Scripture Reference:  Psalms 119:6-16

Introduction:

One of the nice things about an extended Holiday weekend is that it gives me an opportunity to get caught up a little bit on this series, and I feel like it’s a good time to make sure that we’re staying on track.  There’s always going to be moments where life and time just kind of gets away from us.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed and learned from the first few messages of this series.  I think this one here is going to be really good, and I am really excited to get into it because I believe the Holy Ghost is going to have a lot to say through it.  So, at times like this when I know the Holy Ghost is ready to flow…the best thing to do is pray and get out of His way.

So, please pray and believe with me that the Holy Ghost will make my fingers as that of a pen of a ready writer…writing only of the oracles of God.  I ask, Lord, for the anointing and supernatural ability that only comes from the Holy Ghost.  I thank You for utterance, boldness, clarity, and ask that You would take this message and sink it deep into our hearts.  We ask for ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts that will be receptive and responsive to what You’re about to say to us this day through this message.  We ask this in Jesus name…Amen & Amen.

Today’s Message:  “Our Holiness Isn’t Ours”

I saw the word “holiness”, and I knew in my heart the direction this message was going to go before I even started typing because there’s a huge misconception among the body of Christ that some how we grow in holiness, and I know the Holy Ghost wants to set that straight.  I titled this message “Our Holiness Isn’t Ours” immediately, and from there I had a pretty good idea where we are headed with this message.

Listen, I have said it before in many a message, and it bears repeating here.  That statement is this:

We are never going to be more holy than we were on the day we became whosoever’s that called upon the Lord to be saved.  The reason for that is because the holiness we receive isn’t ours…it is His. 

Friends, we aren’t holy because we confess Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We aren’t holy because we never miss church, always read our Bible, never swear, never watch a bad thing on television, never listen to anything but worship music, or because we grew up in a Christian home.  We aren’t holy because we take communion.  We aren’t holy because we get baptized in water or by the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.  We aren’t holy because we have a doctorate in theology.  We aren’t holy because we don’t have any ties to the world…not even newspapers.

THE ONLY REASON ANY OF US ARE HOLY AT ALL IS BECAUSE WE ARE IN CHRIST JESUS…AND THE HOLINESS WE RECEIVE ISN’T OURS, BUT IT IS HIS.

I don’t know how to say that any clearer than that.  Our holiness is not ours.  Our holiness is not something we can work for, it’s nothing we can earn, it isn’t something that we receive after years of serving Christ or being saved, it’s not something that we can acquire over time.  There is absolutely positively NOTHING that we can do or can be done to make us more holy…because the holiness we have is…not…ours.  The Holiness we have and receive at the moment we become whosoever’s that have called upon the name of the Lord for salvation (Romans 10:17) is Jesus’ holiness…and that’s one of the things that we receive as a result of our salvation…we exchange our filth for His righteousness and our ungodliness for His holiness.  It is HIS holiness…PERIOD.

I can’t tell you how many times I read on my Twitter or Facebook timelines about someone who desires to be “more holy”.  Friend, you can’t.  You can’t be more holy because Jesus can’t be more holy.  Jesus is as holy as He is ever going to be, and for you to say that you want to be “more holy” is very nice, very spiritual, and commendable…but to be honest with you…desiring to be more holy is basically telling God that His holiness isn’t good enough for you…and we all know that’s not something we want to tell God.

Listen.  When we receive Christ we receive all the fullness of Him, right!?!  That means when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we receive all of the holiness we’re ever going to get…right then…right there…right at that moment in time.  The thing that we need to do is have it revealed to us that His holiness is on the inside of us, and learn how to walk in it.  It’s one of those things that we receive by grace through faith…and while it’s commendable to want to be more holy…the thing we really ought to be asking God is to show us how we can allow the Holiness within us to shine through.

Holiness begins in our hearts and minds. Paul taught in Romans that “if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). The psalmist here draws upon several terms of cognition including: “thinking,” “study,” “learning” and “remember.” Practicing these disciplines will result in the Word of God producing holiness, fullness and wholeness in our lives. We will do the right things (respect, obey, worship) and we will reap the rewards (happiness, pleasure).

Holiness is already inside of us.  The way we allow more of it to be produced on the outside of us is to get more of the Word of God on the inside of us so that we can get an understanding of how holy God is…and the more we understand how holy God is…the more of an understanding we will have of the holiness that dwells within us through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

Friends, the holiness we need already lives on the inside of us through the third person of the Trinity.  All the fullness of God dwells in the Holy Ghost…His name is the HOLY Ghost.  So, we already have the HOLINESS of God living on the inside of us, friends.  We have all of the holiness inside of us that we’re ever going to need because GOD lives on the inside of us, and by reading and studying the Word of God…comes revelation of this truth and knowledge…and that is how we become more holy…getting more revelation through the Word about how Holy God is…and that through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost…we have His holiness.

The cultivation and preservation of holiness in the life of the leader is connected to disciplines of the mind and heart. Right thinking begets righteous living. This is not to say that we can earn our salvation. Yet, Paul does call upon us to “work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved” (Phil. 2:12).

