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1peter1_15-16

Speak to all the congregation . . . . and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2 NAS

How many of you believe it’s God’s job to make you happy? Have you ever really thought about it? It’s very rare that we don’t hear a feel-good sermon on happiness and prosperity. Translated means more sermons are being preached on how God wants you to be happy and prosperous than about the holiness and righteousness of God – about how His holiness demands righteousness and even to the contrary . . . . how His righteousness demands holiness. Nobody wants to hear about the righteousness and holiness of a Just God! Yeah, He’s a God of Love and Joy – but He is also a Just and Righteous and Holy God.

Think about it: One does not preclude the other – neither can you have one without the other.

If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would have never been crucified. Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)

About four months ago I was having a serious and heart-rending conversation with a family member about the failure of their Covenant Marriage. After some lengthy discussion and my spoken concern about their home and their family, it was plain to see that the devil had carte blanche access to her through her friends – and even some other family members. The same old excuses and the same old lies. She had met somebody who made her feel “alive and happy…” Up to that point, she had been waiting for her Covenant Husband to come home. But she decided that she had had enough and certainly God wants her to be happy so He brought another man into her life. You would think the devil would think of something different. But then again, if this almost always works, then I guess he really doesn’t have to. I knew the deception was complete when I heard her say those same words I had spoken so long ago: “I know what you believe. But the god I know wants me to be happy!”

Do you remember when you said that? I did. That’s a real good time to fall on your knees in repentance and ask for forgiveness. It’s an awful feeling to be confronted with our sin by the Holy Spirit – remembering what we have said and done. But it’s even worse to claim the God of the Bible as the god of our sin and deny that sin as sin and continue on as if it’s what the God of the Bible would want!

. . . . . how my heart breaks for her, her husband and their children. She does not realize what she has done and is doing. But it’s hard to tell someone that because of their blindness. We somehow think we are different when we are in the middle of our circumstances. When the Light is not present, there is nothing but blackness and we grope and feel around in that darkness until we become accustomed to it…We are blind to think that we can see clearly in the darkness.

The god I know. . . .

How carelessly we use His Name.

What a dangerous game we play when we have no fear of the Holy One.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds. II Cor 11:14-15 NAS

The implication of her statement was very clear – and it shows the depth of deception and blindness. That statement implies that we can believe what we want about God relative to each situation in life. It implies that God changes in accordance with each individual person and circumstance. He has become a cosmic bellhop who jumps when we call. He has become a “yes” God to our every whim. It was apparent that we don’t read the same Bible or worship and serve the same God. How can I say such a thing? How do I know that with such certainty? Because the God of the Bible does not, cannot, will not, ever contradict Himself.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today; yes and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings . . . . Hebrews 13:8-9 NAS

If we don’t understand what we’re reading and certain “escape clause” scriptures that we hear from someone else are used to justify our actions; or if we don’t know the Bible or have never even read it but we indiscriminately use the word “God” as if we are suddenly so spiritual, we may as well come out and call God a liar to His face.

The worldly term happiness implies a live and let live lifestyle. It is only relative to each individual’s preference – rather our likes and dislikes. Worldly happiness is an emotion. It is not Joy! In the Bible, the word happiness translated from the Greek makarismos, actually means blessedness. It signifies “the ascription of blessing.” It is used to refer to the condition of a man to whom the righteousness of Christ is imputed by faith. Reference Romans 4:6. True happiness, or rather the Joy of the LORD, is what will sustain you in and see you through hard times – even when you don’t feel happy. Worldly happiness is relative to the situation – where the Joy of the LORD is an absolute to those who are IN Him. The two are clearly not the same.

