There is little or no emphasis on sin in the modern church. It lies breathing it’s last, buried below mega star preachers, flamboyant preaching, worship teams that could find work in many Broadway productions, large "crusades", exciting "revivals", one manmade creative program after the other, and glitz and glamour that Hollywood could be proud of. Yet the Bible says "Without Holiness, No Man Shall See God!" (Hebrews 12:14)
What is Holiness?
In the 21st century, the word "Holy" often coveys some very negative connotations. It is often used to describe someone who is self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious, goody-goody, priggish etc. Even to most Christians, the word "holy" implies moral goodness. However, this is only part of the meaning. Separation: While holiness certainly implies goodness, the core meaning of holiness, it is not "good" but rather "set apart" and therefore, good. Holiness, or separation from the world and it's standards is NOT a virtue, it is the commandment of God, repeated from one end of the Bible to the other. Anyone who professes Christianity without holiness is as phony as the proverbial three dollar bill. In fact, your effectiveness as a Christian hangs on your concept of what separation means. While there is no question that there are specific prohibitions in the Bible against a number of things, Christians seem to have an incredible ability to invent rules and regulations.. a modern, unvarnished form of Pharisaism. All of which brings up the million dollar question of how we as 21st century believers are to apply the principles of separation to our, often very complicated, lives in the modern world. Can Christians own a nice home, or drive a good car and yet remain "holy"? What about clothes, make up and jewelry? To say nothing of more controversial subjects like alcohol, tobacco and gambling. The list of topics are never ending. Perfection: Israel was instructed to be separate from all the other nations.. a unique people set apart for God's purpose. However they were also instructed to be "perfect" which means complete or without blemish. When Abraham was instructed to "be perfect" and Noah was described as such, the Scriptures are speaking of moral uprightness, which the Scriptures equate with completeness. As God instructed Abraham to walk before Him and be perfect, in Matthew 5:48, Jesus also instructed His listeners to "be perfect". Striving for perfection means starting out with a perfect heart, then striving to overcome sin.
The Christian and Worldliness
What does Christian separation mean? Your effectiveness as a Christian hangs on your concept of what separation means.
The Myth of Faith Alone Perhaps one of the all time greatest delusions in the Christian world, is the innumerable number of people who are under the impression that, in order to be forgiven their sins, and thus inherit eternal life, all they have to do is believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross. If one were to ask the vast majority of Christians what one has to do to be saved, you would get a number of answers like "accept Jesus as your personal savior", "ask Jesus into your heart" etc. However, while the terminology may vary, the answers would almost all boil down to all you have to do is believe... all you have to do is have faith. In other words, at the very moment the sinner puts his, or her, faith in Jesus Christ and accepts Him as his/her savior, that person has entered into a covenant relationship with God, has received God's forgiveness of sins, and the gift of eternal life. What one never, or very rarely, hears is that anything other than faith is required to be saved. In fact the suggestion that anything other than faith is required for salvation, is not only militantly opposed by most of Christendom, but denounced as an unbiblical, works based, false teaching. But is this true? While it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved.
Rewards in Heaven
Apparently there are those that will make it to heaven, but who have earned little or no additional rewards
Is The Sinner’s Prayer Effective? "Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you (or in you), it means you have failed the test." [2 Corinthians 13:5]. Stop a second to ponder this verse. Note that Paul is telling them/us to examine our present state and see if our present faith is genuine. He is not telling you to examine your past and see if you said the sinner's prayer. Doesn't it seem evident that if your salvation were dependent upon a one time profession of faith that Paul wouldn't make this statement?
Isaiah 64:6 has long been used as a ‘proof-text’ for two totally distinct yet equally unfounded beliefs. Calvinism uses it to establish the idea that everything the natural man does is wicked... even good deeds. This helps to set up the dogma of "total inability"... the engine which drives the entire Calvinist doctrine of salvation. The Evangelical uses it to show that good works, obedience, virtue are all useless. This sets the stage for the doctrine of "accepting Christ" through a once-for-all act of faith. But No one every quotes the verse in context.
Are We Also Pharisees?
We, too, may set up rules, fences, and barriers that we feel will keep us on safe ground in keeping the Lord's commandments. Do we regard some of our traditions with as much authority as Scripture? Is it possible that we have set up fences of conduct for ourselves by which we also judge the conduct of others?
The Problem With Creeds
The word creed is from the Latin credo, meaning, "I believe." Of course, there is nothing wrong in itself with stating a belief. This is, in fact, necessary if we will take a stand for truth. One might even agree generally with the teaching of the material in a creed; but a "creed" goes beyond stating a belief. It is essentially an authoritative statement of a particular position (or positions) to which others are expected to assent.
Nadab and Abihu
“Remember Nadab and Abihu!" has been the mantra of rigid religiosity for generations. There is no question that these two sons of Aaron committed "sin unto death." For our God to punish them as He did (indicates extreme displeasure on His part with regard to their attitudes and actions. Something was greatly amiss in the lives of Nadab and Abihu. But, what was it? Was it their use of a "worship innovation," as we often hear from those who so frequently appeal to their example? Or, was there something far greater, more evil, lurking in the hearts and lives of these two men? Before one presumes to appeal to Nadab and Abihu as an example, it would behoove one to first determine the exact nature of their fatal error.
Jesus And The Law The Bible contains both Old and New Testaments each with seemingly different teachings and commands, which has led to more than a little confusion for those that have not grasped the seamless relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and struggle with the tension between the Old Testament emphasis on regulations and the New Testament emphasis on grace. Certainly many Christians are not clear what our relationship to the Old Testament should be, especially when it comes to the Old Testament Laws in general and the Ten Commandments in particular, also the keeping of the Sabbath and/or other Feasts of the Old Covenant.
The Inclusiveness of Jesus It’s true that the inclusiveness of Jesus was extraordinary. Unlike his religious contemporaries, Jesus included among his followers those who were generally excluded from religious life, if not polite society, people such as tax-collectors, “sinners,” lepers, and women. Yet, the inclusiveness of Jesus was not of the “come as you are” sort. Jesus offered new, transformed life in the kingdom of God, not acceptance of all people as they were in their sinful state.