Creflo Dollar - Holiness: What Is Is and What It Is Not
Father, we thank you for this, another opportunity to minister to these your precious sheep. I thank you, Lord, that revelation knowledge will flow freely, uninterrupted and unhindered by any satanic or demonic force. And Father, I pray that you will speak through my vocal cords and think through my mind, none of me and all of you, Lord. I thank you that every ear is anointed to hear and every heart is anointed to receive, and I thank you, Lord, that we will never be the same again. I thank you, Lord Jesus, that there is no time or distance in the Spirit, and I pray tonight for tremendous impact. In Jesus's name we pray, and everybody said amen.
Praise God, hey, I wanna get right into this. It's gonna bless your life tonight. If you go in your Bibles, let's turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 30, 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 30. You know, there's a lot of things going on in the world today. I mean, we don't make light of it, but we all are aware that lots of things are going on. And yet, at the same time, there is the Christian. There is the body of Christ. There are those who are believers in Jesus. Those who are believers in his Word, and we have faith in his Word. And I guess one of the questions I ask myself is who should we be in a time such as this? What should we be demonstrating in a time such as this?
I believe, somehow, we should be what the rest of the world should be focusing in on. That when things don't appear to be working in the world, somehow or another, they can look at the Christian life, they can look at the church, and say, "Ah-ha, look at some great things that are happening here". I go back to that distinction between what's going on in Egypt versus what's going on in Goshen back in the day. You know, back in the day, there was no light in Egypt, but there was light in Goshen. Back in the day, there was insufficiency in Egypt, not enough straw to make bricks, but in Goshen, there was more than enough.
And I believe that there should be a distinction between, you know, what's going on in Egypt versus what's going on in Goshen. I believe there should be a distinction between what's going on in the world and what's happening in the church. And so, because of these questions, I want to take some time to teach on holiness. And I'm not talking about holiness the way we've heard it, because what I just described to you is more of a definition of holiness, the fact that, you know, what's going on in Egypt should not be going on in Goshen. What's happening in the world, it should be different in the church. When we talk about holiness, we're talking about not being common with the world. And yet, I still don't think that's enough to really give us a working definition and a working revelation of holiness and what it means.
So, I wanna talk about true holiness tonight, and maybe if I don't finish tonight, we'll finish next week, but we really need to get a hold of this subject. So, join me tonight, and let's look at 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and 30, and we'll begin here tonight. First Corinthians 1 and 30, he says, "But of him are you in Christ Jesus". "Of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us", Jesus has been made unto us wisdom, he's been made unto us righteousness. Jesus has been made unto us sanctification or holiness, it's the same Greek word. Jesus has been made unto us redemption. What a powerful Scripture. The fact that Jesus has been made for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, holiness, and redemption.
Now, the word "holiness" in the New Testament is a Greek word which is sometimes translated also sanctification. So, when you look up this Greek word for sanctification, it is the same Greek word for holiness. Now, let me say a couple of things before we get started. Holiness is a fruit of grace. You cannot be more righteous because you are already 100% righteous by Jesus's blood. But under grace, you can grow in holiness in the way you live your life. And in verse 30, there's this practical holiness, and practical holiness is not possible if you don't understand that you're righteous in Christ Jesus.
So, sanctification or holiness is not a conduct, but it is a person. And once you have the person, you have all these things. Once you have Jesus, you have righteousness, you have holiness, you have redemption, you have wisdom, because you have Jesus. Look at Romans 8:32. I mean, you know, God gave us Jesus, and because we have Jesus, we have all these other things. And what it refers to here is because we have Jesus, we have righteousness. Because we have Jesus, we have sanctification. Because we have Jesus, we have everything that we need in life. Look at the Scripture. He says, "He that spared not his own Son, but he delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things"?
