Joyce Meyer - Holiness - Part 1
Thank you for joining me today on "Enjoying Everyday Life". Today, I'm gonna be teaching on holiness. Actually, I'm gonna teach on that for today and then the next two days, a little different, tomorrow, I'm gonna teach on how important truth is. I think holiness is something that we need to talk more about because God does call us to live holy lives. And it's not something that we hear from our pulpits as much as I think we need to hear from it because people really, kinda makes them a little nervous, you know. Holiness is not legalism and I wanna make sure that I make that clear because a lot of people who think about holiness or they try to live a holy life, they think that means that they have to be perfect and they can't do anything and they can't have fun.
So, let's be real open-minded and by the grace of God get into this and learn some things that are gonna help us live a life that is more pleasing to God and represents him well. What is holiness? Well, holiness defined in "Vine's Greek dictionary" is "The state that's predetermined by God for believers". Now, when something is predetermined that doesn't mean it's automatically gonna happen. It means God has already decided that that's what he wants for us and he's made it possible for us to have it, but we have to do our part. "It's a state in which in grace he calls us and in which we begin our Christian course and so pursue it".
Now, the word pursue is very important. It means growing towards perfection. We think about holiness and we think that means we have to be perfect, but it really means growing, always having an attitude of pursuing and striving for holiness. As long as we're in these fleshly bodies, we're never gonna manifest 100% perfection. You say, "Well, then what's the point in going after something that I know that I'm never gonna have"? Because God expects us to be pursuing it and always making progress. You may not have 100% arrived when Jesus comes back to get us, but he wants to find us pressing toward it. That needs to be our goal. We need to realize that the call on our life is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Well, I don't know about you, but I've got a little ways to go. So, I need to keep pursuing that and pressing toward it.
The Holy Spirit... the "Holy" spirit is the main agent in holiness, and he is the one who works with us toward this goal. Actually, you are holy when you're born again, if you've received Christ as your Savior, when the Holy Spirit comes to live in your spirit, our Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, because they're all one. If one's there, they're all there. But when the Holy Spirit comes to live in your spirit, he has to make everything holy because God cannot be anywhere that's not holy. So, we have all these wonderful things in us that need to be worked out of us. They need to be worked into our soul and then into our actions where they can affect other people and make them hungry for God in their lives.
Now, I just wanna say right up front that being a Christian, a real Christian, is about a lot more than just going to church every week. A lot of people, you'll ask them, "Are you a Christian"? "Well, I go to church". Well, I say this all the time, but I'll say it again today because it's a little funny. I can go sit in a garage my whole life and that will never make me a car. So, just sitting in church does not mean that you're a Christian. There's a lot of people that go to church because they grew up going to church, or it's a habit, or they may even do it for social reasons. But we should go to church to learn, to fellowship with other people, to be accountable to other people, to have a place from which we can be involved in serving God and doing things that will help the Kingdom of God grow.
Holiness is not legalism. I wanna make sure that I make that clear. I think one of the most challenging things that we do is to be holy, and yet, not be legalistic. To live a life of freedom but not a life of sin calling that freedom. To live a holy life does not mean that we have no fun, never go to parties. You've gotta remember that Jesus' first miracle was done at a wedding party. So, he's obviously not against parties. It's just that you can have a very unclean, sinful party, or you can have a good, fun, godly, holy party. And that doesn't mean that you have to be praying during the whole party. It just means that you don't do things that you know God wouldn't approve of.
Being holy doesn't mean that you can't see movies, that you can't play cards, or you can't dance. It has nothing to do with cutting your hair, wearing Jewelry or makeup. We're not unholy if we change our hair color, wear colorful clothes, pierce our ears, or get botox. Contrary to many people's beliefs, and I know some of you will fall off your chair when I say this, we are not unholy if we get a tattoo. Religious people are like, "Oh, they have a tattoo. They must be this, that or something else". You cannot judge a person's heart by what they wear, or what color their hair is, or whether they have a tattoo or not, or get botox. We need to stop judging other people by outward appearance because God sees the heart.
Do you know that the Bible says that God has a picture of us tattooed on the palm of his hands? Imagine that. Some people have tattooed on them, in the Old Testament, it says this in Isaiah 44:5, they have tattooed on their hands, "I belong to the Lord". "One will say", Isaiah 44:5, "I am the Lord's: another will call himself by the name of Jacob: and another will write [even brand or tattoo] upon his hand, I am the Lord's". Well, you know, last year, the ripe, old age of 79, I had tattooed on my left shoulder in the back, "I belong to Jesus". And I did it really just, I think, to kinda prove to religious people that you can be holy and have a tattoo. Besides that, I wanted anybody that saw my shoulder to know that I belong to the Lord.
