This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
When I was here yesterday evening I was really moved by the way that people talked and prayed about revival. I’ve heard people talk about revival in lots of different parts of the world and I believe there’s a tremendous need for revival. But, last night I felt that the people who talked about revival talked about it as if it was something real. It wasn’t something just, “Well, it happened in the past, maybe it will happen again.” I got the impression that the believers in this area are really reaching out to God for revival. And, I have a feeling that revival is not far away. I asked God last night, I said, “Help me to bring something to your people here that will help them to enter into revival.” The message I’m going to preach is one actually I never preached in this form before. That’s unusual because I preach so long so many times that, generally speaking, I’ve preached some things at least in some part before.
What I want to preach to you about this morning is the holiness of God and how you can become holy. The problem in this area is that we have certain theological words which frighten people, And so, because they’re frightened by the theological words they miss the wonderful provision of God. For instance, we have the word “justification.” A lot of people think that that’s a dreary, theological concept. It’s really one of the most glorious realities. I’ll give you my definition of justification. It means you’re acquitted. Heaven’s court has handed down the verdict not guilty. It means you’re reckoned righteous. It means you’re made righteous. And then when you say “I’m justified” it means I’m just as if I never sinned because I’ve been made righteous with the righteousness of God. Which has never known sin, which has no guilty parts, which has nothing that Satan can ever accuse—that’s justification. It’s exciting. When you realize, you can’t help being excited.
Isaiah said, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall rejoice therefore in my God for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with a robe of righteousness.” Lots of Christians stop short at the garment of salvation. That’s wonderful but when you get the garment of salvation, you’re entitled to the robe of righteousness. One of the versions says, “He has wrapped me around with a robe of righteousness.” I’m totally covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ which I received by faith. When you believe that you have to be happy, there’s nothing else you can do about it. You don’t have to work it out, you just have to believe it.
I’m going to talk about the other thing, sanctification. That’s even more frightening. What does sanctification mean? Let me say that the word sanctis directly related to the word saint, and saint is one of the ways of translating the word holy. So, sanctification means being made holy. God has a plan for you to be made holy. Holiness is the most unique attribute of all the attributes of God. God has many wonderful attributes: love, power, wisdom; but all those have something that we could remotely say is reflected in human beings. We have experienced love from human beings. We have met human beings who are wise. We’ve seen those who are powerful. Of course, only a tiny fragment of what God has but at least we’ve got something to think about. When we talk about holiness there is nothing to compare. God is uniquely holy. It’s something that is not found outside of God. Really, in some ways you can measure how much you know God by how much you know holiness. I say this: We thank God for his goodness, we praise God for his greatness but we worship God for his holiness. Worship is the response to the holiness of God.
Now, there are two ways of becoming holy. The Old Testament says “Be holy [God is speaking] for I am holy.” The New Testament says, “Be holy for I am holy,” but it’s two totally different ways. We’ll look, for a moment, at the place in the Old Testament where it says “be holy.” It’s in Leviticus 11:44. The whole chapter is a lot of very complicated regulations about what you eat, what you wear, what makes you clean, what makes you dirty, and so on. For instance, we’ll read at the end in verse 44:
“For I am the Lord your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves [make yourselves holy], and you shall be holy; for I am holy...”
Okay? That’s a requirement of God. But when you find out from this chapter how to be holy, it’s very complicated. I mean, there’s a series of the most complicated regulations. Let me just read you a little bit, beginning at verse 29.
“These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth; the mole, the mouse, the large lizard after its kind, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptiles, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. These are unclean to you: whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean till evening.”
For instance, if a mouse died, you pick it up by the tail, you’re unclean till evening. See? All right.
“Anything in which any of them fall, when they are dead, shall be unclean; whether it is any item of wood, or clothing, or skin, or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water, and it shall be unclean till evening; then it shall be clean.”
You sweep up the floor where the mouse has died and you have to put the broom in water until evening. You understand? It’s unclean.
“Any earthen vessel into which any of them fall, you shall break.”
You just have to destroy it.
“And whatever is in it shall be unclean [in such a vessel]. Any edible food on which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean.”
You cannot eat or drink anything that’s been in one of those earthen vessels that has touched the dead mouse—or any of the other animals there.
“And everything in which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it was an oven, or cooking stove, it shall be broken down: for they are unclean and shall be unclean to you.”
