Doctrine 10: Holy, Holy Holiness
- We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be “wholly sanctified”, and that their “whole spirit and soul and body” may “be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- In your day to day life- what is your greatest frustration…your biggest pet peeve?
- As a Christian striving to live out your faith, what is your greatest worry or fear?
- In your opinion: Is the Church of Christ going after what is most important? What IS really most important?
The Bible calls us to love perfectly, to live with a pure heart, and to be free from slavery to sin. Those three imperatives are our desire! With all our hearts we long to live lives that reflect Jesus Christ. Holiness is the living out of that life in His power. As humans who were born with sin natures, we understand the inborn tendencies towards sinning and selfishness we have, and yet Salvationists believe that because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives in this concept called “holiness” there can be a new “tendency”, toward righteousness. We are masterpieces in process, loved by our Master.
The SkitGuys give us a wonderful glimpse into this process of our turning our lives over to the Master’s hands, and his love for us.
Go: Holy, Holy, HOLINESS! Doctrine 10
Our reading this week is an in depth look at Holiness. Holiness is a doctrine that is hallmark to our identity, mission and understanding all that we can be as God’s loved children.
Read: Leviticus 19:2, Romans: 1-12, Romans 12:1-2, I Thessalonians 5:23, I John 2:1-2
When one comes to Christ their hearts burn with a passion and a fire that wants to shout: Take all there is of me, and use me, Lord! The Salvation Army’s founder, William Booth, voiced these very same words as he knelt in the East End of London’s most impoverished neighborhoods. This was a place of hopelessness, abuse, exclusion, and there was no way out for those who found themselves here. The world would be changed and lives would be touched because of these words- and the generations of Salvationists who would take up this same vision.
Still, the personal passion and desire for holiness must become woven into the fabric of who we are, and that’s often where many people make their own decisions about “just how much I really will allow God to ‘have of my will and life.” In stark contrast, this is also the world’s greatest stumbling block. They look at Christians from the outside “in”, and failing to see Christ; they want nothing to do with this kind of faith. Holiness is about submission…not a very popular word, I’m afraid. Submission to let go to allowing God to control our lives completely-this is where the freedom begins. Confusing?
Maybe we need to start with the idea of “Everyday- practical Holiness” and how that might look… Let’s be honest. Do we wonder more about what people will think of “ME”, than what God wants us to do, say or be? If what you did today were your last words or actions…could you say that God was seen, that His name was glorified? Living a holy life is living a FEARLESS life….free of fear of falling, not performing, not “being enough”, not being “perfect”. This turns the whole idea of submission upside down. Over centuries theologians have worked hard to explain the ties between perfection and holiness. Perfection is tied with “completeness,” meaning that a person is as complete as they are designed to be at that moment in time. We would never expect a 6 year old to perform Schubert’s Sonatas, and yet after playing a one handed version of a song, the skilled teacher rises to applaud her, “Perfect!” As the musician matures this same teacher will understand the increased capacity. Holiness is also “separateness”. To be holy is to be “set apart” very much like the holy religious objects which were used for God’s specific purposes in the Temple. We are called to be “set apart” as we live daily impacting those around us. Holiness enables us to live out the greatest commandment, to “Love God with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:30-31).”
The holy life confesses Jesus: It speaks the truth, in love and places relationship with God above all others. The holy life is like-allowing your life to be the greatest illustration of Grace others may ever see. Question: Looking back as a saint- 100 years from now (from heaven!)…what might you want others to say was your finest moment?
We breathe. Stop and simply take a big breath. Breathe in and out. On the average you do this without thinking over 20,000 times a day. God is giving you that breath-each one; one at a time. Every breath is from Him (Francis Chan, on The Holiness of God). It’s not that we fear death-(We know that heaven is our home) but that we covenant with God to give Him back every breath as our offering to Him. Holiness is that covenant that begins with letting go…submitting. “Use all there is of me, Lord.”
So often we, as Christians, who love God…don’t have a real sense of reverence for God. We know him in part, but not in his fullness. Our God is a Holy God. That’s hard to grasp. We have a mental picture and a general concept of the “European painting of Jesus with long blonde hair that walks around holding lambs. We know our buddy, Jesus; who we go to when things get tough and we need solace or a rescue. But understanding the holiness of our God is so much bigger than our minds can wrap themselves around.
Group Question: Is there a part of your life (an event, an action, words, prank, or a decision) which remained hidden for years from those closest to you? Was it ever discovered or revealed? Was there fallout: good or bad?
We all put on masks in life, fooling even those around us, but the One who made us-knows us from the inside out. There is no hiding with Him. That’s hard for us to imagine because we are so good at allowing others to see what we want them to see.
Remember, being Holy means being “set apart”. Moses asked God for a glimpse of His face. Exodus 33:18 “Now show me your glory” to which God replied, “If you saw my face, you would die.” “Do you really understand my holiness, Moses?” I don’t know what Moses thought he would see, but this is so far above the realm of our human- normal. This is different. This is separate. He is so far apart from us. He is absolutely holy.
For a few moments put yourselves in Isaiah’s shoes as he sees the presence of God. Isaiah was given a vision that changed his entire future. It is recorded for us in Isaiah 6:1-8.
Holy, Holy, Holy!
6 1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,
Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
His bright glory fills the whole earth.
The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said,
“Doom! It’s Doomsday! I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted— blasphemous even!
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”
Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said,
“Look. This coal has touched your lips.
Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out.”
And then I heard the voice of the Master:
“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
I spoke up, “I’ll go. Send me!”
(MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Something happens as we read these verses, and consider God.
The first thing we see when we are in the presence of God- is our own sinfulness. We are fully aware of who we are. But while we deserve death- we understand who we are and that God forgives. In this passage when Isaiah admits his sinfulness a coal is touched to his lips and an angel proclaims “Gone is your guilt; your sins are wiped out”.
This is the ordinary extraordinary person God sends:
- The one who says, “I’ll say whatever you tell me to. Let me follow you without pretense.
- I’m tired of playing the game. I’m tired of never feeling “enough”…and I want to live fearlessly.
- God,- who determines my every breath, if you are FOR me, who shall I fear? I know that Holiness takes away fear.
- Holiness allows me to step forward, to begin listening, ready to answer His call-ready to speak, to reach out, to make a difference in my family, my relationships, my community, in my world.
- But it begins with my confession. I lay down my pride, longing to tell you Father, that my greatest desire is to be your child, your reflection, living “Your Holiness” before others…empowered by The Holy Spirit each day.
That’s the real secret friends. You cannot do this alone…but you don’t have to! The God of the entire universe, Creator, Holy One…is FOR you. He’s holding you up, empowering, and cheering you on!
Holiness is not the destination- it’s the “work of a moment yet the “work of a lifetime”(General John Gowans). This is the beginning of a lifelong freedom and passion. The Apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
Boots on the Ground:
Leader: Hand out small pieces of paper to each student, who will write out areas of their life that they “want” to give back to God. A beautiful and visual illustration would be in the construction of a small wooden cross perhaps a few feet tall laid upon a table in the room where you meet (or perhaps laid on the alter at the corps).… in which students individually take hammer in their own hands and nail these folded pieces of paper to the cross. They are never to be read-opened or shared, but prayed over. (burned maybe…never to be taken back).
End in Prayer: Prayers for God to have complete control of thoughts, words, actions, futures…for holiness.