Without Holiness No One Will See The Lord (Hebrews Sermon 65 of 74)
May 13, 2012 | Andrew Davis
The Puritan Thomas Brooks: 58 Sermons on This One Verse
I can't tell you how excited I am to preach this message. This is something that God has worked in my heart. I preach today about holiness for the glory of God and for your happiness and your fruit.
Some time in early 1662, a Puritan pastor named Thomas Brooks began a sermon series, a new series with these words or these thoughts. "If I were the fittest man in the world to preach a sermon to the whole world, gathered together in one congregation, and if I had some high mountain for my pulpit, from whence I might have a prospect of all the world in my view, and if I were furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as loud as the trumpet of the Archangel that all the world might hear me, I would choose to preach on no other text than Hebrews 12:14." "Wow," I thought as I read those words.
Hebrews 12:14, "Pursue peace with all men and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." One text. This is an amazing statement. When you think about it, there are over 31,000 verses in the Bible. There are many verses that are far more famous than this one. In my opinion, there are other verses that capture the gospel a little more directly. I don't know that I would choose this one text, but this is what Thomas Brooks said. And what's even more amazing is that he proceeded to preach 58 sermons from this one verse. 58. It's in volume four of the collected works of Thomas Brooks, the entire volume, 400 little font pages, single spaced. 400. 58 sermons is over 13 months of preaching on one verse.
Now, I'm not intending to nail you in one place for the next 13 months. You may be glad to hear that. Maybe you'd want to see if I could actually pull it off. I don't think I could, but the question that's in front of us is, why did this godly man, this veteran preacher, this pastor, think it worthwhile? What did he see in this one verse? What's here that he thought was worth 400 pages and 58 sermons? What can we learn from this text? What does this text say to our souls today? That's the business in front of us. Brooks in his sermon immediately began to answer some of those questions by zeroing in on the salvation of souls. This one verse, being an urgent trumpet call to all who heard him, to make sure that you have salvation, genuine salvation in Jesus Christ. That you are not self-deceived, that you haven't been deceived by the Devil concerning this.
Brooks poured out like molten lava his convictions about this. As you read it your heart is convicted and strengthened. He said this, "The salvation of souls is that which should be first and foremost in a minister's eye and that which should lie closest to a minister's heart. O, beloved friends, our dear Lord Jesus was infinitely tender of souls. He left his father's bosom for souls. He trod the wine press of the wrath of God Almighty for souls. He prayed for souls, he sweated for souls, he bled out his heart's blood for souls. He made himself an offering for souls. And what an overwhelming encouragement this should be to all faithful messengers to plead for souls, to mourn for souls, to study for souls and in preaching to spend and be spent for the salvation of souls." So that's his answer why he thought it was worthwhile to zero in on Hebrews 12:14. 58 sermons.
For us, it's just this one morning, this morning. To look at it and to have it speak to us, to be convicted by it, to look after the health of our souls, to look horizontally at others for the health of their souls, to be concerned for that.
I. What Is Commanded?
Now, what is commanded in this one verse? Well, look at the words again. The best translation for the first is pursue, we talked about this last week. "Pursue peace with all men and the holiness, without which no one will see the Lord." The word pursue means to chase after something, to hunt it down as a huntsman would his quarry or as a persecutor would the one they're seeking to persecute, frequently translated persecute here, but it's a total focus of the mind and heart on chasing something and going after something. So life focus, pursue it diligently with everything you have.
Pursue what? Well, two things in the text. "Peace with all," it says, "and the holiness, without which no one will see the Lord."
Now, we dealt with peace with all last week. I'm not going to say a word about it this morning. Instead I want to just focus on the rest of it and just connect the word pursue to the rest. Pursue, diligently seek after, chase or hunt down the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. And so we have this idea of pursuing a holiness. What is that holiness, that's going to be very much the message of this sermon. What is the holiness the author has in mind here, and what does it mean without which no one will see the Lord? And this is my simple doctrine from this one verse, there is a personal holiness that comes as a result of diligent effort, diligent striving and pursuit, diligent labor. There is a personal holiness that comes from sincere diligent labor that is absolutely required in order to spend eternity with God in heaven. That's the doctrine. Simply put, there's a holiness you strive for and if you don't have it, you're not going to heaven.