You have to get rid of the oven. See? You can’t keep it in your house.
Well, I could go on reading. You understand, it’s complicated. It’s a full time job to observe all these regulations. But, if you do it God says you shall be holy. But you see, the thing is if you get holy by keeping a set of rules you’ve got to keep all the rules all the time. You can’t omit one at any time.
For instance, suppose Scotland has a code of law. Suppose that just for one hour every week between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. every Thursday the law didn’t apply. So, in that one hour you could do anything. You could murder, you could steal, you could kill, you’re not accountable. Obviously, the law would be useless, wouldn’t it? I mean, it wouldn’t protect people at all. In other words, if you’re made holy by keeping a law you have to keep all the law all the time or it doesn’t work. So, if you want, you can go this way. You can read all through Leviticus 11 and a lot of other similar chapters and say that’s the way I’ll be holy. But, I don’t think you’ll succeed.
Now, there is a totally different way to be holy and that’s the way of the New Testament. I’d like to read to you just two passages from the book of Acts. I’d like to say while we’re doing this—it will be Acts 20:32—I think you’ll be able to say revival is here when God’s people are more interested in being holy than in being healed. See? We’ve got a very wrong standard of what’s important. If you are known for meeting where people can be healed they’ll come streaming from hundreds of miles. But you begin to teach on holiness and the numbers drop! People will hardly walk around the corner for that. Because there’s a totally false standard of values. Holiness is as much more important than healing as heaven is than earth. Healing is temporary. Thank God for it, I believe it but it’s temporary. Holiness is eternal. Healing will help you to get through this life. Holiness will be with you in heaven forever. Something’s got to happen to us by the power of the Holy Spirit to change our sense of values.
Now, let’s read what Paul said in Acts 20:32.
“Now brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Sanctified means “who have been made holy.” So, the inheritance is for what kind of people? Those who have been made holy. What can bring you into that inheritance? The word of God. It’s able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Let’s turn to Acts 26 for a moment and verse 18, which is the commission that Jesus gave to Saul of Tarsus when he first revealed himself to Saul—who you know later became Paul. This is what he commissioned Saul to do. It’s an exciting commission. If there are those here who feel called to the ministry of the gospel, really, this is your commission, too. Jesus says in verse 17:
“I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles [the nations], to whom I now send you [I send you to the nations], to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God...”
That’s dramatic, isn’t it? That’s what the nations need all over the world. When you go to France, believe me, there’s hardly any nation on earth that needs it more than the French. To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. That’s very frank speaking, isn’t it? But people need to be delivered from the power of Satan and brought into the light.
Now, notice what the end purpose is.
“...that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
You notice again the inheritance is for who? For those who are sanctified. How are we sanctified? By faith in Jesus. That’s the other way of being sanctified. Okay? You can be sanctified by keeping all the rules—if you can keep them. But the Bible says nobody will ever be able to keep them and I believe that’s true. The other way is completely different. It’s not by keeping a set of rules, it’s by faith in Jesus.
See, what usually happens in the church is we get saved by faith in Jesus and then we try to achieve holiness by keeping a set of rules. Every group has got its own silly set of rules. If you’re a Baptist you keep one set of rules. If you’re a Pentecostal you have a slightly different set of rules. If you’re a Catholic you have another set. But holiness is not achieved by keeping any set of rules. Okay?
Doing that is called legalism. I don’t know whether you’ll agree with me but my observation is legalistic people are usually very unloving, they’re critical, they’re self righteous, they’re exclusive, and all they want to do is get you keeping their set of rules. That has nothing to do with the holiness of God. And it’s not the way to holiness.
So, what is the way to holiness? I’m going to try to tell you in just a very short period of time. And that’s a big task, believe me, it takes a brave man even to undertake it. I want to turn to Romans 6. We’re not going to read the whole of Romans 6 but it’s my starting point. See, there’s one problem that all human beings have whether we’re Scottish, English, American, Russian, Asiatic, Chinese, Malay—it doesn’t make any difference. You’ve got one root problem and our problem is we’re all descended from Adam. And, we all have in us a certain nature we’ve inherited from Adam. It’s a nature of a rebel. Okay? You see, Adam never begot any children until he was in rebellion against God. And every person descended from Adam, whether he is black, white, or any shade in between, has in him the nature of a rebel.
