“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14).
In the original language, the two words—holiness and sanctification—pretty well mean the same thing. If you are a child of God, and you really love the Lord, then you want to walk in holiness. But this particular position eludes us so very much because we do not properly understand it. Man—and I’m talking about Christian man now—has been trying to make himself holy I guess from the dawn of time, and it can’t be done. Let me say that again: Man tries to make himself holy by doing certain things or not doing certain other things.
We’ve got people who think that by wearing certain types of clothing, cutting their hair in a certain way, or ladies fixing their hair in a certain manner somehow makes them holy. But you cannot make yourself holy, I don’t care what you do.
There is only one way that you can be holy (sanctified as well) and that is to place your faith in Christ and what Christ did for you at the cross and maintain it there. Then automatically, not through stages but automatically, you are declared holy by God, understand that. Then the Holy Spirit, who works exclusively by and through the cross and what Jesus there did (which gives Him the legal means to do all that He does) will begin to work in your life. The Holy Spirit is God, and He’ll bring about things that He wants you to do as well as things that He doesn’t want you to do.
We try to do what only Christ can do. We are married to Him, understand that. We are married to Him, and if we are unfaithful to Him by putting our faith in anything other than Christ and the Cross, that constitutes spiritual adultery; we are being unfaithful to Christ.
The very law itself showed that man was incapable of doing what needed to be done—simple commandments that he could not obey. Not a single, solitary human being other than the Lord Jesus Christ ever kept the law. And it was partly given to show us how inadequate we are, how we cannot do it, but yet we keep trying, don’t we? We just keep trying—I’m holy because I do this, or I don’t do that. No, you’re not. You can only be holy in one way, and that’s by doing it God’s way—placing your faith exclusively in Christ and what Jesus Christ did for you at the cross and maintaining it accordingly. Then you are declared holy instantly by the Lord. And then, as we’ve already stated, the Holy Spirit can go to work in your life, to bring about what He desires, which you cannot do; you never could do it; no one else ever has done it; and you can’t either.
The law couldn’t save, all it could do was condemn. The Jews really believed in their efforts to keep the law, and they failed constantly. I think they tried to cover up their failures by denying the failures.
There is something in a person, in all of us, that wants to contribute toward making ourselves holy—if we do this; if we don’t do that; I can do this better than you can—it always leads to pride and self-righteousness.
Even though it’s not so much said outright, the actions of the modern church prove what I’m about to say: they realize they can’t do it. And, they don’t want to admit it, but they’ve quit trying. In other words, holiness is a foreign word; they don’t know what you’re talking about. There is very little effort by the modern church today to try to be holy, even in the wrong way—wearing certain clothing or doing this or that or the other—has fallen by the wayside. They’re not even trying anymore; they don’t know how to walk that path.
I think right now, though, there is a vacuum, and the Holy Spirit has put the message of the cross into that vacuum. Now, whether they will accept it or not only the Lord knows, but people do not turn from old ways easily or quickly no matter how much they fail over and over again.
I remember Frances and I preached a meeting at a church in Ohio. Later we found out that they had had a ruling that a woman could not wear any jewelry if it cost more than $5. If it cost over $5, she couldn’t wear it, otherwise, she could. Just silly stuff. Whenever we try to start improving on what God has done, that’s all it is—silly.
You can be holy, ladies and gentlemen, and the moment, hear me—if the Spirit bears witness with your spirit, and you say, Lord, I want my faith to be exclusively in You, and I place it exclusively in You and what You did for us at the cross—at that moment, instantly, you are holy. I don’t mean over a process of time, I don’t mean that somebody inspects the situation. At that moment, because of your faith in Christ and what Christ did at the cross, you are holy. Understand that—because your faith is in Christ.
Faith In Christ
Was blind Bartimaeus engaging in works when he was told that Jesus of Nazareth was coming and he started hollering,
“Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me”? No, his was a cry of faith.
Think about this, ladies and gentlemen: if we could do all of these things ourselves, Jesus Christ would not have had to come down here and die on the cross. He certainly didn’t do it to have pleasure; it was an awful, horrible thing. “Father if it be possible,” He said, “let this cup pass from Me.” but He had to do it if mankind was to be salvaged.
