In this sermon, we are going to aim at answering the question what is holiness according to the bible?
To answer this question, we will try to look at the definition of holiness according to the bible and will move on from there to see how we can become holy.
To understand the latter, we will look at the story of the rich young man who asked Jesus how he can become holy.
We will also look at the case that Simon Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crew as Jesus predicted.
What is the biblical definition of holiness?
In 1 Peter 1:13-16, the scripture tells us not to conform ourselves to the former lusts we were living in our ignorance, but as God who called us is Holy, we should be holy also.
Therefore, we can use the above scripture to see the biblical definition of holiness as a means of rejecting our sinful life to live righteously unto Christ.
Beloved holiness is very necessary in the Christian life; because it is through being obedient to God’s word that we can attain holiness.
But since several scriptures have been misinterpreted to show Christians that there is no way they can attain holiness.
Our Christian brothers and sisters continue to offend God; forgetting that the same Bible tells us to:
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness; without which no one will see the Lord; (Hebrews 12:14)
Therefore, let us in this sermon try to find how Christians can attain holiness which will enable them to see God.
How to become holy according to the bible.
To discover how to become holy, we are going to look at the story of the rich young man and of Simon Peter.
The story of the rich young man in the bible.
In Luke 18:18-23, a certain young ruler went to Jesus and ask Him; “good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”.
Jesus listed all the requirements of the law; do not commit adultery, ‘do not steal,’ ‘do not bear false witness,’ ‘honour your father and your mother.’”
He responded that he has kept all these ever since his youth.
And when Jesus heard all these, He told him that the one thing left for him to do is sell all his wealth and give the proceeds to the less privileged.
The story ends with the young man becoming so sorrowful on hearing this because he was very rich.
Simon Peter denies our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Luke 22:31-34, our Lord Jesus predicted that Peter is going to deny Him three times before the cock crew.
But Peter responded by telling Him that He is willing to go anywhere and die with Jesus.
And in verses 54-62 of the same chapter, we see how the predictions of our Lord Jesus come true when Peter denied Him three good times.
But Peter’s story ends with him going out to weep bitterly.
Comparing the story of the rich young man and Simon Peter.
The rich young man above is an example of today’s self-righteous Christians, who think they have known and practiced all that is written in the Bible.
And these kinds are the ones who will soon walk away whenever anyone is trying to point out the errors they are making.
Especially the “who knows you” preachers who are not their general overseers, bishops, or daddy and mummy in the Lord, as they call them.
But a Christian who is like Simon Peter above will understand that there are basically two ways we respond to sin as we are now going to see.
1. Every intention to sin comes from the heart.
“For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.Mathew 15:19.
Therefore when anybody is about to sin, it is the heart – also called conscience, within that individual, which will start to convict him of what he is about to do.
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence towards God.1 John 3:20-21.
And this conscience, whose duty is to vindicate and judge every human being, is found in everyone, even the unbelievers (Gentiles) who do not have the Bible (the law).
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thought accusing or else excusing them).Romans 2:14-15.
For example, if you are about to take what rightfully belongs to someone else- which is rightly interpreted as stealing; and your heart or conscience starts to remind you that you are about to go against the commandments of God.
And it goes on to remind you of the consequences that follow the breaking of this commandment; e.g. being caught by the police and reprimanded in prison, or worst still being beaten or burnt to death by the mob.
Now if you ignore your conscience at this point and go ahead to steal, I assure you that one of the many consequences suggested earlier by your conscience must befall you. Because you have willfully or purposely sinned as it is written:
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery imagination which will devour the adversaries.Hebrews 10:26-27.
Will giving our lives to Christ help us be above sin?
It is worthy to mention here that so many believers have been made to think or believe, for whatever reasons, that once they give their life to Christ the urge or desire to sin is totally eliminated from their conscience.
And this wrong conviction is what will make them totally forget about their adversary who roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
It is this adversary whom Jesus taught us to pray that his temptations should not lead us into any evil (Mathew 6:13).
It is also this same adversary who disguised like a serpent to tempt our first mother, Eve, in the garden (Genesis 3).
And he was not even scared to tempt our Lord and Master (Mathew 4:1-11) Who had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34)
Who afterward taught us that His temptation was meant to show us that each and every one of us will always be tempted by the devil. But since He was able to overcome, He would also help us to overcome.
For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.Hebrews 2:18.
Now when you go back to Peter’s example above, you will see how Jesus began the discourse with the disciples i.e. in verse 31.
And from there, you will understand that it was this same adversary that tempted Peter to deny Jesus.
As we will witness in Luke 22:3-6 it was this same adversary that entered into Judas and pushed him into betraying Jesus.
