Date:  May 20, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Personal Holiness: Essential and Practical

Text: Psalm 69, John 17, Hebrews 12:14-17

 Wellspring Church, Springfield. Mass.

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12:14-17

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears

BIG IDEA:Personal Holiness: Essential and Practical


This is the 5th sermon that we have looked at in this passage. We are disciplined for duty and one of the duties we have is to live a holy life. Often that seems an impossible task.  In ancient Greece there is a myth- Sisyphushad angered the gods and they chose to give him an eternal punishment with a singularly frustrating task. This king was forced to roll a large boulder up a hill. Each time it got to the top, it would roll back down again.  Day after day after day this happened for all eternity. He never once knew success or the end of his labors.There are many who see the Christian life and the pursuit of holiness as a kind of a Sisyphean futility. If you are not careful you will too.


The last two weeks we looked at this verse, v14. We are commanded to get along not only with our friends and our family, but with everyone.  As far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.

We have looked at holiness as a negative connotation – a separation from sin. When we define God as a God of holiness, we define Him as free from sin.

Last week we looked at the fact that holiness is essential in God. The very basic element of who God is,is His holiness. Take away His holiness and He ceases to exist. We looked too at the practicality of His holiness. Everything that God is, does, plans and accomplishes is a good and holy thing no matter how painful or puzzling it is to us. The practical aspect of the holiness of God is that even the disciplines of our lives are because of His holiness. We need His discipline because we are not motivated to seek His holiness until the pain comes. The hard times are good things because God is a good and holy God.


Point 1:The essential holiness of the believer

Point 2: The practical holiness of the believer


Point 1:The essential holiness of the believer

A) How God sees us:

1. To be a believer, to be in Christ, to be one who has been converted from an old life style, to be changed into a new creature. To be adopted into the family of God means that in God’s sight we have been declared justified- the believer in Christ is essentially a holy person.

2. The story of scripture is this – if you are a believer God has declared and God sees you and God has set you apart from this world and you are essentially holy. We call this our positional holiness. We are in Christ or Christ is in the believer. So how, we wonder, can this do anything but shout to you that you are absolutely and intensely devoted to the Father as Jesus is devoted to the Father. To be a believer means that the very person of God who is devoted to the other members of the trinity is enabling you to live devoted to God. The essence of our being is now holiness.

3. The Holy Spirit teaches, convicts the believer so that you will grow and increases in your devotedness to God because holiness is devotedness to God.

4.Paul writes to you who are saints – you who are holy ones. 1, 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians – each of these churches is dealing with backbiting and immorality. Yet Paul addresses them as holy ones. Your position is a definite holiness and devotedness to God. In Exodus 19, He says you are my holy people, my treasured possession. 1 Peter – you are holy – speaking to people who are imperfect in behavior but positionally seen as a saint.

B) The second meaning to this word essential is necessity. Since you have been born again to a new hope, it is necessary that you live out your life in a continuing pursuit of holiness. It is a duty that we would be persons of holiness. If nothing else, v14 says without holiness you will not see the Lord. What’s this mean? What am I supposed to do? be?

1. Holiness, as we read we read two weeks ago from Horatius Bonar :

“Holiness may be called Spiritual perfection. [as] exhibited in Christ. He is the representation, the illustration, the model. Likeness to Him is holiness. He that is holy is conformed to His image.” God’s Way of Holiness  by Horatius Bonar , p.106 PDF Version)

2.The duty we call sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus. From the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q: What is sanctification?

A: Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Q: What is sanctification?

A: Sanctification is a work of God’ s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; (having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

3) And from the Westminster Larger Catechism:

  1.  What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
  2. The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and other by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil;  comforting and succoring the distressed and protecting and defending the innocent.


  1.  What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
  2. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

4) The essential part of our living is to progress more and more putting to death sin and living more and more like Jesus. The duty of holiness flows from the fact that we are essentially made holy by God. There’s no separation where you can say that I am happy to have Christ as my savior delivering me from my sins which I still want to live in and at some point I will begin to pursue the life of sanctification. The essentiality of the nature of the Christian is a natural spring which motivates us to living more and more unto Christ.

