I THESSALONIANS 3:12-13: “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Am I on the pathway to holiness? Do I even comprehend what the call to holiness is? To be honest, holiness is not a word we use very often today. It has become one of those archaic words of Christendom that we do not talk about very often. And, when we do talk about it, we usually focus on the wrong thing.
When you think about what is holy you naturally think about God. God is holy. He is completely separate from sin and sinners. Everything He does is right, just, and good. Jesus was God in human flesh. Therefore, Jesus was holy. Yet, we are not called to admire the holiness of God. We are called to emulate it and become it!
- “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” I Peter 1:13-16 NKJV
This is where the concept of holiness gets a bit difficult to understand. The fruit of holiness is changed behavior. Holiness is not a suggestion for the believer. Holiness is a call! Yet, how do we get there? How do we get from our former life of brokenness and ignorance to a life that is marked with Christ-like character?
We normally default to that which we can see. We can see our outward actions. So holiness becomes what we “do not do” – rather than “what we do.” We are holy if we dress a certain way. We are holy if we cast off certain habits. We are holy if we learn the right Christian lingo and carry the proper translation of the Bible. An old saying went like this – “We are holy if we don’t smoke, chew, or go with girls that do!” Sadly, much of the emphasis on holiness in the church is on external holiness.
The Scribes and Pharisees were experts in external holiness. They knew how to look and sound the part. They were proficient in all the right religious lingo and practices. And, they were not simply proficient in these things – they excelled in them! They wore their external holiness like a badge of honor. Yet, Jesus was not impressed with their external show of holiness. In fact, Jesus had some pretty harsh things to say to the Scribes and Pharisees.
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:25-28 NKJV
It is easy to focus on the externals of holiness. It is easy to judge others by measuring their external observance to our self-made standards of holiness. It is quite another thing to focus on the heart. True holiness comes from within. It starts in a heart that is surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ and is growing in love. Love is the key to our call to holiness. Love is the transforming power and call to the believer!
- “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
This is not an empty expression of love. This is agape love – God’s love. This is sacrificial love that begins when Jesus Christ establishes His throne upon our hearts and begins to transform our inner man. This love looks past outward appearances. This love is the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ that calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him. It is love for our brother, and love for our enemies. It is love for every man, woman, and child for whom Jesus Christ has died. This love is both the call and pathway to holiness. It is our life’s pursuit!
- “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”. I Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV
- “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7 NKJV
Heavenly Father, grant me the grace to increase and abound in love, Your love – to all! Let me love both my brother and my enemy. Let me pray for all men and women to be saved. Let me be willing to go the extra mile. Establish my heart in Your holiness (love) as I wait for Your soon coming return.
In Jesus Name!