“To Be or Not to Be HOLY!” III

1 Peter 1:13-16  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; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

*If you have not read the first two parts of this series click the link below to go to            “To Be or Not to Be HOLY! #1″                                                                                                              “To Be or Not to Be HOLY! #2”

In answer to the question that is contained in the title… Yes, we are to be holy! by faith in Christ’s shed blood (Romans 5:9) we are holy in God’s sight, as if never having sinned (positional holiness). This holiness is to extend to our every day experience and is possible by not only His resurrection from the dead (Romans 6:6-14) but through our being regenerated in the new birth, as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell with us. In addition we are called to be (be being) filled with the Holy Spirit, which amplifies our ability to walk in holiness without which none will see the Lord (Romans 8:11, Ephesians 5:18).

The Holy Spirit makes any man who is absolutely surrendered to the Savior holy; that person lives a life of being set apart from the world and set apart to God, that is powerful testimony of Christ. In this post we will dig deeper into our call to be holy.


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When dividing this phrase “Be holy, for I am holy”, we come to understand the word for our “Be holy” is the same as His “for I am holy”. We found in our last blog that God’s “holy” means to be sacred, “consecrated” and “set apart”. His holiness also means to be completely other and above all that He has created, in this respect He alone is HOLY, yet in Christ, we share in the benefit of His unique HOLY.

Ephesians 1:17-21-18b that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Ephesians 2:4-7 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


Aside from that sharing, lets look a bit deeper into our holy being similar to God’s holy.  In the first place we are “sacred”. Now God being sacred means deeply inherently righteous and morally pure; no thing and no person is as sacred as God. This relates to our being washed in the blood of the Lamb of our sin. Our accounts being cleaned and our very being removed of all stain of sin. To the angels, the world and the kingdom of darkness we are sacred vessels.

Secondly, God is the epitome of being consecrated. This means that in His holiness He does not accept nor allow Himself to be defiled by darkness. The word declares that our holy God dwells in light which is unapproachable (I Timothy 6:16) and that in Him there is no darkness nor shadow of turning (James 1:17), which means that He won’t be influenced whatsoever by darkness. Consecration in our being holy, means that we as sacred vessels of God, refuse to be influenced or sullied by the world, the flesh, or the devil. In this we turn from our bent toward self, by yielding to the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:11-13). In this see our being holy as He is, means we maintain our sacred status, by refusing to be unrighteous, by yielding  to the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we understand our being holy as He is holy means we are set apart like God. God’s set apart, is His unique otherness that sets Him above all His creation. Further still this is seen in God being 100% about fulfilling His will and purpose in His creation. Yet let us remember that this is not self motivated any more than His desire to reveal His glory. We remember that God is love, meaning that His will and purpose is expressed and pursued for the benefit of His creation. Wow.

Similarly, we are set apart unto God. This means that we are to be different and unique among all humanity. We are to be uncommon in the midst of everyone else’s commonality, selfless in the midst of selfishness and holy and truly righteous in our actions. Yet all of this is because in being holy we are set apart for God’s purpose, will and pleasure. This means our being holy reveals to the world that we as faithful bond-servants have no will other than what pleases our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Therefore, our “be holy, for I am holy” is in opposition to the half-baked view of the Church in America (in-general), which tries to convince those who are still sinners and outside of the kingdom, that we we are just like them accept forgiven. Truth be told, if we are truly saved it is a lie to declare we are just like the world only forgiven–or worse yet to declare I’m not perfect, I sin all the time. If you use this to endear the lost to listen to you, PLEASE STOP; learn the gospel and preach the cross. Oh and stop refusing to yield the the Spirit of God, that your positional holiness becomes practical.

1 John 3:4-9 Whoever commits (continues to practice) sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin (continues to practice). Whoever sins (continues to practice) has neither seen Him nor known Him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins(continues to practice)  is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin (continues to practice), for His seed remains in him; and he cannot (continue to practice) sin , because he has been born of God.

How we accomplish this “be holy for I am holy”, can still produce anxiety, but if we are willing to take a walk with God, we will find “be holy, for I am holy” a delight, not a burden. More on that next time.

Posted in Be Holy, for I am holy, holiness, Holy Spirit, I Peter 1:13-16, sanctification, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Where was God, when Paradise burned?”

Related imageCalifornia is still burning. In the most recent catastrophic wild fire the death toll has climbed to 88, with 500 people still unaccounted for. Paradise California, a town of 26,000 residents, is almost entirely uninhabitable.  When adding another major wildfire and several less widespread fires, California is burning as it never has before; the devastation in human life, loss of property and loss of cultural and community is beyond American comprehension.

Sadly, the loss resulting from these fires seems to be beyond the scope of many Christians ability to comprehend. Recently, I saw an article addressing where God was, during the California fires. I find it quite interesting, that many Christians in this nation will ask these types of questions, whenever these catastrophes effect American lives or property, but conveniently forget to question when… 22 Egyptian brothers in Christ are beheaded on YOU-TUBE by ISIS terrorists—or a Tsunami wipes out 200,000 lives in less than 6 hours—or we see the hovels and holes Syrian families are living in, as a result of the proxy war being fought within the borders of that nation?

