not very receptive for I thought he had fallen into the error of sinless perfection. In addition, he seemed obsessed by battling demons, which was something I would expect from some type of cult.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in spiritual warfare and demons but I have heard the folks that cast out the baby crying demon, the burping demon, the wart demon and the like so my shields go up and my phasers are fully charged when I hear something that sounds like that.

As I have listened to him over the years, I have come to believe that he has some things right and his perspective towards sin is more biblical than most Christians. He is at least strives for holiness and to be as sinless as possible. The modern church’s perspective heavily leans on mercy and grace after the failure instead of seeking the power to be victorious and overcoming the temptation. Outside of “Jesus wept” and John 3:16 the best-known and memorized verse among Christians is 1 John 1:9. We have taken it from the solution to “If we sin” to when we sin. The verse is not a blank check but more like accidental overdraw protection.

If we could get most Christians to be as afraid of sin as they are of holiness, we would see a much stronger church. Instead of expecting to fail, if we would concentrate on expecting victory and living in holiness as God gives us the power to do we would fail much less and thus sin less though we may never become sinless in this life. Sin should be a rarity in the Christian’s life not an inevitable event. My co-worker calls the current perspective the SRC, the sin and repent club.

Since my co-worker’s approach to sin and holiness does not fit the common consensus of seminarians or theologians, he is having a hard row to hoe at his church. He has been relieved of his teaching position in AWANA. His pastor has even preached two sermons slapping him in the eye without calling his name. However since many in the church know of the issue and his theological premise he may as well just said that Randy is a nutcase and avoid him. What a crime it is trying to teach children to be holy and live a victorious life versus a defeated and guilt ridden one like the rest of the Christians. How dare he?

The pastor’s take on holiness was interesting in that he wanted to emphasize that connotation of holiness that means to be separate or different from the world. He used the term uncommon in effect minimizing holiness. Separation is one part of it but God is more than uncommon and He is holy. In Hebrew holy also relates to brightness as well as separation. That is understandable since He is light and He has no shadow or gray area in Him. Somehow calling God the Uncommon One of Israel or our Uncommon Father does not match for He is past uncommon in all His ways.

Lev 20:7-8
7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
8 And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you. KJV

The Hebrew word for holy in this verse is another form of the word sanctify. Holiness and sanctification are intrinsically the same concept. If you want to be holy you have to be sanctified and all that includes being clean or pure and obedient to His Word or the commands and statutes. God commands His people to be holy.

Lev 11:44-45
44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. KJV

Note we are to be holy because He is holy. Holiness is more than just a list of do’s and don’ts though they are a part of the whole picture. To be holy like God entails much, much more than the external. That is where the Pharisees went wrong because they worked on externals, the letter of the law, to the neglect of the internal aspects or the spirit of the law. Albeit the modern church has gone too far the other way and made it all a matter of the heart or spirit, if you will, and have tossed out the letter or doctrine. There must be a balance.

James called it showing your faith/heart/spirit by your works. The spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, manifests itself in the proper application of the letter. The spirit without the works is as dead as the works without the spirit. To have life you must have both elements functioning as one. James was trying to show the balance of Paul’s teaching to those scattered Jews and brethren that may have only been getting hearsay information or misunderstood the Gospel. Too many were taking Paul to say that there was no need for works since works do not save or as some thought he was teaching to sin like crazy so grace may abound. Others were trying to mix the Old and New covenants. The Gospel was and is still radical teaching when properly taught. It is amazing how the simple Word destroys many theologies and traditions as well as worldly philosophies.

1 Peter 1:14-16
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. KJV

Indeed, we have the OT quoted in the NT, which I know irritates the Church of Christ and others who go to the other extreme of the Judaizers, in essence wanting to toss out the OT altogether though the Apostles, after Pentecost, quote it and use it for Church applications. Again, we must seek the balance.

The question is what does it mean to be holy? We know that it entails obedience. It also includes separation from worldliness though the current age has no clue to what that means since the Church caters to the world. Indeed, the Evangelical world is practicing the errors of Roman Catholicism. Instead of standing firm against the paganism and humanism, the modernists kiss their feet and “redeem” their philosophies and practices to appeal to the “seekers.”

