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I. Introduction. A. Orientation: We’ve seen that to be the kind of people the Lord can use, we need to grow in a several areas: 1. In our conviction that the Bible is God’s Word, in our love and appreciation for it, in applying it to our lives in such a way that it will quicken and transform us. 2. In our faith: that we would have the kind of faith that applies Christ to our souls for our justification, that applies His Spirit to our hearts for our sanctification, that sees that what God says in His Word is real, that is able to embrace His promises in a way that will give us courage. 3. And in our love: that we have the kind of love that makes us want to be with Him, to walk with the Lord, to please Him, and to lay our lives down for Him. The stronger our love, the stronger we will be in the Lord. B. Preview. 1. This evening, let’s consider one more thing that must be true of us: If we are to be the kind of person the Lord can use, we need to be like Him. a. We need to learn to look at things the way Jesus does. b. We need to evaluate things as He would. c. We need to make the kind of decisions He would make if in our place. d. In other words, we need to think and will as Jesus would think and will: the only way we can is if we are sanctified – if we grow in holiness. 2. Let’s consider two things: a. First, that as believers, we must strive towards holiness. b. Second, why we need to do this. II. Sermon. A. First, we must strive after greater holiness. 1. The Bible tells us the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. a. This isn’t what they chose to call themselves – they would have thought that presumptuous. b. They were called Christians by others, because they saw that they were like Christ: they were recreated in His moral image. c. True believers have Christ’s image stamped on their souls, not just His name on their lips. We call His moral image, holiness. (i) This is what makes God beautiful in the believer’s eyes. (a) If the Lord had all power and knowledge, and was everywhere present, but was not holy, He would be infinitely horrible. (b) Holiness is what adorns His Being and makes Him desirable. (c) This holiness is nothing other than His love of what is right and His hatred of what is wrong.
(ii) This is what we are to be like, as our text reminds us, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:14-16). 2. There are three senses in which we are to be holy. a. We are to separate ourselves from the world to God. (i) We started out in the world and the kingdom of darkness. (ii) But when Christ saved us, He told us to leave it behind and not look back. Luke writes, “Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61-62). (iii) Through Paul, the Lord tells us that we must even separate ourselves from those in the world – not absolutely, but in our hearts. He writes, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18). (iv) Sometimes we forget and begin to get drawn back into the world. b. Second, we are to separate ourselves from sin to what is right. (i) We are to be different from the world: they love sin and hate righteousness. (ii) We are to hate sin and love righteousness, in others and ourselves. (a) Jude tells us we are to hate even the garment polluted by the flesh (Jude 1:23). (b) We are to hate the things we think that are contrary to God’s will. (c) We are to hate the things we want that are contrary to God’s will. (d) And we are to hate the things we do contrary to God’s will. (e) We are even to hate the appearance of evil (1 Thes. 5:22), since it has the potential to injure not only our reputation, but Christ’s, and to wound our weaker brother. (f) We must also keep from pushing the boundaries of what is right and wrong – more often than not, we will push over the limit. (g) The Lord says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). c. There is also a sense in which we must set our lives apart from ourselves.
3 (i) If we are to be the kind of people the Lord can use, we need to die to ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Jesus Christ. (ii) We must be willing to do whatever He wants, whenever He calls. B. Second, let’s consider why we must strive after holiness. 1. First, because this is what God was aiming at in the work of Redemption. a. This is the reason He sent His Son, why He raised Him, why He exalted Him. b. This is the reason He preached the Gospel to us. c. This is why He raised us from spiritual death to life. d. This is the effect He wants His Word to have on us, the reason He ordained preaching in His church, the goal behind our worship and prayers, the reason He wants us to gather together for fellowship. e. This is why He made His promises to us: that we might pursue holiness. f. Even the trials, temptations and difficulties He providentially orders in our lives are all for this reason. g. This is why He gave us His Spirit – as we saw this morning – to make us holy. h. If we’re not seeking holiness, we’re frustrating God’s plan for our lives. 2. Second, because we must be holy if we are to have communion with God. a. The Lord will not allow anyone unclean or unholy in His presence. b. He planned our holiness so that He might have communion with us. c. We must be holy in Christ; and we must be pursing personal holiness. (i) If we’re not, we won’t want to come to Him. (ii) If our heart isn’t in it, the Lord won’t be too interested in our fellowship. (iii) The author to the Hebrews writes, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). 3. Third, because this is the only way we will ever do what the Lord has called us to do. a. As long as we hold onto our lives and live them the way we want, the Lord won’t be able to use us. b. But if we abandon ourselves to His will – if we can say with Jesus, “Not My will, by Yours be done” – He can. c. He can use us to bear good fruit; He can shine through us as lights in the world. Jesus tells us, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). This will have three good effects: (i) Our personal holiness will be an encouragement to the brethren, a preservative for the world, and a light to bring the elect home. (ii) If we live no different from the world, not only will we encourage other believers not to pursue holiness, we will be giving those in the world an excuse not to believe. 4. And so let’s be exhorted this evening to be what are in Christ: Holy. a. Remember, we won’t be able to achieve holiness through our efforts alone.
4 b. We must look to Christ in faith and have communion with Him in His Spirit. c. Remember what Owen wrote, “In vain is help looked for from other mountains; in vain do men spend their strength in following after righteousness, if this be wanting. Fix thy soul here; thou shalt not tarry until thou be ashamed. This is the way, the only way, to obtain full, effectual manifestations of the Spirit’s dwelling in us; to have our hearts purified, our consciences purged, our sins mortified, our graces increased, our souls made humble, holy, zealous, believing, — like to him; to have our lives fruitful, our deaths comfortable. Let us herein abide, eyeing Christ by faith, to attain that measure of conformity to him which is allotted unto us in this world, that when we shall see him as he is, we may be like unto him” (Communion, 254255). d. If we would be holy, we must look to Christ; and there’s no better way than at His Table. e. Let’s prepare ourselves to come to the Table now. http://www.graceopcmodesto.org
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