I meet people who are going all around the world to escape their problems. Running away from their husbands or their wives to escape their problems. Going to bars and drinking themselves drunk to escape their problems. But you can’t escape this problem because it’s in you. It will go with you wherever you go. You can go right around the world but when you get to the other side the problem is still there because it’s in you. Your problem is there’s a rebel in you. There’s something in you that is not willing to submit to the righteous government of God in the person of Jesus Christ. That’s the rebel.
The Bible, the New Testament, has got a number of names for it. One is “our old man,” the old Adamic nature. Another name is “the flesh” but when it’s used that way it doesn’t mean our physical bodies, it means the nature that we inherited with our physical bodies. It’s also called “the body” but it doesn’t mean the physical body, it means the nature we got. It’s called “the body of sin” and it’s called “the body of the flesh.” There’s about four or five different phrases but they all deal with this great, single, basic problem of humanity: the rebel in us.
Thank God that through faith in Jesus and his sacrificial death on your behalf you can have your past sins forgiven. Most forms of Christianity will say something about the forgiveness of sin. I grew up in the Anglican church and I will always remember to my dying day that every Sunday morning around about 11 o’clock we confessed our sins. “Pardon us miserable offenders. We have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. We have done that which we ought not to have done, we have left undone that which we ought to have done.” All of which was perfectly true. But my problem was that when I walked out of the church, A, I wasn’t really quite sure that God had forgiven me but worse than that I was quite sure I was going to go on committing the same sins. I said to myself, “Am I pleasing God or provoking God when I go every week and confess the same sins when I know I’m going to go on committing them?” I rather wonder whether that doesn’t provoke God rather than please him.
But you see, God has a solution. The first stage in salvation is having your past sins forgiven. But that’s not the end. If that’s all you get you’ll be one of those people every time an evangelist comes you come trotting up to the front to be prayed for. You’re never really fully at peace, you’re never quite sure that the sin problem has been dealt with. Because, you haven’t received the full remedy. The first part of the remedy is forgiveness of your past sins. But the second part of the remedy is dealing with the rebel. And until he’s dealt with you’ll never be a stable, successful, fruitful Christian. You can try hard, you can be earnest, you can have moments of blessing and success but they will not endure.
What is God’s solution for the rebel? It is very simple and very radical. God does not send the rebel to church, he doesn’t teach him to memorize scripture. God’s solution is summed up in one word: execution. Even God can do nothing with the rebel but put him to death. Okay? So, the rebel in you and me has to be executed. The good news is the execution took place 19 centuries ago when Jesus died on the cross. Listen to Romans 6:6:
But the problem is most Christians don’t know it.
“...that our old man was crucified with him...”
The rebel in every one of us was put to death in Jesus when he died. Our old man was crucified. He was put to death.
“...that the body of sin might be done away with...”
The body of sin is that old, rebellious nature. Remember?
“...that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
Until the rebel has been dealt with you will continue to be a slave to sin. All right? Only the program of God to deal with the rebel can deliver you from the slavery of sin. The good news is—and let’s repeat it again and again—the good news is the execution took place 19 centuries ago when Jesus died on the cross. Our old man was crucified with him. That’s a historical fact. It’s true whether you know it or not. It’s true whether you believe it or not. But knowing and believing it can radically change you. You won’t change the fact but the fact can change you.
I think I’ll relate a little personal experience. When I first went into, quote, full time ministry—I smile at that phrase “full time.” Anyhow, that’s just a thing between Ruth and me. I was pastoring a very small Pentecostal congregation in London in Bayswater. The congregation no longer exists, let me tell you that. Britain was incredibly hard immediately after World War II. The British people were weary, they were fed up, they were disillusioned, they didn’t want to hear about Jesus. But, together with a small group of people who I won to the Lord, I would go out three times every week and preach at Speakers Corner Marble Arch. We always saw results. People got saved, people got healed, people were baptized in the Spirit. It was a very small proportion out of all the people.