So, notice again what he says. "He that spared not his own Son, but he delivered him up for us all". So, Jesus has been made available for anybody who wants to receive him. He says, "How shall he not with him also with him freely give us all things"? So, with Jesus, we have righteousness. With Jesus, we have wisdom. With Jesus, watch this, we have sanctification. We have holiness because with him we have all these things. Now, for some of you, you know, that made a lot of sense. For some of you, you were able to grab a hold of some of the things that I said.
And so, what I wanna do now is just back up and slow this thing up and really go at it. So, I guess one of the best things we can do right now is in defining holiness and how it applies into your life, let's first of all talk about what it is not. Because no matter what I say to you today, if I don't address your old mindset concerning holiness, then, you know, you're just gonna stay with what you've always learned and what you've always known. And so, in trying to define holiness, I think it would be helpful to determine what holiness is not.
Now, there are several common ways in which holiness is defined. And to be fair, each one has an element of truth in it, and it can be backed up by Scripture. But as you'll see, none of these assumed definitions can be used to describe a God who is holy. So, why should this matter, some of you think or may ask yourself? Look at 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 15 and 16, 1 Peter 1, verse 15 and 16. Why should this matter? It matters a great deal, because we, ladies and gentlemen, are called to be holy as the Lord is holy. Look at verse 15 and 16. He says, "But as he which has called you is holy, so be holy in all manner of conversation", or lifestyle. Verse 16, "Because it is written, be ye holy, for I am holy".
So, it matters a great deal, because we are called to be holy as the Lord is holy. I need to know how to do that. I need to understand how to accomplish that. How can we do this now if we don't know what holiness means? So, here are some misleading and incomplete definitions of holiness. We're gonna define holiness by, first of all, finding out what it is not, and showing you some misleading, some incomplete definitions of holiness that the church has walked in for a long, long time. Let's look at the first one. Ephesians chapter 5 and 27. Ephesians 5:27, here's the first one. Holiness is sin avoidance. In other words, we've defined holiness as avoiding sin. We define it as avoiding sin.
Now, Ephesians 5:27 says, "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such things, but it should be holy and without blemish". So, right here, holiness is defined as without spot, without wrinkle, without blemish, and so, yes, the Scriptures exhort us to avoid sinful lifestyle. However, this doesn't pass the God test, God does not need to avoid sin, why? Well, he was holy before there was any sin to avoid. And if it doesn't pass the God test, then you've got to discard it. And so, you know, "Be holy as God is holy", and then the first thing we do, we say holiness is sin avoidance, yet God, who is holy, is not going around trying to avoid sin, because, you know, God was holy before there was any sin to avoid. So, it doesn't pass the God test. Let's look at the second area here.
Number two, it's defined as this. Holiness is being set apart from something. Now, look at 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 17 through 18, 2 Corinthians 6:17 though 18. So, the first definition, and what I'm doing, I'm showing you what it is not. The first definition was holiness is sin avoidance. That doesn't pass the God test. The second definition is holiness, is being set apart from something. Now, Paul said that we should come out and be separate from among them, 2 Corinthians chapter 6:17 and 18. He says, "Wherefore come out from among them, be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you". Verse 18, "And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty".
Now, does this mean to remove ourselves from around sinners? Now, if this is so, you know, if this means remove yourself from around sinners, then Jesus violated this big time. And yet, the Bible said he is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, Hebrews chapter 7:26. Let me show that to you, Hebrews 7:26. Because, you know, if we're saying that being holy means to be set apart from something, and that in order for us to be holy, does that mean that we set ourselves from around sinners? And if that's the case, then we gotta look at what Jesus did. Hebrews 7:26, "For such as a high priest became us", "Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless", said Jesus is holy, said Jesus is harmless, says Jesus is undefiled, separate from sinners, "And made higher than the heavens".
So, if this really means that we've got to stop hanging around sinners, then we got a problem, because that's all that Jesus hung around. If anything, he was derided by religious folks as the friends of sinners. The Bible calls Jesus the friend of sinners, yet he was separate from them. So, how is it that he was able to be a friend of sinners, and yet being separate from them? I don't believe that being holy means to just not hang around any sinners. How are we gonna minister to 'em? How are we gonna get 'em saved? So, what's wrong with this definition?
