Week 2 – Holiness
Have you ever been to a military installation that is surrounded by fences?
The fence is to keep unauthorized people out.
But if you have been to the zoo, the fences there serve a different purpose.
At the zoo, the fence is designed to keep the animals in.
Sometimes fences let us know that one side is safe, and the other side can be
God sometimes erects certain fences for our protection.
Last week we talked about the fence of rest, which is the first fence God put in place,
We read about it in Genesis 2, which is where the second fence is also mentioned.
“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the
Lord God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—
except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to
die.’” – Genesis 2:15-17 (NLT)
God figuratively placed a fence between humanity and the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil.
To touch the tree meant death. That is why a fence was needed.
As we said last week, fences are for our protection.
But people have never seemed to care for boundaries.
After God had given such clear instruction, satan managed to work his way into
He convinced Eve that the boundary was no big deal. After all, it is just a tree.
What is the big deal?
It can’t be that bad.
Why is God holding out on you, Eve?
Did He really say you can’t eat from that tree, or you will die?
Why would He say something like that?
Satan convinced Eve to SIN by getting her to believe God’s fence was not GOOD
Eve, it won’t hurt anything to violate the boundary, tear down the fence, and cross the
God surely didn’t mean it.
You know what’s best for you.
Do what you want.
Even when we don’t understand the why, we need to learn to trust that where God
has placed a fence, He has done so for our good, because He loves us.
Whenever something is holy, or sacred, or special, God puts a fence around it.
HOLY – to be set apart for a special purpose
The first things God set apart and called holy was time.
God created for six days. He called those days good.
And then He put a fence around the seventh day, because it was holy.
The sabbath was set apart for a special purpose. That special purpose was called rest.
The sabbath day was holy because He separated it from the others six days of the
The second thing God set apart and called holy was people.
God placed a fence around His PEOPLE.
This is what the Lord said to Moses…
“You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am HOLY.” – Leviticus 19:2 NIV
That phrase is repeated six times in the book of Leviticus.
We have been set apart for a special purpose
God doesn’t want us to blend in. He wants us to stand out.
We live in a world that is filled with darkness.
As Christ followers, we are not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world.
We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
We are not the same people we used to be.
The way we think about things like money, sexuality, relationships, and love is to be
different than the way the world thinks.
Now that we know Christ, we are to progressively think, act, and live more like Jesus.
That is what Holiness is all about. It is about Christlikeness.
And it is about trusting the fences that God has erected are for our good.
But we live in a world that ignores God’s fences.
Sin is not just tolerated, it is celebrated.
God says, here is the line. I don’t want you to cross it.
Secular society not only crosses the line, they have a parade to celebrate and flaunt the
fact that they have denied, defied, and defiled God’s boundaries.
People today don’t see God’s fences as good.
They don’t see them as God’s way of protecting us.
They see God’s boundaries as restrictive and undesirable.
Their attitude is consistent with the words of Psalm 2:3…
“Let us break their chains and free ourselves from slavery to God.” – Psalm 2:3 (NLT)
We don’t need to listen to God. That is for the stone age. We’re enlightened.
We’ll decide for ourselves. We know what’s best. We will do what we want.
“But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” – Psalm 2:4 (NLT)
It is like people are prancing and dancing around in a mine field and they think they are
getting away with it.
The world dives headfirst into sin and they celebrate their freedom to reject God
and live however they want, but they fail to consider the cost of their deadly
Have they failed to realize what’s happening in a world that seems to be spinning off its
Anxiety, fear, and depression are reaching epidemic proportions.
People are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate.
Alcohol and drug use continues to escalate.
People are looking for answers in all the wrong places.
The nation has never been more divided.
Anger and violence are on the uprise.
The whole world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, but we are Free!
We live in a world where boundaries are despised.
We don’t like to think that anything is off limits.
HERE IS THE PROBLEM – To acknowledge that certain things are off limits in my
life, is to admit that I am not God.
If I am the god of my own universe,
I get to remove all the fences and make all my own rules.
I can call all the shots, and nobody can question me.
Instead, you must agree with me, celebrate me, and affirm me.