One night I had a very vivid dream and in this dream I saw a street meeting at Marble Arch just like the ones I was used to. And, the people were standing around in a ring. In the middle there was a man preaching. As I listened to him I could agree with his preaching. It seemed rather good. But as I looked at him I didn’t really like him. He seemed to be somehow crooked. I had the impression he had a club foot. So, I woke up and I thought that was strange and didn’t think any more about it. About two weeks later I had the same dream. This time I thought God must be trying to tell me something so I began to pray and I said, “God, what about the man in the middle of the ring there? His preaching was good but there was something I didn’t like about him. He seemed to be kind of crooked. Who was the man?” You can guess the answer. God said, “Thou art the man.”
I realized that God was pinpointing this very thing I’m talking about, the old Adamic nature, the old man. I realized that I hadn’t yet appropriated God’s remedy for the old man. I was a preacher. By the standards of that time I was fairly successful. But I hadn’t applied God’s remedy.
Well, just about that time was the Easter season and because it was Easter I somehow had in my mind a mental picture of the hill called Golgotha or Calvary. In this picture I saw three crosses on the hill but the middle cross was taller than the other two. The Holy Spirit began to deal with me—and he deals with each one of us according to the kind of person we are. I’m a logician, my specialty was logic before I became a Christian and I still believe in logic, believe me. I believe the Bible is the most logical book that’s ever been written. The Holy Spirit said to me, “For whom was the middle cross made?” Then it was as though he said, “Be careful and think before you answer.” So I thought for a moment and I said it was made for Barabbas. He said that’s right. Then he said, “But Jesus took the place of Barabbas.” If you study the story you’ll see that’s true. I said yes. Then he said, “But I thought Jesus took your place?” I said yes. He said, “Well, if so, you must be Barabbas.” I never argue with people but I had the revelation. I was Barabbas. My old man was the criminal that needed to be on that cross. It was made to my measure. It fitted me exactly. Then I realized I needed the remedy, I needed to know that my old man was crucified when Jesus hung on the cross. That was the execution of the rebel in me.
If you read on in Romans 6, continuing in this vein, it says comparing this with the death of Jesus:
“Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, Romans 6:6 says “knowing,” Romans 6:11 says “reckon.” In other words, you know the historical, scriptural fact your old man was crucified when Jesus died. Now how do you apply it? You reckon it true. You reckon yourselves to be dead to sin because Jesus died your death on the cross.
Stop and consider for a moment what it means to be dead to sin. I have a little illustration I use for religious people. We have this really bad man. I mean, he’s everything that religious people think he shouldn’t be. He drinks whiskey, smokes cigars, he watches dirty things on the television—if there are any—and he swears at his wife, he gives her a miserable life and gets angry with his children, he’s altogether a nasty man. But, the wife and the children have met the Lord Jesus and he doesn’t like it but they go to the local victory center.
Off they go one evening to the evening service, leaving him in his armchair with his whiskey beside him, smoking his cigar, watching something terrible on television, and they sneak out of the house. They have a wonderful meeting at victory center, come back just full of the joy of the Lord and they’re still singing, come back into the house and suddenly they realize he’s going to shout at them. They stop, they tiptoe into the room but he doesn’t swear at them. He doesn’t get angry. The cigar is in the ashtray and the smoke is rising up but he’s not smoking it. The whiskey is in the glass but he’s not drinking it. The television is on the screen but he’s not watching it. Guess what happened? He had a heart attack, he died. He’s dead to sin, see? He’s dead to the whiskey, dead to the cigar, dead to what’s on the television screen, dead to anger, dead to swearing and cursing. He died. Okay. He’s dead to sin. That means sin has no more power over him, sin has no more attraction for him, and sin produces no more reaction from him. He is dead to sin.
Paul says likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin. It’s very clear, isn’t it? It’s not difficult to understand. The thing is, do you dare to do it? Do you have the faith to say because Jesus died on the cross and my old man died in him, my old man is dead. He has no more power over me, he can’t control me any longer. I don’t have to respond to him. That’s God’s remedy and there is no other. You either take that remedy or you go on struggling with your problems.
So, that’s death. But you can’t go on living dead so you’ve got to have a source of life. What is the source of life? It’s the resurrected Christ in you. Paul said in Galatians 2:20:
“I was crucified with Christ...”
Okay, that’s the fact. Then he says”
“...nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh [in this mortal body] I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Not I but Christ. I can’t handle it, Jesus can. I died, Jesus has come alive in me. The life that I now live I live by faith that comes from the Son of God in me. The faith of the Son of God. I don’t even have to have my own faith. Jesus comes in with his faith. That’s the end of struggling.
