I Peter 1:14-16
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
As I observe my own behavior and the behavior of those around me, I realize that very often the quest for holiness is defined as being good or bad. We are trained as children to do good things because they are right and because we won’t receive a spanking. In school, being bad is punished with detention or added homework. As adults, the good people are the ones that don’t “drink, smoke, or chew, or hang around with boys that do…” as the saying goes. We mistake these societal constraints as the practices that will bring us to holiness. We accept this as a godly life because the world around us sees it as godliness.
In contrast to this, we are commanded to live as obedient children, holy in all of our behavior, so that we will be holy as God is. I find this a very different picture of holiness, one in which we must know what our God’s holiness looks like before we can pursue holiness in our own lives; a holiness found through study of Scripture and searching prayer to seek out what pleases our God.
I live in North Carolina and I’ve been seeing a lot of “Bible Belt” religion lately. The kind of religion where you go to church on Sunday, you sing the hymns as loudly as you can, and then you go to work on Monday and gossip about the person two desks down. I have to think that God is disgusted by this. I am disgusted by this!
If God has come to live in our lives (as we are promised in the Scripture), He should be filling us with His holiness and, in the process, pushing out our unholiness. Holiness is a natural product of our salvation. Upon our salvation we are justified (washed clean of all of our sin and redeemed for heaven). The process of this salvation, however, must turn into sanctification (the working out of our faith in pursuit of holiness) if we are truly changed by the sacrifice of our Lord.
My pastor has been preaching a series on the purposes of the cross. The point he keeps making is that we were purchased by Christ’s blood to live free from the bondage of sin. The great sacrifice of our Lord should change our perspective and the humility that comes from knowing the Savior that died on that cross must lead us to obedience and holiness. We must always ask ourselves, “Did He die for this?” Did He die so that I could pursue my own desires above obedience? Did He die so that I could sit in a pew on Sunday and appear holy to all of my friends and never pursue the work of holiness?
Today, I challenge you to ask yourself, “What is the place of holiness in my life?” Is the good that you do in your day motivated by public opinion or by obedience to your Savior? Our Lord paid the highest price. Not only did He suffer physical death, but also bore the devastation of God turning His face from Him (His spiritual death). Our salvation is not for public applause or self-inflation… it is for the back-breaking work of transforming us from sinful, earthly beings to holy, spiritual beings.