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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8 am service, 2002-09-29

Text: Leviticus 20:7,8; Romans 6:1,2,11-19

This morning we have the final message in the series of studies in the Names of God, a series that has been helpful to us not only to understand God's attributes, but also all that He is to us, who are His Covenant people. We have seen names of God that reveal attributes of His, like His eternal existence (El Olam), His omnipotence (El Shaddai), His omniscience (El Roi) and His sovereign authority (El Elyon). We have also learned the names of God that reveal His goodness to us in His Covenant relationship with us - that He is our Shepherd (Jehovah Rohi), our Peace (Jehovah Shalom), our Maker (Jehovah Hoseenu), our Provider (Jehovah Jireh) and our Healer (Jehovah Rophi). 

I. The Holiness of God 

But there is one aspect of God's nature that we have not yet studied in detail in this series of messages. And that is His Holiness. It is fitting that we should climax the whole series with this great subject, because holiness is really the attribute of all attributes! The holiness of God is revealed through the name Jehovah M�Kaddesh. It is found in our text: 'Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep My statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.' This particular name of God is found in nine other verses of Scripture: E.g. Leviticus 21:8 'Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.' (Also in Leviticus 21:15,23; 22:9,16,32, Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12; 37:28). 

Now, the term 'sanctify' literally means to 'make holy'. In fact, the name M�Kaddesh is actually derived from the Hebrew word for 'holy,' which is, Kadosh. The ability to make anyone holy implies that God Himself must first be holy. And so this name certainly directs us to the holiness of God. In fact, God oftentimes designates Himself simply as, Kadosh, and this is translated in our Bibles as 'The Holy One' (40 times). The key concept behind this name therefore, is the concept of Holiness. 

A. What is Holiness? 

Basically Holiness is separation from, and hostility to, all evil and defilement. By using the names 'Kadosh' (The Holy One) and 'M'Kaddesh' (He who makes holy), God is revealing to man, that above all things, He is holy. He is separated from all evil and defilement and stands opposed to sin. 

The sum of all moral excellency is found in Him. God wants to remind us again and again that He is absolute purity, untouched by even the slightest speck of sin. The scriptures describe God's holiness in various ways: 1 John 1:5 'God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.' Habakkuk 1:13 'Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.' The Prophet Isaiah beheld God in a vision, seated on His throne in the Holy Temple, with the doorposts quaking, and the angels crying out to one another, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory' (Isaiah 6:3). This grand vision of God's holiness made Isaiah feel so utterly unclean and sinful, even though by our own standards, we would regard Isaiah as a good and upright man. But when even the most perfect and saintly person in this world stands before God, he will not be able to do anything but to respond in the same way, 'Woe is me, for I am undone!' And that, dearly beloved, indicates to us how infinitely holy God is. Let us observe now, some other ways in which God has revealed His Holiness, besides using the names, Kadosh and M'Kaddesh. First of all: 

B. Holiness Is Revealed In God's Works 

Psalm 145:17 tells us 'The LORD is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works.' Holiness is a characteristic of everything that God does. Whatever He does is consistently holy. For instance, God made all things in His creation 'very good.' There was not the least imperfection at all in it at the time that He made them. Both the fallen angels and fallen man were created holy before they fell into sin. And so we see that all the works of God reveal His holiness. Another thing that reveals God's holiness are the Laws of God. 

C. Holiness Is Revealed In God's Law 

Every law that God has given to man bears the divine imprint of holiness! These include the Ceremonial Laws like those concerning the layout of the tabernacle, the priesthood and the various offerings. These laws impressed upon Israel the concept of God's holiness through the prescription of rituals that were needed for purification. 

Holiness is also revealed in the Moral Law as Romans 7:12 says 'Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.' The holy character of the moral law is seen in its many prohibitions against sin in all its various forms. And what holiness requires and forbids is summarised for us in the Ten Commandments. Our Lord Jesus Christ elaborated further on this in His Sermon on the Mount. 

But the holiness that is revealed in the Law of God actually goes against us. It condemns us and makes each and every one of us guilty and unholy before God. If God had not given us His Law as the standard of holiness, we would not know what sin is and how sinful we really are (Romans 7:7 'had not known sin, but by the law'). And at the same time the Law shows us that the only person, who is without any sin at all, the only person in whom Holiness is perfected in man, is Jesus Christ. Only Jesus fulfilled and satisfied every single requirement of God's Law, to the letter. And Jesus revealed God's Holiness to us not only in His life, but also in His death: 

D. Holiness Is Revealed At The Cross 

The death of Christ was the most powerful revelation of God's infinite holiness. How utterly hateful our sins must be to God, for Him to punish it to the uttermost when they were borne by His beloved Son on the cross of Calvary. If God had been any less holy than He really is, surely He would have spared His only begotten Son the infinite pain and agony that He suffered on the cross. 

