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A Holy Church

March 6, 2017

The church today is being called to fight for social justice, oppose racism and combat poverty. Those focused on transforming culture declare the church cannot be holy unless it is involved in social activism. While these kinds of problems are matters of concern the New Testament never calls for Christians to effect political change.

In previous generations, and still evident in many churches today, holiness is defined by the avoidance of certain evils. Usually this list includes smoking, drinking, gambling, going to movies and dancing. While there is legitimate reason to avoid these things mere avoidance of a few sins is not the true measure of holiness.

The New Testament describes holiness in terms that cuts deep into the heart of man. Genuine holiness is not found in the keeping of a list of rules or in opposing injustice. Genuine holiness is found in the transformation of heart, character, attitude and thought. The holiness of the Christian is to be like the holiness of God. The Christian is to be set apart from the other people of the world hating all sin and loving all that is righteous.

Hebrews 12 describes the holy character of believers within the church. Verses 12-17 describe how Christians are to treat one another. Verses 18-21 warn Christians to care for one another so sin will not gain a foothold in any life. The Christians must show this level of care for one another because we are entered into a covenant greater than the one Israel made with God at Sinai.

What does holiness in the church look like? Holiness encompasses the actions of the believer, and cannot be limited to a short set of specific evils to be avoid. Whether it be fundamentalist taboos or social agendas superficial measures of holiness often become self-righteous moralism that deflects the conscience from the true need of the heart. Holiness is holistic affecting the attitude, mind, emotions, speech and behavior. Hebrews 12 describes holiness as not bitter, not involved in sexual sin and not preferring the possessions of the world to the promises of God. Hebrews 13 describes holiness as loving one another, being generous to other believers, practicing contentment, holding to sound doctrine, praising and thanking God, doing good to others and maintaining Christian fellowship.

Holiness in Christian relationships is a necessity because the Christian has been brought into something higher, something greater, something eternal, something glorious purchased by the blood of Jesus. The Christian is entered into the New Covenant, the general assembly and church of the firstborn in the presence of God. As members of the body of Christ Christians are brought into the new covenant and made recipients of the eternal kingdom of Jesus. Since this glory is ours let us “serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”


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