The worship leader chose a song that said, "It's easy to love you [repeats three times] because you're wonderful [marvelous, glorious]." I had a very negative knee-jerk reaction to this song. Some people don't find it easy to love God at all. Despite the fact that God first loved them, they must be taught to love Him in return. Like children, we must learn the significance and depth of this love. We often strike out at it without realizing how self-oriented we are. It does not become easy to love God until we reach some level of maturity.
"Equipped biblically to live in holiness" is the title of the sermon. Cliff mentioned that he was chosen to speak 14 months ago and that he was assigned the topic. He begins by talking about his hesitancy to get directions and read the manual on a product. He compares this to our need to get direction from God. What is equipping? It is "getting help." We can have zeal, but Christian holiness is not automatic. If it was, why would Paul write the epistles? (Amazing how many people think that getting saved results in an automatic change of life, an automatic holiness.)
Cliff makes three points about holiness:
1. Holiness has to do with your head. There are things we just have to know/understand. He tells a story about a guy who went to the emergency room after testing a shock collar for dogs... What do you do and not do? Holiness means being set apart for God's service. The thing that made them holy was a change in relationship. It's not a "rule." It's a relationship. There is a difference between being "separated from" and "separated to." We are good at knowing what we're not supposed to do, being "separated from the world." We're not so good at being "separated to God." [My thought: What is the opposite of holy (Kenneth Jones?) Cliff and Steve Chiles said it must be "unholy." The opposite is "common," "profane." [I think those are two different things.]
Indicative vs. imperative: Romans 1 to 11 is indicative. Chapter 12 begins the imperative, calling people to action. In Eph. 1-3 there are no commandments. "We're so ingrained with the idea that all God wants us to do is act." [I'm on to something talking about people's need to understand God's love, that they don't understand and don't find it easy to love Him. I'm thinking about a friend talking about people acting because they are trying to earn God's love.]thought: what do we replace all that stuff with?]
2. Our knowledge of holiness has to do with the heart.
1 Thes. 3:11-13 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
God causes love to abound in the heart. Holiness should not start with trying to understand behavior. Sin is misdirected love. Holiness is loving God. Sin makes us too self-aware. When virtue takes on too much importance, when acquiring virtue and avoiding sin becomes the focus of our walk, we have made an idol out of our piety. John Wesley: "There's nothing higher in religion than love." If you are having trouble loving God, quit trying to love Him. "The crying need for our world today ... is to believe that God is really crazy about us." Holiness at the core is .. my heart is moved by the love of God. [This is what happened when I worshiped so fully when singing, "I live, I live..."]
3. Holiness (1 Cor. 12:4-11) has to do with your hands. It involves keeping ourselves clean and doing something to make a difference, doing ministry. "Churches are like a football game. There are 80,000 people watching who desperately need exercise and [a few] people playing who desperately need rest." If we defined holiness in terms of love, would we be able to put argument over worship styles aside? If we used our hands ... would we be able to quit arguing...? We argue about [various things], and all the time the world is going to hell. God says, "I want that heart of love to be released with hands of service." What would it take for me to be able to care for people who have needs? We have not been very [good] to the poor, the marginalized...
As you serve in love, following His lead will become more natural.