And the most wonderful news for us is that now, in exchange for bearing the punishment for our sins, Jesus Christ has given each of us the standing of perfect holiness that is His, the holiness of the perfect life that He lived on earth. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, 'For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.' And, as Romans 8:1 tells us, 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus' You know, this is an absolutely marvellous truth that we must always ponder and be excited about: That God's Holiness, which formerly disqualified us from being in the presence of God and kept us away from Him, is the same Holiness that now qualifies us to be in God's presence, and keeps us there! 

And now that God's Holiness has enabled us to stand in His holy presence, it becomes possible for us to be sanctified, through His power working within us.

And God's will for us now, is that our lives should indeed become holy, just as God is holy. This is the specific usage of the name Jehovah M'Kaddesh - to indicate that God is the Lord who sanctifies us.

II. The Will of God To Make Us Holy 

This will of God for our sanctification is stated not just once, but several times in the Scriptures, e.g. 1 Peter 1:14-16 'As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.' (see also Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7) 

There are also a few other verses that emphasize God's sovereign will for us to be holy: 1 Thessalonians 4:7 'For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.' Ephesians 4:24 'And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.' 2 Corinthians 7:1 'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.' One of the best chapters in the Bible that teaches us how to be holy is Romans 6:1-19. Let us now turn our Bibles to this chapter.

A. The Basis for Being Holy (vv.1,2) 

Romans chapter 6 begins with the basis for being holy - the fact that we who are saved by Christ are dead to sin. What is it that makes a born again Christian's life different from others? Or is there supposed to be any difference at all? This is really what was meant by the question that is asked in v.1 'Shall we continue in sin?' Paul's immediate response to that question in v.2 is 'God forbid.' This is the most emphatic way of saying, 'No!' in biblical language. 'May it never be!' And the reason given is that we who are saved are now supposed to be dead to sin. When a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, not only is his status in God's sight changed, but now he is dead to sin. That means that he is freed from being under the tyranny or control of sin. Son is like a ruthless dictator. Now please note that the text does not say that sin is totally absent from this new life, but that the tyranny of sin is now absent. As v.14 says, 'For sin shall not have dominion over you'.

This then is the basis of our sanctification: God liberating us, making us free from the tyrannical power of sin, through Jesus Christ. What are some things that will be seen in a life that is freed from the tyranny of sin? The first thing noticeable is a change of attitude towards sin. He no longer loves sin, but hates it. This change is accompanied by a growing love for righteousness in his life. He has a healthy desire to be upright, to live according to God's principles and to do good to others. God's commandments become a delight for him to obey, rather than a duty that he grudgingly fulfills. In many people whose lives before they became Christians were really miserable because of the tight control of sin on them, this new freedom from sin's power brings a noticeable radiance to their faces: an unquenchable joy that really makes them alive! These things begin to emerge gradually but steadily after a person is truly saved. They are just like beautiful fruits appearing on a tree that has been transplanted into fertile ground and received refreshing rain. And when we can see these wonderful changes appearing, then we know that God is really doing His marvelous work of sanctifying him! Change is what sanctification is all about.

But what if we can't see any change at all for the better? What if there are no signs of sanctification at all after a long time? Has he then really been saved? The answer is No, it cannot be. There is no such thing as justification without sanctification. A justified person is dead to sin, according to Romans 6:2. If he is still very much alive to sin, that means that he is not saved. His profession of faith in Jesus Christ is false!

B. Our Responsibility in Becoming Holy 

Thus far we have seen that sanctification is the work of God in our lives that frees us from the power of sin, making us dead to sin. But that doesn't mean that we have no part to play at all in sanctification. We see this now as we come to vv.11-19. We have a responsibility in sanctification, and it is demonstrated in three simple commands.

1. Reckoning Ourselves as Dead to Sin (v.11) 

The first command is to reckon, found in v.11: 'Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' What does reckoning mean? It means taking into account in one's considerations. As we live, we are to take into account the fact that we are now dead to sin. We are to take into account the fact that Christ has freed us from the power of sin. And we are to act accordingly. We must stop entertaining the idea that sin still has full control over our lives and that we cannot overcome it.

