Thursday, May 12, 2011

Called to Holiness


1 Thessalonians 4:7-9

7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

Called to Holiness

Look at our text and you will see clearly that we are called “unto holiness”.  Verse seven says, “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness”.  The word used here as “uncleanness” means moral impurity is references sexual immorality.  This verse is clearly telling us that God has not called us to sexual immorality and uncleanness.  God has not called the Church to moral impurity! 

Instead of calling us to live lives of fornication, adultery, pornography, and lust, God has called us to holiness.  We do not take up holiness by our own directive but we have been “Called” unto holiness.  Some people say, “I have not been called”.  The truth is we have all been called.  We are called “unto holiness”.  God has called each and every one of us to live a holy life.

Despise Not Holiness

Now look at verse eight: “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God”.  In order to understand this statement you have to realize that the Holy Ghost is speaking through the Apostle Paul and they are still talking about being called “unto holiness”. 

What kind of despising are they speaking of here?  Specifically it is despising holiness.   If you despise holiness then you are despising God.  The scripture makes this clear. 

You may be asking the question at this point: What does it mean to despise holiness?  I want to answer that question by making it clear that people do so all of the time.  First, by rejecting the convicting work of the Holy Ghost in their lives and secondly by despising the work of the Holy Ghost in the lives of others.  These people despise holiness and in doing so they despise God.  There are people that despise other people in the Church that are striving to live holy.

Our text makes it clear that when people hold despite and contempt in their heart towards holiness or anyone that is trying to live holy, they are really despising God.  This is a most dangerous place to be.  Let me illustrate by point by relating this following story.

I was eating supper at restaurant with a preacher some years ago and a woman walked in that was clearly making an attempt to live a holy life for she had long hair and was dressed modestly.  That preacher began to make derogatory remarks to me about the woman and refer to her as a Pharisee.  He did not know this woman!  He did not know anything about her heart!  I finally had all I could take and I rebuked the man by saying, “Look, you need to leave her alone.  You accuse those people of judging you but you sit here and judge them.  Instead of being disgusted by her attempt at modesty you should be thankful.  She did not come in this restaurant wearing a miniskirt or a pair shorts, her neckline is not plunging, she is not dressed seductively, and she is not made up like a harlot.  Why does this bother you?”  This preacher was judging this smiling, happy woman, simply because she was dressed decently.  How tragic!

Can people not see how ridiculous it is to attack people that are making an attempt at holiness and modesty?  Those living modest/holy commit to things that you may not but they do not need you to despise them, they need you to encourage them. 

I, myself, believe very strongly in a standard of holiness.  I associate with people that do so.  Often we are accused of being judgmental of others but if the truth be realized we are judged just as harshly for attempting to live a separated life.  How sad!  Why attack and tear down someone for trying to please God? 

This is what I believe the Apostle Paul meant when he told us not to despise the holy things of God!  When we do it is a direct assault on the person of God. 

Who Hath Also Given Unto Us His Holy Spirit

Any attempt to live a holy life without the Holy Ghost is doomed to failure.  God has given us the Holy Ghost to assist us in living a holy life.  How will you ever be able to conquer sin without the Holy Ghost?  How will you ever be able to resist temptation without the Holy Ghost?  How will you ever be able to say “No” to the Devil without the Holy Ghost?  It is the indwelling power of the Holy Ghost that enables us to live a life of victory over sin and temptation.

Look at the official name given to Him: Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.  The word “Holy” figures prominently in His name.  Why?  Because the Spirit of God is the essence of holiness!  Without Him, who is holy, there will be no holiness.

Anyone that has been filled with the Holy Ghost will have a renewed sense of holiness in their life, there will be an overwhelming desire and hunger to please and walk with God.

The goal of our God is for His children to walk in holiness.  God gave us the mighty Baptism in the Holy Ghost to aid us in this worthy goal.  If you try to circumvent the necessity of being filled with the Spirit you will doom yourself to failure.  We are saved to be filled!  The most pressing need for the sinner is for them to repent and the most pressing need for the saint is to be filled with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

How does the Holy Ghost produce holiness in us?  By showing us Christ!  The Holy Ghost was given to give us the things of Christ.  Jesus is the perfect, sinless, Lamb of God.  Jesus is holy.  The Holy Ghost leads us into a fuller revelation of Christ and holiness.

John 16:13-15

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Brotherly Love

The natural progression of holiness is love.  If we are holy then we will be filled with the love of God.  I don’t care what anyone says, holy people are loving people!  We have been given a bad rap by this world.  Some old sour sinner has met one self-righteous person and they claim that we are all lacking in love.  This has not been my experience!  I have met thousands of holy people and these people were loving people.  The greatest love on earth is in the midst of the gathering of holy people.

Romans 5:5

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Holiness produces love.  Love is the natural progression from holiness.  Look at the first verse in our text where the Apostle Paul speaks of “Uncleanness”.  This uncleanness is particularly referring to sexual immorality.  Here are some questions to consider: 

Does a rapist know anything about true love?

Does a pornographer know anything about true love?

Does a child molester act out of love?

Does the prostitute work the streets because she loves her customers?

Does a man hire a prostitute because he loves her?

The answer to all of those questions is “No”!  This proves my point!  No one can ever really understand love until they understand holiness!  Holiness makes sure that nothing of the flesh is in our love.  This makes our love pure!  This makes our love holy!

Sexual immorality, uncleanness, is not love.  The only way to really understand love, the only way to really walk in love, the only way to really express love to others is to be filled with His holiness.  My friend, that is why we are called to holiness.

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