Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Holiness: Boring or Beautiful?

Leslie Basham: Holiness—the word may conjure up images of someone who is boring or stoic. Here is Nancy Leigh DeMoss to refresh our thinking.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think it's time for us to reclaim holiness as it really is presented in the Scripture, in its beauty and in its splendor; to see that true holiness is something exquisite.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, for Monday, July 20, 2015.

Nancy has written a trilogy of books about attitudes of a godly heart. The first is Brokenness. We told you about that two weeks ago.

Last week we focused on Surrender: The Heart God Controls. Today, we begin a series on holiness—the third topic in that trilogy.  The series is called “The Splendor of Holiness.”

Nancy: I want to talk this week about a word that Andrew Murray called the most profound word in the Bible. I don't know what you think that word would be, but the word we are going to talk about is holiness.

Now, I have to admit that holiness is a word that has fallen on hard times kind of like modesty or chastity or purity. It's not a word that people talk a lot about around the dinner table, for example.

The subject of holiness is not exactly an easy subject to sell. I don't think it's one of the top ten topics that people look for in a Christian bookstore, for example. I don't think there's a lot of hit songs, that I've heard anyway, about holiness. In fact, I think I can count on two hands the number messages I have ever heard on the subject of holiness. It's something that we talk about in theology classes but not in everyday conversation.

You'll hear the word holy or holiness in some praise songs and choruses, but it's not something we often talk about in conversation about daily living. How many contemporary Christians can you think of who are seriously interested in not only talking about holiness, but in becoming holy?

We don't mind talking about holiness, as long as it is an abstract concept, just a theological idea. But if that concept gets too personal, or starts to interfere with my life or lifestyle or choices, then whoa, we want to back up from that conversation. We get uncomfortable really quickly.

I think part of the problem may be that this word, holiness, that sounds so outdated to many modern evangelicals, is a word that has picked up a lot of baggage that understandably makes some people uncomfortable. I think if you were to talk to the average person on the street and say, "What do you of think when you think of a "holy" person?" I wonder if some of them don't imagine this thin man who is a "holy" man. Maybe he's poor by choice, he's taken vows of poverty, he's walking around in a white robe and sandals.

Even as Christians we have some misconceptions, some images that come to our minds when we think about holiness. I don't know about you, but some may think of somber people, straight-laced people; they have outdated hairstyles, outdated clothing styles; they're "holy" people.

Or maybe this image comes into people's minds: just having a rigid lifestyle. No joy, just a lot of rules, a lot of regulations, a lot of things you can't do and a lot of things you have to do be "holy".

Or maybe we think that "holy" people talk in hushed tones. They are always humming hymns under their breaths. They spend many hours a day kneeling in prayer. They always have their nose in the Bible or a spiritual book. There have no interest in normal everyday life activities. They are other worldly. They are "holy" people.

Or you may think of somebody who has a judgmental attitude toward everyone who doesn't see the Christian life just exactly as they do. Well, when you take those misperceptions or distorted perceptions of holiness and you hold those up, you think, "No wonder people aren't really excited about holiness." I mean, who wants that? It's kind-of as appealing as drinking salt water or something. Who wants to be holy if that's what it is?

Now, holiness may not be at the top of the list of things that you enjoy talking about, but let me remind you that in heaven they never stop talking about holiness. That's the number one subject of interest in heaven. Think about that verse in Psalm 96, verse 9, that says that we are to "worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."

Some of your translations will say, "in the splendor of holiness." I love that verse. I think it's time for us to reclaim holiness as it really is presented in the Scripture, in its beauty and in its splendor; to see that true holiness is something exquisite, is something desirable. It's something that we would want if we really understood it and could see how beautiful it is, how splendid it is.

As it's revealed in the Word of God, holiness is a beautiful thing. "Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness." I also believe that the holiness of God's people is one of the greatest needs in the church and in the world today.

Now, I want us to talk this week about what is the kind of holiness that God wants us to have as His people. What does that look like? What does it mean? And why is it so important that we recover biblical holiness?

Several years ago when I first started doing serious studies on the subject of holiness, I took time to read through the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and then the New Testament epistles, the letters to the churches, and to write out, by hand, every verse that I could find that had anything to do with holiness.

I think I actually started in the book of Exodus because that's where you have a lot of emphasis that comes in about holiness. And I filled page after page of a legal pad with verses in just those books of the Bible about holiness.