So if Satan could tempt Jesus and those that were physically present with Him. Isn’t it one of the devil’s tricks to use God’s word, as he always does, to make us go about thinking there is no way we can sin, and in our ignorance, he sifts us as wheat?
Hence as Paul instructed the Corinthians we must always be on guard against the devil’s tricks or devices so that he might not use it to take advantage of us. 2 Corinthians 2:11.
How Satan tempts us to sin.
1. Misquoting the word of God.
Now the most deadly device of Satan we should all know is the twisting or inverting of the word of God.
This was the same method he incorporated to succeed with our first mother.
This also was the same method he used on Jesus.
But since Jesus knew the truth in the word of God He was able to overcome him.
Had it been our first mother been conversant with God’s word as Jesus did, she would have quoted Genesis 1:27-28 to tell him that she was already made in the image of God and therefore has no need to eat the fruit in order to become like Him.
And above all that God had given her power to rule and dominate him in the animal form (serpent), he was hiding under.
The example of Eve and Jesus, therefore, teaches us that we should have the knowledge of what the scripture really says so that the devil might not use it as a device to trap us into sinning against God.
And from the knowledge just gained, we can see how the devil is still using the word of God to deceive so many Christians today into sinning against God.
For example, if the person who is tempted to steal in the example we gave does not know what the scripture says in 1 John 3:7-9, the devil will misquote Romans 3:10 and 23 to convince him to go ahead and steal because ‘no man is righteous for all have sinned and gone short of the glory of God’.
2. Misinterpreting the bible.
It is also important to note that aside from misquoting the word of God, he might also misinterpret the occasions or instances of the things that happened in the Bible to deceive us.
We can gain this knowledge if we spiritually look into Judas’ case, and therein discover that the devil did convince him that the Jews will not be able to arrest Jesus because he has witnessed how he escaped from them several times Luke 28-30, John 8:59
Therefore Judas thought “If Jesus could escape such multitude in such dangers, plus the fact that He has performed so many miracles that proved He was beyond human destruction. How then will the Jews be able to arrest Him in a secret place where He can even disappear or perhaps destroy all of them?
And once that happens, there is no way they would request him to refund the money he received from them because he has kept his own bargain of taking them to Jesus hideout”.
His expectations were at their peak on seeing how the soldiers fell to the ground on their first confrontation with Christ. John 8:3-6
But this only happened so that none of His disciples would be hurt as the scripture reveals in John 8:7-9.
So when Jesus was successfully arrested by the Jews and Judas realized that things did not turn out the way the devil made him think; Judas went back to the chief priests to refund their money and when they would not collect it, he threw it at them and went and killed himself as it is written. Mathew 27:3-5
2. Sinning unintentionally.
The second side to the process of sinning is that we human beings are always bound to forget.
That is to say, there are several times we will mistakenly i.e. not on purpose, fall into the occasion of little sins.
But even then, the same conscience will always come to our rescue by pointing out the error we just did, so that we can immediately go to God and seek forgiveness and in so doing continue to remain holy.
Peter’s case we examined earlier is a perfect example of this process.
Now if in the example given in the first point, you see what belongs to someone, and without any warning from your conscience, you steal it and go your way thinking nothing about it.
But on getting home and bringing out what you stole, your conscience begins to alert you that you have gone against the commandments of God by stealing what belongs to someone else, and it goes on to analyze the evil that will befall you if you do not return that thing back to where you picked it immediately.
And from the example above you know what will transpire afterward.
Repent immediately you discover your sins.
Now it is important to note at this point that if on the other hand, you did not forget when you stole that thing.
That is to say, the devil had been able to convince you in one way or the other; maybe through the word of God as he did to Eve; or through scriptural instances as he did to Judas.
And you afterward find out that you were being deceived and thus return what you stole back.
Please learn from Judas example by not going ahead to destroy yourself, rather go somewhere and cry as Peter did.
And I want you to know that Peter did not just cry ordinary tears but rather he was begging God in tears to forgive him.
So you should do the same thing and even more i.e. embark on a fast and prayer and in tears asking God to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to come and cleanse you from your iniquity, and you will surely see that times of refreshing coming to you from the Lord’s presence.
Now let us examine the next text, and from there move on to see how the Holy Spirit will summarize everything for us.
“be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.(Ephesians 4:26-27)
As we can see, to be angry and instantly quarrel with someone is not a sin.
Anger only becomes a sin, if we refuse to settle whatever differences the devil used it to lead us into having with people.
In order not to give the devil a place, we must immediately go back and make peace and be reconciled with that person. And in so doing we will be forgiven and restored by God while the devil that instigated that anger goes back to his hell in shame.
This then was the very reason why Jesus gave us the teaching about anger in Mathew 5:21-26
I hope you can vividly see what will happen to anybody who gives a devil a place by refusing to forgive persons he, through anger, led him into quarreling with.