Dear members and friends of IBCZ
Paul ends his first letter to the Thessalonians with a tirade of short, focused, concrete instructions, aimed at helping the new believers stay on track in their faith and Christian living. These instructions act like a quick succession of road signs on the road to Holiness, as the last verse, before the closing and salutation, reveals the point of the letter, the teaching and all the instructions: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23)
The number one priority for every Christian and the most important goal for us is to be holy. It’s not discipleship, not mission, not helping the widow and the orphan – even if all of these are important and are highlighted in the Bible – but being holy is the number one instruction for us. Our utmost goal in our Christian walk is become holy as individuals AND as a church: Eph. 5:25-27 – Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Holiness originates with God. The Lord God says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” When the Bible seeks to explain God’s holiness, it says that God is a “consuming fire” ( Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29). This is why we are called to “not quench”, or extinguish, the Spirit. Holiness is like a consuming fire, nothing can stand next to it, except fire. Holiness is purity, it comes from God, worked by the Spirit, and we do not want to obstruct His work of cleansing us and setting us apart.
In the Old Testament, Micah 6:8 reads “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. The passage summarizes what matters for the Lord, and that is a life godliness, which is the means of getting to Holiness. In the New Testament, Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be
given to you as well.” Holiness is a state in which we can persist only through continuously seeking the Lord – like the woman who lost a coin and turns her home upside down to find the coin, or the man who sells everything he has to be able to buy a pearl he MUST have, or the shepherd who lost 1 sheep out of 100 and goes out to seek it relentlessly until he finds it.
Why is holiness important? Because we each have a specific purpose, our God-given calling to make a unique difference in the world that we were specially created to make. And to be able to effectively hear from God and walk in His power to transform ourselves and produce fruit to fulfill this purpose, we must become increasingly more holy over time. Holiness create intimacy with God and this helps us to discern what is and isn’t in God’s nature and will, discern the teaching and theology we hear and keep what is good. Holiness gives us clarity on good and evil, and so it is crucial in our efforts to abstain from evil. And because a holy life pleases God and produces “fruit” of the Spirit.
We have God’s promise to work holiness in us, and achieve all this un us, if we allow Him (1 Thess 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it), just as He did for the Thessalonians, as Paul, in the beginning of his letter is praising them for “your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” I pray the Lord will do the same work in us as well.
Love and peace,
Adran, IBCZ elder