I want to read a little bit more in Romans 6. I want to focus on the real issue. Let’s read Romans 6:19.
“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh: for just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness...”
Was that true of you? One thing I know, it certainly was true of me.
“...so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
The Old King James Version said “yield your members.” It said “yield yourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead.” I believe that is the key to holiness. God’s way. Not a holiness that comes by keeping rules, that’s a holiness that comes from Jesus. 1Corinthians 1:30 says:
“By God Jesus has been made unto us wisdom, sanctification and redemption.”
He is our holiness. We don’t have holiness apart from him. We have holiness by yielding to him. You still have to exercise your will. In fact, you have to exercise your will strongly. But what do you will to do? You don’t will to keep a set of rules, you will to yield to Jesus. That’s the key.
In a certain sense, the hardest thing is no longer trusting yourself. I don’t know if any of you are like me but the moment I’m confronted with a problem I begin to think of ways to solve it. That’s not how it works. That doesn’t produce faith. When you’re confronted with a problem, what do you do? You yield to Jesus. This is beautifully said by some story about a lady in a church who was unusually godly. Everybody respected her holiness. They said, “Sister So and So, what’s the secret of your holiness?” She said, “When the devil knocks at the door I just let Jesus answer.” That said it in one simple way. You can’t handle Satan, you can’t handle sin, you can’t work out all the solutions to your problems but Jesus in you can. The key is not trying, it’s not struggling, it’s yielding. Yielding to the Christ that’s in you.
There’s some lovely words in Colossians which I would like to read. Colossians 1, beginning at verse 26. This always excites me because it talks about a mystery. I was always excited by mysteries. I was a philosopher and my aim was to find the mystery of life, you see, the key. I didn’t find it in philosophy, I found it in Jesus. Verse 26:
“The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to God’s saints...”
Isn’t that exciting? A secret that was never revealed to anybody for countless ages and generations is now revealed to you and me. If you don’t get excited about that, there’s something wrong with you. The truth of the matter is you don’t believe it because if you did believe it you’d have to be excited. Verse 27:
“...to them God willed to make known [to you and me] what are the riches of the glory of this mystery...”
I think Paul runs out of words there. He can’t think of anything more to say.
“...the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles...”
That’s you and me, most of us. What is the mystery? It’s amazingly simple. Which is, Christ in you. That’s the mystery. That’s the answer, that’s the solution, that’s the way out.
“...which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Listen, if you really believe that you cannot be a hopeless, pessimistic person. I was born a pessimist. They say everybody is either born a pessimist or an optimist. Well, there’s no doubt in my mind as to what I was born, I was born a pessimist. The difference they say is this: There’s a glass on the table and there’s water up to a certain level. The pessimist walks in and says the glass is half empty. The optimist walks in and says the glass is half full. Well, not only was I born a pessimist but I was trained to be a pessimist. I have great respect for my parents but I have to say in my family if you weren’t worrying, you should be worrying about the fact you weren’t worrying.
When I came to the Lord and was delivered from the demon of depression, God showed me that to be a pessimist was a denial of my faith. So, he showed me I had to change. He showed me how to change. He said every time you get an negative thought, don’t entertain it. Replace it with something from scripture. That was a discipline, it took several years but I succeeded. Today I’m totally different inside from what I was when God saved me. So, it works.
What is the answer? Christ in you. Let’s say it together but let’s make it personal. “Christ in me.” Again. “Christ in me.” Say it once more. “Christ in me.” All right.
Now, let’s go on to Colossians 3 and we’ll just read verse 3. Understand, what I’m telling you is extremely simple. I’m always afraid when I preach anything complicated because all the really important truths of the Bible are very simple. Most of them are stated in words of one syllable.
Let me relate something to you because it’s very vivid to me. For five years I worked in East Africa as a principal of a college for training African teachers. At one point I was invited to go and preach for a week to an African congregation somewhere away from where we lived. So, I said to myself what am I going to teach? I chose 1Peter 2:24 which to me is the very heart of the gospel. Talking about Jesus and it says:
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sin, should live to righteousness, by whose stripes [or wounds] you were healed.”