For example, in the book of Leviticus alone, three hundred and eighty-six times you find words that are related to holiness: clean, unclean, holy, sanctified, purity, wash, defiled—words that are in that family of words, just in the book of Leviticus.

Remember if you have waded through the book of Leviticus, that in that book God gave His people minute detailed instructions about cleansing, about ceremonial purity. And you have to ask yourself as you are trudging through the book of Leviticus, why? I mean, why did God take all the time and effort to spell out these detailed instructions about every aspect of daily life and worship and ceremonial cleansing?

Well, those regulations were intended to be an object lesson to the people of Israel. What did God want them to see in those object lessons? Well, He wanted them to see first that He is holy, that God is Holy. They were a picture of the holiness of God.

Then God wanted His people to realize that God is concerned about holiness in every detail and aspect of our lives, that it matters to God that we be clean, that we be pure, that we be holy, and that that holiness affects every area of our lives.

I'll tell you something else God wanted His people to understand (and that we have lost sight of today) and that is the blessings that come with holiness; that holy living is a blessed way to live. And God also wanted His people to see that sin has consequences; that when we don't live holy lives, there are consequences. There are results that are not pleasant. They are deadly, in fact.

Now, we sometimes think that God had higher standards for His people in the Old Testament than He did in the New; that in the Old Testament, God is this holy God who judges sin. People who violate God's commandments or His laws in the Old Testament get struck dead sometimes.

Then we think, "Wow, when we come to the New Testament, we can breathe easy. God's a God of mercy and love and kindness, the gospel, the good news." But as you read through the whole Scripture, what you come to realize is that God never changes. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament, and the God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Old. All through the Old Testament you see the grace and the mercy of God, and in the New Testament you also see the justice and the righteousness of God.

It's at the cross of Christ that these marry each other. As the Psalm says, "Righteousness and peace kiss each other" (Ps. 85:10). That's where they come together in great relief. But the New Testament places no less emphasis on holiness than the Old. Over and over again, Jesus and the New Testament authors call us to a life of purity. Let me just read several of those verses. Most of them will be familiar to you.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, "You shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Now, I don't know how you can get much higher than that standard. That's New Testament.

First Timothy 5:22, Paul says, "Keep yourself pure." First Thessalonians 4:3, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." First Corinthians 15:34, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not." Second Timothy 2:19, "Let let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." And Romans 12:9, "Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good."

You can't read those and other Scriptures carefully without being gripped by the sense that holiness matters to God, that God takes holiness, His and ours, very seriously.

Now, as I wrote out these verses in the Old and New Testament, I was forced to ask myself, "Why is it that something that is so vitally important to God is of so little concern and priority for so many professing believers? If it matters that much to Him, how can it be that it matters so little to so many of us?"

As I think about those verses that I just read from the New Testament, several things are clear. Number one, holiness is not optional. It's not, "Become a Christian and then if you want to become holy, that's a second course. You can take that one if you want to." It's not an elective. This is the will of God, that you be pure, that you be holy; it's your sanctification.

And then it's obvious as we read those verses, that God's standard for holiness is absolute, that there is not to be even a hint of sin in our lives. The question isn't how do we compare to some other family member or some coworker or somebody else in our church. We can point to them and say, "Okay, compared to them we are doing pretty well."

The question is how do we measure up to the holiness of God? That's an absolute, and I might add, impossible standard for fallen human beings. And that's why we need Jesus. That's why we need the grace of God. That's why we need the cross of Christ.

Now as I read those verses, I also realize that we have a responsibility to be proactive and intentional in our pursuit of holiness. It's not something that happens by osmosis. It doesn't happen by going to bed at night and being surrounded by your Bibles and your commentaries and your softway programs. Having all that stuff doesn't make you holy. This is something that we need to go after, that we need to pursue, that we need to be intentional about.

And then I see also that holiness is not just for some select few pious people: pastors, missionaries, evangelists. Of course, they are supposed to be holy, that's what they get paid to do, right? But according to these verses, holiness is an obligation and a privilege for every single child of God.

As the Scripture says, "Let everyone that names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity" [2 Timothy 2:19].