It was the cross that made it possible for us to come into the very presence of God.
It is the cross that cleanses us from all sin.
At the cross, every bondage is broken.
Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:18-19).
The Holy Spirit works exclusively within the parameters of the finished work of Christ.
Consecration, discipline—it’s all very important. It doesn’t earn us anything, but it shows God that we are serious about what we’re doing, and we want Him; I want Him. I’d rather stay in bed another half an hour than come here to the office to seek the face of the Lord every morning before I come to the studio. I’d rather do that; the flesh would rather do that. But I know that I need several things: I need guidance; I need leading; I need direction; I need the moving of the Holy Spirit within my heart. I need that which sustains me, strengthens me, and helps me—seeking the face of the Lord. Consequently, when I go home at night, I do the same identical thing all over again. It’s not something I’m trying to do to be holy, that’s not it—I need direction.
Everything that’s taking place here now—this network, which goes out all over the world—it came about as a result of these disciplines—seeking the face of the Lord. In prayer that particular afternoon in 2010, I didn’t know anything about a network; it never entered my mind. But I went to praise the Lord, thank the Lord for His help and guidance when the Lord spoke to me and said what He was going to do. Now, would that have happened without those disciplines? I don’t think so.
I’m a human being; I’m not God, so I need guidance, I need leading, and I need to thank the Lord for what He’s done for me over and over. About two-thirds of my praying consists of me thanking Him, just blessing Him. David said, “I will bless the LORD at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps. 34:1). David wasn’t doing that to try to earn something from God. He was doing it because He was indebted to the Lord: “the Lord has been so good to me, I’m indebted to Him.”
We embrace holiness and effect holiness in our lives or else we don’t make it because he said, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb.12:14). That’s strong, my friend.
Faith In Christ
You might say, “The Lord expects too much of us.” Well, if He expected us to do it, then that would be correct; He would be expecting too much, but He does it Himself—it’s all done. It was done at Calvary’s cross, and all we have to do is exhibit faith in Christ and what Christ did at the cross and maintain that exclusively. That’s all that’s required of us. God can demand what He wants if He’s doing it Himself. It’s not a difficult thing, but we somehow want to do some things that make us feel holy. But I’m not holy because I feel holy; I’m holy because of my faith in Christ and the work He did at Calvary. That’s why I’m sanctified; that’s why I’m justified; that’s why I receive everything that I’ve received from God is because of Jesus Christ and what He did at the cross.
Now if God was demanding of us some far out thing—if He demanded $100,000—most of us couldn’t pay it. If He demanded that we walk 500 miles, we wouldn’t make it.
I remember standing at the bottom of some stairs at the Vatican in Rome. Those stairs were supposed to have gone to a church that existed there some 300 years after Christ. Many believe that if you walk up those stairs, then all of your sins will be forgiven. I watched people crawl up those stairs, kissing the steps—and they were filthy from people tromping up and down them. Those poor souls were kissing those stairs thinking that by doing so, all of their sins would be forgiven and they would be made holy. I looked at that and thought, Lord this is ridiculous; this is awful (this was before the Lord had showed me this great message of the cross). But as I watched them there, the Holy Spirit convicted me and said, “Well, you’re doing the same thing.” Romans 1:17 says, “The just shall live by faith,” not by performing these foolish things.
You can be holy right now, simply by placing your faith in Christ and what He did for you at the cross and maintaining it there. Now don’t allow it to be moved elsewhere; keep it there. At the very moment you do that—I don’t mean after five minutes, five days, or five months—immediately, you are holy. And I know that goes against the grain because we like to feel that we’ve done something to merit such, but you can’t merit holiness—it’s impossible.
If you’re going to merit holiness, what is it that you’re going to do to merit it? Have you ever thought about that? And if you could merit holiness in some way, then Jesus Christ would not have had to pay the price that He paid at Calvary’s cross. Have you ever thought of that? But He did pay it, and He had to pay it because we could not. We couldn’t do it. He did it for us.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to go in there and wear your hair a certain way and stick it up like a rooster’s comb? Everything you can think of, somebody has already tried it a thousand times over. And it’s never worked because it won’t work because it can’t work. So, what are you going to do to be holy if you don’t do it God’s way? Answer that, please.