C.S. Lewis relates in his life that what had been an ideal had become a demand, a total surrender to God, an absolute leap in the dark. He said the demand was not all or nothing, because that stage in his life was passed. Now the demand of God was simply all.
For every Christian, a moment arrives in life when they realize they need to quit dancing around the edges of Christianity and dive completely into the center of God’s call to become a holy people.
Holiness Means Focusing on Jesus, Not Religion (vv. 1-8)
To the Pharisaic and Scribal Jews, the Law was religion. The Ten Commandments and the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch) contained moral principles that each person needed to apply to his or her own life. The Law was the focus of the Jewish religion.
In his book Jesus >Religion, author Jefferson Bethke writes about his journey to a faith in Christ. He tells how he left his religion behind after going to college because of its irrelevancy. After some heartbreaking experiences, he finally came back to find the Jesus he had left behind.
He says it wasn’t religion that brought him back, but the grace of Christ that wooed him. Bethke had gone to the college library and checked out 15 books about Christianity. The Holy Spirit used some of those authors to speak to his heart. He began grappling with Scripture as never before.
His reading and wrestling with truth helped him discover the Bible isn’t a rule book, but a love letter. He learned that he was a child of God, not an employee. It was not about his performance, bu abouut Jesus’ performance in him.
He wrote, “Grace isn’t there for some future me but for the real me. The me who struggled. The me who was messy. The me who was addicted to porn. The me who didn’t have all the answers…He loved me in my mess; He was not waiting until I cleaned myself up. The truth changed my life…”
Holiness is not about religion; it begins and ends in Jesus. It is initially the sanctification process that I need.
Holiness Is About Having God in My Heart (vv. 14-15)
During the first half of the 19th century, Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis reached out to dying women to bring health and life to them. Dr. Semmelweis was the first man in history to associate examinations of expectant mothers with germs, infection and death. He told his colleagues that it was because they were not washing their hands that infection was spread. In his own practice, he used a chlorine solution and saved thousands of lives.
He spent his life lecturing and debating his colleagues on the importance of this practice. At one lecture, he argued, “Puerperal fever is caused by decomposed material, conveyed to a wound…I have shown how it can be prevented. I have proved all that I have said. But while we talk, talk, talk, gentlemen, women are dying. I am not asking anything world shaking. I am asking you only to wash…For God’s sake, wash your hands.”
Virtually no one believed him. Doctors and midwives of his era continued delivering babies as they had for thousands of years without washing. Semmelweis died insane at 47, “his wash basins discarded, his colleagues laughing in his face, and the death rattle of a thousand women ringing in his ears” (Boyce Mouton).
God has called us to wash, to be clean. He has come to cleanse our hearts from the contamination of the sins we have committed and the sin of carnality. Without that cleansing, we all will die from the contamination of sin. For God’s sake, wash your lives clean through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit!
Holiness Is Having Sin out of Our Lives (vv. 21-23)
Even after we have accepted the wonderful new life in Christ and have allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts by faith, we still deal with sin and temptation. We are not rewarded with a fairytale life of never having to deal with life’s issues anymore. Temptation is always before us. The snare of sin is ready to catch us at every turn.
The power of a continually victorious Christian life comes with a promise: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” That means I will open myself up to the direction and will of God, and He gives me the power to live life successfully.
Ladislas Orsy asked, “Who is a holy person, then?” She continues, “The answer is in the direction of life: one who moves toward God steadily.”
Holiness is founded on God’s truth. It begins in God and progresses as we grow in His truth, as we maintain a relationship and fellowship with Him. It comes through Christ and is empowered through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit…the Spirit of holiness!