II. What Is the Holiness We Must Pursue?
So what is this holiness that we must pursue? Well, first, let's talk about what it is not. The holiness that we must pursue is not the legal holiness that Adam had in the Garden of Eden, by this I mean the holiness that comes from perfectly obeying all of God's commands. This is the legal righteousness that Adam had in the Garden of Eden before he fell. But since he fell, not a single one of his descendants has had it. All of us sinned in Adam, all of us fell in him. Of course, Christ being excepted, who is without sin in every way. But we are sons and daughters of Adam, and we have no legal holiness with which we can stand before God. As it is written, "There is no one righteous. Not even one."
Neither is it the imaginary holiness that secular people think they have that they think will be enough on Judgment Day, when they say, "I'm basically a good person." This kind of holiness. It's not that imaginary holiness, that's based on some arbitrary standard of morality that they mostly keep. Based on their moral achievements, their hard work, their diligence, their frugality, their generosity to the poor, the few hours they gave to the YMCA last summer, it's not based on any of those things. They do not realize the truth of the situation. Proverbs 30 in verse 12, "There are those who are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not cleaned of their filth." How can that be? But it's true, there are some people that are pure in their own eyes, and yet they are filthy in the sight of God.
Revelation 3:17, speaking to church people, "You say, 'I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." Neither is it that outward visible external sanctity of life, free from scandalous vices, filled with religious duties and responsibilities, that characterize frankly, genuinely holy people, such as Job and Zechariah and Elizabeth, so it's said of them that they are blameless in their generation, etcetera. And the apostles who preached to the Thessalonians say, "You can testify how holy blameless we were among you who believe." So it's an outward invisible holiness. I'm going to argue that it's going to be part of that, but that's not enough, it's not sufficient.
Because think of the Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 23, "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like white-washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way on the outside you appear to men as righteous, but inside you're full of hypocrisy and wickedness." Now, that's not what Hebrews 12:14 is talking about, that's not the holiness we have to pursue.
Neither is it referring to the set-apartness of the people of God, as they are set apart for his prized possession. That is something that God did with the Jews. It is something he does with the church, it is a beautiful thing, it is a wonderful thing, but that's not what it's talking about here. In Exodus 19, "Out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession, although the whole Earth is mine, you will be for me, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," set apart under God. Think about how in the Old Covenant, the words "holy to the Lord" are vital to the sacrificial system. Many things, it was even written on those elements, this or that was holy to the Lord. Think about the sacred incense, the holy incense, the recipe for which is in Exodus 30. You can find out what the ingredients are, you can mix them together, you can grind them into a fine powder. But if you did that as a Jew in the Old Covenant you'd be sinning greatly.
Because that incense was to be holy to the Lord, it was set apart for his own personal possession, it wasn't to be used in a common way. That is not what this verse is talking about, although that certainly comes and it's part of God's sovereign action on the church, on individuals, but that's not what this verse is referring to.
And this is the hardest one of all, but if I can say it directly, this is not referring to the imputed righteousness of Christ that comes by faith in Jesus. It's not referring to that. That imputed righteousness is the centerpiece of the Gospel. It is justification righteousness, it's yours by simple faith in Jesus. The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, for in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, the righteousness that is from faith to faith. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." That is absolute perfect holiness, that is perfect righteousness, that is yours by simple faith in Jesus. Without this holiness, the holiness of imputed righteousness, you have no hope of Heaven at all. But it's not the holiness referred to in this verse. Now, I say without that holiness this holiness will never happen. First, there must be justification holiness, then there must be sanctification holiness, and that's what this verse is talking about.
The imputed righteousness of Christ does not come by labor or effort or striving or chasing or pursuing or any of the verbs that you could use to translate this Greek verb in 12:14. No, as a matter of fact, we're told in Romans 4:3, "What does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." And it says a few verses later, "However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God… his faith is credited to him as righteousness." There's no working, no striving, no effort, nothing, just simple faith in Jesus.
But that's not what the author is talking about here. Because he says, it's a holiness we must pursue, it's a holiness we must chase and hunt down and make our quarry, and we the huntsman the rest of our lives chasing after this holiness. That's what the author is talking about.
