Sunday, 19 January 2014

Your Holiness is Within You.

Your Holiness is within you.  1 Corinthians 1:1-9 19/1/14

Natural Church Development: It is natural for living things to grow and to reproduce.
There are “seasons” when things seem to rest, to regather strength even to die back – but new growth springs forth if life and health remain. What phase are we in in Allesley?

Corinth was blossoming. Paul wants to affirm them and celebrate them but also to equip them for the future. They are not to see the hard times that will contrast so much with their present first flush of revival as a defeat such that they will be wiped out. They are to understand about Sanctification and Faithfulness.

  1. Sanctified & Called to be Holy v2
At first glance this is difficult.
Some children like to be dressed (boys?) - some like to do it “by my own self” however long ot takes.
Are we “sanctified” that is “made holy” by Jesus? That's what the gospel of grace says. “By his wounds we are healed” . We are made holy by Jesus. This is not just God turning a blind eye, saying that it does not matter, understanding that we are “only human” and that we have “done our best”. We are not “considered holy” despite appearances. As Christians we believe that God has acted in sacrificial love to make us Holy. e.g. Being cleansed, irradiated, disinfected, purged. This is not our outward state - it is a change in our nature, in our status. So why are we charged then to “be Holy”?

Is Paul's constant message in his letters to the saints that we should live as what we are. There is no excuse for Paul. We are not weak, corrupt, lost, sinners bravely making a doomed attempt to live like Jesus secure in the knowledge that our heavenly Father will swoop down when we fall to stand us up again and comfort us in our inevitable failure. He reminds us that we are called to “be Holy”., to live out the truth that is within us. We no longer need to sin. We simply choose to do so because its easier or more gratifying. We give up this fight too easily. Nothing will compensate for a lack of holiness – not success, not growth, not power, not comfort - in fact none of these things will last if we do not pursue holiness. Holiness is within you.

Churches that are alive are Holy. Without holiness churches die.

  1. He will keep you firm to the end....God is faithful v8.
Does this sound like tough stuff? Look around and see who is not living a Holy life. Don't look out – look in. You know. I know. We all know. The Church in Corinth was riding the wave of spiritual excitement. They had tongues and interpretation, miracles and prophecy, growing numbers and people to fall out with. They thought a lot of themselves. If something is growing it must be healthy – yes? But look at those old trees which produce a bumper crop just before they fall in the winter storms, as if they knew what was coming. Paul does not want them to fail. He knows that hardship and persecution is coming, they need to be strengthened. They need to be prepared. In their halcyon days of spiritual summer they need to learn that God is with them also when things get tough. When it all seems to be going wrong “God will keep you firm to the end”. Do not be afraid of seasons of retrenchment. It does not all depend on our stamina. It is God who will sustain us until our end is achieved.

We are faithless all too often. We have out Holy days – but we have our relapses too. We have out times of faith – but we lose faith and confidence sometimes, don't we? But God does not. He is faithful. He does not give up on us. He will bring us – dragged kicking and screaming if necessary – into His holy presence. For we are “made Holy” and we are called to “be Holy”. And where God calls he also enables. He won't let go of you.

Your holiness is within you.

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