Father, I pray that You will restore in our hearts a sense of the splendor and beauty of holiness. May we see You as the Holy God that You are. And may our hearts long to be holy as You are holy. Thank you for Jesus who makes it possible. Thank You for Your grace that does in us what we could never do for ourselves. Oh Lord, would You make us holy as Your people. I pray in Jesus name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you the splendor of holiness. I hope you'll explore this topic further with Nancy by reading her book Holiness: The Heart Go d Purifies. This book has had a big effect on its readers, including one who contacted Nancy after reading it.

Nancy: We received an encouraging email from a student at Liberty University who wrote:

For one of my upper level classes, my Professor used your book Holiness. This book has totally changed my view of God and has allowed me to see Him like He's supposed to be seen. It has changed my thought life. It has made me conscious of holiness in little things. I talk about this book all the time and the seriousness of holiness."

Well, this student was about to get married, and she added, "I'm thinking about getting copies for my six bridesmaids so they too can grow in their understanding of the Lord.

Now, people sometimes think of holiness as an old-fashioned, outdated concept for old folks. But I'm so glad that this college student is thinking about holiness, and about spreading the message to others.

I hope you'll pursue this study as well. We'd like to send you the book on holiness that influenced this student. We'll send you a copy when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

I hope you'll take this opportunity to let these important topics become an integral part of your walk with the Lord.

Leslie: When you call to make your donation of any size, ask for the book, Holiness: The Heart God Purifies. The number is 1-800-569-5959. Or support the ministry and get your book by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow Nancy will pick back up with the series “The Splendor of Holiness.”  But for the rest of our time today, we’re taking a parenthesis to look at the importance of holiness in the church.

Nancy: There’s a man in the Old Testament that I really admire. The reason I admire him is that he was a man that refused to get sucked in by the allure of the world. His name was Nehemiah. Nehemiah never got accustomed to sin.

You hear the story about the frog and the kettle and how if you throw that frog into a pot of boiling water, he will hop right out. But if you put him in a kettle of room temperature water and then slowly turn up the heat, you can cook that frog to death because he gets accustomed to it. He’s used to it, and he doesn’t realize he’s being cooked to death.

I think the frog in the water that’s getting gradually heated up is a picture of how so many of us function today. Our eyes have just gradually grown accustomed to the darkness around us. Then we tend to fit in and adjust to it.

Nehemiah never got adjusted to the darkness. He never got accustomed to sin even when everyone else around him had become desensitized. They were just taking things in and adjusting to the times. Not Nehemiah. Here’s a man who had the law of God written on his heart.

He had a love for God, a passion for God, and a passion for holiness that compelled him to care when God’s law was being disregarded. It mattered deeply to him.

Let me give you a little background to set up a story I want to tell you about the life of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was one of the Jewish exiles that was living in Persia around 400 BC. At one point Ezra, who was a contemporary of Nehemiah, led a group of those exiles back to their homeland, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple that had become demolished.

Fourteen years later, after those original exiles had gone back to rebuild the temple, Nehemiah, who was still in Persia, received word that the walls of the city were still broken down and in disrepair, that there was still work to do in his homeland in Jerusalem.

So Nehemiah (to make a long story short) left his comfortable job where he had a “plum” position serving the king, and he made a 900 mile journey to help his fellow Jews restore the city, to rebuild the walls. When Nehemiah got to Jerusalem—you remember the story—he faced incredible opposition from various sources.

There are three people who are named as those who spearheaded the opposition. Do you remember Sanballat and Tobiah and Gesham? These were three foreigners who were determined that the Jews were not going to rebuild Jerusalem. But in spite of the opposition, the walls finally were rebuilt.

Nehemiah became the governor of Judah and, along with his friend Ezra the priest, he turned his attention to rebuilding the spiritual and the moral foundations that had eroded. They had rebuilt the physical walls; now they needed to rebuild the spiritual and moral foundations.

So in Nehemiah chapters 8-10 you read the story of the great revival that transpired when the people were challenged to repent and return to the Word of God that they had neglected for so long. It's a great story. Some day I'd love to teach just through that revival. It's one of the great Old Testament revivals.

As part of that revival (still by way of background here), the people made a covenant with God. In that covenant they agreed to three things.

Number one, they agreed that they would not intermarry with the unbelieving nations around them. You read these three parts of the convenant in chapter 10 of Nehemiah. Verse 30 says, "We agree that we will not intermarry with unbelieving nations around us" (paraphrased).