So what is it? Well, it's an inherent internal qualitative holiness, something that actually describes you. And it comes in two parts, one from God and one from yourself. From God it consists in the infusing of holy principles, holy graces by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, making the new heart filled with new desires, new loves, new hatreds, something that the Spirit works in us, all of these workings are holy. And from that comes a holy use of those new principles, a pattern of holy lifestyle, holy living, holy walking, as the scripture says, walking as he walks, walking in the light because the Lord is in the light, not walking in darkness, that's what we're talking about. A holy lifestyle, as defined by the Word of God, it is ultimately Christ-likeness.
It's becoming actually in fact like Jesus, whereas justification righteousness, that is just credited to you. It's written in your bank account, your heavenly bank account is how God sees you with his eyes. But it's not how you actually are, how you actually behave. No, that comes immediately after justification with sanctification, that growing. This is a holiness we are to chase after and hunt down the rest of our lives. I think it's very much the issue of Hebrews 12:1. You're still in the chapter, if you look up at the beginning, it says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith..."
Same thing, 12:1 and 12:14 are teaching the exact same thing. All that's happening in 12:14 is saying, "If you're not running that race, you're not going to heaven." That's what it's saying.
III. What Is At Stake?
So what's at stake? By the way, this is not perfection either. You're never going to fully attain it. You'll be chasing it down the rest of your life. And I also want you to say, "Thanks be to God, you're not going to stand before God on the basis of your own holiness. Even as a Christian, it's not enough. You've never had a single hour of holiness that's holy enough for heaven. I'm not trying to be insulting, friends, I'm just telling you the truth. There's not been a single hour, in which your motives have been pure, you've lived only for the glory of God, you've perfectly obeyed all of his commands and you've stayed away from all of his prohibitions, and you've just... I don't think you've had one perfect hour.
If you think you have then you had one holy hour. But what about the rest of your life? The fact of the matter is, our holiness is insufficient for heaven. Only Christ's perfect holiness is enough for heaven. Please don't misunderstand. You're not going to go to heaven based on this holiness you're chasing and hunting down. All we're saying is, if you're not hunting it down, if you're not chasing it, if you're not growing in holiness, you're not going to heaven, that's all I'm saying. I'm describing the kind of life that leads to heaven. So that you can be sure you're living that kind of life, so you don't go to hell, rather than heaven. That's what's at stake here.
Why do I say that? Because of what the verse says, "Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Now, what does that mean? Without which no one will see the Lord, what does it mean to see the Lord? Well, I think this is nothing less than spending eternity in the presence of God, looking on the face of God, seeing him. Seeing him in his glory, seeing him in his majesty. Seeing him high and lifted up on his throne, seeing the radiance of his glory streaming down, God who dwells in unapproachable light streaming into your eyes, seeing that glory. It's described in Revelation 22:3-4, "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve Him. They will see his face. And his name will be on their foreheads." That should fill you with a holy longing to see the face of God.
It's the very thing Jesus prayed for in John 17:24, "Father, I want those whom you have given me, to be with me where I am and to see my glory. The glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." It is the seeing of God that's implied or spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now, we see, but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face-to-face. Now, we know in part, then we show know fully even as we have been fully known."
This is the very thing that filled Job with a yearning desire in the midst of his afflictions. In Job 19, he said, "After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes, I and not another. How my heart yearns within me." It's the very thing that Moses asked of God up on that holy mountain, after he had interceded successfully for Israel that God would not destroy them in his holy zeal for his own name, and he interceded, he said this, "Now, show me your glory." God says, "I'll cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you, and I'll proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. But you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."
But it's what Moses wanted. God, I want to see your face, I want to see your glory. It's the very thing that will fill our hearts with eternal bliss, eternal happiness. The sight will be so awesome, it will be so incredible, so transforming that you'll be instantaneously made like Jesus just by seeing him. " Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." That's the third final stage, that's glorification, when you see him instantaneous you will be transformed and made like Jesus in all respects, you will be holy and perfect completely. That's the great hope of the Gospel.
And what does it? In 1 John 3:2, it's seeing Jesus as he really is, not by faith anymore, but face-to-face. It will be so powerful a vision that you will be instantaneously transformed forever. But look at the next verse, in your mind, listen to it. Everyone, 1 John 3:3, "Everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifiers himself as he is pure." That's what Hebrews 12:14 is all about. Do you see it? The ones who hope to go to heaven are purifying themselves now, in preparation for it. If that's not going on, then you're not going there, see, or you have no assurance that you've begun your salvation journey, put it that way. It's a consistent teaching, to see the Lord, then, means to go back to the source of all the happiness you've ever experienced in your life. To trace it back.