Well, like much holiness preaching, this definition is apt to make us, you know, allergic to sinners. And Jesus was untouched by sin, but he was also a friend of sinners. He spent far more time in the company of sinners than most holiness preachers do. His very first public outing was at a wedding reception in Cana of Galilee where he turned water into wine, and no one there was even saved. You see, Jesus didn't pray that we be taken out of the world. Go to St. John 17 verse 15 and 17. St. John chapter 17 verses 15 and 17. Jesus didn't pray that we should be taken out of the world, but that we would be sanctified in it, being holy and sanctified in it.
Look what he says in verse 15 through 17. "I pray that thou shouldest take them out of the world but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil". I pray not, excuse me. "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world". He says I'm not praying that you should take 'em out of the world, "But that thou should keep them from the evil". Verse 16, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world", verse 17, "Sanctify them", there it is. Sanctify them, make them holy. Sanctify them how? "Through thy truth". What did he say? "Thy word is truth".
Now, I've heard preachers say you can't stay saved, you know, if you go to New York, Manhattan. You can't stay saved if you go to Las Vegas, Nevada, you know? That's a lie. True holiness runs from nothing. And when you're in true holiness, you can be in the world and not be affected by it. True holiness, true holiness, and that's what we're trying to run down right now, true holiness. Okay, so we see those two definitions. Sin avoidance, you know, we're talking about what holiness is not. So, it's not sin avoidance. It's not, you know, becoming allergic to sinners.
Look at the third definition. Holiness is being set apart to God. These are the things that we've heard. Holiness is being set apart to God. Now, this is the closest to the literal meaning of the Hebrew and Greek word for holy. It is used in describing holy things like temples. Look at Psalms 11:4. So, in the Greek, it's used to describe holy things like the temple. It's used to describe holy things like the mountains. So, Psalms 11:4, and then Exodus 19:23. 11:4, he says, "The Lord is in his holy temple. The Lord's throne is in heaven, his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men".
So, see, here the word "holy" is describing the temple. And then, if you look at Exodus 19:23, you see the word "holy" talking about a mountain. "And Moses said unto the Lord, 'The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for thou chargest us, saying, 'Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it'" or make it holy. But how does this describe a holy God? Is God dedicated to himself? How would he do that? You follow what I'm saying? And so, when you look at holiness as being set apart to God, and you see how holiness is used to describe the temple and describe the mountain, the question is, is God dedicated to himself, and how would he do that? Let's look at the fourth definition of holiness and how it's used.
The fourth definition, holiness is moral perfection, moral perfection. Boy, that's sounds noble, that sounds very religious, but it's straight out of the old covenant of law. Leviticus 18:26 and 30. I think we ought to read it. Leviticus 18:26 and 30. To define the holiness that we have, because Jesus is holy, as moral perfection, I mean, first of all, you can't achieve that. First of all, you know, that's probably what's going on and wrong with us where we're doing things to try to work for morality and work to be perfect morally, and you can't. Aside from Jesus, that's impossible. You're not gonna be able to do that.
Look at verse 26 and 30, he says, "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgements, and shall not commit any of these abominations, neither any of your own nations, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you". Verse 27, he says, "For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and that land is defiled". So, he says they couldn't even do it, ha. I mean, people under the old covenant couldn't even do it. "That the land spue not you out also, when you defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you". They couldn't even keep it.
Look at the next verse. "For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people", and then in verse 30, he says, "Therefore shall you keep my ordinance that you commit not any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you defile not yourselves therein. I am the Lord your God". Fourteen centuries has taught us that the law-keeping covenant did not work, and you cannot work your way to holiness. It's just not possible. You cannot work your way to holiness. It's just not possible. So, holiness being a moral perfection, that's just not possible. And yet, we've heard it defined that way in church.
