We have twenty-four verses to cover today so I am going to give some introductory statements and we are going to jump right into the Scripture.
The section of Scripture we are dealing with today talks about holiness. When most believers talk about holiness they think of God as holy which is true. Not only is God holy we also see in various scriptures that we are to be holy. I believe God would never tell us to do something that the Holy Spirit would not empower us to do.
The issue of holiness, however, down through the years has become a list of a whole lot of stuff we don’t do and a list of things we do (and the don’t list is always longer than the do).
Do’s and Don’ts are not holiness, they never have been and they never will be, do’s and don’ts are legalism, that’s what the Pharisees were wrapped up in.
Now are there things we should and should not do? Of course, but we can’t base holiness on that. There are many non believers who could adhere to a list it does not make them holy because they don’t know the Holy One.
The truth is, as hard as we think keeping rules is a “holiness” based on rules is much easier to do than a holiness based on relationship.
As an example if the rule says don’t drink, it’s easy, You’re sold out to the rules and you don’t drink. However, since the Bible says nothing about not drinking (just getting drunk), you can drink, however, it’s possible that in relationship the Holy Spirit could ask you to abstain and at that point you have a choice to give up something you can do for a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Here is the difference, if you give it up in relationship that does not make you better than anybody else because others are following in other areas and we realize we are all at different places, on different levels, with different relation requests. There is nothing condemning (or shouldn’t be anyway between the one who drinks and the one who doesn’t).
If you give it up because of the rule anyone who does drink is automatically condemned and that is not the heart of Jesus. In this rule and relationship scenario we are not talking about sin issues but choice issues on things Scripture doesn’t give us “command”. For those who wan’t to talk about Elders and drinking, we are not talking about that, just everyday believers.
We must understand and live out a relationship based holiness and not a rules based holiness. We need to become known for what we are for instead of what we are against.
Let’s look at our next section of Ephesians to see what Paul said about holiness.
Ephesians 4:25-28 NIV “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (26) “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold. (28) Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
The Amplified Bible says give no opportunity to him (the devil).
True holiness is loving others, that is the plain and simple truth – that’s what Paul is saying when he says don’t let day end with you being angry, don’t lie to your neighbor, work and help those in need. It’s not about a list its about loving others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 AMP “Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. (5) It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. (6) It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. (7) Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].”
Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (32) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The Amplified Bible of verse twenty-nine says “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.”
There is so much I could say here but all I will say is this, we know that life in death is in the tongue, Proverbs four tells us words bring healing to the body. We need to have right words for Scripture says how forceful are right words.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, how do we do that? By being bitter, angry, fighting, slandering, and all forms of malice. Conversely, how do we please the Spirit? Being kind and compassionate and forgiving.
Ephesians 5:1-2 AMP “THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. (2) And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.”
Holiness is imitating God, following His example and walking in love. To imitate God is obviously to be like Him. Some are bothered when people say we can be like God because they see God so far above us, He is not far above us. Now, I am not saying we are God, but Jesus did say we are seated with Him and Jesus is next to the Father, we are not God but we are like Him (Genesis 1:26-27).
The Holy Spirit was given so that we could be like God (Father, Son, and Spirit).
Again, we see not a list of rules but a relationship. The Holy Spirit is interested in our relationship with Him not a list of rules we have out of a legalistic spirit which is Opposite of the Holy Spirit.
This next part of Scripture does list some things we should not be a part of, but even here we can’t see rules we must view all of Scripture through a relational lens and not rules.
Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (4) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (5) For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (6) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (7) Therefore do not be partners with them.”
Because we love Jesus we should want to keep commandments (John 14:21) we get out of love when we demand people to behave a certain way and have no love in us when we talk to others. Should we encourage our brother to not engage in these things, absolutely, but we must do it from a place of love and not condemnation.
In saying that I am not saying we don’t hold believers accountable, we must hold people accountable but the only people anyone of us can legally hold accountable are those we are in relationship with and those who have given us permission to speak into their lives.
I just see so many times and have been guilty myself of beating with the Scriptures instead of loving with them, this does not mean we excuse sin, it means we love and help our brother sister out of it in a way that is loving and up building to their growth in the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:8-14 NIV “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) (10) and find out what pleases the Lord. (11) Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (12) It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. (13) But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (14) This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
When we were saved we were translated from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light. We don’t have light we ARE light. The fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.
Galatians 5:22-25 AMP “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, (23) Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. (24) And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. (25) If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]”
Ephesians 5:15-20 NIV “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (17) Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (18) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, (19) speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, (20) always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Many believe they can’t know the will of God, but here it says understand the will of God. The will of God is that we be holy and that His Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.
When talking about how to live holy it really is simple, holiness is to walk in love and imitate God as little children imitate their fathers following them and doing what they do. That is holiness. Following the example given and the ministry of Jesus is the example given for how we live spiritually, how we relate to others and how we give the world what we have.
Holiness is simply RE-PRESENTING Jesus to our world by living, talking, walking, loving, and doing what Jesus did. As Bill Johnson says, If Jesus did everything as God, I’m impressed but I’m not compelled to follow, but Jesus laid down His Godhood and came as fully man and worked through the Spirit so that we would do what He did. That is holiness, being Jesus in our world.