Interestingly the Scriptures say that there is none that seek after God so the term “seeker churches” is at best a misnomer and at worst a heretical concept that is contributing to the apostasy of the Western Church. My position is that it is the latter. Instead of coming out from among them and being holy/separate/sanctified we adopt the world’s attire, language, music, and basic culture in order to win them. Truly, this is no different than Catholicism’s adopting/adapting the pagan holidays, rituals and even gods to bring the pagans under control of the organization rather than into the Kingdom. Blessing the flesh instead of demanding it to be mortified is not holiness or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the appeasement theology of an apostate Church. The current trend is not even being uncommon as my co-worker’s pastor put it. It is being common, vulgar or profane.

God is holy in His works but also in His character. He is not uncommon. He is incomparable. He is untainted by the world though He is in it. He is in the world but not of the world. Hmm, I believe He said the same about Christians. That would mean that we should not love the world or the things that are in the world for they are the enemies of God. If we are to be holy as He is holy then they should be our enemies as well. We cannot incorporate the world’s ways or thoughts into our worship and walk with God because His ways are not their ways nor are His thoughts their thoughts. As He is above all those things so are we to be as well.

Some would say, but Ron, these things are working. Are they really? Yes, there are some big churches out there with lots of money and activity. Are we to practice pragmatic Christianity or biblical Christianity? The richest church in Revelation is the dead church of Laodicea so worldly success is not proof of God’s blessing.

There are many cheerleaders or motivational speakers out there bubbling over with pop psychobabble or mystical manure. Fewer and fewer men teach sound doctrine. There cannot be true holiness without sound doctrine as false doctrine paints a poor picture of God and yea creates a god after man’s own image that is nothing more than idolatry though it bows not at a statue.

To be holy is to not sin for sin is ungodly and God is holy. However, one has to know what sin is and what it is not before one does not sin. We live in a culture that calls good evil and evil good that the church cannot fight for it is confused about what sin is itself. So many things that were once considered sin even as recently as when I was saved, in 1975, are now abundant in the church corporate and personal practices of the believer.

We have redefined legalism, as anything that might tell me what I like is sin. We have corrupted the doctrine of soul liberty to mean I can do anything I feel comfortable with because I am under grace. As long as I am not convicted of it being wrong, then it is OK for me though it might not be for someone else as if God has double standards for His children. We have reinterpreted Romans 14 and 15 as “weaker brother, grow up” instead of the stronger denying his own liberty if it will keep a weaker brother from stumbling.

Heb 5:11-14
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. KJV

We can never hope to be holy if we lack discernment and are content to suck milk instead of hungering for strong meat. If all the Bible is good for is salvation then God really went into overkill mode when He put in all the rest of the subjects. After all, we could read it through more often and even memorize more of it if there were less in it. We only needed the “essential” doctrines. He could left out the “nonessential”, which are just so cotton picking controversial let alone so meddling into our lives.

We are not holy for we tell God what is important in His Word and what is not. We are not holy for we are lazy and biblically illiterate. We are not holy for we lack the discernment of what is sinful and what is holy. We are not holy for we are not separate from the world. We are not holy for we are not the light we are supposed to be. We are not holy in the externals neither are we holy in the internals. We cannot be holy because we like to write off much of the Word as nonessential and we do not want to offend anyone instead of letting God’s yea be yea and His nay be nay.
We want to offer God’s terms of peace and love to people before we give them God’s estimation of them and their guilt before a Holy God that demands their damnation. We offer them God’s blessings without them seeing their need for repentance. We promise them liberty while polishing their chains or putting Christian logos or mottos on them. We promise them earthly prosperity that the Prophets, Jesus, or the Apostles never enjoyed.

We are not holy because we use our thoughts and our ways to live our lives, worship and do ministry. We are not holy because we love the world and the things that are in the world.
Lev 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Brethren, it is long overdue for us to holy. Both the living Word and written word demands us to be holy! The world needs us to be holy if any shall be saved from the coming wrath of the holy God. God is not uncommon but He is intrinsically holy. What is uncommon is for his people to be holy. Brethren, will you leave this world behind and join the uncommon few who seek to be holy for the God they serve is holy? Maranatha!!

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