As I was driving along in the car I began to say to myself, “But that’s too profound for these people to understand. They’re very simple people. Most of them are illiterate. They won’t be able to appreciate something so profound as that.” God spoke to me and said, “On the contrary, these are exactly the things which they understand. They know about death and life and sickness, they’re familiar with those things.” Then God said to me, “Why don’t you count the words of one syllable in that verse.” I was in the Old King James Version. There are 23 words in that verse. 19 words of one syllable, 3 words of two syllables and 1 word of three syllables. That’s the message of the gospel. The problem is city people like theologians have made it so complicated. Usually you know why they’ve made it complicated? Because they don’t understand it themselves.
There’s a saying in German, what has been said in a complicated way has been thought in a complicated way. Their complicated theology is the expression of their complicated thinking. And, as a result, they lead complicated lives.
Now we come back to Colossians 3:3. Listen, I don’t know whether I’ll be chased out of Scotland for saying this but I think the biggest problem in the Christian church today is the seminaries. They are breeding grounds of unbelief. And they’re strongholds of the spirit of antichrist. That’s not true of all seminaries but basically it’s true of most of them. Which seminary did I go to? I’ll tell you, the British Army. Five and a half years in the British Army and four years in the desert. That was my seminary. My first wife who was Danish who was very frank said, “If you’d come straight from Cambridge I would never have married you.” Ruth understands that because I took her back to Cambridge to show her my old haunt and she said one visit is enough.
We’re in Colossians 3:3.
“For you died...”
How simple that is. You died. When did we die? Tell me now, when did we die? When Jesus died on the cross. You died. It’s a historical fact, you died. That was your death. You know the next thing that comes after death? Burial. So in Romans 6 Paul says as man of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. We are buried with him by baptism into death. Listen, you don’t really have a legal right to this if you don’t get buried. It’s part of the gospel. Whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved. It’s an offense to leave an unburied body lying around.
I got wonderfully saved in an army barrack room in Scarborough in Yorkshire in July l941. Very shortly afterwards the army sent my unit overseas and I spent the next very nearly a year in the desert of Egypt and Libya. I got leave to go to Jerusalem for the first time in l942. I met some Assembly of God missionaries and the man I really met was actually an Assyrian, an unusual man, an American citizen. They said, “You ought to be baptized.” Well, I didn’t really want to be baptized. I thought what had happened to me was enough to keep up with, I didn’t see how I could really handle any more. But, I’m a logical person and they showed it to me in the New Testament and I said that’s it, I need to be baptized. They said, “We’ll baptize you in the River Jordan.” Lots of people would get excited about that. I didn’t enjoy it. I went down there and they put a black robe on me and I got into the River Jordan and don’t have a romantic picture of a beautiful limpid stream, it’s a muddy river and it’s about two inches deep in mud at the bottom. It’s hard to stand up in. There I was baptized. I still have two photographs. One shows me in my black robe standing with the pastor and his black robe. The next one shows the pastor in his black robe and a splash where I’d been. So, I know I was baptized. I have evidence.
I did it simply because logic showed me it’s in the New Testament. I’ll tell you something. The difference is this: After that time I had been wonderfully delivered from a lot of very unpleasant sins which I won’t catalog. But, the memory of them, the images of them, the pictures of them were still in my mind. I wasn’t doing them but I was very conscious of them. After I was baptized I suddenly realized my mind had been cleansed. You see, as long as the body is left there unburied you’ll be reminded of it all the time. But when it’s buried it’s out of sight.
So, you died and the next thing that should happen is you were buried. Remember, B stands for burial and for baptism. You’re buried by baptism into his death.
Once you’ve been buried you’re qualified for everything else that follows. You’re made alive, you’re resurrected, you’re enthroned. But you have to go down to go up. There’s no extra charge for that.
“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
You have a hidden life. The people of this world don’t know where it comes from. They don’t understand it, they don’t know what it is. It’s a life that’s hidden with Christ in God. That makes it very secure. Nothing can touch a life that’s hidden with Christ in God.
Going on, verse 4:
“When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Notice the next statement and it’s all in words of one syllable. “Christ is our life.” Everything you’re ever going to need is contained in those four words. Christ is my life. Okay. Let’s say them. “Christ is my life.” Say it again. “Christ is my life.” Once more. “Christ is my life.”
Now, just one more scripture. Go down to the 10th verse.
“You have put on the new man...”