Let's look at the final definition I wanna use to help us show you what holiness is not. Number five, holiness means worthy of devotion. Some have defined it as worthy of devotion. Now, indeed, God is worthy of worship. Hey, we know that, but angels are holy, too. So, if you say holiness means worthy of devotion, then, you know, angels are also holy. Mark chapter 8:38 shows us that. Should we worship them as well? And how about us? We are referred to as holy priesthood. So, you see what I'm saying? You see, holiness, it's kind of like an elephant. Each definition above is partly true, but it's wholly wrong. It's partly true, but to put it all together as one, it would be wrong.
So, we've got to define holiness, what is it? Now, here's what we know so far. We know holiness does not mean worthy of devotion. We know holiness is not moral perfection. We know holiness is not being set apart to God. We know that holiness is not being set apart from something. We know that holiness is not sin avoidance, okay? It's not sin avoidance, so what is holiness?
I wanna just be straight with you right now: watch this, listen to this, holiness means wholeness, W-H-O-L-E-N-E-S-S. Holiness means wholeness, nothing missing, nothing broken in your life. Holiness means wholeness. To say God is holy is to refer to the wholeness of God, the fullness of God, the beauty of God, and the abundant life that overflows within the Godhead. Holiness, what am I saying? God lacks nothing. God lacks nothing. He is unbroken. He is undamaged. He is unfallen. He's completely complete and entire within himself. He is the invincible one, the wholly self-sufficient, and he is the picture of perfection. Holiness is not one aspect of God's character. It is the whole package in glorious unity. That's what this wholeness is about. Holiness means perfection in the sense of completion.
And so when Jesus exhorted us to be perfect, he was inviting us to a life of wholeness and holiness. Look at Matthew 5:48. He invited us into a life of wholeness and holiness because you don't know holiness without wholeness. And now hear what verse 48 says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect", or he's inviting us to be whole, to be whole, to be complete. And Jesus came to make broken people whole. His body was broken and he shed his blood so he can make us whole. He was calling us to a life that was his. He was saying, "I'm whole, and now if you accept me then you can be whole".
So you are holy, ladies and gentlemen, if you are a believer. If you are born again, you are holy. The Bible declares that we were sanctified, 1 Corinthians chapter 6:11. He declares that we were sanctified, and that we've been made holy through his sacrifice and perfection forever. Let's look at those two Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 6:11, "And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God". You used to be sinners. You used to be fornicators. You used to be all of that. He says, "But you know what? You are now washed. You are now sanctified. You are now justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God".
And then if you look at Hebrews chapter 10, verse 10 and verse 14, let's look at that, verse 10 and verse 14. Look what he says there, Hebrews chapter 10, verse 10 and 14. He says, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ", for how long? "Once and for all". And then verse 14 he says, "For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified". We are complete in Christ. Look at Colossians chapter 2:10. We are complete in Christ. We are declared sanctified. We have been made holy through his sacrifice. We are perfected forever.
And then Colossians chapter 2, and verse 10 says, "And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power". So look at this, man. We are sanctified. We have been made right through his sacrifice. We are perfected forever. We are complete. But we can only get this as a born-again Christian in Christ Jesus. In Jesus, we lack nothing. In Jesus, we are whole. In Jesus, we are complete, praise God. And look at 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and 2. And so, you know, I'm talking about identity here. I'm talking about who you are. I'm talking about the day you make Jesus the Lord of your life, you are holy that day. You are holy right now. You are holy right now.
Now, I'm gonna show you that you're gonna bear fruit of that which you are in Jesus Christ right now. 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and 2 says, "As carnal", 1 Corinthians chapter 1, and verse 2, he says, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints". All right, we're no longer sinners. We're sanctified in Christ Jesus. We're called to be saints, "With all that in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". We are called to be saints, called to be saints. Now, why does God call us to be holy if I'm already holy? Think about that. Why does God call us to be holy if I'm already holy?
So the question is often asked why God exhorts us to be holy if we're already holy, and the answer is he's asking us to be who we truly are. He is saying, "Be who I made you to be. I made you to be whole, be whole. I made you to be holy, be holy. Don't be what the world's going through. Don't be what situations try to make you become. Be what I made you to be". So holiness is not something we are called upon to do in order that we may become something. It is something that we are to do because of what we already are.
