Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Holiness: Possible and the Key to Being Used by God

The Bible tells us in Leviticus 11:44 that God says, "44For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy." The command is one that we almost passively read through because at the end of the day we know that we won't be holy as God is holy. We know far to well that we are sinners. We are not just people who sin, we are sinners. It is a part of our nature. Yet, this does not excuse us from God's command to be holy.

R.C. Sproul, a great theologian, lays out in his book Chosen by God that we are born with a sin nature. The reason for this sin nature is that we are under the curse of Original Sin from our first parents Adam and Eve. Before the Fall of Adam and Eve, man was able to sin, but he was also able to not sin. He has the choice between obedience and disobedience. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, the nature of humanity changed. We were now able to sin, and unable not to sin. In other words, we were free to sin with our choices, and at the same time, our freedom is restricted in the sense that we are unable not to sin. We will sin as a result of the Fall of Man. The beauty of the gospel and being a person set free in Christ is that we are no longer obligated to sin. Whoever the Son has set free, he is free indeed. When we are born-again we now go back to our pre-Fall nature: we can sin and we can not sin. The process of holiness is trusting and leaning on Christ more and more to be able to choose not to sin when sin is before us. If we are in Christ, we curse him if we continue to say that you sin because you can't do otherwise. Not so if you are in Christ. Will we still sin? Yes. But make no mistake, we no longer have to sin. Before our rebirth in Christ, we are unable not to sin because of our corrupt hearts, minds, and nature. In heaven, when we finally are glorified and redeemed fully, we will be able not to sin and be unable to sin. So we will not only have the ability to not sin, we will lack the ability to sin. Praise God for that!!

Back to the issue of holiness. Holiness is possible. If you are reborn in Christ, you can be holy, you can choose not to sin. People often talk about how they want God to use them. I hear people ask me all the time, "just pray that God would use me." I don't have a problem praying for that, but here's the deal: God will use you if you are 1. reborn in Christ and 2. living a life of holiness. If you are not doing those things, no need for me to pray. In fact, look at the passage from 2 Timothy 3:20-21

20Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work."

The passage shows us that it doesn't matter what kind of vessel it is, as long as the vessel is clean it can be ready for honorable use. If it is clean, it can be set apart, useful to the master, ready for every good work. Paul is saying this: it doesn't matter what your spiritual gift is, your background, your age, etc. what matters in the issue of being used by God is holiness. We must be holy because God is holy. We must quit excusing our sin on our nature when in the rebirth we were given the ability not to sin. We must seek to be holy if we want to be used by God. We should quit praying for God to use us and instead focus on holiness. When we do that, God will wear us out.


  1. Excellent ! One of the realities to add to this thought is that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to reject sinful things from enter into our lives. Salvation positionally sets us in the place of God's Holy work.. Peter 1:14-16 (The Message)
    "So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy."

  2. Just stumbled upon your post. Good word. I would add, however, that biblically, holiness means being "set apart." That is, being in right relationship with God which is made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The truth, nevertheless is that we all sin and will always sin until Jesus returns (that doesn't give us excuse, just reality). John in his first letter says that anyone who says they do not sin is a liar and the truth is not in them. In short, sinless perfection cannot be reached in this lifetime no matter how hard you try (works based?) not to sin - i.e., making choices.

    Back to being set apart. I like to think of holiness this way: To farmers soil is good. The soil, with some water, provides everything his crops need. Its in its proper place - holy so to speak. But if that same farmer tracks that same soil onto his wife's white carpet it becomes dirt - out of place, an unholy mess.

    I think we tend to think of holiness as bleach white clean sinless perfection. But biblically it simply means being set apart for God's use.

    Therefore, we are consecrated or made holy (the dictionary definition of consecrate is to set apart or dedicated to the service of a deity) when we set ourselves apart for God's service.

  3. Good post.What we're talking about here is
    justification,sanctification and glorification.
    The beauty of the gospel is that the penalty,(eternal death/separation from God)is dealt with when we make that all important life choice to accept what Jesus did for us that day on the cross. His righteousness became our righteousness.Like you said,that sin nature still remains in us, but we shouldn't use it as an excuse to commit sin.
    John said in the epistle if a man says he has no sin, he is a liar. Paul talked about how he struggled with his will. He said the things he didn't want to do, he did and the things he wished to do,he didn't.
    It's like you said,that battle of the wills ends when we go to heaven. James is correct when he said it is the Holy Spirit that gives us the sight to see sin and the power to reject it.
    I think I understand what you're saying about when people want you to pray for them to be used and yet they may still have some sins to deal with first,but I can't help but think if there is a burden on their hearts to serve God then they should be open to hear a word from a man or woman of God about how to be in that position for His use.
    And I think about the people in the bible who were sinning left and right and God used them...Abraham,David,Jacob,Jonah...of course looking at my list I see these are pre-cross/pre pentacost examples.hmmm.However the mystery that God's Spitit seals us and chooses to indwell a sinful,fragile body in spite of their sin boggles the mind.
    Many a time I have heard people say once in grace always in grace and use that as a license to sin. We are not to frustrate the gospel.Guess it goes back to what James was saying about the Holy Spirit.Working out our own salvation...meaning working because of our salvation.
    Erik, I loved that passage from
    II Tim.regarding the various types of vessels.All can be used if they are clean."If we confess our sins,He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".
    I confess sin and strive for holiness to have a close fellowship.The relationship cannot be changed because of sin.Christ died once and there is no more sacrifice for sin.