The opposite of the old man, you understand? You’ve got rid of the old man, he died and was buried. Now you put on the new man.
“...who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him...”
Remember, God created man in his own image in the first likeness but sin and Satan marred the image. God has made it possible for us to be recreated in the image and the likeness of God our creator. The image of God is restored in the new creation. Okay?
Now, talking about the new man, verse 11:
“...where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, nor free...”
All those distinctions are done away with in the new creation.
“...but Christ is all, and in all.”
That’s the end. Again, three words of one syllable. Christ is all. All you’re going to need. When you have him you have everything you need. You need nothing more than Christ. He is all.
So, what’s the secret of holiness? It’s Christ in you, the hope of glory. You died and you now have a new life. A life that’s hidden with Christ in God. And, in that new life Christ is all. So, how do you achieve holiness? Not by keeping a set of rules. I’m not saying rules are unimportant. There are rules we have to keep. But we’re not made holy by keeping rules. Do you understand what I’m saying? If you’ve been made holy you’ll keep the rules. But keeping the rules doesn’t make you holy. Did you get that? It’s very, very important. Simple but important. I’m going to say it again. Keeping the rules is not the way to be made holy. But, if you’ve been made holy God’s way then you’ll keep the rules that are appropriate for you. You won’t be lawless, you won’t be a rebel but you won’t depend on rules to make you holy.
See, that’s the problem. I don’t want to get side-tracked but that’s the problem. I’m a Pentecostal, I’ve been a Pentecostal for 47 years. I can’t believe it. I know Pentecostal groups—and Charismatics are not that different. The problem is we get gloriously saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and then go back to some silly little list of rules to make us holy. We end up dry, dissatisfied, frustrated and not commending Jesus to other people. People say, “If that’s what it means to be a Christian I don’t want to be one.” Is that true? There’s a lot of truth in it.
What’s the secret? This is so simple that you just won’t believe it works. The secret of being holy is not trying hard, keeping a list of rules, this, this, this, this and this but not that. The secret of being holy is yielding to Jesus in you. Okay? That doesn’t mean it’s always easy but it does work. It’s totally different. See, I tell people it’s not effort, it’s union. It’s not struggling, it’s yielding. It’s not work, it’s faith.
Now, many years ago the Lord told me don’t just preach religious lectures. If you teach something practical, always give people an opportunity to apply it. Okay? So, I’m going to do that in a very simple way. This is not dealing with me, I’m just enabling you to deal with God. You’ve heard what I said this morning and you feel it’s true. Basically, everything I’ve said is straight out of the New Testament. Okay? Here you are, you’ve been struggling to be good and trying hard and you haven’t had that much success and you’re still frustrated. This morning you say to God, “God, I want to try your way. I want to give up struggling and I want to yield. I’m not depending on my efforts, I’m uniting myself with Christ in me. I’m yielding to Jesus. I’m trusting him to do for me what I cannot do in myself.”
Now, if you want to make that decision and only if you really feel the Holy Spirit is telling you this is your morning to make that decision, I want you to do something very, very simple. Just stand to your feet where you are if that’s your decision. I want to be holy the New Testament way. I want to yield to Jesus in me. If you want to make that decision, stand up and we’ll pray for you. We can’t pray for people that don’t make a commitment. It’s essential that you make a personal commitment. The way I suggest you do it is by standing to your feet.
I’m going to ask Brother Alex if he’ll come up on the platform with me. I thank God for the local pastors that shepherd God’s people. I go around and I see results but I know it’s going to take the local shepherd to conserve those results. I always make it my aim to get off the platform and leave the local leader on. I’m going to pray now and I’m going to ask you to pray. I’m going to ask you to just make a good confession. You remember what we said, Jesus is the high priest of our confession. Would you say these words after me? Remember, you’re praying to Jesus, not me.
“Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you that when you died on the cross, my old man was executed—he has been put to death. I reckon him dead. Now, Lord Jesus, I thank you that you have been made to me holiness from God. You in me are my holiness, and by a decision of my own will, I yield myself to you now. I stop all of my struggling and yield to you. I believe you will enable me to stay yielded. Every time I go back to the old way, Lord, I trust you to straighten me out again. Lord, I trust you. My faith is in you. It is not in myself. It is not in rules, but it is in you, Lord Jesus. You in me are my holiness. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.”
Now, why don’t you thank him.