SHE UPHOLDS GOD'S STANDARDS FOR GODLY LIVING
by Dan Jenkins
After the Hebrews crossed the
Red Sea God set before them the high calling He had in view for His people. "Ye
shall be holy, for I am holy. . . " (Leviticus 11:44). In a world that was given
over to the ungodly living that often characterized pagan nations, a holy God
called upon His people to set new standards of righteousness -- holiness as He
Should it be any surprise to us
that the same language is used in reference to His church in the new covenant!
God is unchanging and He asks the church, His people today, to partake of His
nature (2 Peter 1:4), to follow His teachings on holiness. "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" (1 Peter 1:15-16).
WRONG STANDARD OF HOLINESS
One's daily life demands that
he seek some standard for righteousness, but what is that standard? Men often
use the wrong standard for righteousness.
It would have been so easy for
the nation of Israel to have sought to be like the nations about them. However,
the Lord reminded them that they had been called out of Egypt (Lev. 11:45), and
that they were not to determine righteousness simply by being like those
nations. "After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not
do, and after the doings of the land of Canaan whither I bring you shall ye not
do, neither shall ye walk in their ordinances" (Lev. 18:3). As the history of
man has been a history of men not abiding by God's teachings, it is folly to
think that righteous standards are to be found in following what others are
doing. God's instructions, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil"
(Exodus 23:2), should remind us that the standard of righteousness is not to be
set by doing what most people are doing. Jesus himself shows that most people
will not live by God's teachings (Matthew 7:13-14).
Some set as a standard of
righteousness the standard taught them by their parents. If parents were sinless
then they could serve as the standard, but this simply is not the case (Romans
3:23). Jesus envisioned that following him would sometimes mean turning from
parents (Matt. 10:37). Parental teaching, as important as it is, cannot be the
Some have thought that learned
men should be the standard. However, Paul states the impossibility of men
knowing the things of God apart from God. "What man knoweth the things of a man
save the spirit of man which is in him, even so the things of God knoweth no
man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:12). No man knows the things of
God! Man cannot determine righteousness!
THE ONE STANDARD OF HOLINESS
There is only one standard and
that is God! God created man in His image (Genesis 1: 27) and when man fell, God
brought about Christianity and designed it so that we would be conformed to His
image. As we behold the glory of the Lord we". . . are changed into the same
image (2 Cor. 3:18). God wants us to be like Him! We are to partake of His
nature! He is the standard of holiness!
WHAT HOLINESS ISN'T
Galatians 5:19-21 lists many of
the ungodly practices that have destroyed men of long ago and are yet prevalent
in our day. To show how serious these practices are, the list ends with these
words, "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God"
Christ's church must abhor
these, for to be found guilty of them will bar the doors of heaven. These are
the words of a holy God telling us exactly what He wants us to avoid.
There are sexual sins listed --
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness. Adultery is unlawful sex
between two people, with at least one of these being married. Fornication is
immorality of every sort. It is the Bible word to describe any sort of sexual
sin. Uncleanness literally means impurity and refers to those thoughts and
actions that lead to immorality. Lasciviousness means absence of restraint,
indecency, and includes unchaste behavior of dress, speech and action. How
unfortunate that men have left God's wonderful design of sex and have perverted
it and set up their own standards in this area.
There are the sins of idolatry
and witchcraft. Idolatry can be either the outward worship and service of an
image made with hands (see Psalm 115:3-7 for discussion of the folly of such
worship) or the covetous service of any material thing (Colossians 3:5).
Witchcraft refers to sorcery, superstition, the occult and horoscopes. To follow
such is to deny that God controls this world, that He determines what happens in
our lives (Daniel 4:17).
There are sins of attitudes -
hatred, variance, emulations, wrath. Hatred is the opposite of love and refers
to bitterness of spirit and hostility toward others. Variance is the strife that
results from hate. Emulations means jealousy and the uncontrolled desire to have
what others have. Wrath is violent anger. Jealousy smolders in the heart, wrath
is the same attitude outwardly shown.
There are sins of false
teaching and division - strife, seditions, heresies. Strife often brings about
factions, and taking of sides and divisions into parties. Seditions literally
means "standing apart" and refers to the divisions into selfish groups. Heresy
is the teaching of one's opinions that give rise to division.
There are the sins of
drunkenness and revelings. Drunkenness is the indulgence in strong drink to
which so many are addicted. Reveling are the wild drinking parties that are
found in every society.
There are other lists in the
Bible (Rom. 1:26-32; Col. 3:5-10), but this list should help us to see that God
expects His people to be holy, to have as their standard of righteousness His
AN EXAMPLE OF HOLINESS
In the same section of
Galatians the Holy Spirit has another list that shows us much of what is
involved in holiness. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal.
5:21-22). These are attributes of our God that He expects us to have. Take each
of these words, read the Old Testament and you'll find they describe our God.
Take each of these words, read the New Testament and see each of them displayed
in the life of Jesus. God's standard for holiness has been lived on this earth,
we can see it without fault in our Savior. As he was tempted in every way we are
(Hebrews 4:15), it makes no difference when we live or where we live - we have
the example of holiness we need! Peter describes this perfect life in these
words, ". . . Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should
follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who when
he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not. . . " (1
Peter 2:21-23). Christ our example - this is God's visible standard of holiness!
We are to be like him!
THE CHURCH AND HOLINESS
Many today have lost sight of
God's holiness and the result is a world of sin. Some who claim to be religious
may condone sin but the true church cannot be of this nature. She serves the
Lord, she seeks his way and lives by his teachings of morality. When she ceases
to do this he rejects her (Revelation 2:5) and she is as worthless salt, useless
in his hands (Mat. 5:13). In an age when society is seeking new lifestyles, when
it is seeking a new morality, the church of Christ upholds His standard of holy
To what two groups has God
said, "Be ye holy, for I am holy?"
What are some wrong standards
of holiness? Why are they wrong?
What is the one standard of
Discuss sexual impurity and
examples in our own society.
Give illustrations of idolatry
in our own day. Of witchcraft.
Define some sins of attitudes.
What is the fruit of the
Spirit? Give examples from the life of Jesus.
What happens when a church
ceases to live and teach God's standard of holiness?