St Thomas' Burwood

Christian Attitude: Holiness vs. Worldliness

Holiness vs. Worldliness    audio (5MB)

1 Peter 1:13-16 Titus 2:11-13

Intro – Recap on the others: Pride vs. Humility,
Anger vs. Self control, Judgment vs. Grace

And now we come to the conclusion that in many ways is an umbrella topic which covers all those things we’ve just explored. Can you see how that’s the case?

You see worldliness isn’t a trait that God likes, everywhere you see that term in the Bible, it’s warned against. Worldliness is an attitude that incorporates the things we just looked at: pride, anger, judgment and so many other negative attitudes.

And the New Testament draws this huge distinction, between Christianity and the world, between holiness and worldliness. In 1 Corinthians 3:3 we see other aspects of worldliness where Paul criticizes the Church saying, 

‘You are still worldly, for since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?’ He’s being dead serious, and we see that worldliness also incorporates jealousy and quarreling. These aren’t the traits that God wants in a follower and witness of his son!



He wants his followers to be holy and a simple definition for holy is to be set apart for God alone.

I was reading a blog the other day of someone who had been traveling on business when he heard someone give a sermon and use the term ‘holy worldliness’, Holy worldliness…

The preacher was saying that Christians whould be a part of the world around them, active in it so they could share God’s love with the people around them. Makes sense doesn’t it?

And I agree, it has some truth to it, but I think there’s something missing, because what it’s basically saying is that the only way for Christians to witness to those around them is for us to go out and experience the world, to stay close it, attached to it.

The proof? Well Jesus himself, he hung out with the worst of the worst! Experienced all the world could throw all the temptations and the desires, but he withstood it and changed the world! Hmmm, true…

But something still rubs me the wrong way maybe its my conservative nature that’s cynical and just hears an encouragement to Christians to go out and watch R rated movies, to hang out with people we know we shouldn’t adopting their negative attitudes to life. Encouragement to get drunk or start listening to music that talks about sex and degrades humanity...Sorry, am I getting a little intense?

But I see so many young people give into this idea! They look past the foolishness of it and think, 'hey, I can be a cool Christian living that way!' ‘Holy worldliness’ has become a poor excuse for people who just want to hold onto those things Jesus warned us against by saying that you really ‘want to reach out to your unbelieving friends!’

Have we ever used this excuse? I know I have, and I wonder if those I was apparently ‘witnessing to’, saw Christ in my actions… Or if they saw a double minded person who had no confidence in the life Jesus has called me to?

The Bible is crystal clear on this. God doesn’t want his followers to be of the world even though we are clearly living in it!

'But how are we meant to do this Garrett? You’ve virtually condemned doing anything that would bring us into contact with the people needing to hear God’s news!
And they have certainly stopped coming to us, we need to go to them!' And I hear you, I agree that we need to go to them!

But our very first duty, a duty that needs to continue through our entire lives is to allow the transformation of our hearts and lives by the Holy Spirit, to live in a holy way, seeking his face above all things.

Don’t you wish you could have that desire? To seek after him above all things? To borrow the language of the psalmist, ‘To thirst after God...To hunger to know him more!
How amazing would that be…If we live in this manner, if we put God first, then we will be able to reach out to the world,
standing out like a light on a hill, like a candle in a dark room that wont be hidden under a bowl…

We don’t witness to the life saving, transforming power of Jesus by conforming to what we’ve been saved from!
That notion undermines everything about Christianity, don’t be fooled by it!! Do you want to reach unbelievers?  Then show them how God’s truth has changed your life! Be Holy!

Those of us here who are Christians have been born again, our changed lives are the proof of God at work in this world! What happens when we hide that?We are seen as hypocrites and people become cynical that he even exists.

In our youth small groups we’ve been studying ‘integrity’! And integrity, according to the definition we all agreed on is, ‘Keeping your actions aligned with what you believe.’

I’m not gonna water this down for you. The Bible says we need to be Holy as God is Holy. It warns against living according to our own selfishness and adopting bad attitudes.

What are we going to believe, do you believe holiness is worthwhile? Or do you think its a hinderance? Because your integrity as a Christian and a person, is riding on it!
Our 1 Peter passage starts out with a ‘therefore’, and if that’s the case than its referring to something prior.

Peter’s been explaining to his readers that the prophets had been prophesying about Jesus and his saving actions,
and that these actions were things so profound and amazing that even the angels wanted to look into these mysteries. And so Peter encourages them…

Read 1 Peter 1:13-16

Be Holy as I am holy! Why? Look ahead with me, chapter 2:9-10 - We area ‘a chosen people…a royal priesthood, a holy nation that belongs to God.’ ‘Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy!’

He goes on, read from verse 11.

If you’re serious about wanting people to see God and to hear the good news. Don’t follow the crowd and sell out in the name of getting alongside your non-Christian friends!
It’s a weak excuse that those with integrity can see through in a second! If you want to show others a better way, if you want them to see God and glorify him, then stand out as person of God! To be holy is to be set apart for the Lord and seek the things that please him. Transforming us into the beacon on a hill which will draw people from every nation, tribe and tongue to the saving grace of Jesus Christ! Amen? Amen.

But let me be the first to admit that this is a lot easier said than done! Since preaching on Humilty over Pride, do you think I have been proud? Don’t all shout out at once. Since preaching about anger and self control, do you think I’ve been in control of myself for the last 9 months? Do you think I’ve been overflowing with grace towards others...?Well maybe that one’s true. Jokes.

No. I know and realize what Im saying and how hard it is…Or maybe, maybe its not that hard, but we’ve just forgotten how to ask the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. If it wasn’t for God’s wanting a relationship we would never have chosen him, if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit in us, we would never be transformed. It’s God who initiates, all we are required to do is surrender ourselves to him.

So if we asked him to capture our attention, asked him to draw us to him, surrendered our worldliness. Would he take our worldliness and transform it into holiness instead?
After all, God’s the one who put us on this path, he knows that we need to rely on him, he’ll help us do that if we let him. To be holy as he is holy. Individually, as a church and as the wider Kingdom of God.

The words of an old hymn will always stay with me. ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.’

If we looked more and more at Jesus maybe, maybe we would slowly start to look like him. And the people who look at us won’t see someone trying to be just like them, no they would begin to see Jesus as well.

To close I want to share an excerpt from the diaries of a man by the name of Frank Laubach. I’ve spoken of him before, a missionary to the Philipines in the 30’s who made it his goal, his ‘life’s adventure’ to spend every waking moment aware of God with him. And he says this

I walk out in the street and if my soul is as full of God as it sometimes is, I see what happens as I look into their eyes and pray for them. No man need try to persuade me that God does not reach them, for I see the thing happen, and now I know that every person we ever meet is God's opportunity, if only, if only we were not so much of the time shut off from God.

Last Monday was the most completely successful day of my life to date so far as giving my day in complete and continuous surrender to God is concerned - though I shall hope for far better days. And I remember how, as I looked at people with a love God gave, they looked back and acted as though they wanted to go with me.

I felt then that for a day I saw a little of that marvelous pull
that Jesus had as he walked along the road day after day
"God-intoxicated" and radiant with the endless communion of his soul with God.

Holiness or worldliness, what is we’re called to be. Would be more affective for God? Which one would you like to be today?

 

 

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