Now, not too many people see my shoulder, but there are a few times when they do. Hebrews 12:14, now this is an interesting scripture, one that we don't probably use very much because it says something that is a little bit scary and we don't like to scare people, but this is important. Hebrews 12:14, "Strive", which means "Put out an effort," "To live in peace and pursue", which means "Chase after, go after with all your heart," "That consecration and holiness", here it comes, "Without which no one will [ever] see the Lord". Oh, you say, "Now wait a minute, Joyce, I'm born again, I'm gonna go to heaven".
Well, you know, just saying a sinner's prayer doesn't necessarily mean that you're gonna go to heaven. There's a life that God expects us to live, and we're not saved by our works, but if we're truly saved, we are going to want to live holy lives that are pleasing to God. Let me say that again. We're not saved by our works, the Bible says plainly in Ephesians that it's not by our works, there's no work that we can do that will save us, we're saved by the grace and mercy of God. But if we're truly saved, and I say truly saved because I think a lot of people think just because they pray a prayer and repent of their sins one time, that that means that they're all okay now and they go to church every Sunday, but they live like the rest of the world, all the rest of the time.
And I take responsibility for that as a teacher. We are the ones that need to tell people that your initial commitment to Christ is the very basic beginning of your walk with him, but from then on, you need to grow and pursue holiness, and I didn't say it, Paul said it, recorded it in Hebrews, "Without which no one will ever see the Lord". That doesn't mean I have to be perfect: it just means that I need to be pursuing constantly walking in the will of God and doing what I believe he would want me to do. It's obvious from these words that we must make an effort in the power of the Holy Spirit, not a human fleshly effort, but an effort in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And I said the Holy Spirit is the main agent in sanctification because we cannot do it without the power of the Holy Spirit. We all need to be filled with the Holy Spirit or baptized in the Holy Spirit or endued with power from on high, whatever you want to call it. We can't live the life that God wants us to live unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And that's something that I pray every day because we not only need to be filled once, we need to be filled and refilled and refreshed and refueled, and so every morning when I pray, I ask God, "Fill me full of the Holy Spirit so I can do your will today".
If you don't pray that way, I want to encourage you to start praying that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that Jesus, John said, "One will come after me," he said, "I baptize you in water, but one will come after me who will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire". And we need that Holy Ghost baptism and that spirit of fire in our lives. Now, what about this, "Without which no one will ever see the Lord"? Well, we should take this seriously and examine whether we are just merely going to church or truly pursuing the life that God called us to live. And I can say that for many years, although I do believe I was born again, I loved God, but I didn't love him with my whole heart. And I had made a commitment to him, but I had not committed my whole life to him. I didn't live my life pursuing God and always wanting my behavior to change and come up higher and higher and higher.
If you wanna know the truth, I went to church on a regular basis for many, many years, even worked on the evangelism team of our church. I was even on the board of our church. And I do believe that I would have gone to heaven if I would have died because I did love the Lord and I was making some effort, but I would have probably still been in kindergarten when I got there because I was making rather a pitiful effort. I didn't understand what I'm telling you today. And a lot of people don't understand, and we can't be responsible for what we don't know. But once we do know, then we do become responsible for it.
So, if you're watching this program today, you better be ready to start getting more serious with God because after today you're going to know. And when we know to do right and don't do it, then it becomes sin. We need to examine whether we're merely going to church or truly pursuing the life that God has called us to live. Can you tell a difference between you and the unsaved people that you work with? Can you tell a difference between you and your unsaved neighbors? Or do you do all the same things they do except you just go to church once a week and think that makes it okay? Here's a statement I want you to get. We are not merely called to happiness, we are called to holiness. Let me say it again. We're not merely called to happiness, we're called to holiness.
And don't let that scare you. As I said, that doesn't mean you can't do anything. It just means that you need to do what you do the right way. You can go to the movies, but you shouldn't go to movies that are full of filthy things. You need to go to ones that you would go to Jesus with because you take him with you everywhere that you go. We shouldn't be doing things that he doesn't approve of. Once again, holiness is not legalism, but it will require wise choices in what we do, in how we dress, where we go, what we listen to, what we watch on television, and what kind of movies we go to, how we talk, how we think, what we say, how we talk about other people. Are you living your life for God, daily pursuing holiness and the will of God, always wanting to do what he wants you to do?
Now, the Holy Spirit is in us for many reasons. He's our teacher, our guide. He helps us pray, if we don't know how to pray. But one of the things he does is he convicts us of sin, makes us a little uncomfortable if we're doing something we shouldn't be doing. We have a conscience, and we should not do things that our conscience condemns. You know, I like to watch television in the evenings. I like to disconnect, and I particularly like mysteries. I like something I can get kinda lost in and, you know, be wondering what the end is gonna be. Even like, I've been watching these health shows about people that have these mysterious illnesses that nobody can figure out what they are. And even something like that, it just intrigues me, and I learn something at the same time.