Acceptance is not enough. What I really desire is affirmation.
I believe we are just beginning to reap the consequences of rejecting God’s truth,
violating God’s laws, and neglecting the boundaries and fences that He has put in
Whether we like it or not – On the other side of the fences that God has put in place
there are things that will DESTROY us.
You may not want to hear that. You certainly don’t have to agree with it.
But you will not be able to deny it when the consequences inevitably come.
As the world gets darker, the light of His holiness will continue to shine brighter.
We are living in a world where the darkness needs the light to shine.
The darkness does not need the light to be like the darkness.
We have been called to come out from among them and be separate.
Holiness is not OPTIONAL in the life of a believer. It is ESSENTIAL.
Why do God’s fences matter?
What is the purpose of these fences He has put in place?
1. God wants to SAVE me.
God wants to save us from the snowball effect of sin.
Do you know that the road you are on is taking your someplace?
It is The principle of the path: DIRECTION not INTENTION determines destination.
Paul spoke to this in Romans 6.
“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing
wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to
holiness.” – Romans 6:19 (NIV)
If you are on a path of righteousness, it will lead to holiness.
If you are walking down the path of sin, it will lead to ever increasing wickedness.
The path you are on matters.
Mankind is on a slippery slope that is DOWNHILL without God.
Sin typically starts out small, but it is never content to stay small.
Sin festers, it multiplies, it metastasizes. It is like cancer.
And have you noticed that whatever path you are on, it tends to keep speeding up?
Sin takes us places we never expected to go.
You can control when sin begins.
But once sin begins, it isn’t long until sin takes control of you.
Sin takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to
stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.
People think that giving in and getting whatever they want is the path to freedom.
Instead, it often brings chains, addiction, bondage, and death.
That is why God places a fence between us and the mine field of sin.
He loves us. He wants to protect us.
Here is the thing we need to be aware of…
We are usually ONE FENCE AWAY from a fall.
You have heard that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
The same thing is true with a fence.
If you have one bad section, it is almost like there is no fence at all.
If you have a fence that is separating you from sin, but one section is missing, you can
bank on it, your (purity, character, integrity) will escape through the gap.
If porn is your temptation, you can have filters and accountability software, but if you are
not committed and extremely careful, you will find your way to the hole in the fence.
“Temptation usually comes in through a door that has deliberately been left open.”
– Arnold Glasgow
Pastor, I don’t know why we had sex. My girlfriend and I were just sitting alone, in the
dark, on the couch, in the basement, watching a romantic movie, around midnight, when
her parents weren’t home, and it just happened.
Did it? It sounds to me like you had a broken-down fence.
Don’t lie to yourself and everyone else.
You know what is going to happen if you continue down certain paths in your life.
You know where the fence is weak.
You know where there is a section missing.
We need to stop playing games when it comes to sin.
Sin snowballs. It will consume you. It will destroy you.
You may think you are playing pattycake with sin, but make no mistake about it,
you are playing Russian roulette with the devil himself when you toy around with
sin. Sin wants to own you. Sin wants to ruin you.
That is why we need to take an honest look at our fences.
Are there weak spots or place where you can easily get around the fence and enter
places you have no business going?
Get some accountability in your life.
Build in some boundaries.
Acknowledge the fact that some things are off limits.
Admit that fences are a good thing.
God wants to use them to preserve and protect you.
2. God wants to LOVE me.
From beginning to end, the Bible tells the story of how much God loves us.
He wants a relationship with us. He cares about us.
He wants to be your best friend. We talked about this in week 5 of our summer series.
I think deep down inside, most of us have a sincere desire to love God, to have a
relationship with Him, to get closer to Him, and to be more like Him.
But when we sin, it is like pouring a bucket of cold water on that desire.
There is nothing like sin to make your love for God grow cold.
Sin is a willful TRANSGRESSION of God’s known law.
Sin isolates us. It causes us to hide in shame (Adam and Eve).
It causes us to withdraw from our Heavenly Father.
The Old Testament teachers of the law understood this.
That is why they put fences around the Law of God.