Let me say that again. Listen to me very carefully. Holiness is not something we are called upon to do in order that we may become something, so I'm gonna do this and then I'll become holy. No, it is something we are to do because of what we already are. So I'm doing what I do 'cause of what I already am. The day you realize that you're holy, then you'll begin to do these things that other people say you have to do in order to become holy. No, I'm not doing this to become holy. Out of my identity and out of who I am, those things now become fruits of holiness. Those things become a result of me being holy.
So are Christians a truly holy people or are we trying to become holy people? And it's kind of like the sapling of an oak tree. You know, as an oak sapling grows, it doesn't get oakier, ha-ha-ha. Oak is oak. It simply matures into what it is, a full-grown oak tree. So you don't become an oak tree by acting like it, nor do you become holy by acting holy. Jesus makes you holy. Your part is to mature into what he has already made you. He has already made you holy, your part is to mature in who you already are. And this takes time, but just as a baby never becomes more human as it grows, you will never become more holy as you mature. You simply grow into who God has already made you to be. God has already made me holy. I simply grow into that holiness. You know, maturity doesn't occur in one giant leap, but it occurs through a process.
Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18. Maturity doesn't come in a, you know, just one leap. You know, being transformed, it's a process. Look what he says here in 2 Corinthians chapter 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord", just by beholding Jesus now we, "are changed into the same image", but look at the change, "from glory to glory". That's process. Look at the change from glory to glory. Not from garbage to glory, huh?
See, you're already holy in Christ. Just as an oak sapling does not get oakier as it matures, neither does a new creature in Christ get holier, more forgiven, more accepted. No, the wrong approach is to think of yourself as a flawed sinner trying to become holy. And that's not who you are, and that's not how it works. Instead, see yourself as a toddler learning to walk. And just as you wouldn't spank an infant if they stumbled and fall, neither will your Heavenly Father spank you if you stumble and fall. God doesn't condemn us. God doesn't condemn us when we fall. He encourages you to get up and walk. He hasn't given you everything you need. Well, let me say this. He has given you everything that you need that pertains to life and godliness. You have everything that you need right now that pertains to life and godliness, but God's not gonna whoop you because you stumbled and you fell. In Christ, you lack nothing. You're in Christ, you lack nothing. You just need to work out who you already are and what he has already given you.
Remember the Scripture says, "Work out your salvation". Work it out. You already have it, work it out. Just begin to mature into it. This is really the heart of the gospel. Begin to mature into who you were made to be. The day you believe that you are holy, and you continue to look at Jesus, and you're going to be changed from glory to glory even by the Spirit of God. So the Holy Spirit now has a part in helping to mature you in this holiness. You know, every major religion of the world has a moral standard it enforces, but only Christianity offers salvation through a Savior? And so presenting holiness in any way other than as a result of salvation is denying Jesus as our Savior, and it places the burden of salvation on us instead of on him.
So God cleanses our hearts by grace through faith and then we have fruit unto holiness. Our heart's cleansed. We receive it by faith, and we begin to mature, and we have fruits unto holiness. Praise God. So holiness is a fruit of salvation, not a root of salvation. Holiness is a fruit of salvation, not a root of salvation. Jesus is the root of our salvation, and this is so important because when we see Jesus as the root to everything, and that's what I've had to do. I've had to back up on everything and I had to understand that Jesus is my root. He's my root for salvation and then all these other things become fruit, and I basically now am bearing fruit because I received Jesus as my root. And thus, we the branches are automatically holy because the branches are coming from a holy root, Jesus. We the branches are automatically sanctified because the branches are coming from that root of sanctification, Jesus. We the branch are automatically with wisdom because we're coming from that root, Jesus Christ.
