This Sunday, Sojourn Heights and Sojourn Montrose will together begin a new sermon series on holiness. In reference to God, the word “holiness” speaks to God's unrivaled otherness. He is holy by nature, and He belongs to a category all by Himself. Man, on the other hand, is sinful by nature. Our holiness is only ever a derivative of God’s holiness. In other words, God's holiness comes from within Himself, but our holiness must come from outside of ourselves. God has to give it to us.
Even so, we are mistaken if we think that being "gospel-centered" and "missional" means never discussing moral imperatives or striving after holiness. The good news of the gospel can and should coincide with moral diligence. Among many things, we ought to be known for our consistent, everyday obedience. In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul writes:
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
For some of us, the call to holiness is a much needed reminder, an essential aspect of the faith that we're prone to neglect. For others, the call to holiness is willingly received yet despairingly borne. Perhaps we feel defeated. Thus, even as we consider holiness and obedience over the next few weeks, we should rest in the holiness Christ. Let me close with this quote from a Porterbrook module, Gospel Change:
The word that God speaks to us in Ephesians 4:24 is an exhilarating and liberating truth: we have been "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." What should spur us on to love and good deeds is not a trust in our own capacities, as if by dint of will we can transform ourselves. Rather, we need the creative power of the Holy Spirit at work in us — a creative work that overhauls our hearts, that 'rewires' us so that holiness is in our nature. Thus the truth of Ephesians 4 implies that there is something inevitable about holiness among the people of God. Holiness is not merely a choice we make; it is a destiny we fulfill.