We have been called to wake up from our spiritual complacency and to return to the task of building and strengthening the house of the Lord. We have been given instruction on how to have the courage to answer the call. Now, a new call goes forth. It is a call that we must respond to if we are to have any hope that our efforts will be acceptable to God. It is a call to clean living. As we study this passage of scripture there are several things to make note of:
Holiness is not contagious (v. 10-12). Haggai asks the priests a very unique question. He says, ‘if something that is holy touches something that is not holy, will the thing that is not holy become holy?’ The priests respond in a negative way. They essentially say that something that is holy cannot make something that is unholy to become holy. In other words, just because you are in the presence of people who live holy and righteous lives, that does not make you holy. Just because you participate in righteous and holy things does not necessarily mean that you are holy. Going to church for example, does not automatically make you a good person. Doing good deeds does not make you a good person. Being religious does not make you a good person.
Sin and unrighteousness is contagious (v. 13-14). On the other hand, sin is very contagious. If you are around those who practice unrighteousness, their sin will eventually rub off on you. The reason for this is because of our sin nature. We as human beings are totally depraved, every part of us inside and out is tainted by sin. We are much more prone to sin than we are to holiness. Sin is natural to us, holiness is unnatural. Sometimes I like to do an illustration with young people to demonstrate the need to choose your friends wisely. I will have two volunteers. One will lay flat on top of a table, the other will lay flat on the floor beside the table. Then I will ask them to grab hands and attempt to pull each other. It never fails, no matter how strong the person on top of the table is, the one on the bottom has much more leverage than the one on the top. So it is in life. It is much easier to pull someone down then it is to pull someone up. No matter how strong you think you are spiritually and no matter how righteous and holy you are; if you are with the wrong crowd they will influence you more than you will influence them. Therefore, the lesson here is that we should be very careful who are closest friends are. We should make sure that we do not put ourselves into situations where we are going to be tempted to sin.
Holiness is what God desires more than our work (v. 14). Yes, God wants us to serve Him. Yes, He has called us to build and strengthen His church. However, more than all of that, God desires that we live holy lives. Notice what David says in Psalm 51:16-17. God does not desire our religious traditions and rituals. He desires that we humble ourselves before Him in obedience and in holiness.
Without holiness, all our works are vain and useless (v. 14). We can do all kinds of great things for the Kingdom of God, yet, if we are not living right, then all that we do is vain. What good is it to strive to build and strengthen the house of the Lord when we are living like the world. There are many churches today that are doing great things, yet, they are spiritually dead because they ignore the sin that is among them. All of our efforts are empty and meaningless unless we live a lifestyle of holiness.
Without holiness, God cannot bless (v. 15-17). Sometimes we may wonder why God does not bless like He has in the past. We may wonder why, as a church, we can’t seem to get ‘over the hump.’ There is no enthusiasm. There is no growth. Perhaps it is because we have not repented of our sin. Perhaps it is because we have become too much like the world. If you desire to see a special move of God. If you desire to see revival sweep across our land. It begins with repenting of sin and returning to a life of holiness.
Loving Jesus produces holiness (v. 18-19). In the final verses of our text we see that God promises to bless from this day forward. Why did God promise this? Because the people answered the call. They repented of their sin and they returned to the work that God had called them to do. The question may be asked, how can I live a holy life? Many people will strive for holiness by keeping a list of do’s and don’ts. Many will put up certain self-made boundaries in order to ensure that they stay clean. Sadly, the results are always the same. No matter how hard they try, they still fail. They can never measure up. They can never be good enough. The answer to this problem is to simply stop trying. You cannot live a holy life in your own efforts. You cannot live a life that is acceptable to God in your own strength. The only way to live a holy life is to love Jesus. The more you love Jesus, the more holy you become. A couple who has been married for a number of years will tell you that they love each other more now than they did when they first met. If you observe couples that have been married for a number of years, you will find that they get to the point where they are able to read each other’s minds. They may even begin to look like each other. You see, the more you are with someone, the more you will love them. The more you love them, the more like them you become. The key to clean living is not keeping a list of religious do’s and don’ts. The key to clean living is loving Jesus. The key to loving Jesus is spending time with Him. The more you are with Jesus in His Word and in prayer, the more you will love Him. The more you love Him, the more like Him you become. The most righteous people I have ever known are those who spend hours of quality time with Jesus each and every day. Fall in love with Jesus and you will find yourself automatically becoming more and more like Him.
Do you want to be used by God in great and mighty ways? Do you want God to bless you like He has never blessed you before? Then, spend time with Him. Love Jesus with all that is about you. As you do, you will become more and more like Him. You will become more and more holy. As you begin to change, you will see God’s blessing on your life and God will use you in ways that you never thought possible.