We must be convinced that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we now can live holy lives. Sometimes when our faith weakens we begin to doubt. We feel that even though we have Christ, we can never hope to be free of certain besetting sins in our lives, and as a result we give up trying to resist altogether, and just admit defeat. We think our sin problem is just too great for us. If this is how you feel right now , you must change your thinking. You can win against sin! But what you need to do first is to reckon ourself dead to sin. This is simply believing what is already true of us, to be absolutely true.

2. Yielding our members as instruments of righteousness (v.13) 

The second command given us in this passage is to 'yield'. V.13,'neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.'

The Apostle Paul is speaking here in practical terms: The members mentioned here are the body parts and their functions, such as seeing, hearing, speaking, touching, walking. A Christian can choose to use them in daily life either as instruments of unrighteousness, or as instruments of righteousness. What we are commanded to do here is to yield them as instruments of righteousness.

Sanctification therefore involves constant effort on our part, to yield up ourselves fully to God to fulfill His righteous purposes. This means employing our whole body in all its parts in works and activities that bring glory to God, works that bring us close to Him, works that help to make Him known.

3. Obeying the Word of God as Servants (v.16-18) 

Now, after the command to reckon and the command to yield, comes the third command, which is to 'obey'. This is found in v.16 'Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, His servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness?' Obedience implies a servant-master relationship. We are no longer servants of sin, which was our former tyrannical master, but we are now servants of righteousness (v.18) and more specifically, we are servants to God (v.22). Our role as servants requires obedience from us.

What does obeying mean? It simply means doing whatever God instructs us to do. It also implies self-denial and total submission. Sanctification requires us to render this kind of obedience. Well, you may ask, what exactly are we called to obey? This is given in v.17 as 'that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you.' In other words, we must obey the teachings of God's Word. The Word of God is absolutely indispensable to our sanctification. In order to be sanctified, we must know the Word of God, and then obey it fully as servants of righteousness.

Now, the last aspect of sanctification we see in this passage is:

C. The Accomplishment of Holiness in Us 

This is found in the last part of 19, 'even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.' And v.22 says, 'But now being made free from sin and become servants to God ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.' This holiness Paul is referring to here is practical holiness, one that can be seen in our lives: one that characterises the way we live, the way we think and the way we speak. This holiness is the goal of our sanctification.

But such practical holiness cannot be reached overnight. It is attained progressively and gradually. In the next chapter of Romans, Paul shows why perfect holiness cannot be achieved on earth. Here he describes his own personal struggle with sin in his life. In 7:19 he says: 'for the good that I would I do not: but that the evil which I would not, that I do.' And he attributes the cause of it to the little remnant of sin that still dwells in him. You will recall that I stated earlier on, that when we are in Christ, the tyranny of sin is removed.

This does not mean that sin is no more present in our lives. It is impossible for a Christian to attain to full sanctification in this life. No one can become perfectly sinless once and for all. There is bound to be a remaining root of sin left, that we have to struggle with throughout our lives on earth. The Bible shows us the struggles that many godly men had with sin even though they had attained a high degree of holiness: men like Noah, Moses, Elijah, David, the apostle Peter and here in Romans 7, the apostle Paul.

D. The Means For Our Holiness 

1. The Holy Spirit 

But in Romans chapter 8 we see that God has provided the means for us to deal with this remaining root of sin in our lives, and that provision is 'walking after the Spirit.' (Romans 8:1,4) Ask the Lord as you begin each new day to grant you this to you - to walk in the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit and led by the Spirit (all these refer to the same thing). As we walk after the Spirit we can overcome the effects of the remaining root of sin. The Holy Spirit however does not work in a vacuum. The Holy Spirit uses our knowledge of the Word of God to do His work. And so we must keep on feeding ourselves with God's Word. This provides the Holy Spirit with the necessary tools and materials He needs to work in us. 

2. The Holy Bible 

So let us keep on reading and studying the Holy Bible, since it is one of the divinely ordained means to make us holy. Jesus prayed for His disciples, 'Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.- (John 17:17). And so we have seen the two appointed means of our sanctification - the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible. These are the means that the Lord Jehovah M'Kaddesh uses these to make us holy, just as He is holy. These are the means of sanctification that we must keep on using on this side of glory. And even though the struggle against sin will always be a part of our lives until the day we are promoted to glory, God's will for us is to come as close as possible to the state of perfect holiness as we can. The multitude of biblical encouragements, warnings and exhortations to God's people to be holy make this point very clear, and so does the name of God, Jehovah M'Kaddesh, that we have studied today. So let us never give up the fight towards holiness, but keep pressing on!

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25