Listen, don’t get what I’m saying twisted.  We can learn to walk in His holiness, and work with the Holy Ghost to have more of God’s holiness displayed in our Christian walk…but the key to what I just said is recognizing that it’s God’s holiness and not ours.  Our holiness is connected to how we discipline our hearts and minds.  We do need to be aware of what we’re allowing to take root in our hearts and minds because those things choke out the holiness of God in our lives.

If we allow things like bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred to take root in our hearts…those are the kinds of things that will choke out the holiness and characteristics of God.  I am also not saying that we shouldn’t desire to live better, and allow the Holy Ghost to work within us to change us.  See, the idea is to change from the inside out…not the outside in.  We cannot put the holiness of God on the outside by using our abilities because holiness isn’t found in our abilities.  Holiness isn’t something we can do…holiness is something we have because we’re in Christ.

Right thinking begets righteous living.  Listen, if we can get it in our thoughts that the reason I’m holy is because I have holiness living in me through the person of the Holy Ghost…it will beget holy living.  We won’t have to work and strive to be holy…we’ll come to realize that we are already holy…and once we realize we are holy…then we won’t be working so hard to be holy.

How, then, can we enrich our thinking about the meditation upon Scripture?

Thinking About the Word of God – We need to read the Word of God and think about what these words mean and imply. This Psalm begins with “Thinking about your commands…” (v. 6). As we think about Scripture, our lives and our world will change.

We read in Proverbs that as a man thinks in his heart…so is he.  We also read in Matthew that Jesus tells us that what we allow to take root in our hearts will come out of our mouth.  In other words, what we think about ourselves will produce fruit on the outside.  If we think we’re a no good loser long enough…eventually our actions will display what we think of ourselves.  In similar fashion, if we think the Word of God, if we meditate and think about ourselves as God thinks of us…eventually our actions will display that we agree with what God thinks of us.

So, here it comes.  God says that my righteousness is of filthy rags.  God says that there’s nothing good in me.  God says that I am to be holy as He is holy or I will not enter into the Kingdom.

Our righteousness is as filthy rags.  There’s nothing within us on our own that makes us righteous.  Part of the great exchange when we become whosoever’s that call upon the name of the Lord to be saved is that we exchange our unrighteousness for His righteousness…and we become the righteousness of God IN Christ Jesus.

Similarly, there isn’t anything good in us apart from the Holy Ghost.  Before the Holy Ghost comes to dwell on the inside of us the best we can do is trying to be good people, and often times that’s one of the main things people who we try to evangelize use isn’t it.  They will say something like…I’m a good person.  I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, I don’t steal, and I haven’t killed anyone.  But, the truth is in and of ourselves there isn’t anything good within us…until the Holy Ghost comes to dwell on the inside of us when we become whosoever’s that called upon the name of the Lord.

Respecting the Word of God – This is also essential in order for the Word of God to have its rightful place in our lives and churches. “I will do right and praise you by learning to respect your perfect laws” (v. 7).

You know how I feel about Christian books.  I have no problem with reading Christian books.  I have a book shelf full of books by Christian authors on all kinds of topics, and I read them.  However, what I do not do is substitute those books for the Word of God.  In fact, often times I consult the Word of God as I am reading those books.  Here’s the key phrase in respecting the Bible…making sure it has it’s rightful place in our lives and churches.

I have a huge problem with preachers who have removed the Word of God from the pulpit and replaced it with the latest novel from Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or TD Jakes.  I have no problem with preachers using points from these books to illustrate points in their sermons, but the problem I have is that they use these books INSTEAD of the Word of God.

Listen, the Word of God isn’t meant to be an entertaining book…it’s meant to educate us in the things of God.  It’s meant to instruct us, and when you replace the Word of God with “Living Your Best Life Now”…that says that you have clearly lost your respect of the Bible…and it’s an abomination and insult to God if you think that preaching Joel Osteen’s book is better for your congregation than preaching God’s book.

It’s also amazing how many of these preachers wonder why there are so many people struggling, and why there isn’t any real move of the Holy Ghost.  There are no signs and wonders happening in their church, and they have the nerve to blame God for the fact that His presence hasn’t been in their church for years.

Well, preacher, I have the answer to why you don’t have any power in your church.  It’s because you have disrespected the Word of God.  You have forsaken the Bible, and you think that you’re going to reach more people by being entertaining and relevant…well let me make this clear…the Bible is still just as entertaining and relevant to today’s issues as it was when it was first written.  There is no substitute for the Word of God…and shame on you for removing it from your pulpit.  If you want the power and move of God back in your church…get “The Purpose Filled Life” out of your pulpit and return the Word of God to it’s rightful place…as the primary authority…and that will bring the power back to your church.

Obeying the Word of God (the “Perfect Laws”) – We are called to “Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it” (James 1:22). “I will obey all of them” (Ps. 119:8a)

We talked about this a little bit yesterday.  We do have to obey what God says in His Word.  We do have to work at allowing what we read to get into our hearts, and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us to put what we read into action.  We have to do things like tithe, forgive, love those who love us or don’t love us, and more.  We’re to love God and love others…and as we follow those two commandments…we will do well to fulfill the other laws.  I didn’t say that…Jesus did.  Love is the chief characteristic of a disciple.