God intended that His people should be a holy seed, a holy line, through whom would come Christ the Messiah, the Savior of the world. So God said to marry within the faith. Keep that line pure. Don’t be unequally yoked with nonbelievers. Keep the line pure. And the people said, “We will obey God on this matter. We will not intermarry with the foreign nations around us, the unbelieving nations.”

Then in verse 31 of chapter 10, they agreed to a second thing. They said, “We will not buy or sell or conduct commerce on the Sabbath. We will honor the Lord’s day,” (paraphrase). That was a law they had been given many years earlier, but they had neglected the Word of God, and they came back in this time of revival. They made a covenant and said, “We will start observing the Sabbath again. We don't do business on the Lord's day.”

Then number three, in verse 32 and following in chapter 10, they said, “We will support the needs of the temple and the needs of the Levites,” (paraphrased). And again, this is something they were supposed to have been doing all along.

But they had neglected it. So they said, "Once again, we will give of our tithes and offerings to support the Lord's work, to maintain the temple, and to take care of those who serve at the temple" (paraphrased). They said, in verse 39, "We will not neglect the house of our God."

So they made this covenant; they signed this covenant. They agreed to it. I think at the time they probably intended to keep it. And they did keep it for a while.

After serving in Jerusalem for twelve years, Nehemiah returned to Persia for some reason that we’re not given. We’re not told why he went back. We’re not told how long he went back. We think it was probably for a couple of years.

Then he returned to Judah; he came back to Jerusalem. And when he did he was shocked to discover that the people had failed to keep the covenant. They had failed to keep the committments they had made to the Lord. They were flagrantly disobeying the Word of God.

You can read this story in Nehemiah chapter 13. I won’t read the whole text. I’m going to read portions of it. But I want to encourage you to go back and read that whole passage because you will get the feel, the flavor, of what Nehemiah experienced, what he encountered when he got back to Jerusalem and—what I really want you to see—how he handled what he saw.

Starting in verse 10, for example, he says, “I found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field.”

They had promised to take care of the Levites, to take care of the temple, to give their tithes and offerings. But they had stopped giving and so the Levites had to go back into their fields to earn a living because their needs were not being met.

Then you read, starting in verse 15, they had stopped observing the Sabbath. He says, “In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day.”

They had said, “We won’t do this.” But here Nehemiah comes back and they are doing the very thing they had promised not to do.

Then you see in verse 23 of chapter 13 of Nehemiah. He says, “In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people.”

So the Jews had become integrated into the pagan, godless, unbelieving cultures around them. And it started out by dating, courtship, and marriage that God had forbidden and that they had said, “We will not do.”

As Nehemiah saw these offenses against God’s law, as he saw that they had broken this covenant, he was mortified. He was horrified. He was intensely distressed. He boldly confronted the people over their backslidden condition.

You read, for example, in verse 11, he says, “So I confronted the officials and said, ‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’” He dealt with the situation and got the people back on track.

And in verse 15, when he saw that the Sabbath was being violated, he saw that the people were doing business on the Lord's day, he said, "I warned them on the day when they sold food." Then verse 17: “Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, ‘What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day?’”

I mean, he got in their face. He said, “This is not right. God said no. And you said you would keep God's law, but you are not keeping God's law.” He was very direct with them.

And then when he saw the intermarriage, his reaction here was pretty extreme but I’m going to read it. Beginning in verse 25, he says, “I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take oath in the name of God, saying, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women?”’

He goes on to say, “What is this evil thing you are doing?” (verse 27, paraphrase).

I want to say that the New Testament gives us, as the church, specific direction about how we are to handle these situations. It doesn’t say anything about pulling out people’s hair or cursing them. But what I want you to see is that Nehemiah took sin seriously, that he was passionate about holiness; that he said, “This has to be dealt with. It can’t be swept under the carpet.”

One of the most serious offenses that Nehemiah encountered when he came back to Jerusalem involved a man named Tobiah, the Ammonite. You read about this incident in verses 4-9 of chapter 13.

Tobiah was the man who, years earlier, had done everything in his power to oppose the work of God when they had been trying to rebuild the city walls. And over the years the Israelites had gotten to know Tobiah better.

He started out being their enemy, their opponent, but then they got to know each other. The Israelites began to socialize with Tobiah. They established a relationship with him. They gradually let down their guard, and the casual relationship ultimately led to more intimate relationships.

