May 9, 2021

Holiness over popularity

Holiness over popularity

After the golden calf worship and the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, God comes to Moses again. What message does God have for the people? And what does it have to do with the core values of the Greensburg Church of the Nazarene?

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

Christian Podcaster Association


**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**




Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” This verse is the mission statement of the Greensburg Church of the Nazarene. Where God has placed this building, our church is not designed to be hidden. 


By professing faith in Jesus, His light dwells in you. That makes you and me citizens of this city on a hill. We are citizen-soldiers serving in this outpost of the Kingdom of heaven. And as such, we need to be brave. At least that is what I have been telling you for the last year.


The first value of a citizen of a city on a hill is: [pause to let someone answer] People over programs. Just as our Lord came to save people, we exist to see people find redemption in Him. Our journey continues today.


Exodus 34:10-16


10 The Lord said: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 Observe what I command you today. See, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzities, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 12 Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare among you. 13 You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles 14 (for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God). 15 You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the lang, for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone among them will invite you, and you will eat of the sacrifice. 16 And you will take wives form among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods. (NRSV)


This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.


What does this passage have to do with being a citizen of a city on hill? What does it tell us about what is important to us? Before we can answer that, we need to grasp what the Bible is telling us in this passage in God’s covenant with Israel.



IN THE TEXT: Shock and awe

***[v10] AWESOME THINGS***


Moses had received the Ten Commandments from God; a covenant had been established with the people of Israel. The people God had rescued them from Egypt, where they had been living as slaves for four hundred years. When Moses came down the mountain, the Israelites had made a golden calf and were behaving wildly worshipping it. In response, Moses threw down the stone tablets.


Our passage is after the dust has settled from that entire incident. God has come to Moses again, with a message for the Israelites. Verse 10 is God’s covenant with the Israelites, “I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed… it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” This is the same covenant God had with them before! He would prove it by works only God can accomplish.


***[v11-14] BE CAREFUL AND DO***


While God renews the covenant with Israel, He tells them “Keep watch!” According to Vines Bible Dictionary, the word “observe” signifies being a watchman over the responsibilities God placed before them. It is their responsibility to remain faithful to God’s covenant by taking these steps.


They must make sure they are careful to not make any deals with the peoples being driven out before them. Not only must they not make any deals, but the Israelites must destroy anything associated with idolatry. This is not because God’s love for them is that fragile, but that the Israelites are easily distracted, which would lead to their own destruction. God is jealous to see His people receive the good He has for them.


***[v15-16] BE CAREFUL AND WHY***


Why would allowing these other peoples and their gods be a problem? Because they would be a trap to the Israelites faithfulness. Most of these pagan cultures worshipped by encouraging adulterous behavior. Going to church for them was living out porn. Not behavior condoned by the kingdom of God.


Scripture compares faithfulness to God with that of a man and woman in marriage. Any sin is a violation of that relationship, at the core resulting from idolatry. Self is traced to the center. God is again trying to love His people by pointing them away from the dangers that could lead to their destruction.


FROM THE TEXT: Cross and all


What does this have to do with being a citizen of a city on a hill? Deuteronomy 30:11 records God saying to the Israelites, “This commandment I am giving you today is not too difficult for you.” God was commanding them to be holy. The same command He has given you and me. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” Loving God is being obedient to His ways, tearing down any idols that would hinder us.


Remember, God’s faithfulness to the Israelites was not based on their performance. They had abandoned once already, but God came right back to them with the same covenant. God was calling them to holiness for their good, so they would not bring about their own demise.


Paul writes in Romans 6:11-13, “So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive form the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.” Simply put, if God has redeemed you it was to free you from sin. God’s Spirit in your heart makes you holy, the holiness in you generates a fierce love for God that makes His ways your desire. You are not following the rules to make God like you or even escape the flames of hell, but because you genuinely love God.


BEYOND THE TEXT: Holiness over popularity


Citizens of a city on a hill value holiness over popularity. We have experienced God and His grace in away that leaves in loving awe of Him. This love leads to pick God ways of our own. It sometimes puts at odds with the culture and values of our neighbors.


Our value of holiness is not about being better than anyone. It is not about doing or not doing, but knowing God is good, His ways are for our good, and our pursuit of Him will draw us further into that goodness. While we value people over programs, it is our value of holiness that wants to see them redeemed. And it is holiness that keeps us from trying to use the world and their destructive means to rescue people. It is this reason we abstain from making partnerships with those who would cause to compromise our faithfulness to God.




The call of holiness is a call to cast aside and tear down idols. Even if they are popular. Even if they are ourselves. God is saying to us “I will perform marvels, awesome things with you” but we have to be willing to tear down the idols, and resist those that are entangling the people we are trying to rescue.