I will be blunt! I have grown tired of the doubt filled musings we American Christian’s offer when we feel or see suffering, we think ought not to happen in such a “blessed nation”. Let us once more drill down to the bedrock of faith in our God, that we may cease giving improper testimony to His character and nature. Where is God when devastating fires happen in America? Where He always has been… EVERYWHERE! Is this not what Psalm 139 reveals about God’s omnipresence?

Psalms 139:7-10 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

During these devastating wild fires, as well as when our brothers in Christ were brutally beheaded, or the Syrian proxy war continues to devastate or where life continues in squalor for most of the world’s population—our Father is where He has always been, present in His creation. Paul reiterates this truth to Roman pagan philosophers, as He enlightens them to the “Unknown God” for whom they had erected an alter.

Acts 17:26-28 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

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It is difficult  for those who declare they believe in God’s omnipresence, to also reconcile God would be present in His creation, without intervening, when it burns; whether what burns be trees, animals or humanity. But if we believe the account of the flood, or Sodom and Gomorrah, it is not impossible; and I am not implying the wild fires are judgment or wrath from God (remembering tragedies happen, at times, with no direct link to human sin such as the Tower of Siloam, in Luke 13:2-5).

Despite, the truth concerning God’s character from His word, Christians waffle uncomfortably in articulate the truth about God during devastating events like the wild fires. Considering this hurdle let’s frame the question a little differently…

Where was God in California when its people have consistently voted for politicians bent on murdering human life in the womb—its citizens pushed for the legalization of marriages between those practicing sodomy and lesbianism—where as a State it leads the push for the legalization of marijuana, which opened their populace to the unclean spirit of “pharmakia” (demon which Jesus cast out and responsible for judgment in Isaiah and Revelation)—or when it’s populace created and sustain the industries responsible for pumping immorality through every inch of American society and to the nations of the world (Hollywood and Silicon Valley)?

During all of those sinful choices and wicked cultural movements, where was God? EVERYWHERE present in His creation! This is why the psalmist revealed that against God and God only do we sin and do what is evil, in His sight (Psalm 51:4).

When considering sin or tragedies the one true God, who is present EVERYWHERE in His creation, is not in suspended animation, insensitive or even indifferent to what is happening. Consider how active He is within the realm of what He has created.

Psalms 29:9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare;

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In looking at the second area affected by the voice of the Lord we see that His voice “strips the forests bare”. This simply means that the trees respond to His voice, as to when they shed their dying leaves. Some may believe me to be overstating a simple mechanism placed within the biology of trees that works like a program, without God’s instigation or supervision; I am not.

God is not the watch maker in the sky, who winds it up, lets it go and then takes a break in a galaxy far far away. We are too often given to scientific explanation, at the expense of God’s intimate presence and activity as the catalyst to reality. His voice is what causes foliage to fall every year, for His voice presently commands it.

Psalm 29:9 also reveals that YHWH is intimately involved in the birth of every single deer for “The voice of the Lord makes the deer to give birth”. Let’s take this last statement to its rational conclusion. God created all the animals, therefore His voice commands the birth of not only each deer, but each animal. Again one could argue this is an overstatement, but once again it is not. Scripture also reveals God alone opens the womb of a every woman who gives birth (Isaiah 66:9). We also understand that Christ is the light that lights every man that is born into the world (John 1:9).


Combining these truths we understand God declares the opening of the womb for child birth and all who make it through birth are have been stamped with His image by the Christ. Is this another overstatement? Not a chance, when we consider, that God also upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 12:1-3), and by Christ all things continually consist (Colossians 1:17).

The point to my line of reasoning is to clearly state that the God is present in all things in the universe He created, is present in tragedy and not insensitive or indifferent to the terror or suffering. Because He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing), He has either allowed them or ordered them for His purposes (Romans 8:28).

In considering the wild fires specifically, we ought to note both man and God’s potential involvement in the devastation. In the first place, these wild fires are a direct result of poor land management on the part of the Californian governance. In these catastrophes there is always a lot of hand-wringing from politicians, as to not having enough funding for the necessary land cleanup of dead debris, but the hand-wringing is a bunch of sinful, political hooey. California is perpetually on the verge of economic peril, because of the sinful waste of tax payer dollars.

We must remember that God has given us free will and with that gift comes great potential for good and evil. For God’s purposes He has often allowed the sinful free will choices of the few to adversely affect the many; especially when the few are leaders who give the populace promises to their liking. Yet this is not the only reason for the fires.

We must consider that California has been in perpetual drought since 2006. Although there are reasons for drought effect, hidden in the policies of the Californian government, in relation to water delivery systems and land management, one cannot deny drought in the weather patterns.

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One need only to peruse the written word of God to know, God does send drought as judgment upon the idolatrous and immoral. Perhaps one of the most famous droughts was chronicled in I Kings 17, whereby the prophet Elijah’s declaration, it did not rain in Israel for three years. The consequences upon the population, economy, and government were devastating. Does drought lend to more ferocious wild fires? Yes!