Have you ever had that? You've had some happy moment. Think about these young parents that stood in front of us and they're holding their little babies, and already these little sons and daughters have made them really, really happy. But oh, happy mothers and happy fathers, you ain't seen nothing yet when it comes to happiness. Trace that happiness back to its source, the source is God himself. Go back to the source of the river, of all the happiness you've ever had in your life, it's God himself. C. S. Lewis, in his book, "Till We Have Faces" captures this idea, one of the characters says to another about it, he said this,
"It was when I was happiest that I actually longed the most. The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to reach the mountain, to find the place where all this beauty comes from. My country, my home and native land, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing? All that longing, the longing for a home? For indeed now, it feels not like going, but actually more like going back."
It's a longing for heaven. It's in the heart of all true genuine Christians. But what this verse says is that without holiness, you'll never see God's face. And notice what it says. What does it mean that no one? It means it doesn't matter who you are, there will be no exceptions to this. It doesn't matter your financial situation, rich or poor. It doesn't matter your station in life, you might be master, you might be servant, you might be potentate, you might be subject, doesn't make a difference.
IV. Why Is It True that This Holiness is Required for Heaven?
You might be the most average person on the earth, does not matter. Without this holiness, no one will see the Lord. It's true of everyone. Why is this the case? Why? Why such a strong statement? Well, it has to do with the nature of God himself, it has to do with who he is. "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were Seraphs," that means "burning ones," "each with six wings. With two wings they cover their faces, and with two they cover their feet, and with two they were flying, and they were calling to one another, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.'" Now, these Seraphim, as they're calling to one another, they just can't stop talking about the holiness of God, and it's very much linked to his glory.
And God called it on the mountain with Moses his goodness, it all flows together, the perfect holiness of God. It has to do with the essence of God himself, he is holy and he cannot dwell with any wickedness. "God is light, and in him, there's no darkness at all. And if we claim to walk with him, and yet live in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin." You see, you don't have to be sinless and perfect on this earth to be walking in the light, isn't that good news? I mean, you may think 1 John is teaching perfectionism, I'm not perfect, what can I do? It isn't teaching perfectionism. You can walk in the light, and still need to be constantly cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and you do. But if you're walking in darkness, you're lying to yourself. That's what this text is teaching. Because of the nature of God, because of what God has done in the past, how one rebellion kicked Satan and all of his angels, the demons, out of heaven. How one sin by Adam and Eve, God evicted them from the Garden of Eden. How one sin by Akin caused the Jews to fall into defeat in front of their enemies on the other side of the Jordan.
How one sin by Ananias and Sapphira, God evicted them from life. God is holy, he's communicated this very plainly, and he's made these kinds of assertions. God has described heaven, he says in Isaiah 57:15, "This is what the high and lofty one says, he who lives forever and whose name is holy, 'I live in a high and a holy place.'" Stop right there. I mean, that just says it to me. God's telling us what kind of place he lives in, and he lives in a high and holy place, "but also..." Oh, those are sweet words, aren't they? "I live with some people there, "also with him who is humble and contrite in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and revive the heart of the contrite." So those that are broken-hearted and those that are faith-filled and flee to Jesus, he saves them, imputes righteousness to them, and he lives with them in a high and holy place. But it is a high and holy place.
And so therefore he tells us plainly in various warning passages, what kind of people will not inherit the Kingdom of God. He's not saying it out of hatefulness, no, out of love and mercy he tells us. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified." You see, that's what God does, he saves you out of the life. He sanctifies you, he makes you different. Again, Galatians 5:19-21, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious, sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like.I warn you as I did before, that people who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God."
And why also? Because of the essence of the unholy person, what is he or she really like? Well, Colossians 1:21 says, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds as demonstrated by your evil behavior." There's a link between the evil behavior and the mind, and God will not dwell with people who are enemies in their minds to him, he's not going to dwell with them. Now, the sweetness of the Gospel is he says, "Once you were like that, now you have been transformed by the Gospel." Isn't that glorious? That's what you used to be.