Those intimate relationships included marriage ties between Tobiah’s family and the family of Eliashib the priest. Their sons and their daughters married each other. Over time the differences between Tobiah and the Ammonites and God’s people who were set apart for God all but disappeared.

Unbelievably, by the time that Nehemiah returned, this sworn enemy of God, Tobiah, was actually living in the temple. This was in direct violation to God’s command years earlier that no Ammonite should ever be allowed to set foot in His temple. And God had given reasons for that. Yet here Tobiah was living in a room that had been given to him by the priest.

Undoubtedly that change of affairs did not take place overnight. Sin doesn’t usually come into our lives or our homes or our churches overnight. People don’t just go from one day being happily married, faithfully committed to each other, and then just jump into bed with somebody else’s spouse. It doesn’t happen overnight, usually. There’s a process that leads to the encroachment of sin into our lives and into the church.

I think it probably happened in this situation the same way it often does in our lives. One compromise probably led to another and then another. Soon the priests and the people found ways of justifying things that, years earlier, they would not even have considered justifying.

A spirit of tolerance became exalted over a spirit of truth.

I can imagine them just thinking and saying, “You know, Tobiah is not really such a bad guy. And his family, his wife is kind of nice and he’s got nice kids, and they fit in so well here. It doesn’t seem right to tell him he can’t stay just because he’s not a Jew. We don’t want to be legalistic about this.”

You can imagine how the reasoning went and developed. So the godless Tobiah, the Ammonite, moved into the temple while the people kept on doing church, doing their religious stuff, going through the motions. They were not the least bit troubled about the state of affairs when Nehemiah arrived back in Jerusalem.

But to Nehemiah, who cared deeply about God and about holiness, this was an unthinkable situation. To him it was like the frog being thrown into the pot of boiling water. No way! He had not gotten adjusted to this. He was furious, and he acted decisively.

You can read about this in verses 4-9 of chapter 13. Nehemiah physically hurled Tobiah and all his possessions out of the temple. Then he gave orders to purify the rooms that had become desecrated. He denounced the evil situation, and he called on the priests and the people to repent.

Why were these offenses such a big deal to Nehemiah? And why did he feel the need to interfere in other people’s lives? After all, today if you go to your sister or your brother or somebody in your church or your son or your daughter or a friend and you talk to them, you confront them about something that is not pleasing to the Lord, the thing you’re likely going to hear today is, “That’s none of your business.”

Why did Nehemiah feel that this was his business or that he needed to make it his business? Why wasn’t he just content to obey God himself and leave others alone?

He was compelled for the passion of the glory of God to be displayed in God’s people. His heart for holiness put him in a tiny minority even among God’s people. If you have a love for holiness today, it will put you in a tiny minority even among God’s people.

But Nehemiah didn’t seem to notice or to care. He wasn’t trying to win any popularity contests. All that mattered to him was that the holy name of God had been profaned, and he longed to see God’s name hallowed once again.

The parallels between the story of Nehemiah and the church in our day, I think, are striking. We have lots of people today who call themselves believers, active members of their churches; they’re churning out a lot of religious activity.

But we have, to a large extent in our churches today, thrown out or rewritten the law of God. Now, we have Bibles—some of you still have them in the backs of the pews in your church. Some of you bring your Bible to church. We still have the Bible in the pulpit; the pastor will still open his Bible.

But in our hearts, to a large extent, we have tossed out the law of God, or we've rewritten it to fit our modern sensitivities. We have prostituted the grace of God. We’ve said, “We’re not under law. We’re under grace! So we’re free!” And what we’re saying by that is, “We’re free to sin.”

But the grace of God, according to Titus chapter 2 and according to the whole of Scripture, does not give us the liberty or the license to sin. The grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness. It helps us to live lives that are free from sin.

But how often do we look around in our churches today and see that a spirit of tolerance has triumphed over a spirit of truth? And now, in a modern-day sense, Tobiah, the enemy of God, is living in the temple.

You say, “What do you mean by that? Who’s Tobiah and how is he living in our temple?”

Think about some of the enemies of God that we have allowed to come into our church today: Lust, greed, materialism, anger, selfishness, pride, bitterness (boy, is that one that just penetrates and infiltrates our churches today; it’s an enemy of God), sensuality, divorce, deceit, ungodly entertainment, worldly philosophies.

