In describing evangelicals in his book What Is An Evangelical?, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says,
Evangelicals pay great attention to the way in which people live. They are strict in their behaviour. This used to be one of the most prominent characteristics of evangelicalism. I remember in my first contacts with the student movement, the people of the SCM and others used to describe those who belonged to the evangelical unions, the evangelicals, in these terms, Ah, they’re the people who don’t go to cinemas, they don’t drink, and they don’t smoke. I do not think they say that about them now. There has been a great change, but I am one of those who believe that there was a great deal to be said for the old position. The evangelical is careful about his life, careful to maintain good works, to live a life above reproach, not to be a hindrance or an obstacle to a weaker brother. The great ethic, the emphasis on holiness of the New Testament, is something which true evangelicals have always set great store by. They were called Puritans for that reason; hey were called Methodists because they were methodical and careful. They did not merely content themselves with an intellectual belief. No, their whole life had to be governed by their doctrine. ‘Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (1 John 3:3). This emphasis on holiness in personal life and in church life is a great characteristic of evangelicalism (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, What Is An Evangelical?, pp. 58-59).
I think the Doctor is onto something here.
Today, it seems like the biggest battle cry of evangelicalism is freedom—freedom to partake of or participate in whatever I want, no matter what. I know that is a bit of an oversimplification, but I am fairly sure there is a lot more preaching in evangelicalism on freedom than there is on holiness.
Why? Perhaps fear of being called a legalist. Perhaps a desire to stoop to immaturity.
We have perhaps too often allowed the lowest common denominator to dictate preaching.
Perhaps we are too unaware of the subtle influence of worldliness.
Perhaps we need to return to the days when the “emphasis on holiness in personal life and in church life is a great characteristic of evangelicalism.”