V. How Does This Relate to Justification by Faith Alone?
So you may ask, "How does this relate to justification by faith alone?" I feel like I've already explained that, but maybe we just can't explain it enough. We need to really understand salvation. It's simple enough, but it still takes study, it takes God opening your heart and mind. Perfect righteousness is a gift of God, not by works. This righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ, it's a gift, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace." At justification, guilty sinners like us are made righteous positionally in the sight of God, and in that righteousness, we go to heaven. It's the imputed righteousness of Christ. But at that exact same time he transforms our hearts, regeneration, makes us new creations, gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit, and then commands us to run in the path of his commands, for he's set our hearts free, tells us to live a holy life. That's how they relate. So you can ask the question, "If we are perfectly righteous in God's sight by faith, apart from works, how can you teach that there is a holiness that I must strive for, and that if I don't have it, I'm not going to heaven?"
Well, I can teach it, because that's what the text says. Do you see it? I hope you see it at this point, it's what the text says, but there are other answers. It's what James 2 says. It says, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?" Can such a faith save him? Clearly, the answer is no, a faith without holy deeds is dead, he says, it's dead. Faith apart from deeds is dead. Answer number three. The transformation of salvation results in a changed life, every time, not some of the time, every time. So much so that when Zacchaeus was transformed by the Gospel and pledged to change his life, Jesus said, "Today, salvation is come to this house."
You remember the story? Zacchaeus, a tax collector, a wicked man living for money, an idolater, an enemy to his own countrymen, a man short of stature, couldn't see Jesus, climbs up in a tree. You guys know the children's story. And he sees Jesus and Jesus goes right to the tree where he's sitting, saying, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately, for I must stay at your house today." And so they go. Alright, but what happens after that? That's what I'm interested in. Afterwards, Zacchaeus stands up and says, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Now, what did Jesus say? "Today, salvation has come to this house, for this man too is a son of Abraham." And then he said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10. So save means, save into a transformed life; without that transformed life you haven't been saved, does that make sense?
Answer number four, many verses in the New Testament teach the striving after holiness and righteousness that this same verse teaches, it's not just one verse here. For example, 1 Timothy 6:11-12, "But you man of God flee from all this and pursue righteousness." Wow, he's already a man of God, he's already a pastor, and Paul is commanding him to flee wickedness, and pursue, does that sound familiar? Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love and endurance and gentleness, "Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called." That's exactly what we're teaching here. Run and go get it, Timothy, go get your eternal life. Pursue it, run it, chase it down, you man of God. See, justification and sanctification, they go together. Romans 6 teaches it, "Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to wickedness and ever increasing ungodliness, so now offer yourselves to God and the parts of your body as instruments to ever-increasing righteousness." Or it says, "Leading to holiness." It's teaching the same thing.
And so justification inevitably leads to sanctification, which inevitably leads to glorification, that's it. Everyone who is justified will be, is sanctified, and everyone who is being sanctified in that way will be glorified. No one is lost, to God be the glory. And so I just want to say to you if you are here today, and you don't know that you've been justified, if you're afraid that your sins will sink you down to hell, you've never come to the cross in justifying faith, can I urge you to flee the wrath to come. Can I urge you to come by simple faith in Jesus and take hold of Christ, take hold of Jesus, if you see that there is none of this holiness in your life, then flee to Christ, and he will save you. You don't need to do anything, as I've said five times in the sermon, just trust in him and his righteousness will be given you as a gift.
VI. How May We Be Sure We Have This Holiness?
Now, how may we be sure that we have this holiness? By the way, in that 400-page book, I'm about at page 30 right now. "It's Mother's Day, Pastor, we have lunch reservations." I know you probably do. If you've been here any length of time, I hope you didn't make them for 12:30. You just must know. But how can we be sure? Brooks gives 16 answers to that; I'm going to cut it down to 12 and I'm going to give you each one in about 45 seconds, each one. How do you know that this kind of holiness is in you?
Deep Delight and Admiration of the Holiness of God
First, you have a deep delight in the holiness of God, it's not just his love, or his mercy, or his power, or his omniscience that interests you or attracts you, you are actually attracted to the holiness of God, it's enticing to you to be with such a holy being. You want to be in the light, as he is in the light.
Having a Holiness That Spreads to All Areas of Life
Secondly, you have a holiness that spreads over all areas of your life, there's not a pocket, or a corner, or a darkness in your life that you don't want Jesus invading. There are no dark corners, there are no dark basements, there are no dark closets. You've basically thrown open the doors of your life, and said, "Lord, make it all light." I want it all to flow, I want the aroma of holiness in every room of the house, it pervades everything.