Little by little we’ve let down our guard. We’ve cultivated a relationship with these sworn enemies of God. We’ve welcomed them into our churches, or we just didn’t notice when they came in. We’ve helped them to feel at home there.

Beyond that, we’ve worked so hard to make lost and backslidden people feel comfortable in our churches that there is very little conviction of sin left, very little sense of God’s holiness, very little life transformation, very little repentance going on, very little manifestation of the presence of God.

You know why? Because God is a holy God and He cannot make Himself at home in an unholy place.

I’m not suggesting that we ought to try to alienate unbelievers in our churches. I’m not suggesting that irrelevance is a virtue or that we should make an effort to make churches as uncomfortable for people as possible.

I think sometimes some of the things we do in churches are simply our traditions and our ways of doing things that have nothing to do with Scripture, that have nothing to do with God leading us that way; it’s just what we’re comfortable with. I think sometimes lost people must walk in and wonder, “What in the world are they doing?”

So I’m not saying that old is better and new is bad. But what I’m saying is that if relevance to an unbelieving world is our objective, then I believe we’re ultimately going to do some things that will forfeit the presence of God.

I am saying that sinners ought to be uncomfortable in the presence of a holy God. I’m saying that sinners will never be truly converted until they have experienced the conviction of God’s Spirit over their sin. And that is not comfortable.

When the fire and the presence of God in our lives and in our churches is evident, when it’s manifest, people will be drawn to our churches, not because of the entertainment, not because of the programs, but because God is there and they’re seeing the reality of a holy God.

But today we're so afraid of appearing to be different, to be extreme, too pious or too spiritual. The emphasis in so many of our ministries and churches today is, how can we be relevant? How user-friendly can we make the gospel? And as a result, we've accommodated to the culture rather than calling the culture to accommodate to Christ. 

I remember a friend telling me one time, “If a non-believer walked into my church, he might think he was in a bad nightclub.”

When will we realize that the world is not impressed with the religious version of itself? Our greatest effectiveness, our greatest weapon is not found in being like the world, but in being different from the world, in being like Jesus.

So in the midst of such a state, my question is: Where are the Nehemiahs of our day, the men and women who love God, who love holiness, who fear nothing and no one but God? Where are the saints (and a saint means a holy one) who act like saints?

Where are those whose lives are beyond reproach in every matter? In their homes, their work, their speech, their habits, their attitudes, their finances, their relationships?

Where are the believers whose eyes are filled with tears and whose hearts ache when they see an unholy church entertaining itself to death and partying with the world?

Where are the believers whose knees are sore from pleading with God to give the gift of repentance and to bring a revival of holiness in our day? And where are the Christian leaders with the compassion and the courage to call the church to be clean before God?

Now women, I’m not suggesting we should sit here and in our hearts criticize Christian leaders who perhaps aren’t being as bold or courageous as they ought to be. I’m not suggesting that we develop a critical spirit, but I am saying we need to lift up our hearts and hands to the Lord and say, “Lord would You give these men courage? Would You make them men of conviction?” We need to pray for them.

And we need to be responsible for the areas we’re responsible for. Where are the moms, the dads, the young people who are willing to deal thoroughly and decisively with everything that is unholy in their lives, in their homes?

The church has been waiting for the world to get right with God. I think we need to realize that the world is waiting for the church to get right with God. And when we have a passion for holiness—and I’m not talking about the kind of holiness that walks around tearing people’s hair out or screaming at them because they’re not obeying God.

By the way, Nehemiah’s gripe was not with the unbelieving pagan world. His concern was about the people of God. When the people of God get right with God and when we have this fiery, passionate, pure holiness that loves God, then the world will stop and take notice.

When we, the people of God, humble ourselves, when we turn from our wicked ways, then the world will have a reason to know and to believe that our gospel is true and that our God is real. Then many of them will fall down and worship Him as well.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the power a holy life can have. Would you consider exploring this topic with Nancy? She spent a lot of time considering the area of holiness and has crafted a book called Holiness: The Heart God Purifies.

We’ll send you a copy as our thanks for supporting Revive Our Hearts. We can’t bring you the program each weekday without the support of listeners like you. Ask for the book, Holiness when you call with your donation of any amount. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow Nancy will pick back up on the splendor of holiness. How can your life show the larger world something beautiful about God? Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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