. . . . for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NAS

The Bible says we shall know them by their fruits. There is no such thing as a tree that produces fruit inconsistent with the type of tree it is. It sounds harsh but we are supposed to know that if we aren’t living for God, we are living against Him. Judgmental you say? Listen to what the Apostle Paul says:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and Divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. . . . Romans 1:20-22 NAS

I find it interesting that when someone is under conviction they automatically pull the “judge not lest ye be judged” card. A person who is under conviction by his Holy Spirit-driven conscience doesn’t like it so the Truth that we speak to them is now not done in love, or it is offensive to them. They don’t like the “squirm” effect it is having on them. So they become DEfensive. From their view, we are judging them. In their DEfensive mode, they will take the focus off themselves and try to put it back on you — maybe offer you an insight into your own imperfections. They don’t realize that they are making light of sin – their own sin. They make the conscience dead and desensitized to the Spirit each time they are convicted with the Truth and then walk away to their own way. He who presumes on the mercy of God will have to reckon with His justice.

No. God is not the god of tolerance.

Holiness Defined

How is Holiness defined? Most equate holiness with perfection – a perfection that cannot be attained. It’s attributable only to God. But Holiness is used to indicate sanctity and separation from all that is sinful or morally imperfect. It is used to speak of moral wholeness. It can also be used in reference to places and things (like when Abram was standing on Holy ground) – not just the state of our spiritual character or actions. Holiness is one of the most important and essential attributes of the divine nature and character of God. As children of the Living God, everything we do is subject to His moral standards – His divine nature. Why? Because He is the source. Holiness is actually the Person of God. He IS Holy. Since we are His children and have been re-made in His likeness by the acceptance of and faith in the blood of His Son, we are to take on that same attribute. Tough order when you still live in the flesh. . . .

For I AM the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I AM holy. . . . .For I AM the LORD, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; thus you shall be holy for I AM holy.’’” Leviticus 11:44-45 NAS

But, of course, He can’t expect that, can He? I know what you believe but my god would want me to be happy. Show me the “don’t worry, be happy” scripture and I’ll step away from the podium. Some of you may be thinking, ‘wow, she’s sounding a bit like a bull in a china shop right now’ – but Jesus says to you “he who has ears, let him hear.”

Behold the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:3-9 NAS

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One Who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written “You shall be holy, for I AM holy.” I Peter 1:14-16 NAS

Don’t mistake this as a bashing session of this woman whom I love. Not at all. We have to realize that the Truth hurts and if we continue to hide behind our feelings instead of hearing the Holy Spirit speak to us, we will continue to walk in deception. I would rather you offend me with the Truth than be condemned to walk in darkness. Remember, they crucified the LORD of Truth!  It’s obvious they didn’t want to hear what He had to say! He was not a popular Man with those who were under conviction.

So when we are confronted with and convicted of our sin by a brother or sister in Christ and it stings, we need to count it a blessing that the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all Truth and understanding, is knocking on the door of our heart. He is in fact leading us into all Truth and understanding.

You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I AM the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes and practice them; I AM the LORD Who sanctifies you. Leviticus 20:7-8 NAS

Herein is true happiness and holiness. Your happiness is dependent upon keeping the Holy commands of a righteous God Who is asking you to lay down your life for your friend – your Covenant Mate – setting yourself apart from all else. Forsaking all others.

By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:8-13 NAS

This is a worthy saying found on the tombstone of Leonard Ravenhill, an English Christian Evangelist and writer: “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”

What are you living for?

                         Happiness or Holiness.

Let us pray. . .

And I said, “I beseech Thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Thine ear now be attentive and Thine eyes open to hear the prayer of Thy servant which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, . . . . Thy servants, confessing the sins of . . . . . which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against Thee and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which Thou didst command Thy servant . . . . Remember the word which Thou didst command Thy servant . . . . , saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ “And they are Thy servants and Thy people whom Thou didst redeem by Thy great power and by Thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech Thee, may Thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant and the prayer of Thy servants who delight to revere Thy name, and make Thy servant successful today, and grant [us] compassion . . . . ” Nehemiah 1:5-11 NAS

Amen.

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