Am I saying that God ordained this season’s wild fires? No I am not. Am I saying that God definitely did not ordain these wild fires? No I am not. What I am saying is that God was present and at the least allowed them to take place.

At this some would cry foul, because “innocent” people were killed, but this again is faulty theological thinking. There are no innocent victims of death before a Holy God, before whom all have sinned. Some would decry, what about the children? Well, if they are unaccountable before God, not being old enough to understand the depravity of their sin and its remedy in the cross of Christ, they are with God forever; all others have had their opportunity at the mercy of God.

Romans 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Here in, we see all men deserve judgment for their sin. God’s word also reveals that in the end of time, all nations and governments are particularly aligned against God. One need only to read Psalm 2:1-3 to understand the vitriol of the world system against the holy one true God. California for its part has for generations railed against God with its policies like nations of Psalm 2 declaring against the LORD and His Christ, “we will break your bonds in pieces and cast your chords from us”. Would anyone be surprised if the whole state was on fire (or many others for that matter)?

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That the State is not completely destroyed IS THE MERCY OF GOD! In His mercy, He has once more revealed (in the midst of devastation), that life is brief and fragile; only those who are in Christ by faith in His atonement and resurrection are guaranteed the mercy of being forgiven–made new in this life–and having the promise of eternal life, rather than everlasting condemnation.

Rather than question where God is, let us warn those remaining of the wrath to come, in these last days, before Christ’s visible appearance. Let us warn them of the devastation of God’s wrath, which will make all catastrophes in history up to this point, like a momentary flash. Let us warn them of the second death, which is a fire that will never be put out.

And let us lead them to the love of God displayed in the cross of Christ, that they may avoid the wrath of His unquenchable judgment and receive the comfort of His presence in the valley of the shadow of death.

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Posted in Paradise California, Paradise destroyed by fire, Psalm 139:7-10, Psalm 29:9, Uncategorized, Where was God when Paradise burned? | Leave a comment

“To Be or Not to Be… HOLY!” Part II


“To be or not to be Holy” should never be a question. Sadly, many who think they understand holiness, are simply wrong, still others live frustrated as they attempt to make themselves holy.  Because of these extremes there exists much confusion concerning the meaning of “Be holy, for I am holy”.

As we discovered in Part I of this series holiness in the human can only be possible if God first makes some changes to that humanity in a definitive way. We find this change, in the power of the finished work of Christ in His death and resurrection. The person in Christ, is a literal supernaturally new creation. By repentance and faith, the blood of Christ is applied to cleanse our sin from our souls. We are declared not guilty (Romans 5:9-11). This not guilty means we are holy in God’s sight.

This is what theologians refer to as “positional holiness”. Interestingly, this “positional holiness” carries with it an idea we often forget, which is that our being declared “holy” means we are dedicated as His property for His use alone. We do not often dig that deep, focusing on the ticket to paradise view point we have, concerning the atoning work of Christ on our behalf.; more on this a bit later.

Truth told, although some struggle with understanding the positional view, it is the most readily understood and accepted. More difficult is how this relates to God’s command to “Be holy, for I am holy”, because the “Be” carries with it the truth of being more holy with each passing moment, as a growing state of being. Before diving into what this means, let us go back to the foundation of all holiness first, God Himself; in order to rightly understand the “holy” we are to be.

1 Peter 1:15-16 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 1:15-16 is a quote from Leviticus 11:45; a passage where God is outlining the commands Israel were to obey, which would make them unique among the pagan nations. These commands would define them as the people of YHWH, the One true God. These commands were given to keep Messiah’s line as pure as possible, while highlighting the need for grace in the pursuit of holiness. Note “Be holy, as I am holy” was never stated as a means of attaining salvation, but a means of ultimately being desperate for the Savior.

How was this possible? Remember, God’s commands are not burdensome, therefore, even the ten commandments could be followed to a certain degree, just not perfectly. but to be holy is a state of transformation, that leads to practical and growing righteous and holy behavior. Being Leviticus was written before Jesus’ cross and resurrection, the only outcome for the Israelite’s sincere attempt to “Be holy” would be, the need for temporary atonement, as they failed in keeping the law perfectly.

Yet for us, the once for all atonement has been made, and the change of nature needed to grow in “Be holy for I am holy” is present within the believers life. By the resurrection of Christ we can choose to yield to the Holy Spirit leading us contrary to the old man, at all times. This of course is a progressive process, but more than possible for us with God. In order to grasp our “Be holy” let us first look at God’s “I am holy”

In the Greek language of our passage the word for “I am holy” means to be “sacred”, “consecrated” or “set apart”. In taking these three into consideration with what we know about God “for I am holy” means to be completely “other” or “wholly different” than anything God has created (as in above, beyond, past finding out). Scripture itself gives us a more detailed picture of God’s holiness.

Isaiah 6:1-7 ​ In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hostsThe whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Then one of the  seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.

