Pastor James J. Barker

Text: LEVITICUS 19:2; I PETER 1:15,16


  1. Every book of the Bible has a key word. Once that key word is discovered, the book becomes much easier to understand. The key in Leviticus is "holy" (cf. Lev.19:2). In fact, it occurs 87 times in that book (cf. Scofield, p. 126).
  2. This concept of the absolute holiness of God is carried over into the New Testament. In Peter’s first epistle, he quotes from the book of Leviticus (I Peter 1:16). This verse is seldom preached today.
  3. "Offer the world religion that it can take along with its sinful pleasures and the following will be many; but when you ask men to die to sin and surrender their wills, to give up their own plans and their own ambitions and their own philosophy of life and take Jesus Christ and what He has to offer, you begin a battle that determines the outcome and destiny of souls…The religion that demands self-denial has never been popular and it never can be popular…A religion that comes into conflict with custom, ethics, and the pleasures of the human heart will immediately meet opposition" – R.T. Williams, Sanctification – Experience and Ethics, cited by Chester Tulga, The Doctrine of Holiness in These Times).
  4. The natural man chafes at Biblical holiness because he does not want to be holy – and in fact he hates holiness.
  5. Man was created to glorify God, but instead he glorifies himself. He was created to do the will of God, but he prefers to do his own will.
  6. There is a pseudo-Christianity that wants forgiveness without repentance, and salvation without sanctification. Man likes the idea of God’s love, but he does not like the idea that God is holy and hates sin.
  7. The world admires those who serve the material needs of others (e.g., Mother Teresa), but hates those who rebuke sin.
  8. There are only two paths to choose from: holiness or worldliness. It is impossible to travel down both these paths at the same time (cf. James 1:8; Rev.3:15,16).
  9. The biggest problem in churches today is not false doctrine (though that certainly is a big problem). The biggest problem, which inevitably leads to false doctrine, is worldliness and a hostility towards Biblical holiness.
  10. This worldliness is demonstrated by the emphasis on entertainment in most churches, rock music, worldly and sloppy dress standards, the sad fact that most church people spend hours and hours watching garbage on television and precious little time reading the Bible. They know all the names of the big Hollywood movie stars and sports heroes, but know next to nothing about the Bible!
  11. "Church amusements are simply parasites hiding under a religious exterior, while they eat out the life of Christianity" – A.J. Gordon (How Christ Came to Church, p. 53).



    1. The most fundamental attribute of God’s nature is not love but holiness. In contrast to the sinful and wicked deities of heathenism, the God of the Bible is constantly represented as absolutely holy (cf. Ex.15:11; Isa.6:1-5).
    2. His name is holy (Ps.99:3; Ps.111:9; Matt.6:9). The name of God is holy for it expresses His nature and character. We must be ever so careful not to use His holy name glibly or carelessly.
    3. God’s habitation is holy (Isa.57:15). This important doctrine is greatly ignored today. That is why so many people can attend church and still remain unconverted! And that is why so many unsaved people do not want to attend church at all. They are discerning enough to see the worldliness of most professing Christians and they are altogether turned off.
    4. The context of Isa.57 is that God is holy and therefore must judge sin (Isa.57:20,21). However, He blesses those that are contrite and humble (Isa.57:15,16).
    5. And who are those that are contrite and humble? Those that recognize God’s holiness.
    6. God says, "Be ye holy; for I am holy" (I Peter 1:16). A holy God must have a holy people. That is why God sent the flood in the days of Noah, and that is why He commanded the Israelites to separate from the wicked Canaanites, and that is why He commanded Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
    7. For God to allow worldliness would be for Him to deny His own nature, and to dishonor His own name! God is absolutely holy and He demands holiness from His people as a basis for fellowship and service.



    1. One of the big problems today is that "pastors" are telling their "converts" that it is OK to be a Christian and still hold onto their worldly and sinful habits.
    2. This is totally unscriptural (I Peter 1:14-16; James 4:4; I John 2:15-17; II Cor.5:17).
    3. Turning back to I Peter 1:14, please allow me to point out some key words: "obedient." Obedience means obeying God, no matter what. The flesh does not like holiness; the flesh does not like separation; the flesh does not like standards. Worldliness means basically disobedience – God says "separate from the world and be holy" and man says "no."
    4. The next word I would like to draw your attention to is "fashioning" – Peter says "not fashioning yourselves…" Sometimes when I read the newspaper, I notice articles about fashion – it usually looks ridiculous and extremely worldly. Christians should not be caught up with worldly fads and fashions.
    5. Interestingly, the same word translated "fashioning" is translated "conformed" (Rom.12:2).
    6. Why are people worldly? Notice the words, "according to the former lusts in your ignorance" (I Peter 1:14). Before we were saved, we were ignorant of God’s holiness. Now we have no excuse (Rom.12:1,2). We are to be "transformed by the renewing" of our minds.



    1. Too many people have this idea that Christians are to be holy for one hour on Sunday and then live like pagans the rest of the week!
    2. One of the main reasons why Christians neglect Biblical holiness is because they are scared of being persecuted by their worldly friends. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Faithful were persecuted in Vanity Fair. Our Lord said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18).
    3. True Biblical holiness involves total consecration to God. Frances Ridley Havergal expressed this so beautifully in her famous hymn, "Take My Life and Let It Be" (#315).
    4. Biblical separation and Biblical holiness (and they are inseparable) must always be accompanied by Biblical soulwinning. Again let me quote the great A.J. Gordon, "At all events the truest remedy is to be found in a strenuous and stubborn non-conformity to the world on the part of Christians…But this rigid separation from the world must be attended with the most persistent, zealous, untiring going into the world, to seek and to save that which was lost" (The Twofold Life, pp. 221,222).
    5. We need to keep this proper balance between holiness and soulwinning.


    1. A pastor was giving free tickets to some worldly Broadway show by a member of his church who happened to be a surgeon. He politely refused to accept the tickets.
    2. The physician asked why, and the preacher said: "Doctor, when you operate on someone you must first sterilize your hands, am I right?"
    3. The doctor replied, "Of course." The pastor then said, "Well I am dealing with men’s souls and so I must keep my mind and spirit clean, otherwise worldly thoughts and worldly ideas might creep into my ministry!" The doctor got the point.
    4. I believe I have only begun to scratch the surface of this vitally important and yet sadly neglected doctrine. Lord willing, I will continue this theme next week (Part 2).

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