It was impossible to miss the oversized white tent in the early Spring evening with a gigantic white banner rippling in the breeze, BE HOLY BECAUSE I AM HOLY!
Adjacent to the Mid-State fairgrounds, the grassy parking lot was covered with cars as the curious and hopeful seemed to throng to this unusual meeting. Many were drawn by the harmonious music and singing as the choir led several hundred seekers with powerful, moving hymns. Emotions ran high. The air was filled with earnest expectation. Something special was happening here they felt.
The music came to an end as the tall, redheaded pastor took the pulpit. He was carrying a leather-bound bible in one hand, holding it casually like a carpenter’s tool. He did not speak. The crowd grew silent. He came to the pulpit, set his bible down and gripped both sides. Leaning forward the silence was broken with his powerful voice, “Are you holy?” He shocked them all. Gasps were heard throughout the tent. Again he said, “Are you holy? God says we must be holy to please Him. So I ask it again, are you holy. Have you been sanctified?” And so it went for the next 45 minutes as this charismatic speaker whipped his listeners into an emotional state, feeling certain they were not up to par with God unless they came forward to become sanctified and holy.
The emotional and dramatic pastor should rather have spent his time elevating the Lord Jesus Christ, explaining to the people that faith in Christ makes us holy in God’s eyes: “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
Let’s see what God’s Word has to say about our sanctification/holiness:
1 Corinthians 1:2 ~You who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere.
1 Corinthians ~6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
1 Thessalonians ~5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Along with the unimaginable grace and mercy of God’s provision for our sanctification, He expects us to do our part; to work our faith in day to day circumstances. He has already done the impossible and has assigned us the possible such as making choices and slipping on His armor. We’re at war!
2 Corinthians 7:1 ~Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 ~As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.
Hebrews 10:10 ~For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
Romans 15:16 ~I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification is not something we can beg God for at a church altar. Sanctification is a gift from God as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Although a gift, God requires our involvement to make choices for purity and holiness. Even so, the Holy Spirit enables us to follow through on our Christ-like decisions.