From this passage God’s holiness is seen in…

  1. His holiness unfiltered purity and filled with majestic fiery glory, even His most glorious creatures need to be partially in His sight and elicits a cry of “Holy, Holy, Holy” (vs 2-3).
  2. As majestic is the universe created by God, his Holiness is greater than it all, so much that His holiness permeated all of His creation (vs. 3).
  3. His holiness is so powerful in its presence, it causes the things created and things created to shake (vs. 4).
  4. His holiness revealed causes the best men the world has to offer to be unwound in His presence (vs. 5).
  5. His holiness changes those who humbly submit to Him, allowing continual contact (vs. 7).

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

In line with #5 above Isaiah 57:15 reveals that God’s Holiness is expressed in His love. for those who acknowledge their sin, and approach in contrition of heart, He removes their sin, that they may abide in Him. This is where we see God’s holiness in the cross of Christ, to punish our sin in His perfect justice, in the body of Jesus Christ on the tree. Then as we believe in faith, our sin is applied to the body of Christ and His righteousness to our lives, that holy in God’s sight we can approach Him (II Corinthians 5:21). Yet further still

Revelation 4:8-11 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God AlmightyWho was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

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  1. Remembering His Holiness means He is above and beyond all that He has created, we see this in the title Lord God Almighty. His holiness reveals omnipotence (vs. 8).
  2. His Holiness is eternal and independent, He needs no one to make Him Holy (v. 8)
  3. Not only did He create all things in holiness, He continues to hold them all together in His almighty and Holy power (vs. 11; Colossians 1:15-18).

Revelation 5:4-5 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

  1. His Holiness is seen in Jesus Christ, alone worthy to take the scroll and open the seals.

In the above picture of God’s Holiness, which is what sets Him apart, above and far beyond anything He has created, we see a pretty good characterization of God’s “for I am holy”, but the O.T. offers further necessary details…

Exodus 15:11 reveals that when God manifest’s His glory in this world, it is His Holiness that arouses fear in His enemies.

Exodus 34:5-7, although not using the word holiness, this scripture implies through the revelation of His glorious person to Moses, that God’s holiness is what draws the contrite. It also reveals that His Holiness being so pure, is absolutely intolerant of any impurity. He hates sin, and judges those who refuse to repent.

Psalm 97:9 reveals God’s Holiness in that He is higher than all the fallen angels who masquerade as god’s to the people of the world. We also see in this psalm God’s Holiness demands He hate evil, or moral impurity and preserve those who are righteous by faith in His Son.

In some manner, most have heard or read some of these wonderful things about God’s Holiness, but let’s make it practical. Think of the most remarkable person you ever read of, besides Jesus, because He is God, then know that as awesome as their person or exploits may have claimed to be, they can’t come close to God. Consider the most powerful awe inspiring thing you have ever beheld with your eyes, and it can’t come close to God’s Holiness. Think of the universe itself with all its massive incalculable size and it will never come close to the immensity of God. He is Holy, which means so incomprehensible or immeasurable in all His attributes, that words can’t describe how HOLY He is.

Although His Holiness may be more than mind boggling, we can know “for I am holy” through faith, because all we can grasp or know about His “for I am holy” is seen and experienced in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Colossians 2:9-10 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

In Jesus Christ, the fullness of God’s Holiness can be encountered and since we can know Jesus Christ by His indwelling Spirit, we can “Be holy, as I am holy” in more than just a positional sense. Do you believe that? If so, come back next time as we go on a walk of holiness with God.

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Posted in A.W. Tozer, Be Holy, for I am holy, holiness, Holy Spirit, I Peter 1:13-16, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“To Be or Not to Be… HOLY!”

1 Peter 1:13-16 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.


While meditating on this passage recently, I was reminded of a portion of the William Shakespeare play Hamlet. I must confess, that I have never seen a stage version of “Hamlet” or made it through even a small amount of one of the very boring movies based on the play. Despite that fact, like most people, I am familiar with the famous line,  “To be or not to be, that is the question” (uttered as Hamlet holds a skull), from the play. This is what kept running through my mind, while looking at “Be holy for I am holy” from I Peter 1:13-16.

Both statements are statements based on ones existence. From “Hamlet” the troubled prince was attempting to deal with whether to take revenge or let a cruel act go unpunished–whether to go after a desired love or wallow in unsatisfied desire–to live in misery or to take his own life… “To be or not to be, that is the question”. To continue to exist as is or change the game.

Be holy, for I am holy” is a phrase of existence, make no mistake about it.  We Christians are commanded to be holy, in more than this one passage, but in I Peter 1:16, the call to being holy is so clear as to be explicitly obvious. As I thought on this reality, what became clear to me is that for many Christians in America “Be holy, for I am holy” is more often than not framed as a question, not a command… “To be or not to be holy that is the question”.

Let’s be honest, in many places in America, the phrase “be holy for I am holy” has left many confused from a lack of understanding as to what it means to actually be holy. To others, they are satisfied declaring “I am holy in His sight, by Jesus blood. I need no more holiness than that”. Yet staying at that particular place is a self imposed limit, which will leave a person deceived and exposed to the enemy, through religious pride. This eventually leads to a denial of the very “holy” we claim to be.

