Inside Out; A study on Holiness
Inside Out; A study on Holiness
Text: Matthew 15: 10, 11, 18; “And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: (11) Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (18) But those things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”
I Peter 2: 9; “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
Key Verse: I Peter 1: 15 “But like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living.”(ASV)
A wealthy man was interviewing prospective chauffeurs. The final three candidates were taken to a mountain road that had a steep cliff on one side. One final question would determine which person got the job: “How close to the edge of this road can you drive without going over ?” The first man answered, “I can drive within one foot of the edge without losing control.” The second man said, “I can get as close as three or four inches from the edge and still be fine.” The interviewer turned to the third driver and asked, “what about you?” The man quietly answered, “I may not get the job, but I have no desire to get anywhere near the edge of the road.” Who got the job? If you answered number three you were right.
Imagine that you live in a house near a busy highway. How far out in the yard would you let your children play? If there is no fence around the yard you probably would keep your child close to the house, because you would worry about the child getting to close to the road, and perhaps getting hurt. If you have a fence, however, you can let your child play freely in the yard because the perimeter of safety has been established.
When God led the Israelites out of Egypt by Moses’ hand, He gave them a set of rules to live by, that controlled nearly every aspect of their lives: how to dress, what to make their clothes out of, what they could and could not eat, when to work, when to rest, how to resolve conflict, and especially how and who to worship. The purpose of these laws was to separate them from the rest of the world, and protect them from the disease and wickedness of the world. When Israel wanted to be “like other nations” and have a king, God warned them that a king would draw their affections away from God and cause them to sin. After David, nearly every king they had pulled them further from God. When Israel wanted to look like the world, they soon became part of the world, separated from God.
Holiness, simply put, means “separated unto God”. In other words, the children of God are to be distinguishable from the rest of the world. This distinction is what keeps us from being part of the world, a slave to sin, and condemned to Hell. The wise chauffeur separated himself from the others by not taking foolish chances. The loving parent separated his child from the world by putting a fence around his yard. Israel was separated from the world by the laws God gave them that controlled thier appearance, diet, and behavior.
Jesus, in his teaching, did not do away with the principle of separation, but he internalized it. God did not give us specific rules to rigidly follow, but gave us His Spirit instead, to change our heart, knowing that whatever was in our heart would manifest itself in our outward behavior. “That which procedeth out of the mouth... defileth the man” because that reveals his heart, or his character. If what is coming out of your mouth, or your attitudes are not Godly, then you are not holy, or separated unto God, and you must surrender to God and let him change your heart. Refusal to separate yourself to God will have dire consequenses: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1: 14, 15)
Holiness is not a set of rules or a dress code, it is a condition of the heart, that, when it is mature will be apparent to others. When pastors warn the church about our activities or appearance, it is not to be domineering or legalistic, but they are trying to keep us from harm, because they have a responsibility to God concerning our salvation. Each pastor has a responsibility for a certain group of people, and each group has differrent needs, which helps explain why one pastor may differ slightly from another as to certain details of separation.
Jesus ate with sinners, and surrounded himself with people that were no where near holy, yet his character was not touched, his morals never waivered, and he was never influenced to lower his standards of behavior. We can not be separated physically from the world. We could never win them if they never saw us. But we are separated spiritually, behaviorally, and in our appearance and attitude. If we are no different than the world, what do we have to offer them? When we live for God with joy, love, peace, and holiness, the world will be attracted to us, because they will see in us what they cannot find in their world: Jesus!
Discussion: Does your life bring glory to God? Do you reflect His Holiness? Don’t resent the fence that protects you. Consider the ways in which God's light shines through your life. That barrier that protects you from the temptations of the world can be what attracts others to you. When they see you living in peace that is provided by the protection of that fence of separation, they may be drawn to you to find the source of that peace, and the God that protects you. Pray, and study God's Word to see how this study applies to you and your life. If you desire prayer or have questions feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will respond as soon as we can.
This study is adapted from "Inside Out", a small group study, copyright 2002, James Colegrove Sr.