So true Christianity comes from the inside out. Glory to God. And there's something that happens when you don't recognize who you are. And in these times and while things are going on and things are, you know, just not, you know, we gotta recognize who we are from the inside out, from the inside out. And then begin to demonstrate and begin to show the world who we are from the inside out. Don't let things happen to you from the outside in. Be careful. You're a Christian, don't let things happen to you from the outside in. You are who you are from the inside out. A good heart will change a man's action, but a man's action cannot change his heart.
Wow, so who are you here? At the root of everything, your Christianity is born out of Jesus Christ. This is the thing I really want people to get ahold of. At the root of everything, I'm a Christian. I'm holy. I'm whole. I come from holiness. I come out of wholeness. And now I've got to begin to mature in that. Now I've got to begin to allow the fruit to come on my branch because my branch came out of the root. Jesus Christ is my root. And here's where we've messed up in church religion, we're trying to achieve who we already are. We're trying to achieve who we've already been made through what we can do outside. Hopefully, it'll make us inside.
So we think that our insides are made from our outsides. Absolutely not. I am sanctified, and I am holy because I accepted Jesus into my life. I accepted a root into my life, and out of him I mature into who I am. Now you see why Satan has spent an enormous amount of time trying to attack people's identity in Christ. One of the most important things you can know as a Christian is who you are, and one of the most important things you can hold onto as a Christian, especially in rough times, is who you are. I'm sanctified. I'm wholeness. Even in the midst of, I don't know, being afraid, and I don't need to say I don't know because I have wisdom, I know. Wisdom is knowing what to do when you don't know what to do. But when you're in a situation and you're trying to figure out, you know, what to do, I've got to believe in who I am, and I've got to believe in who I've been made.
You know, some of your parents used to do that. You know, you're a Smith. We don't do that. That's how you've been made. Well, I'm telling you you're of Jesus, man. You're from the root of Jesus. And man, this is so important. And Jesus, he has your back. He has your back. I am holy. I am holy. You now know all the things that holiness is not. Holiness means I am whole when the world is not whole. I am complete when the world is not complete. I have wisdom when the world doesn't know what to do. Holiness is not commonness. Holiness is not being common with the world. And that's so very, very important for you to understand.
You know, there's a lot of erroneous teachings about holiness, and most of those are directed towards women. You know, that women, in order to be holy, you got to wear, you know, a long dress and that... see, you're trying to achieve holiness from the outer appearance when you are already holy on the inside. And so you're saying that a woman is not holy if she doesn't have on a long dress. So you're saying that a woman is not holy if she wears pants. Those are erroneous teachings that are just wrong because your holiness is not going to be achieved by your dresswear. Your holiness is achieved by your acceptance of Jesus Christ. More teachings, and I think I'm gonna address these.
People say that women are not holy if they wear their hair the wrong way. That's not good. Or that women, are Jezebels and they're not holy if they wear makeup. That's not true. I am a believer of Max Factor, Mary Kay. Anything you can do to decorate yourself, I am a complete believer of that. In fact, let's look at 1 Peter chapter 3 real quick because some of you think I'm making this up, but I think we need to get ahold of this, and I think today you need to always and you need to develop a consciousness in your mind, "I am holy now. I am sanctified now".
I didn't read 2 Corinthians, did I? Let's read that right quick. 2 Corinthians 3:18, he says, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass or mirror the glory of the Lord". He says "And by beholding, we are changed into that same image from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord". And so as we continue to behold who we really are, who we have been made, as we continue to behold, then behold Jesus, and just by beholding him we are changed and the Holy Spirit says, "I am gonna be a part of that change. I accept the responsibility for changing you into who you are".
Praise God, that's awesome. That's awesome the fact that by just beholding Jesus and just by beholding Jesus in my heart that Jesus is my holiness and Jesus is my sanctification. And anytime something happens, I go inward, hallelujah, and I jump into my identity inward. And I'm grateful that the Holy Spirit now, just by me beholding Jesus in the midst of crazy situations, he's now gonna assist in the change, and I'm going to now mature into who I am. I'm gonna now mature into who he has made me.