“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1 15-16 KJV
What is holiness? The bible teaches us that God is Holy and He requires His people to live holy lives. But what does He mean by holy? Does He mean to live like a monk in a monastery completely separate from modern society? No, that would not be practical for any of us and that is not the realistic calling of the Bible. God’s commandment to His people was given to them within the context of society that was expected to work, have families and normal relationships. Practical Holiness is a call to live in this world without letting the world live in us. The root meaning of Holy is to separated or sanctified – this means to live in a modern world in a way that is pleasing to God. When it comes to holiness God always begins in the heart for this reason I would like to discuss this question. Where does practicing true God pleasing holiness begin?
THE GOD OF YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER
The Bible teaches us in Hebrews 11:13 that, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever”. What does this mean? This means that who God was in the Old Testament remains the same in the New Testament and what God expects of His people does not change. In the Old Testament God gave a command to His people He said in Leviticus 11:45, “…ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” and in the New Testament the Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:16, “Because it is written, be ye holy for I am holy.” He is the God of yesterday, today and forever; many modern Christians have forgotten that God still absolutely requires us to live a holy, pleasing life before Him. Peter goes as far as to call us a royal priesthood, a chosen generation, a peculiar people. Wow what an amazing and glorious privilege to be considered in the eyes of God royalty, chosen and peculiar.
TRUE HOLINESS BEGINS IN THE TONGUE
The Apostle Peter states in his writings that we ought to be holy in all manner of conversation, some versions of the bible say conduct but for the sake of this study will stay with King James Version of conversation. Peter declares to us be holy in your conversation, I think all of us can understand that conversation begins in the tongue. And so it is that practicing holiness begins with us beginning to bridle our tongue. We must understand that the tongue is directly connected to our hearts (spiritually speaking). Our tongues will always give evidence of what the condition of our hearts is. Jesus said this concerning the heart and the mouth, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” whether we realize or not it is our tongue that defiles us. We cannot truly practice holiness when our tongues are out of control, when they are unbridled and quench the Spirit that God has poured in us. It does us no good to practice holiness in other areas of our lives and our tongues continually are out of control.
HE WHO CONTROLS THE TONGUE CAN CONTROL THE BODY
Did you know that the bible teaches us that whoever can control their tongue can also control their entire body? Holiness that is practiced often ends in failure because we have not brought our tongues under the power of the Holy Spirit. Listen to what the Apostle James says about controlling the body, “…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The man that can control his speech, his conversation can bridle; bring into subjection the whole body. It is at this point that I declare to you again that holiness begins by controlling the tongue. Likewise James also reminds that the man that cannot control the tongue will defile his whole body (James 3:8).
WE WORSHIP GOD WITH OUT HEARTS AND TONGUES
We must consider the fact that it is our tongues that we use to worship God, to pray to God, to encourage one another and to share His holy word with one another. And yet many times we use this same tongue to hurt one another, to curse one another, to gossip about one another and to argue with one another. James ask us a simple question, “…can a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?’ The answer is no, either a fountain gives off good water or bad water not both. He uses this question to ask whether our tongues should be in this condition where they are giving praise to God on one hand and the other being used in a carnal unholy way. He says this should not be so. James says, “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” Our tongues should have the liberty to praise God and open our hearts before Him and likewise be under the control of the Spirit and used to build up and edify.
THE TONGUE SHOULD GIVE LIFE AND SAVE FROM TROUBLES
The Bible says in Proverbs that, “in the tongues is the power of life and death.” We can give life to people and ourselves through the use of the tongue or we can destroy others and ourselves through the power of the tongue. Consider these scriptures in regards to the power of the tongue:
Proverbs 15:4 “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit”
Proverbs 21:23 “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles”
Many people cannot practice holiness in their hearts because they have a breech in their spirit. What this means is that their spirit is like a wall that has been broken in a certain place and that wall no longer has the power to keep good things or bad things out it has been breached. So anytime God pours in His blessing the enemy can easily come through the breach and rob the person of what God has given him. How can we practice holiness when our spirits have been breached because out tongues are out of control. Many of the troubles that we suffer are caused be our very own tongues.
BEGIN HOLINESS WITH YOUR TONGUE AND THE BODY WILL FOLLOW
If what James is teaching us in his writings is true, then controlling the tongue is the key to practicing holiness before God. He teaches us that if we get a hold of our tongue and are able to control its speech then naturally the power to control our entire bodies will follow in line. A holy tongue means a holy heart and this is the holiness that God is after, holiness and purity in the depth of our inner man.
© 2008 Apostolic Messenger