Make no mistake though, some have taught a holiness based on legalistic man made rules so much, that it has caused the confused and the satisfied to knee jerk harder into their prospective dispositions. We need a clear and word of God understanding of what to “Be holy, for I am holy” means, and it is two-fold… [1] a permanent new creation disposition before God, that only God can produce, through Christ’s finished work. [2] To understand that we are called to live out that disposition with greater depth of action with each passing day.


Make no mistake, this is a most important issue with the cultural framework of the Church in America, for a lack of holiness defies the message of the cross of Christ, which is not merely forgiveness of sins, but a gospel of the power of God to change the nature of the man from sinner to saint–from practitioner of unrighteousness to a soul overflowing with the righteousness of Christ in action. Therefore to  “Be holy, as I am holy” or walk in holiness is a life long and required course of all who follow Jesus Christ.

In fact, our pursuit of a walk in holiness ought to be our greatest desire; dare I say more than the desire to evangelize. Truth be told our desire to share the gospel grows out of a desire for holiness, because to be holy, we must draw near the One who is alone holy. In this drawing near, not only do we see what needs practical changing in our lives, but also we gain more of a working knowledge of God’s heart; and a desire to share that with those who have yet to experience the depth of purity and love of His heart.

Keith Green’s well know song “Lord, You are Beautiful” communicates this truth well…

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“Lord please light the fire, which once burned bright and clean, replace the lamp of my first love, that burns with holy fear…”

“I want to take you word and shine it all around, but help me first just to live it Lord”


Once more, we ought to have a desire for holiness as the foundation of our Christian character and activity, because an unholy life (practically speaking) contradicts the message of the power of the cross of Jesus Christ. We see this in the “Be” of our passage, which carries with it the idea of not just a positional holiness before God, by Christ’s shed blood, but also a continual, progressively growing holiness in heart, thought, word, and deed. Only a heart that desires to “be holy” will draw near the HOLY One who is “I Am”.


Hebrews 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

In a section of the word of God, written to encourage believers to submit to being disciplined by God our Father, the writer gives the above admonition. Being that these believers were under growing persecution, they are encouraged to “pursue peace with all men“, rather than retaliating to their enemies evil acts against them. They are told as well to pursue “holiness without which none should see the Lord“. To not pursue holiness would leave them with the potential to “fall short of the grace of God” in their lives and allow a ” root of bitterness” to spring up and defile, rather than purify others. This passage connects with Jesus’ most definitive teaching on holiness, from the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter five.

Make no mistake that as the Beatitudes are characteristics of children of the kingdom of God, they are also a primer of what it means to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Briefly…

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  • (5:3) Having poverty of spirit, means a person is a ware of their sinfulness before the holy one true God. In a Christian this grows to an awareness of our absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit.
  • (5:4) To mourn for one’s sinful and weak condition apart from God and that of others.
  • (5:5) To be meek, means that we submit to the one who has mastered us. The Greek word is a picture of a stallion who has been broken and tamed by the master or rider. For us this means we surrender our will for the will of God, although we have no power to do that will outside of Him.

These first three make up the necessary condition of a person, who will become more than just right in the sight of God, by Christ’s shed and justifying blood. This condition gives birth to a hunger and thirst for what is outside of our human experience and the very thing that will change our very nature and lead to the reality of being actively holy.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

  • (5:6) “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” leads to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and our continuing to be filled subsequently, for “they shall be filled” (Ephesians 5:18).

Let us remember that the word “righteousness” in this passage does not refer to being made right by faith. Here it means “equity of character and action”. In our terminology this simply means that the more we surrender, the more righteousness grows inside our lives; which will be seen by all. This righteousness is the character and action of Jesus Himself by the Holy Spirit. This is of great importance, for the following four Beatitudes would be impossible without the fullness of Christ’s Spirit.


  • (5:7) The merciful respond with love of enemy, rather than bitterness.
  • (5:8) The pure in heart are able to see God, more and more.
  • (5:9) Therefore the pure in heart are able to make peace, between men and God, as they reveal Christ through power, word, and deed.
  • (5:10-12) As a result these are squeezed with persecution, but out comes more love, peace, mercy and JOY!

Where this all intersects with “Be holy, for I am holy”  is in Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Our Lord’s statement lines up perfectly with our need to pursue “a life of holiness, without which none should see the Lord“.

A holy life, begins with a heart that is pure. We are unable to purify our own hearts, so thank God for Jesus’ cross and resurrection, whereby when we repent and place our faith in Christ revealed, through the word of God, we are made “new creations” in Christ; not just cleaner versions of the old. In this we see holiness begins with God, as does all other things in our faith life, but for holiness to grow (remember what “Be” in “Be holy” means), we must continue to pursue holiness, by drawing near to the one who alone is HOLY. Yes, we have a very important role to walk in.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – 4:2 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. ​ Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

This passage is so very important for it reveals how we draw near to “I Am” who is holy and what the results are. In the first place we see in verse 18 how we pursue the Holy one in the secret place, by the word of God and prayer. The “image” we are “transformed” into, is that of the Christ, whom we see in the word of God and encounter in our seeking of His presence. Note this being “transformed” is the outgrowing of the “new creation” we are at the point of being born again.

