Unholiness Can Be Fatal!
- Summary: Holiness seems to be a carefully-avoided subject in many pulpits today. So it’s no surprise that many Christians choose to live carnal, even openly sinful, lives. Why not! If there are no consequences to our actions, they think, then let’s just “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Right? Wrong! As we will find in Scripture, deliberately choosing to reject holy living is a fast track to being cut off by the Lord. How seriously cut off? Come and see.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
- • Do you want to see the Lord, to spend eternity in His holy presence? Well, there’s some effort required of you — “Make every effort … to be holy.” Why? Because “without holiness no one will see the Lord”!
- • “No one” — not just unbelievers, but the Scripture says that no one who chooses to reject biblical holiness will see the Lord. I am reminded of Jesus’ comment: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Who will see God? The pure in heart.
- • In our 21st century, sad to say, a terrible, anti-scriptural attitude has permeated much of Christianity. That attitude says something like this: “Holiness? What are you, some ‘holier than thou’ fanatic? God understands our weaknesses and readily overlooks our failings. We don’t want to get into a ‘works’ mentality. God loves me; He’s fine with me just as I am.” To the modern mind steeped in western society’s man-centered philosophies, that sounds noble. But that can be a fatal approach to godliness. Again, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” The dangers of unholiness need strong emphasis from our pulpits. Let’s read on.
Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God…  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
- • This is not written to unbelievers, but to us, to “His people,” who have come to know the Lord’s salvation. The warning is: “If WE deliberately keep on sinning…” If we know to do right and just stubbornly and deliberately choose to keep on sinning, what can we look ahead to? The answer: “…only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire…  For…the Lord will judge his people.”
- • How seriously does God look at sin? So seriously that it cost Him the life of His beloved Son Jesus to redeem us from our sins. We make light of that supreme sacrifice at great risk to ourselves, for “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Jesus didn’t die simply to bless us. No! Surely we are blessed. But at the cross He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14). Jesus died to pay the price for our sins, so that we in turn might be His purified people, redeemed from wickedness, fleeing from unholiness, and eager for the good. Yet tragically, multitudes of professing Christians today choose to live carnal, sinful lives and just pass it off with cutesy, trendy phrases like “It’s all good!” As if God doesn’t mind. Unfortunately for them, God does indeed mind!
2 Peter 3:10-12, NASB But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
- • There will most surely be a Second Coming of Jesus to this earth. And it will be a terrible day for those not following the Lord. It will be a day of destruction and of burning, Peter wrote. But thankfully, it will be “the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Not simply “those who have believed,” but those who also are “his holy people.”
- • Peter’s warning is clear: in light of Jesus’ second coming and the destruction and burning up of the earth and its works, “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…” This is a far cry from the widespread 21st-century attitude held by many that holiness is not a big deal to God. My single hope and desire in this message is to sound the alarm to all who profess Christ: Holiness is a big issue to God, and without it, you will not see Him (Hebrews 12:14).
2 Timothy 3:1-2, 5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
- • Many believe we are in the biblical “last days.” I tend to agree. And one of the signs of the end times is people who have “a form of godliness” but are living unholy lives. If that describes you, please read the above verse again and ask yourself if that’s the company you want to be in when “we all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… [12, where] every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10, 12, KJV). Who will give account to God? Not just the unbelievers, but every one of us! Please, dear readers, make a decision right now that you will not be one who stands before the Lord having had a “form of godliness,” but living unholy lives that will incur the divine displeasure of the Judge.
- • There will be a second coming, and there will be a judgment. Ponder the words of Jesus, and make a firm decision not to be among the professing believers whom Jesus rejects, calling them evildoers — “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23).
2 Corinthians 7:1, NASB Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
- • What should be our biblical response to God’s call to holiness?
- • #1 — we must have a desire to “cleanse ourselves” from all corruption, from all defilement of flesh and spirit, from every hint of unholiness. Only you can make that decision. I urge you to do so.
- • #2 — determine not just to squeak by, but to “perfect holiness.” Make it your aim to strive, with God's grace and help, for the perfect image and example of Jesus Christ’s splendid character and conduct.
- • #3 — do this in the “fear of God,” remembering that “the Lord will judge His people [and] it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
- • God says He is holy; therefore He demands that we be holy as his obedient children, no longer conformed to and indulging the passions of our former, unsaved lives.
- • How holy should we strive to be? Well, the answer to that lies in the fact that God has called us to be conformed to His image. He commands us to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Like God in holiness! That is a high calling. How could we ever do that? The answer lies in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for us. Read the wonderful, life-giving Scripture just below.
Hebrews 13:12-13 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him…
- • Jesus suffered in our place, to make us holy through His own blood. Can I be holy simply through my own efforts? No! Granted, we are commanded to “make every effort … to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). But that effort is impotent outside God’s saving grace in Christ. He suffered to make us holy through His shed blood. So we need to obey this Scripture: “Let us, then, GO TO HIM…”
- • We’ve seen that without holiness no one will see the Lord … that the Lord will judge His people … that if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there remains only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire … that a sign of the terrible last days will be a prevailing unholiness, even among those with a form of godliness … that we must determine to perfect holiness in the fear of God … that we are called to be like God in true righteousness and holiness … and that Jesus suffered for us, to provide a way, a road to salvation and true holiness through His own blood.
- • “Let us, then, go to Him…” Come to Jesus in faith and repentance for salvation from your sins. Continue every day with firm determination to live holy, godly lives before Him. If you slip and fall, immediately come to Him in sincere repentance and receive forgiveness, and then go forward in your renewed walk of holiness before Him.
- • Is all this possible? With man’s efforts alone, no. But we aren’t going it alone. Never forget that Jesus died and rose again to redeem you from all wickedness and to “make his people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12). Choose Jesus, choose holiness, and by His shed blood and His abundant grace He will enable you to live godly lives in His sight. “Let us, then, go to Him…”
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©2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.