Holiness in the Church
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles — that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 NKJV
It is now, and has always been God’s will that His people live holy lives. After Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt, God spoke to Moses saying that His intent for His people was to ”be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). This was furthered clarified when codified in the Law of Moses as a commandment given to the Israelites (Leviticus 20:7). Subsequently, this principle of holiness is taught in the New Testament by the Apostle Peter when he wrote, “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
Notwithstanding God’s injunction of holiness, Christians sometimes fall short and miss the mark. A breach of holiness can range from benign slip-ups and omissions to the most egregious acts and transgressions, much like what occurred in the church at Corinth, i.e., gross iniquity and sexual immorality. God is still calling for holiness in His Church.
Holiness doesn’t mean flawless obedience to the legalistic rules as preached by many churches. Holiness, first and foremost, means wholeness—spirit, soul, and body. The very process of salvation is a whole-making process. Legalists teach holiness mostly as it relates to keeping man-made rules. But God wants you to be made whole (John 5:6). Will you be made whole? If there’s going to be holiness in the Church, Christians must be made whole.
Make no mistake about it; Christians aren’t going to stop doing all the wrong things that you condemn them for until they are made whole. After all, every Christian used to be a sinner. As the apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
No question, God wants holiness in the Church, i.e., He wants Christians to live holy lives. Holiness can exist in the Church because our Holy God is present in the lives of His people, and since He is present in grace, He doesn’t cease to be present just because you have failures. If you have a failure—repent. Glorying in sin is not good. A “little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Just remember God’s command: be holy as I am holy!