Secondly, we note that this being “transformed” leads us to “renounce” the ways and practices of our old life”, which in turn becomes the very reason we stand out in the conscience of “every man’s”. So once more “Be holy, for I am holy” is more than just being declared not guilty by God and ready for our one day arrival in heaven. It is to be a powerful and living reality that all men see. It is to be a testimony that Christ is risen from the dead and His resurrection power is clearly on display in our “Be holy”.


This leaves us with what A.W. Tozer describes “The Paradox of the Christian Life”…

In God’s presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing.

Tozer declares that our chief delight is to draw near to God, while as we draw near we see so often what is not yet practically holy in ourselves, yet like gluttons for punishment, we draw near anyway. This is really true, for sure. In one way our highest joy is to seek the company of the One who is LOVE, yet His love is ablaze with His Holiness. This HOLINESS, reveals all the dross of the “old man” which still needs to be refined. It is my conclusion, this is why we either accept a positional holiness or walk confused about the true nature of “Be holy, for I am holy”.

In my next post, we will dive deeper in the God who alone is perfect in BEING HOLY. Until then, I challenge you to ask God to reveal how important  being holy is to you.


Posted in A. W. Tozer, Be Holy, for I am holy, Hebrews 12:14-17, holiness, I Peter 1:13-16, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

He Endured the Cross (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Related imageHaving been a pastor for 15 years, I have experienced many things. More than some and less than others. One constant is that the saints of God go through uncomfortable and difficult things rather regularly. It has been my privilege to walk with many followers of Jesus during these times, as well as navigating my own.

Today I would like to share some simple truths to aid you and enable a proper perspective on dealing with difficulty. The reason this is so important is the redeemed of the Lord have not only been granted to believe on His name, but to suffer for Him as well. In fact, not only does our Christ-like actions in affliction glorify Jesus, the trouble itself also fuels our sanctification (Philippians 1:29).  Knowing this, we ought to wonder why we often whine so much in difficulty. I offer an element to mitigate our difficulties with grace in Hebrews 12:1-4.

Hebrews 12:1-5 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

IN DIFFICULTY TIE UP LOOSE ENDS: Although verse one uses the metaphor of an ancient foot race in a large Colosseum and with countless witnesses, it applies perfectly to our life with Christ. I realize most of us don’t run anywhere other than to be first in line at Chick-fil-a, or to the bathroom, but our life with Christ is a marathon, which we are to be training for continually and running at the same time. In I Corinthians 9:24-27 the apostle opens his training and running the race regiment before us, where he declares “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection (make my body my slave)”.

Paul is revealing by the Holy Spirit, that he sought to master the fruit of the Spirit, especially self-control through self-denial. For American Christians self denial seems to be one of our greatest struggles, even though Jesus declares, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up their cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). It matters little the ease of the environment a believer lives in.  Like all we are called to deny ourselves, like a highly trained athlete would deny themselves to be a winner.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Specific to our passage, we need to remove anything from our walk that weighs us down and tie up the loose ends of the things that lead to our being entangled in sin. In both of these areas be encouraged to wait on the Lord in prayer, having asked Him to reveal the things that weigh you down and the loose ends of your old man that trip you into sin. Let me be clear, a lack of dealing with these is the largest producer of Christian whiners and those who give in to despair.


“and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

When dealing with the word “endurance” we understand it is translated “patience” as well in James 1:2-4 where it says “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience“. Whether we use the word endurance or patience we get the idea of a long race, with many difficulties, so don’t give up or give in, stay the course, let endurance grow by being patient in difficulties.

I am certain that the whine coming from us when the going gets tough is often related, at least in America, to the culture of instant gratification we have. When we itch we scratch and if it does not go away fast enough, we apply cortisone cream. When we are hungry (or think we are) we declare “I’m starving” or automatically, like having innate food GPS, we look for something to shove in our mouth. When we want a new thing, rather than asking if we even need it or have the money to buy it we will grab some plastic and purchase.

Let’s be honest, because this is our cultural training, it is easy to do all of the above without much thought, if we are not careful. It is also to treat affliction and trials, which are a source of sanctification and glory for Jesus, in the same manner. When they hurt, make us uncomfortable, feel inadequate, or threaten our life the way we want it, we look for a way out. When there is no way out, we whine or worse try to make a way where there is none.

Let us remember that even the best of His saints go through periods of whining and wanting to avoid the pain. Eventually, though we must remember that our race is a life lived for Him, not for us. We must remember that Abba knows what we are going through and although He has not promised to take us out of trouble early, He has promised that He is running with us. Let us also remember that We follow the One who won His race for us.


looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

Jesus’ fuel for overcoming, when the going got to be its toughest, was JOY. This Joy arose from His perfect faith in what was to come to pass, when He finished His race. It is true that this JOY arose from His knowing He would rise from the dead, ascend into heaven, and be reunited with His Father. His JOY arose by knowing He would reunite with His disciples after He would rise from the dead. Being that He is God and knows the end from the beginning, His joy was fueled by the transformation of His disciples as the Holy Spirit would be poured out. His joy was for the souls that would believe on Him until He would return and brings us with Him to heaven. Much of the fuel of His joy was Him seeing you and I by faith, long before we were even born.

