Reading: Colossians 3: 1 - 17
Read the reading in the N .1. V.
[a] A young boy, in an exam was asked to describe a skeleton. He said: “The skeleton is what is left after the insides have been taken out and the outsides have been taken off. The purpose of the skeleton is something to hitch meat to.”
I want us this morning to do something, that we don't do enough - examine holiness, and perhaps hitch some meat to the skeleton.
[b] The teaching of holiness of life has become more and more unpopular as the years have gone on. Christians have so often fulfilled the words of Judges 21:25 “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
[c] How often have I heard it said, "Yes I know the bible says that, but I think …"
"I think my employer owes me, so I'm just going to take that item, or that day off!"
"I think that God won't mind if I stay in and doing something else, instead of going to the meeting!"
"I think God won't mind me breaking my vow to him, and having a smoke or a drink!"
"I think God won't mind if I have an unsaved boyfriend or girlfriend!"
"I think I can make my own rules in a relationship, if I love someone! God won't mind!"
OH YES HE WILL!!
IF WE SOW DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD, WE WILL REAP THE FRUITS OF THAT DISOBEDIENCE!
[d] Proverbs 30:12 “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.”
[e] Many today are like the young man who said, “I was unawares entangled in much worldly business. This cooled me in my pursuit of holiness; yet for a year and a half my heart was never at peace.”
[f] There are so many Christians today who have lost their peace of heart, because they refuse to walk the way of holiness.
[a] There is not always the awareness, that once we are saved, if we do not PROGRESS on the road of holiness, we will DIGRESS in our spiritual experience.
[b] In past meetings, we have looked at many aspects of holiness, not least of all, that it is often taught increasingly as a PROCESS into which we grow, rather than a CRISIS experience, which is inwardly life changing.
[c] We are speaking about two halves of the same experience! Neither could be complete without the other!
Some years ago, a singing evangelist was at a very large conference.
In the rush of the great crowd at the numerous tables, many failed to get what they wanted on the first day, and this evangelist was one of them.
But the second day he was ready, and calling a young waiter to his side he drew out a new, crisp banknote and with a pair of pocket scissors cut the bank note exactly in two.
Giving one part to the waiter he said, If you wait on me right, the balance of this conference, then at its close I will give you the other half of this bill.
As he said this he deliberately returned his portion of the note to his purse, while the young waiter, taking the other part of the severed note, fairly joined himself to the singer after that. He not only abounded but superabounded in his attentions. He knew that the share of the note he held was perfectly worthless unless he obtained the other section, and so he out-did himself in his service, and the singer lacked no provision in all the remaining nine days of the conference.
On the tenth, day he was presented with the second or remaining part of the note, and he immediately donned a smile which went from ear to ear.
So it is that there are two installments of divine grace. Pardon is given first and Holiness next. They come separate and at different times. You cannot get the second until you first obtain the other. Moreover, if we lose the first we cannot receive the second.
[d] Am I suggesting that Salvation is just the beginning? YES!
Am I suggesting that our experience is wanting, without the second experience of Holiness? YES! MOST DEFINITELY!
[e] In Virginia, a gentleman received the blessing of sanctification, and for days did nothing but laugh, cry, shout and praise God. The family physician was called in, other doctors were summoned, and, after a reluctant consent from the sorrowing wife, papers were made out and the he was landed in the mental hospital for treatment.
None of this quenched his joy. The holy rapture increased, rather than diminished, as, unresisting, he entered the gloomy abode.
There he talked about Christ to everybody, sane and insane, and with his laughing, crying, testifying and exhorting, got some souls saved, and others so convicted and troubled that the Board was glad to get rid of him and send him back home.
[a] Even within the Army, our view of the experience of Holiness, Sanctification, Full Salvation, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit - whatever you want to call it, has softened, and it in many ways has become unrecognisable to that which was taught by our Founder, and formative early day teachers such as Brengle.
It is looked upon as OLD FASHIONED by some.
Decca Recording Company said in 1962, when rejecting a new group called The Beatles, "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
We might laugh, but how many people view the Holiness work of the Holy Spirit in the same way - don't like the emotion - it's a past old fashioned doctrine!!
[b] How many times do we hear the truths of Holiness or Entire sanctification, being taught as a distinct SECOND EXPERIENCE, changing the INNER LIFE! I would guess that some Christians have never even heard about it, let alone experienced it!
To them, they look at it in the same way that an Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, did, when in 1968, he was commenting on the microchip. He said, "But what ... is it good for?"
[*] How often do Christians get 'spiritual pep talks' to increase the 'feel-good factor'!
There is a fear today, in challenging congregations that their experience may be wanting and incomplete - a fear of making them feel uncomfortable!
There are times when God must break through our 'comfort zone' and awaken us!
[c] There are so many, who have felt that their spiritual experience BEGAN AND ENDED when they were saved, rather than BEGAN AND GREW!
[ d] Make no mistake about it, the Bible speaks about PUTTING TO DEATH THE CARNAL NATURE!!
[e] In our Bible reading, it speaks about SETTING OUR HEARTS AND MINDS ON THINGS ABOVE! (VERSES 1-2)
[a] The title for our Bible Reading in the N.I.V. is "RULES FOR HOLY LIVING"
[b] In verse 1 it says, “Set your heart on things above.”
There is so much in this old sinful world to keep our thinking grounded, and take our thoughts away from spiritual things. If we are to get anywhere spiritually, we must focus on the Lord and the ‘things above’.
[c] It says first to set our ‘hearts’ on things above. The heart is the centre of our affections. In other words, stop loving the things of this world, rather than the Lord!
[d] Then it says in verse 2, to set our ‘minds’ on things above. What fills our thoughts? What do we dwell upon? As we think – so we are!
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
[e] In the following verses the emphasis is allowing the ‘old life’ to be put to death within us! We cannot live successfully on two levels at once – we must be either spiritual, where the old man of the flesh is crucified with Christ, or carnal – where we turn our backs on the Lord, and walk in the ways of this world!
Paul says "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:" (Col 3:5).
It is the work of the Christian to clean their thought life. When we clean away the cobwebs then God will kill the spider. Allowing sinful desires to exist in our thoughts, will lead to actions, and eventually cause us to backslide to a life of sin. I read how a man said, “I wandered for Thirty years teaching and preaching goodness. When I finally surrendered the last area of cherished sin, God killed the spider. I no longer desire the things that led me into sin. My heart is pure and my desire is to do the will of God. It was hard to admit that I had spent thirty years in the ministry without the blessing - I was convinced that because of my sin-nature I would have to live forever wrestling with two minds. "
Dr W.B. Godby, and early American Methodist Evangelist, in his book 'Sanctification' says,
"Throw down this unscriptural doctrine of growing into purity. The Bible nowhere imputes purity to growth - but it constantly imputes it to the cleansing blood and the refining fire. Growth never changes the quality of anything, but the quantity. So get converted, get sanctified, then grow forever and spread out a sea of holy influence wherever you go".
Let me, in finishing, read you something found in the Salvation Army Doctrine Book of 1913,
We believe that a "Second work of grace” is necessary to equip a believer for the work of building the kingdom of God. Without this work of the Spirit people continue to follow a worldly path of self polishing instead of true purity that can only be done by God Himself.
Perhaps God is saying to someone just now, that He wants you to take that further step. If so, then heed His voice, and allow Him to do His wonderful work within your heart!
The Salvation Army Song Book
choruses 97 in song book and 44 in Happiness & Harmony