Setting Highest Esteem on Holy Things
Thirdly, there is inside you a constant yearning to be holier than you are. It's a relentless yearning. You may sin, you know you do sin, but you are so hungry and thirsty for holiness, you want to be free from sin, it would be the deepest desire of your life to no longer sin, to never sin again.
Matthew and I were talking right before worship, and I said to him, I was just saying, "Wouldn't it be incredible to have one week free from sin? In which, just as two men, as husbands and fathers, we didn't sin at all?" And our wives are going to say, "Boy, I could get used to this. Wow, what a husband, what a father." And then to go back, to what it was before, maybe that's why God doesn't do it, but at any rate, the delight you have is a thought, a hungering and a thirsting that someday you will be righteous. You'll be pure in heart, it's in you, you're yearning for it, even though you may not be able to achieve it. And so, there's a constant drive. You never say holiness enough. That's enough holiness, you never would say it. Like Paul in Philippians 3, forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead, you press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus. And that is perfection, that's what you want, every day you want perfection in Jesus. And you just strive after it. That's the pursuing we're talking about.
Constantly Yearning to be Holier Still
Fourth, you have a true hatred for all sin and wickedness, you just hate it. All sins are equally detestable. Jesus loved righteousness and hated wickedness, you do to. You love righteousness and you hate wickedness. And three specific types of sins in particular that I'm mentioning here. Secret sins, those secret things that you struggle with, or you dally with, or you play with, or whatever. Those secret patterns of sin in your life, you hate them. And you would like them out. Little sins, so to speak. There are some sins that are greater than others, we know that. But the little sins, the little lies, the little gossip, the little slander, the little complaining habit you have, the irritability. I just am irritable before I have my coffee in the morning, whatever it is. How we make excuses for our sins, those little sins. You hate them, you'd like them out of your life.
And then there's habitual sins, the ones that you're tempted to stick a white flag and say, "I just can't do anything about this, it's going to be with me the rest of my life." Now, this holiness is, I'm going to fight sin wherever I see it in my life, wherever. I'm at war with sin.
True Hatred for All Ungodliness and Wickedness: All Sins Are Equally Detestable
And then fifth, I'm deeply grieved and troubled by my sins. I don't take it lightly, I don't take it as a small thing. It really grieves me. As David said in Psalm 38:18, "I confess my iniquity, I am troubled by my sin, it bothers me that I sin." 2 Corinthians 7:10, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret." You know what that means? The road of salvation is filled with godly sorrow. If you're going to be continually repenting, then you're going to be continually grieving over sin. Now, you're also going to be continually rejoicing, sorrowful yet always rejoicing. All those sins are forgiven, someday you'll be free from them, you have the power to defeat all of them. There's a joy in all of that. But still there's a grief that you hate your sins, and they cause you grief.
Deeply Grieved and Troubled by Their Own Unholiness... Not Merely the Consequences of Sin
Sixthly, you are attracted to, and delighted with holy duties. They're not a burden to you, it's not a burden to come to church. It's not a burden to listen to a sermon, it's not a burden to study scripture. It's not a burden to have a good prayer time. These things are a holy delight to you, you're attracted to them, it's not a burden to be with the family of God, you enjoy being with the people of God.
Attracted to and Delighted in Holy Duties: Prayer, Bible, Worship, Witnessing
Seventh, you labor to make other people holy, it matters to you whether other people are holy or not. And so, you exert effort, you pray for the holiness of others, you witness to other people who are not saved, so that they can be holy too.
Laboring to Make Other People Holy
And connected with that, eighth, is other people's unholiness causes you grief. It's a misery to you to see the wickedness of the world, it's a misery to you, like Lot, that righteous man who is tormented, it says, in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard. Now, I might have given him some advice, "Why don't you move out of Sodom? Just a thought." Would have been good advice. He didn't take any; it damaged, in some ways destroyed his family. But he, 2 Peter 2 tells us, was a righteous man, and he was tormented. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 119, that rivers of tears flow down his eyes because God’s law is not obeyed.
Conformed to the holiness of Christ
Ninth, this holiness is conformable to Christ. Conformed to Christ, it's a Christ-likeness. We were predestined to be conformed to his image, and so therefore it is Christ-likeness, the Holy Spirit of Christ is in us. And so it's more than just what would Jesus do? It's just a yearning to be like Christ, to have the mind of Christ, to have the heart of Christ, to have the holy lifestyle of Christ.