I think His trial was much greater than anything we have faced and as most of us can agree…

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin:”

When the going gets tough we are supposed to

  1. Look unto Jesus
  2. Consider how He endured
  3. Refuse to be discouraged
  4. Know our trial is able to be endured.

When we are in trying times let us look unto Jesus. Let us meditate on how He suffered in the shame of nakedness and mockery. Let us remember the spiteful pain inflicted on Him by wicked torturers, as our sin was torture into His holy frame. Let us remember His JOY, or part of it, was seeing you and I through the annuls of time and eternity redeemed and in His presence. Let us endure with JOY, as Jesus’ love and endurance on our behalf, powers us through any trouble.

My firm belief is that you and I will have multiple opportunities with trial and affliction as Christians. Commit with me to discipline yourself gazing upon our Savior in trial. When He suffered, the eyes of His perfect faith were on you.


Posted in He endured the cross, Hebrews 12:1-4, Looking unto Jesus, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Prisoners… the Mistreated

Hebrews 13:1-3 Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.

The passage above calls the body of Christ to continue in the love commanded by Jesus Christ Himself; the love that reveals that we are truly His disciples. The command itself is repeated frequently, because even in the early church self-interest, personal preference, or the potential of personal gain, threatened the pure godly love Christ commanded. Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish backed believers in Christ to not abandon fellowship with one another, to return to the obsolete O.T. system.

In the first three verses the word of God reveals two ways of continuing in brotherly love. The first was to “not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained strangers”. At first our thoughts are drawn back to the father of the faithful Abraham, in Genesis 18, where the LORD appeared to him in the form of three men, one obviously a theophany (visible manifestation of the glory of God, in this case in human form), the other two men are literal angels of God, who later rescue Lot from Sodom.

We also remember the appearance of the Angel of the LORD to Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15), as well as His appearance to the father and mother of Samson (Judges 13). Both appearances are in the form of a man, yet though the title is the Angel of the Lord and the Captain of the Lord’s host, we understand these to be theophanies of the Anointed of the LORD (Psalm 2, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 61:1-3); the Christ before His first incarnation in the virgin’s womb.

The point being, we are to remain hospitable, for visitors we meet the first time, may indeed be angels of God sent to give us a messenger, for that is what angels do. Yet the context broadens the command of “let brotherly love continue”, for angels are not our brothers. it is important to remember that the word  “angel” in the Greek carries with it the idea of messenger, not just for the angels God created before the foundation of the earth, but also for human messengers of the Lord.

This fits nicely with the narrative of letting brotherly love continue for traveling ministers of the Lord who would travel from place to place to preach the gospel and encourage the body of Christ. In fact, in reading II John you will find the apostle’s Holy Spirit inspired message to encourage the body to “entertain strangers” who may be messengers of Christ, while rebuking those who would not even receive the apostles as Christ’s messengers.

The passage does not call us to choose supernatural “angel” or human, but allows for both, while emphasizing the human that we would extend brotherly love through hospitality. The second command also is an expression of the continuation of brotherly love.

“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also”

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This instruction would have been very close to the original readers lives, as the very reason for some of them contemplating abandoning the fellowship of the saints (a very bad thing as detailed in Hebrews 10:19-31),  was that many were unjustly placed in prison and were being physically mistreated, through persecution.

Although we may be unchained and not experiencing any mistreatment against our person or livelihood, somewhere in the world our brethren are…

Romans 8:36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

It is the sufferings of our brethren, as a result of our faith, that are to give us proper perspective on our own trials…

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

The sufferings of our brethren are to galvanize our own faith, and add fuel to the Holy Spirit fire that is to be in the furnace of our heart for God. Yet this means we must know the sufferings of the brethren around the world and pray for them in their trials, allowing their testimony to deeply touch our hearts. This is difficult when we are narrowly focused on our own cell in the body of Christ. We must ask God for His sight and burden for His children. Below are the expedient needs and testimonies of two of God’s precious children, through Christ’s death and resurrection.


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Over 10 years ago this mother of five was working and took water to Muslim coworkers, whom did not want to drink out of the same cup as a Christian. only a couple days later, she was surrounded by an angry mob, bent on killing her. After being beaten they threw her in a locked shed, trumped up blasphemy charges and she has been in solitary confinement for the greater part of 9 years, waiting for them to carry out a death sentence by hanging.

Although the Muslim governor of the province where this took place was assassinated for standing up for her, she largely remained unknown to the vast majority of American Christians.

Yesterday marked the beginning of her last appeal. Although the judges have cited little if any evidence of her violating any minor crime, let alone a charge of blasphemy, they once more reserved judgment, knowing to over turn her sentence and release her would almost cause their own death and to put her to death would condemn the innocent.

