John 17v15-19 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (N.B. “to sanctify” = “to make holy”)

This Sunday in Fruitful Disciples we are thinking about ourselves as “Temples of the Holy Spirit”. In researching for it, I found this extract from Art Azurdia’s book with the title above. It refers to US culture, but its concepts apply here and gives food for thought.

“God does not desire a moral people; He desires a holy people. You ask: ‘Is there really a difference between the two?’ There is most certainly. It is the difference between the Pharisees – the most zealous of the parties of ancient Judaism during the late Second Temple period – and the Lord Jesus Christ. They were moral; He was holy. Morality is the negative concept, in that it defines itself in terms of what one refrains from doing. Its preoccupation is almost exclusively with externals. Holiness, by contrast, is the positive and holistic concept. While encompassing externals, its reach is far more penetrating and comprehensive. One may describe the difference as follows: the moral person abstains from wrong actions … the holy person hates the very thought of wrongdoing. The moral person is preoccupied by what people perceive him to be … the holy person is consumed with what God wants him to be. The moral person mindlessly adheres to a cold list of dos and don’ts … the holy person ponders what brings greatest pleasure to his heavenly Father. The moral person keeps a meticulous record of his good deeds, expecting by them to win the favour of God … the holy person grieves that nothing he ever does, even for God, is altogether free of sinful and selfish motive. Thus he recognizes every blessing from God as an expression of pure grace. The moral person lives by a self-determined definition of right and wrong and delights to impose it upon other people … The holy person yields to the Word of God as the final authority, which, in turn, compels him to guard the silences of the Bible and, therefore, honour the freedoms these allow among those who serve the same Saviour. Sadly, our contemporary evangelical subculture is often morality-driven rather than holiness-driven. In my country it frequently expresses itself in the following kinds of sentiments: ‘If only we could reinstitute prayer in public schools … ’ ‘If only we could require the Ten Commandments to be posted on the walls of our legal institutions … ’ ‘If only we could elect more Christians to Congress and thus legislate against homosexual marriage … ’ But such emphases, albeit well-meaning, reveal a failure to comprehend the radical difference between moral reformation and God-authored regeneration. The moralist falls short precisely because he fails to appreciate that the gospel of transformation is far more powerful than the religion of prohibition. Contrarily, the biblical record steadily reveals that God fulfills his purposes in the world not through the means of a moral majority but a holy minority. Holiness, not morality, is God’s desire for His people – and it is this for which our Lord Himself prays just hours prior to His own crucifixion.”

May we be holy in a “penetrating and comprehensive” way!!

With much blessing,