30/10/2007

Sermon Nature of Holiness

1 Peter 1:16 Be ye holy for I am holy
The Nature of Holiness
The glory of the divine character consists in the perfection of moral excellence; "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness?" It is this that sheds a lustre on all his attributes, and constitutes the dignity of his intelligent creatures. "O worship the Lord in the beauties of holiness: fear before him all the earth." Holiness, with respect to us, is not any one particular grace in distinction from another; but the assemblage of all the graces, the sum of moral excellence. It is that which renders its subjects truly amiable, and commands a respect and veneration even from those who are not possessed of it themselves. The inhabitants of Canaan were often impressed with awe by the presence of the patriarchs who sojourned among them, and wicked men still pay a kind of involuntary homage to real and eminent piety. It also attracts the eye and heart of the compassionate Saviour: "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee - Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair." Holiness is the honour of the church on earth, and its perfection in heaven.
In the foregoing verse the apostle had given this pertinent and comprehensive exhortation: ''As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." The holiness here required is universal, in the whole of our disposition and behaviour; not only in some instances, but in every thing, " in all manner of conversation:" inwardly, in all our thoughts; outwardly, in all our actions, both towards God and man. Not only talk of holiness, but follow it, in every station and connection in life; not only at particular times and seasons, but at all times, and in all places ; in the closet, in the family, in the church, and in the world.
It is then added, "Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy." This seems to be a reference to Lev. 11. 44. We here see the harmony there is between the prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New Testament: they speak the same language, and mind the same thing. One inspired writer confirms what he says by the testimony of other inspired writers, so that out of the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Peter does not plead his own authority as an apostle, which he might have done, but appeals to the Scriptures as the standard of truth. We also see that the doctrine of Scripture is a doctrine according to godliness, and that its leading design is to promote it. One of the earliest patriarchs is called "a preacher of righteousness," and all right preaching will have the same tendency.
1. Explain the exhortation: " Be ye holy, for I am holy."

1. Holiness may be considered as to its nature. What is it ? It is, as we have already observed, the sum of moral excellence, a participation of the divine nature, a conformity to the divine image.
2. As to its different stages and degrees. The principle of holiness is introduced in regeneration, and is afterwards exemplified in all the duties and graces of the Christian life.
3. Holiness may be considered in reference to its objects. With respect to the most high God it implies an imitation of him, and a conformity to him; that we aim at his glory, and employ all our powers in his service. In short, it implies that we seek all from him resign all to him, and seek in all things to please him' Hence it is called "holiness unto the Lord". ... In reference to the divine law it implies a complacency and delight in it, on account of its purity and spirituality. ... As it respects duties, holiness will lead to a ready compliance ...
4. It may be considered as to its effects. It is like the ointment of the right hand, which betrayed itself. When assaulted with temptation, the holy man will say, "How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" If invited to spiritual exercises, or drawing near to God, his soul will readily fall in with it: "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." ....

2. Consider the motive by which the exhortation is enforced: "Be ye holy, for I am holy."

The divine purity is sometimes proposed as the model of our purity: "Be ye followers of God as dear children - be ye perfect even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." Here it is proposed as the reason: "Be ye holy, for I am holy."

1. God is holy; and therefore, without holiness we cannot be like him. Holiness in creatures, even that of angels and perfect spirits above, come infinitely short of the uncreated purity: but where there is no holiness, there can be no conformity to God; and where there is no conformity, there can be no enjoyment.
2. God is holy, and therefore those only who are so can truly serve him. " Let us have grace," says the apostle, "whereby we may serve him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
3. God is holy, and without holiness it is impossible to please him in any thing we do. He requires truth in the inward parts, and without this nothing can be acceptable.
4. God is holy, and unless we be so too, we cannot be owned or acknowledged by him. He will not consider those as sons who bear no resemblance to him.
5. God is holy, and we must be holy in order to enjoy him. " For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; what communion hath light with darkness; and what concord hath Christ with Belial?"

CONCLUSION
Be ye holy then, for God is holy. You that are not so, seek to be so; you that are so in part, labour to be more so. God hath chosen his people before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy, and without blame before him in love: and if you live and die in sin, it is a proof that whoever he may have chosen to salvation, you are not of that number. Christ also gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity; he was made sin, that we might be made righteousness ; and he sanctified himself, that he might sanctify his people. If therefore these ends be not answered in us, we have neither part no lot in his salvation. This is what the Holy Spirit aims at in all his gracious operations; it is for this he puts life into our duties, and life into our souls. Let believers therefore exercise themselves unto godliness, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And having received such promises, let them cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Let the prayer of each of us be, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me! " Psalm 51.10.

Hear me, O Lord, then God of peace,
Whilst I my numerous sins confess;
Oh! purge my soul from every stain,
That not a single spot remain.

When pardon'd, and when purified,
I'll spread thy glories far and wide,
And loudly sing redeeming love,
Both here, and in the world above.

This is hymn 503 which appears in the final collection with the first line
'Hear me O God of righteousness'

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