Delighted in the Word of God, Especially in its Holiness and Purity
Tenth, it's delight in God's word, especially in the holiness and purity of the word, it's the word of God, and you yearn for it, you feed for it. Like newborn babies, you crave the nourishing milk of the word, you feed on it and it delights you. God's word is all of your delight.
Regularly Making God’s Glory the Ultimate End of All the Person Does
Eleventh, regularly making God's glory the ultimate aim of all you do, you do what you do that God may be glorified, that his attributes may be put on display. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you do it all for the glory of God. The glory of God is the overriding desire of your heart.
Speaking a Holy Language; A Mouth Filled With Holy Things
And then twelfth and final from my list, you speak a holy language. You just talk holy things, you speak the language of Zion, friends, you speak the language of the heavenly Jerusalem, you talk about Jesus, you talk about the scripture, you talk about what you've learned in your quiet time. You talk about how God has saved you. Jesus said, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him. The evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." And so you just are filled with holy thoughts and actions and all of that, and you just speak it, it just flows out. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. James tells us only perfect people are never at fault in what they say, but still there's just a holy language here.
VII. How Must We Make the Most of This Verse?
Alright, so how must we make the most of this verse? Well, come to Christ, come to Christ and come to Christ again and again, I've already pleaded with you who are lost right now. You've come here today by the providence of God, maybe to see a family member dedicated. Maybe it's you that needs to be dedicated today.
Maybe you need to come to Christ and find full forgiveness of sins. Jesus is a merciful Savior. His blood is shed for sinners like you and me. We're no different, we're the same. Flee to Christ. But for those of you who are claiming to be Christians, your claim may be a valid one. It's good to have a valid claim to be a Christian, but I'm just urging you, examine yourself, to see if you're in the faith, "test yourself," 2 Corinthians 13. This is the test, this is it, this is the test you're supposed to use, the holiness test. Ask this simple question, 'Am I holy? Am I holy?'" Give careful attention to the sin areas of your life. Are you at war with these sins, are you fighting them?
How is it going? Are you sexually pure? Are you careful what you look at on the internet? Are you careful what you're doing, what comes into your eyes, what are you filling your minds with? What about your speech purity, are you a gossip, are you slandering, are you depressing to be around Because you complain all the time? Are you arguing, are you an arguer, fighter? These are sins, put them to death, kill them. What about your relationships? Are you harboring bitterness, unforgiveness, are you unkind to people? Are you holding back fellowship with others because of something they said or did? Are you in the thralls of bitterness? Fight it, put these sins to death. Are you ensnared by some kind of lawful pleasure that's become an addiction for you now? Materialism, gluttony, drinking, hobbies, money. I don't know what.
Be holy. Focus on Christ above all else, apart from Jesus there is no holiness, he has become for us justification and sanctification. You won't get holy apart from Jesus, he is the vine and you are the branch in the holiness plant, the holiness grapevine. As soon as you're justified, you got engrafted into him, and the life-giving sap of holiness began flowing through you, abide in him, abide in Jesus, moment by moment focus on Jesus. You can't remember this list of 12 things. Okay, don't. Focus on Jesus, trust in Jesus. Zero in on him and say, "Jesus, make me holy. Jesus, make me holy. I want to walk with you. I'm a branch, you're the vine, just flow through me."
And my final words to you is the delight, the delight of all this. I could preach this in a way that would just be scathing and crushing and convicting. I could flay your souls with it, and mine too. I'd be no different. All of us sin every day, we stumble in many ways. My desire is to give you delight in Jesus. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. We can now, the holier we are, by faith, turn our eyes upon Jesus, and see him. Look full in his wonderful face. You'll see more by faith now of Christ, and you'll be happier and happier. The things that are afflicting you are your sins. If you'll defensively put them to death, and be strong in this area, you will be happy and fruitful in Christ.
So yesterday, I was mowing the lawn. And I was listening to my ear buds and I had my headphones on, and I'm listening to Christian worship, and I was thinking about this sermon. And the Lord opened my heart and poured out his grace in my heart, and said, "You're going to make some of my people really happy tomorrow. Go do it." So, be happy by being holy. Fight for joy, fight for fruit, be a holy people. Close with me in prayer.