Our dear sister in Christ has stood firm in not denying Jesus, decided that to live is Christ and to die is gain, and has counted the sufferings of this present hour small in light of the glory to be revealed in her, when she is with Christ; Please pray for her until this trial has come to its end!

Pray that God would grant her strength in her inner person, as Christ dwells in her heart by faith, in His immeasurable love and that she would be filled with all the fullness of God. Pray that God would open a door for her to testify of the Lord Jesus. Pray that the same love which fuels her resolve for Christ, would form in yourself and the Christians within your fellowship.


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Leah is a fifteen year old Nigerian Christian girl kidnapped over a year and a half ago, along with 109 other Christian girls. She alone remains unreleased. She has remained in captivity because she will not deny her faith. Last month in a video entitled “message in blood”, the Boko Haram terrorists tie up and shoot 25-year-old Saifura Husseini Ahmed, a midwife with the International Committee of the Red Cross. They declared that Leah and another nurse will die the same if their demands are not met by the Nigerian Government in one month.

Leah’s month is up within the next few days and she needs you to remember her. Please pray for her. Pray that God will be powerfully  and manifestly present with her to strengthen, comfort, and empower her with Christ’s love. Pray that God will open the eyes of the blinded Muslim terrorists to God’s righteous judgment and His desire to forgive, even their most heinous crimes, through repentance and faith in Christ’s shed blood. Pray that regardless of the outcome, that Leah’s life will bring glory to God and challenge all of us to live for Christ, as Leah, which is best described in Revelation 12:11.

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Posted in Asia Bibi, Hebrews 13:1-3, Leah Sharibu, Let brotherly love continue, Revelation 12:11, suffering saints, the persecuted church, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Troubling Rise in Justifying Suicide in the Body of Christ

Image result for suicide left behindOver the last 6 years numerous pastors from churches in America have killed themselves. I kept count, for a while, until the suicides were happening to often to keep up. I am not sure of the statistics, but it is possible that suicide among pastors has been a regular, albeit hidden occurrence (due to the rather necessary stigma attached to it). Maybe in the age of social media, families and churches cannot cover up an attempted or successful suicide, as in previous times.

The point is that whenever we read or hear of a Christian committing suicide, especially among those who lead, we ought to be very, very troubled. But rather than sound the alarm that the enemy has gotten into the camp and is killing, stealing and destroying, we seem to be more concerned over the final destination of those who have taken their lives.

Recently Andrew Stoecklein attempted to kill himself in the church he led, as the senior pastor. He did this without saying goodbye to his three boys all under the age of 8. I have written “attempted” because he did not quite finish himself off, therefore his 29 year old wife, had to suffer hours of torment in the hospital, as the rest of his life ebb out; imagine how horrible that must have been for her.

This story is familiar, to far too many saints over the last six years, as many of them have been reported by the Christian Post. Following such high profile suicides, far to many Christians and “evangelical leaders”, are in a hurry to excuse the suicide, and pronounce the deceased to be in heaven, because the person “accepted the Lord”.

Once again, this should be very troubling, as we live in a culture where life is cheap; from murdering the unborn, to racial hatred growing in all colors of people, to moving towards euthanizing the old, the in-firmed, or those who simply no longer want to live. Consider that one can download and app, which targets teens, for the purpose of egging them on to commit suicide. Police in cities across the U.S. have been notifying parents of the power of this app, and how normal kids can become suicidal through us of the app.

The church must awaken not only to these dangers, but be very concerned about the potential power of sinful example in suicide, producing the same corrupt fruit in others. This concern should be as great as our concern over abortion, or sexual immorality and perversion; and even greater than our worry of politicians that are contrary to our biblical view point and lifestyle.

No matter what side of the eternal security we debate one stands, we ought to recognize how quitting on life and hope in Jesus, in leaders will lead to quitting on life and hope in Jesus, in some or many who follow.

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Below I have include a link to the article from the Christian Post, where Andrew Stoecklein’s widow, declares he is in heaven, as well as denouncing what she calls the “myth” that suicide victims are condemned to hell.

Although I do not uphold her position on either, I also do not condemn her for trying to grasp some small thread of hope (as thin as it may be). This devastated woman is trying to make sense out of a senseless act, which has not only devastated her own person, but also the lives of her three precious sons; whose pain I cannot even fathom.

Please read the article and leave your thoughtful opinions in my comments section. I will not answer all comments, but hope to read your biblical informed viewpoints.

This coming Sunday (9/26/2018), I will be sharing a message entitled “Suicide Solution?”, which deals what the Word of God says about the consequence of suicide for the one taking their life, as well as in those who are left behind. Join us at 10:45 a.m. at the Savior’s Chapel, if you are in Greece NY — Brother Mike

Below is the link

Pastor Andrew Stoecklein’s Widow Explains Why His Suicide Does Not Condemn Him to Hell

Posted in Kayla Stoecklein's, Pastor Andrew Stoecklein's, scriptural teaching on suicide, suicide, Uncategorized | 2 Comments