On June 7, we received Part I of this message, The War of Holiness. We were reminded that God has called us, (2 Tim 1: 8-10) with a holy calling, to holiness in Christ Jesus, and it is our responses to this call which divides, and has always divided, the world. This division of the world, on a public and a private scale is warring, war-like, and a real war – The War of Holiness!
In brief review, Hebrews 7:26 provides God’s definition of holiness, a description of Jesus as High Priest, of whom it was there said, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners . . . .” The definition of holiness: “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” The War of Holiness is over our choices. In accepting God’s holy calling, we are challenged by the worldly and satanic forces of personality, persuasion, manipulation, money and physical force, and we are challenged throughout our lives:
- to make an initial choice to accept the Holy Calling of God;
- to know and understand this Holy Calling of God;
- to make, continually and continuing, holy choices in the decisions of our lives, knowing that every breath, every word, every deed, every plan, is an act of war, one way or the other, in the way of holiness.
And 2 Tim 1:8-10 calls us, in this Holy Calling, not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, and to share in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, for his purpose and by the grace given us in Christ Jesus.
On this occasion to celebrate fathers, Father’s Day, I am reminded of this War of Holiness, this holy calling by God, because God has called us men to be priests, prophets and kings over our families and households; he has called us to be the leaders of our families and households, and this War of Holiness challenges men at every turn and place. God’s holy calling is for men
- to nurture the faith to accept the calling, that initial choice;
- to execute the self-discipline to study, read, meditate, pray and communicate with God, so as to know and understand this Holy Calling;
- to muster the will and the courage, in faith, to make, continually, and continuing, holy choices in the decisions of our lives, and as affecting the lives of our families and our households.
Let’s talk about manly leadership in these three areas.
First, God’s Holy Calling goes back a ways: It is described in Leviticus 20:26 (“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”), speaking of the Hebrew descendants of Abraham. And the rest of mankind is given the opportunity, by faith, to be grafted into that bloodstock by the ministry of reconciliation in the Blood of Jesus (see Romans 11:13-20). And to Jew and Gentile alike, this Holy Calling (Romans 12:1) is to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, as our reasonable service to Him. In accepting this Holy Calling, we hear the cry of Jesus as He started His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:17), “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand;” we remember the invitation of Jesus (John 3:16-18 and Revelation 20:6), that because of God’s love, those who believe in Jesus shall have everlasting life; and that we shall reign and rule with Christ.
Second, in knowing and understanding this Holy Calling of God, we have to really grasp the magnitude of the Blood of Jesus: Colossians 1: 21-23 (“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – and if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard . . . .”). Men struggle with their weaknesses and their strengths, their passions and their lazinesses: the manifestations are in failures to love and honor God by obedience to His commands, and by failure of our families by failing to make or to sustain commitment, addictions, selfishness, criminality, violence and abuse, unforgiveness, refusing to be accountable or to accept responsibility, and even by simple failures like coarse language, humor. That struggle, that battle, alienates us from God and from our families and makes us God’s enemies in our minds, as we try to justify such failures and foolishness. That struggle is the War of Holiness! In this struggle, we need accountability, with our families, with other men, with our church members, and with the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 3: 12-14, the importance of that accountability is clarified, so that we hold on to our salvation (just like it mentioned in Colossians 1:21-23: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . . (and not rebel).” In the great consistency of the Holy Scripture, this message is sealed in Revelation 22:11, “. . . he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
Third, in living our lives, men, we learn from God how to live them and we just have to choose to do it right: to love God with all that we are (and thereby to obey Him) and to love our families more than ourselves (and there by to serve them). God has shown us this way to live, to win the War of Holiness, in two special scriptures, one in Ephesians and one in Colossians. In Ephesians, 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife, loves himself.” And in Colosssians 3:12-17, “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and believed, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (sounds like the Sermon on the Mount and the fruit of the Spirit!!); “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . . but above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called, in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do, in word or deed” (all Acts of War in the War of Holiness), “do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Today, I am speaking to fathers, especially, and to young men who, God willing, shall become fathers, and to mothers, and wives, and young women who seek to become mothers. To the women not married, know what you are looking for, what God has planned for you in a husband and father. To the men not married, know what God has planned for you in being a husband and father.
I speak to all of you on this Father’s Day 2009: God has called you to the bond of perfection – love – which produces obedience to God’s will, and service to those around us, especially our families, our wives and children! You understand the Holy Calling now, and you need to continue to study it and talk to the Holy Spirit, and read the Word, and pray, and talk to your family and your accountability partners, and accept correction from any of these worthy sources (that is what accountability is for – repentance). In your repentance, as a way of life, choose to fit your life, continually and courageously, into the definition of holiness, in the model of Jesus Christ, as one who is “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” If you’re going to be a Christian, you’ve got to act like Christ – Amen?!