Treasuring the Word of God – When we as Christ-followers think and consider what the Word of God does for us, we will not just read it – we will treasure it. “I treasure your word above all else” (v. 11a).

This goes back to respecting the Word of God.  It also kind of goes back to something I said in the first message that always gives me cause to really love, respect and treasure the Bible.  We read that in the beginning was the Word the Word was with God and the Word was God.  We read a little further that the Word became flesh and dwelled amongst us.  So, what helps me to treasure the Bible more than any other book is thinking about the fact that the Bible is Jesus in book form.  The Bible is God’s Word, of course, but when you think about the fact that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us…the Word to me also is now in hard cover, paper back or the fancy leather cover that we know as the Bible.  Every Bible is Jesus in book form, and if you think of the Bible in that context…it’s hard to not look at it and treasure the fact that every time you hold it in your hands…you’re holding Jesus.  Think about that for a moment, and see if it doesn’t change how you view the Bible.

Sharing the Word of God – Getting the Word of God into the lives, communities and nations around us requires action. It is news that must be told and a message that must be shared. As we do, people will become free and “you will be free” (John 8:36). “With my own mouth I tell others…” (v. 13a).

Sharing the Word of God isn’t just for pastors, teachers, preachers, or bloggers like me.  Sharing the Word of God is part of the mandate for all Christians that Jesus gave in what is known as “The Great Commission”.  It’s important that we learn to share the Bible with others…Amen!  It’s up to all of us to be ambassadors and representatives of God…and as a result we’re responsible for the preaching, teaching, and writing of the Word…to all creatures.

Delighting (Taking Pleasure) in the Word of God – God’s Word is not only verses to read, it contains moments of pleasure and delight to be savored.

Take Pleasure, Treasure, and Respect the Word of God.  I think we’ve done a pretty good job of explaining these points.  I think we understand, or at least I hope we do by now, that this Bible we read is unlike any other book in the world.  There is so much in the Bible.  There are so many stories to draw inspiration from, to encourage us, to get a bit of a kick out of, and so much more.  It’s the greatest book ever written that tells of the greatest story ever told, but within it’s confines are so many testimonies, stories, and so much more.  There’s poetry, wise teachings and sayings, and so much more.  It’s the only book in the world that’s story is still being written, and there’s truly no other book in the world like the Word of God…once you come to this conclusion it won’t be hard to take pleasure in it, to respect it, and to treasure it like no other piece of literature in the world…because it’s truly unique and there’s no other like it.

Studying the Word of God – Studying involves reading, thinking, respecting, and considering the Word of God with intentionality and focus. “I will study your teachings and follow your footsteps…” (v. 15)

Yet another reference to personal study of the Word of God.  We talked at length about that yesterday, and throughout this series so far.  We talked about the importance of Bible study in many of the messages I’ve written, and here again is another reference to the fact that we have to study the Bible in our own personal quiet times and prayer closets.  We simply must have a healthy relationship with the Word of God, and I don’t think that there’s a possibility of over stating that point.  Personal Bible Study is absolutely critical to our survival as Christians because it contains the only offensive weapons we have in our Armor of God.  Prayer and Scripture are the only offensive weapons we have…and like I pointed out in a previous message that if we can learn to pray the Word of God…that will send the devil running…because he cannot defeat God’s Word.

The Word of God is not only right and true, it is something beautiful to be admired and adored. In fact, regular reading and reflection on Scripture is the most effective catalyst to growing in Christ-likeness.

We keep coming back to this point about the Word of God, don’t we!?!  We cannot be successful in the Christian life or walk without it.  We need to be attending churches that believes and preaches the Word of God.  We need to be studying it in our private time.  We need to learn how to pray it in order to have a stronger, more powerful prayer life.  Regular reading and reflection is the most effective way for us to grow as Christians and become more Christ-like in everything we do…Amen!?!

In Closing:

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think this was another really powerful message that contains important instruction and encouragement to change the way we think about the necessity of the Bible in our lives.  It’s vital to be in Bible teaching churches, and to make sure that we’re partaking of the Bible on our own.

I would like to encourage you to take some extra time each day to just get alone with your Bible…and read it.  I know I’ve felt challenged to make more time for the Bible in my life.  Apart from it…we aren’t going to grow and mature and become the people God desires us to be.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to stay the same…I want to grow and mature in the things of God…and the only way to do that is by maintaining a healthy relationship with the Word of God. Amen!?!

We’re getting closer to the end of this series.  I’m already thinking about what God is going to want us to get into next.  With the pending arrival of Elisabeth Sophia Kizer to our family…it’s quite possible that we’ll do a short series before her arrival…and see how things go afterwards.

Your prayers for my family are always welcome and quite frankly coveted.  I thank you all for your support, and I look forward to continuing to bring you good, solid Bible based messages that will help us to all be conformed more and more into the image of the Son of God…Amen!

Blessings & Grace to you.

Pastor Bryan

Christlike Ministries NWA

“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 16:24)

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