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LIVING IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
FROM PROFANENESS TO HOLINESS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
18 JUNE 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Leviticus 22:2)
“Tell Aaron and his sons to be careful with the holy gifts of the sons of Israel, which they dedicate to Me, so as not to profane My holy name; I am the Lord.”
Father's Day is an appropriate day to continue our discussion on living in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially since our journey for today is from profaneness to holiness.
As we have seen in God's Word before, the husband and father is to be the
head of the family, as Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.
God is constantly trying to lead His family, His children, from a life of profaneness or ungodliness into a life of holiness and godliness.
This is the same example that all fathers are to set for their own families.
Let's go back to our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Ezekiel 44:1-8, and see how he expresses this example of a father leading his family and others from profaneness to holiness.
At the same time, let's look at the historical and prophetic messages given
to us in this passage of Scripture:
1. Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; and it was shut.
2. And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.
The Lord is showing Ezekiel the reconstructed sanctuary and the fact that the easterly gate is closed up, for this is the gate which the Lord Himself entered and no one else is considered worthy enough to enter by this gate.
Now, note the next verse:
3. “As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”
When the Lord returns, he will enter the temple by this easterly gate, and the gate will be reestablished.
But who is this prince?
The Jewish rabbis consider him to be Messiah, but is he?
Our answer can only be found in Scripture, and then only by putting what we find in complete harmony with the entire Bible.
We see a very important thing about this prince in the next chapter, Ezekiel 45:22:
22. “And on that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.”
Now, before jumping to any conclusions, hang on to this passage and let's look at two verses from Hebrews, 2:18 and 4:15, both of which speak of the character of Jesus Christ:
18. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
15. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus Christ – our King, our Lord, and our Messiah – has been tempted in all the things that have tempted us, so that He could truly understand what we are going through and help us.
He was tempted, but never gave into the temptation. He remained without sin.
Therefore, this prince of Ezekiel 44 could not be Messiah as the rabbis say, for there would be no need to offer a sacrifice for himself, as we saw in 45:22, for Jesus Christ is sinless.
Therefore, we want to take special note of who this prince is, for he is a man like us; but there is something special about him, for he enters and leaves by the Lord's gate.
He has turned away from the profaneness of the world to seek the holiness and righteousness of God.
Because of the desire of his heart, and the life he lives as an example to all others, God sets him up as an example for all to follow.
He has earned his place of leadership because he shows forth his faith by his works. He is living in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Aren’t we to do the same?
Let's see what else the Lord is showing Ezekiel and us:
4. Then He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the house; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, and I fell on my face.
Ezekiel knows that he is also a sinner and that he is not worthy to stand in the presence of the Lord; thus he prostrates and humbles himself before the Lord's presence.
But because the desire of his heart is to serve God, and he has a humble and repentant heart, God has covered Ezekiel's sins with His grace so that He cannot see them, and in His love He reaches out to him.
Each of us knows the sins in our own life.
Picture yourself in Ezekiel's position, face to face with God, and try to feel what He feels.
5. And the Lord said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the statutes of the house of the Lord and concerning all its laws; and mark well the entrance of the house, with all exits of the sanctuary.
Ezekiel is being granted a disclosure that few men have been given a chance to witness; and as a result, he is being reminded twice to mark well what God is showing him, for he must declare it to others.
We Christians take too many things for granted, and here the Lord is enjoining Ezekiel and us not to do so, but to pay attention and note all that the Lord has done and is doing.
6. “And you shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel,
7. when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void – this in addition to all your abominations.
8. “And you have not kept charge of My holy things yourselves, but you have set foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary.”
The sanctuary of God is a holy place set aside for believers and for those who are seeking God.
It is the believers who are to take care of it, cherish it, and minister in it.
But Israel didn't care, and compounded the profaning of the temple of God by bringing in unbelievers to minister before the Lord, for their concern for God was not of the heart. It was only for the ritual.
The church has been doing much of the same thing, and we need people to take a stand for God, just as the prince and Ezekiel did.
We need people to take a stand in the heavenly will of God, and in the worldly ways that most people seem to want.
We need people who can set the example by living as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, for the benefit of the whole of creation.
There is no pain or suffering or death in heaven, and we should be doing everything in our power to end these things on earth for every other human, animal, and the environment in which we all live.
And, beloved, there isn't one of us in this room who can't do it, if we truly want to be godly.
Now note how Paul, in his letter to Titus, says much the same thing, as we
take another look at chapter 3:
1. Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed.
2. to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
Christians are to be different from those in the world.
Our re-creation in Jesus Christ, our being born again, should be evident in our lives.
All who see us should see the presence of Christ in us.
3. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
And sometimes are still foolish.
We act like the life we are supposed to be freed from.
But if the desire of our heart is to be free from these things, we can be freed; for the power of the Holy Spirit will help us overcome the profaneness of this world, just as He did with Ezekiel and the prince.
Then Paul goes on to remind Titus why this is all true, and that we can overcome all the evils of the world:
4. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
5. He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
6. whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7. that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
We cannot work our way into heaven, no matter how good we are.
We get to heaven because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and because we desire to submit our will to His and to serve Him.
It is not the deeds we do before we are saved that count; it is those we do after salvation that speak of Jesus Christ, and that is because the Holy Spirit is in us.
We are saved by grace and not by works. We are saved by grace for good works,
that we might honor Him who saved us.
8. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
These words were not only for Titus, they were for all who would read and hear these words of encouragement.
Titus was to speak these words to the people, to remind them and encourage them to live Christ-like lives.
And I am saying them to you, that you will do the same.
In turn, you are to tell them to others, so that they also might be encouraged and filled with faith.
We are to live our lives before others in such a Christ-like manner that they
will desire to be like us.
Each one of us can make a difference, no matter how bad things seem to be around us.
9. But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.
10. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,
11. knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
The choice that God sets before us is not as complicated as some would have us believe.
The choice is really simple.
If we desire to live Christ-like lives, the power of the Holy Spirit will help us do just that.
Paul closes his letter with a personal note that may, in fact, not be that personal after all.
As we listen to this closing statement, apply it to people you may know, including yourself.
12. When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.
13. Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them.
14. And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
15. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.
Grace be with you all.