God is Holy and I am Righteous and Holy

Psalm 77:13 and Ephesians 4:24

Several years ago a young man, about the age of 8 from what I understand named Danny wrote this very insightful answer to a homework question, “Describe God.”

One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things here on earth. He doesn’t make grown-ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make, That way, He doesn’t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.

God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times besides bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV on account of this. Since He hears everything, not only prayers, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off.

God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting His time by going over your parent’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.

Atheists are people who don’t believe in God. I don’t think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren’t any who come to our church.

Jesus is God’s Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn’t want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind like His Father and He told His Father that they didn’t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said OK.

His Dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told Him He didn’t have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of Himself without having to bother God. Like the secretary, only more important, of course. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to hear you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.

You should always go to Church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there’s anybody you want to make happy, it’s God. Don’t skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong! And, besides, the sun doesn’t come out at the beach until noon anyway.

If you don’t believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can’t go everywhere with You, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He’s around you when you’re scared in the dark or when you can’t swim very good and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids. But you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases.

And that’s why I believe in God.

(We sang How Great is Our God in response to this story)

We conclude our February series “God is…I am” with the Biblical truth that “God is Holy and I am Righteous and Holy”

In Psalm 77:13 we read:

Your ways, God, are holy.     What god is as great as our God?

Is our God great and holy? Yes He is!

But He is that way for a purpose… to help us be holy and righteous… and because He is holy…it is part of His nature

As noted in our other verse for this morning, Ephesians 4:24:

“…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

What does it mean to be holy and righteous?

It doesn’t mean to be full of holes.

It doesn’t mean to be self-righteous. (Jesus had trouble with self-righteous people and frequently called them out.)

It doesn’t even mean to be perfect.

It means, interestingly enough, to be more human because to be holy and righteous is to have a character that has clarity, purity, authenticity, love and a host of other things as well.

Now, I know that it is often said, “I am not holy. I am imperfect. I am a sinner in need of God’s grace.”

That is true.

But, to be holy and righteous mean that we are to be…

Well, let’s take a look at the context of the Ephesians passage to have clarity about what these two words mean.

And I first want to have us note the use of the phrase “new self” because it is important in understanding the focus Paul gives on holiness and righteousness.

The word “self” here has to do with our human nature and thus, I think, our character, who we are and who we are becoming or not becoming.

Paul has been doing some important comparisons in this chapter so that the original audience, and us today, have a very clear picture of what it looks like to be holy and righteous and it starts with some words that are often positioned in our thinking at the opposite end of what people believe holiness and righteousness mean. We go to the beginning of this chapter.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Notice the highlighted words. Humble, gentle, patient, unity, peace. Paul is painting a picture of what people of God, holy and righteous people, are to be and it is not, NOT arrogant, rude, judgmental, and proud among other things.

Yes, we are to stand for what we believe in and WHO we believe in! But we do so with a humility and a gentleness that the Holy Spirit can use to get behind people’s barriers.

But Paul does not stop there…

Verse 7

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Verses 11 through 15

Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Holy and righteous people are humble, gentle, peaceful but they are also grace filled and empowered to serve in various ways so that the entire church grows and matures.

That’s us!

But Paul says a few other things as well

Verses 17-24

that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Here is a strong comparison. Paul switches gears and goes very practical. “You are to live differently now, you are to put off the old self, the old nature, the old character, corrupt, bankrupt, vile…and instead you are to put on the new self, one created to be “like” God, not be God but ‘Like’ God in righteousness and holiness.”

The word translated righteous or righteousness means “in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God.” The word is used 29 times in the book of Romans in the New American Standard Version notably in Romans 4:3 which says this “For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Abraham, because He believed in God, was considered to be right, to be as he should and ought to be, in relationship with God.

So, to be righteous has to do with being made acceptable to God which comes as we accept Christ’s forgiveness of our sins and choose to live for God in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. It refers to the state of our relationship with God.

Then there is the word ‘holiness’ which refers to “piety towards God.” Now this word piety is a word that gets bad press from time to time and is often seen as something negative.

But piety has to do with devotion to God and there is plenty of evidence of what that looks like in this chapter including what follows this verse, verse 25 and following:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin:” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

 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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

To be devoted to God to be a pious person is to be an engaged person of faith and to behave (or not behave) in the ways listed here:

Put off falsehood

Speak truthfully to your neighbor

When you are angry do NOT sin

Work and stop stealing

Speak well

Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and anger

Be kind and compassionate

Forgive

To be a righteous and holy person is to be (and not be) these things

Why?

Because God is holy…

Your ways, God, are holy.

What god is as great as our God?

Psalm 77:13

The idea of ‘way’ is rooted in the idea of path, way of life, one’s character and the Psalm is simply saying “God your path, your way of life, your character is holy.” And this word ‘holy’ means sacred and set apart. God’s way is a different way, a way that requires us to live by a different set of standards and believes, ones that often put us at odds with society.

Our God, is Holy.

Yes He is love. But, as I recently read from the pen of Richard Hansen “we can subtly turn [this biblical statement, “God is love”] on its head until it becomes, “Love is God.” God is more than love.

He is also just and, again from the pen of Richard Hansen, “if God were not perfect justice, neither could God be perfect love.”

God is perfect. No imperfections whatsoever. Morally right.

He is holy.

As you have heard this morning’s scripture passages read, what has attracted your attention? What are you realizing needs to be surrendered or put into practice?

Which of these words and phrases these actions, are moving you to a place where you realize that you need to make some important changes?

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Put off falsehood

Speak truthfully to your neighbor

When you are angry do NOT sin

Work and stop stealing

Speak well

Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and anger

Be kind and compassionate

Forgive

It is easy to say, “I cannot live this way Pastor.”

You’re right, you can’t. I can’t. None of us can.

But with the help and power of the Holy Spirit we CAN and we must if we say we are Christian. It is with the help and aid of the Holy Spirit that we can become people who are holy and righteous and more… people who are seeking to live as God always intended for us to live.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you this morning?

Don’t resist the spirit! Obey him!

Let us become righteous and holy people who are humble servants full of love, the Love of God and grace, the grace of God.

Amen

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s