They knew how sin tends to snowball. It is like a runaway train.
The best way not to sin is to not even get close to sin.
Stay away from it. They were right. They were well intentioned.
They said if the fence is here, we will take ten steps back.
They didn’t even want to get close to sin.
That sounds like a good idea.
Don’t build your fence right up against the minefield.
It is wise to step back a bit.
This is how God saying, don’t work on the sabbath became bound up in so many laws
from the Pharisees. I really think they just wanted to be careful.
So they said, don’t even pick up your tools on the sabbath.
Play it safe. Don’t take any chances.
If you pick up your tools, you will be tempted to work.
So, they made even picking up the tools a sin.
God created the sabbath, then we started adding all these fences.
That is how they wound up with over 600 laws that were choking people to death and
preventing them from being able to enjoy a relationship with God.
God-made fences are for our PROTECTION, but man-made fences can become
Instead of providing freedom and protection, manmade fences bring bondage and fear.
Does any of this make sense?
And if we are not careful, loving God can quickly be replaced by loving fences.
I have seen it happen. You have too.
Jesus talked about this in Matthew 22
“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.” – Matthew 22:37-38 (NLT)
The first commandment is not to hate sin.
The first commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
That is not the same thing.
You can hate SIN and not love GOD, but you can’t love GOD and not hate SIN.
Hating sin doesn’t produce love for God, but love for God does produce hatred for sin.
When you love God enough, you will hate anything that tries to come between you and
your Heavenly Father.
There are lots of things that quickly extinguish our love for God.
Two of the most common are loose living and legalism.
You may be living to sin, or you may be living not to sin.
Either one can destroy you.
Either one can extinguish your love for God.
If you ever meet someone who is obsessed with talking more about not sinning, than
they talk about Jesus, you just met a Pharisee.
You can’t do this and you can’t do that. They are fence tenders.
When it is no longer about loving God, and it is all about loving our fences, that is not
holiness. That is legalism.
LEGALISM is about protecting the fences.
HOLINESS is about protecting our love for God.
Instead of living life focused on what you don’t do, focus instead on what you do.
There is freedom, love, and joy in that kind of existence.
When we are focused on the fence instead of our love for God, we begin asking
foolish questions like…
How far is too far?
How close can I get to sin without sinning?
What we really want to know is how far can I get into the minefield before I die.
The call to holiness isn’t about seeing how close I can get to the edge before I die.
It isn’t even how far from the edge can I get.
It is about how close can I get to God?
We have been called to come out and be separate. That’s what holiness is.
This is not about loose living, or legalism, it is about love.
Don’t allow anything or anyone to hinder your love for God.
Don’t allow yourself to be squeezed into the mold of the world.
Come out! And be separate.
Whatever you do, don’t attempt to justify things that make you less like Jesus
and more like the world.
Legalism is about living life looking at the fence.
Holiness is about living life looking at God.
3. God wants to SEND me.
God wants to send you back into the world, so that you can influence others to know
and follow Him.
Paul explained it to Timothy like this…
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay;
some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse
themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful
to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV)
Paul is saying, Timothy, don’t be consumed with everything this world is
consumed with. This is a spiritual thing.
Make yourself available and useful to the Master.
You are no longer living for one more like on social media, or the next promotion, or the
bigger house, or more money, or a new car, etc.
You have come out from all that stuff.
You live your life to the beat of a different drum.
You are living a life that is separated to God.
And the more your light shines, the more it will contrast with the darkness.
We are not called to fit in. We are called to stand out.
Just because I am in the dark, that does not make me a part of the dark.
Our calling is to help change the darkness by shining the light.
“God can do more through one person who is 100 percent dedicated to Him than
through 100 who are only 90 percent.” – Dawson Trotman
The grace of God empowers me to live a holy life.
That is God’s calling for all of us.
You have His power on the inside of you.
You are a chosen person.
It is time to let our light shine.
Come out from the darkness.
In Jesus’ Name.
That is what can happen when we respect the fences God has put in place.
It is what happens when we establish some fences of our own, in places where we are
This is what it means to be holy.