5) We often wonder what the will of God is for our life: job, spouse, house, etc. Fascinatingly we never every find a place in scriptures that tells us to pray about God’s will in those things.  This is God’s will – your holiness.

6)  When we become a Christian, all to0 often we are content to see the work of Christ on the cross and reduce it to the forgiveness of sins and the removal of the penalty of hell. That is to prune the beautiful tree that salvation is. We look only at the removal of the penalty ofour sins.  We don’t look at words like redemption or ransom. Both of those words are purchase ones. By his action on the cross, He purchased your freedom from the slavery to sin. You are not your own.  If I am not my own, I have no right to sin. I have no freedom to disobey the one who owns me.

You are essential seen and declared holy before God. But it is essential that we grow in our holiness – progressive sanctification. You are already declared holy but you are not yet completely holy.

Point 2: The practical holiness of the believer

How can I pursue holiness?

A) Ask yourself this – do I love God’s ways? Am I thankful for the ways that God has ordered my life? The holiness that is mine is a holiness is one that must have the same thinking that God has – not me. We need to be weaned from leaning on our own understanding. Is the mind of Christ the mind in me?

B) There is a resurgence in popularity of WWJD but this is the wrong question to ask. The two other questions are: What did Jesus do (WDJD)?  And more importantly: What is Jesus like? WIJL. I can grow in conformity to Christ if I ask what Jesus like?  Am I growing in Christ likeness? It doesn’t mean am I doing more miracles? Are you a forgiving person? Am I one who holds on to grudges? Are there persons in my life that I am bitter towards. If there is not forgiveness there is no holiness. Jesus is the embodiment of truth. In John 18 Jesus speaks to Pilate and says for this reason I have come to bear witness to the truth.

C) Is there truth in my life? Are there outright lies and deceptions in my life?

D) Jesus is meek and lowly and gentle. Seek to have a humble spirit. Where there is pride, harshness, meanness – there is no holiness. Moses is characterized as meek.

E) Jesus was totally unselfish. He gave Himself. He came not to be served but to serve. There is no holiness where there is reluctance to serve.

F) Jesus pleased the Father. He did not care about the opinions of men. In Galatians 1:10-11 – Paul asks if he seeks to please men or God. Fear of man proves to be a snare. Jesus only sought the approval of His Father in heaven. Let your heart be after God’s approval in your life.

G) Am I willing to give up comforts and safety for His sake?

H) Am I loving? There’s no holiness without love. The Pharisees might have applauded themselves for their love. Sometimes that is the way we act in our lives. There are evil hateful people. What’s your response to ISIS and the atrocities? Is it love?  We ask God to love them and bring them to Himself. That He would show to them the same kind of mercy He showed to us.  There but for the grace of God, I go.

I) Prayer life defines our progress. There is no holiness where there is prayerlessness. Jesus still is a man of prayer. Our savior never ceases to ask the Father for our good. Be a person of prayer. Not a person of pride and arrogance.

J) Am I growing in my appetites – self-control of my tongue? Do I love the Word of God? Do I love participating in the Lord’s Supper?

I think that some of us would not dare to say that we are progressing in holiness. Our lives in this strict definition of devotedness to God, is just like this ordeal ofSisyphus– this endless ordeal of not making it. There’s not only positional sanctification and progressive sanctification but there is perfect and complete sanctification.  God has promised that what He has begun in you He will complete.


Look at Romans 8: 28 .God has pre-destined in order that Christ might have many brothers and sisters.  Then there is this – Paul leaves out sanctification.  Paul hop scotches into eternity.  Those who are called, justified and saved will be glorified. There’s your confidence!  Your Christian life might seem like a boulder of failure but the reality is that Jesus has called you into glory. Your life is not meant to be a futility of frustration and failure but the reality is He who called you is Faithful. This doesn’t mean that we don’t mourn or confess sin but we don’t give up.  We don’t throw up our hands. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion and you will be glorified with Christ.  And we shall be like Him. So we keep ourselves from sin.