Well, you know, if I'm watching a movie and I'm very interested in this movie, and all of a sudden there's something in it that I know is not right, people start taking their clothes off, they're jumping in bed together every few minutes, there's a lot of filthy language in it, I don't need somebody to come and tell me you need to turn that off. The Holy Spirit lets me know by just making me a little bit uncomfortable. I'm just, I know. And you know. You know right from wrong unless your heart has gotten hard and your conscience has gotten hardened to where you really can't tell right from wrong, then you know what's right and you know what's wrong, and you have a free will. The Holy Spirit is in us to let us know when we're going in the wrong direction, but God will never make us do the right thing. He always gives us free choice.
What am I really trying to talk about today? I'm really wanting to talk to people that are just kind of living a nominal, lukewarm, Christian life, going to church, thinking that's all you need, but really not pursuing God. You haven't really surrendered your whole life to God. You've given him enough of yourself to hopefully stay out of hell, but not enough to really be a witness for him and someone that he can really be proud of. I want God to be proud of me, and I wanna hear what he said to Jesus, "This is my beloved", well, in my case, "Daughter, in whom I am well pleased". And I believe most of you want that.
If you love God, then you're gonna want to please him in all that you do. And thankfully, when we fail, which is pretty much daily, we can repent, tell God we're sorry. Jesus already died for all of our sins. The forgiveness is there. All we need to do is repent and receive that forgiveness. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, "Look carefully how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and the witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)". Are you being careful how you live? Or are you just doing what you feel like doing? "Make the very most of your time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil".
We are living in very evil times. And we need to take every opportunity that we can to affect the lives of those that don't know Christ yet. And one of the best ways we can do that is by living a Christian life, a real Christian life in front of them. Not being religious and legalistic, but just being like Jesus: loving, humble, kind, meek, making right choices. "Therefore, don't be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is". Now, there's a very interesting scripture in the book of Haggai, and I love to use this scripture. It only reads this exact way in the classic Amplified Bible, but it basically says, "Holiness is not contagious, but unholiness is". Or you might look at it like this, you know, I can catch the flu from somebody, but I have to choose health.
You can't catch health. That's something you have to choose, and you have to live your life in a certain way. You need to keep your hands clean and, you know, stay away from certain things, take care of yourself, eat right, be healthy. Haggai 2:11, "Thus says the Lord of hosts: ask now the priests to decide this question: if one Carries in the skirt of his garment flesh that is holy [because it has been offered in sacrifice to God]". Back then they offered meat in sacrifice to God, and then that meat became holy. Well, when the sacrifices were over, they would carry it away in the skirt of their garments, and portions of it would go to the priest, and, you know, they'd take it home and eat it and use it. "And with his skirt or the flaps of his garment he touches bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any kind of food, does what he touches become [dedicated to God's service exclusively]? And the priests answered, 'no! Holiness is not infectious'".
You can't be infected with holiness. You have to choose it. "'Then' said Haggai, 'if one who is [ceremonially] unclean because he has come in contact with a dead body should touch any of these articles of food, shall it be [ceremonially] unclean'? And the priests answered, 'it shall be unclean because [unholiness is infectious]'". So, get that. You can't be infected with holiness, but you can be infected with unholiness. Well, that gives me good understanding for why Paul told us how important it is that we spend time with the right kind of people and that we don't spend time with the wrong kind of people.
Let me ask you a question. Who do you spend your time with? Do you spend your time with people that are pursuing holiness, people who have the character of God in their life, or do you spend your time with people that are not living for God thinking that it won't affect you? It will affect you. You can be infected with their wrong behavior. If you're around somebody that has good behavior, that will affect you too, but you'll still have to choose it. Paul said, "Don't associate closely with those who are sexually impure, greedy, a thief, or a person with a foul tongue".
1 Corinthians 5:6-11 gives us good understanding on this. And I'm not reading the whole entire thing, but Paul said, "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, with sexually immoral people, not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or greedy, or swindlers, or idolaters. Because in that case you would have to get out of the world altogether".
So, he's saying if you try to stay away from every "Worldly" person that is not living a godly life, you'd have to just get out of the world because you can't avoid them all. But he said, "I'm writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or a sister in Christ but is sexually immoral or greedy, or an idolater or a slanderer". Just a slanderer. He's saying don't spend a lot of time with somebody who gossips about other people. Well, how many Christians do that? Man, I remember when we used to go to church on Sunday and then a bunch of us would go out to breakfast and we would gossip about the pastor and everything we didn't like about his sermon that day and everything we didn't like about him.
Well, we weren't pursuing holiness. We weren't living a godly life. We were acting no different than unbelievers. But I'll tell you one thing, once I got really serious about God, and this is where the dividing line is and we're gonna continue this tomorrow, but once I got serious in my walk with God, I couldn't do that kind of stuff anymore without being really uncomfortable. I'd been filled with the Holy Spirit. And he was in me, I mean, tearing me up inside. I would be miserable inside if I tried to do those kind of things.