“Holiness is God’s saving Love reflected in a God-Centered life, expresses in a promise of spiritual cleansing, and experienced in a covenant relationship with God.”
We talk a great deal about ‘Sanctification’ involving being filled with the Holy Spirit and a good deal of this talk makes it sound like this is some difficult task. As if we must beg of plead to receive the Spirit of God in our lives. But this runs against what Jesus tells us. In Luke 11 he kind of makes fun of us for our attitudes about it.
Luke 11:5a-13 5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
7″Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness[a] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11″Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[b] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Jesus is saying that receiving the Spirit of God isn’t so much about deserving it, or doing something special to get it, but more about boldly or persistently pursuing it.
This man in the scriptures goes to his friend and asks for resources to help someone else. But he doesn’t wait till a convenient time. No, he comes at midnight. He boldly asks and persists in his need for bread to care for his friend.
Jesus is telling us that it is not just because God Loves us that he will fill us with His spirit, that never stopped. It is because we consistently, persistently, boldly pursue God.
Luke 11:8b “yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
You only need to want it. Luke 11:9-10 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you…”
Do not think that having the Holy Spirit of God upon you will make live some walk in the park. No, we have been reading about the Apostles and Disciples of God in the Book of Acts on Wednesday night.
They received the Holy Spirit in a mighty rush on Pentecost and all was well from that day forward, right? WRONG!
Make knowing God your highest Goal
These men and women were tried, ridiculed, beaten, and even stoned to death. They were rejected by strange new people as they attempted to introduce them to God’s awesome gift, but worse; they were rejected by their family, friends, and Church as they delivered this news. Yet, Boldly they persevered.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Again and again they returned to God for the infilling of His Spirit. Again and again they did His bidding and lived His life.
These people went about life as part of their existing culture, but they lived differently. Acts 18 tells us that about Paul being a tent maker and staying with friends Aquila and Pricilla in Corinth. We hear through Acts and Paul’s Epistles about meeting with friends, working together, and traveling. But all the while Paul is pursuing the hearts of man for God.
We must walk in this world, but we must be transformed by God.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Be a tent maker, a car mechanic, an insurance salesman, or a teacher…
But never stop being about God’s business…
Make His business our business. Make His pleasure our desire.
It is no mistake that the words “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 18:9), are said as part of Jesus teaching the disciples to pray.
If we accept and live out the gift of God’s friendship and constant presence, then we will receive what we ask for because we will ask that His “kingdom come” (Luke 11:2b); just as Enoch simply went home with God one day because he wanted nothing more than God (Genesis 5:24).
Ask God to let the Holy Spirit make you like Jesus
Holiness is about being before it is about doing
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Dare to pray Big Prayers
Looking back at Luke 11 Jesus is not saying to these people that they are to use God as a drive up window. “He who asks for a Big Mac shalt receive a Big Mac”. No, look at the example He gives. Look at the prayer he has taught them.
What He is saying is that they can have great influence on the world around them. They are the man asking for bread for his guest. They are the woman asking for healing for there friend at the emergency room. They are the Chaplin praying with a man in prison that God will help him pursue another way of life. They are a beacon of God’s light, Jesus Christ, in a cold dark ‘midnight’.
John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
Read the Bible Faithfully
John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
If you are to be a beacon for God, how can you be if you do not know His word? If His word is not in your heart…
Do you think the enemy knows God’s word? Oh yes he does.
If does know it and you do not, how easy is it for Him to wreak havoc on your spirit and on your friends? …to ‘proof text’ and spinning God into something He is not? …to teach a religion and lead you away from a relationship with God?
People look to you to know what is in the Bible. They expect that if someone has told them something distasteful or absurd about God that you will know how to help them find the truth. But even more rudimentary than that they depend on you to be constantly pursuing the truth. They don’t expect you to be a Bible Scholar, but they do expect you to have a solid foundation and to have read the book inspired by this God you Love so much.
At the root of it all though is the question of pursuing God. Are you pursuing Him by reading the Word you are so blessed to have access to? If not, what does that say about what is important to you? To those people? To God?
Worship is to be our way of Life
When we finish all of this talking about holiness what it all comes down to is ‘everything’ and ‘everyday’. Holiness isn’t a suit we put on to go to Church. Holiness isn’t a really cool turn of phrase or scripture we can quote. It isn’t praying 5 times a day as we face a direction. It isn’t visiting 30 people a month.
Holiness is worshiping God with our very being; All of it… All the time…
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord. (PS. 19:14)
Churches have rituals they perform to take moments and time and dedicate them openly to God. They call them ‘sacraments’. These sacraments, like Baptism and Communion, serve as out word recognition of God’s grace and our connection back to Him.
In Baptism we are recognizing and imitating the traditional Jewish custom of becoming ceremonially clean before God, but as Christians we are more importantly imitating the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are dying to ourselves and being ‘born’ into His life.
Living the Sanctified life is living out that rebirth as a covenant with God. It is ceasing to play at a religion and actually being recreated as a new creature in Christ.
Communion as a sacrament is the tradition of imitating the acts of Jesus on the last night He spent alone with those closest to Him. Religion has taken this moment and created a ritual that beautifully honors the breaking of Christ’s body for us and spilling of His blood as a sacrifice for our sin.
13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
When I read Luke’s insight into the moment of the first communion though I get a feeling that this moment went beyond religion for Jesus and those in the room with Him.
Look at verse 15
The Message Paraphrase puts it this way: “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you…”
Jesus deeply desires to spend quiet close time with these men. He longs for relationship with them. In fact, in John 13 we see that Jesus had an entire evening worked out for them. It started with Him washing their feet and ended with Him praying for them and us.
I would like to share communion with you some time. The people at the service where this lesson was taught did.
But we did so remembering that first meal together. Some quality time with Christ in a way he prescribed. We all sat at a table and enjoyed the bread and grape. As we did, we meditated on that night. We opened ourselves to that call from Jesus as he exclaims, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this meal with you…”
If you desire to eat the meal offered by God of grace, salvation, relationship, friendship, and constant pursuit then come. I can think of no other way that would be better to celebrate our pursuit of God’s Holiness then to share the meal offered of His Son. Everyone is invited to the banquet of Holy relationship with God.