Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort
We must strive for personal, progressive holiness because without which we will not see the Lord!
“If there is not at least a desire and fight for holiness then one should question if they are saved.” (Jerry Bridges)
This sermon is not about why, but about how we grow in holiness.
What will give our people? Legalism? Liscence? Platitudes?
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Two things we must believe and understand about holiness: We must work hard. God must work in you.
What do these saying mean? We have so many Christian sayings about growing in holiness that we do not know what they really mean. So what does these sayings mean:
The Spirit is power.
There is a supernatural power at work in your inner being.
Romans 8 says this is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. He is not a little weak spirit. He is strong. Not a vapor, but a mighty working wind.
If we say we cannot change we blaspheme the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is light.
He reveals sin and expose sin. To convict us of our sin. It’s like turning on lights in a dark room.
When we preach we are shining a giant spotlight on our people’s sin.
A prayer God has always answered in my life is “God reveal my sin.” So in our church every week we have a prayer of illumination. A prayer of light.
Why do people say, “Pastor that sermon was just for me!” It’s because the Spirit is bringing light.
When the light comes on and we run from it the bible calls it quenching the spirit, resisting the Spirit.
Everyone agrees that holiness flows out of the gospel but how does that work?
What is the connection?
First, there is a sense of gratitude.
We see this in Romans 12:1. In view of God’s mercy. This is not a debtor’s ethic of pay back but a desire to want to please the one who has done so much for you.
If you are struggling with anger, patience, envy, etc… then you can be certain there is a gratitude problem.
Second, the gospel tells us who we are.
If we are heirs of the whole world with Christ, then why do we covet and envy?
Remember that nothing can separate you from the Lord.
This is one of the central motivations of holiness: we should live out of the identity of who we are.
Yes you may have been “Born This Way” like Lady Gaga has sung but we can be born again!
We are both justified by faith and sanctified by faith.
Yes faith plays a role in sanctification like it plays in justification but we need to be careful to teach that these are two different things.
Faith in God’s promises is how we grow.
Look at the promises in the Sermon on the Mount.
God promises those who are meek will inherit the earth. Those who are pure will see God.
There are promises and faith in those promises fuel us to holiness.
In light of all that I have said that we need the Spirit’s power, we need the gospel to save us, and that faith fuels us.
We still must put forth effort!
“The child of God has two great marks: inner peace and inner warfare.” (J. C. Ryle in “Holiness”)
We are always at peace with God and never at peace with our sin.
Who sanctifies you? You or God? Yes! Both!
We cannot just say give it up to God, let go and let God, just surrender, just grow deeper in the gospel, etc…
We must teach people that they must put forth EFFORT!
Pastors we labor. We must work. We labor in love but many times the emphasis is on the labor.
How long should we spend on the sermon? Until your soul gets helped. Labor until your soul is moved.
Listen to how Paul toils and works:
For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:29)
Well what about those pastors who work too hard?
No pastor can work too hard, but a pastor can work foolishly.
Its easy to work 80 hours but it is hard to work 50 hours and be present at home with your family and get enough rest you need and take a day off. That is hard! That is the hard work we pastors must be about.
Do you want your church to be know for its obedience?
You know the difference between legalism and antinomianism?
I do not meet any full blown antinomians but I do think we are nomi-phobes. We are afraid of the law.
If we preach David and Bathsheeba and do not connect the gospel then we are missing big picture, but if we do not talk about sin then we are missing the text. The chapter ends that David’s sin pleased the Lord.
Too many preachers pick a text and just lean on their personal bent. Some only preach law and guilt trips with every text and others only preach grace and do not preach the law.
We have to not only preach the truth of the text but also the mood.
What is the mood of Psalm 23?
What is the mood of Luke 3 and John the baptist’s message of repentance?
If the law and holiness is not apart of the gospel then we must not talk about it at all.
We cannot settle for giving people half a savior. He saves us from our present sin as well.
Holiness does not happen apart from trusting and trusting does not put an end to trying.