Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Be Holy!

{1 Peter 1:13-16; ESV}
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.

Becoming the person God created us to be isn’t easy nor does it happen overnight. It is the result of God’s grace and Spirit working in our lives as we continue to surrender our lives to Him. There is this mysterious mix of God’s power and our choices which come together to transform our lives. While we are powerless to be changed by our own effort, there are certain choices that God demands that we make.

One of those choices that we must make is found in 1 Peter 1:13-16. God calls us to be holy, just as He is holy. What does it mean that we are to be holy? To be holy means we that just as God is morally pure, upright, and sinless were are strive to live our lives in the same way. Yes, I realize that it is impossible for us to live holy lives, but holiness must be our goal, the direction to which we orient our lives.

I think too many of us ask ourselves the question: What can I get away with and still be considered a Christian? We view holiness as a line, and as long as we stay on right side of the line we will be fine, and so we spend our lives tight rope walking an imaginary line all the while wondering why we aren’t growing in our faith. The reason is because holiness is not a line, but it is a direction that we walk. If we are truly dedicated to holiness we will not wonder about what we can get away with, rather we will follow Jesus to the life God has prepared for us to live. Holiness is a characteristic of true life.

How do we follow Jesus in the direction of holiness? Peter provides us with four actions that help us on the journey of holiness. It is interesting to note that three of the four actions have to deal with our minds. This should remind us that holiness isn’t just about what we do, but that it begins with our thoughts and attitudes. Our character is the product of what we spend our time thinking about.

The first action that we are to do is to prepare our minds for action. Remember the call of God is not just to salvation, but also to service. This service, as Peter will point out in 1 Peter 2:9, includes being God’s priests. We are called to point other people to God, to pray on their behalf, and to serve them in the name of God. In order to do this correctly requires that we prepare our minds for the task before us. I would like to suggest two ways we can prepare our minds. The first way is to take the focus off ourselves and to place it on Jesus. The writer of Hebrews tells us to focus on Jesus as we run the race of faith (Hebrews 12:2), and so we have to keep in mind who Jesus is, what He taught, and what He did for us. This brings me to the second way we prepare our minds and that is by putting God’s Word into our lives. Too many of us have our minds filled with music, movies, and television shows that ultimately dishonor God. We need to fill our minds with what is good, pure, and truthful so we can be prepared for what lies ahead.

The second action Peter mentions is that we are to be sober-minded. This means that we need to choose to be clear headed. Not only do we have to be abstain from drunkenness, which clouds the mind, but we have to keep a proper perspective on things. Often we allow our emotions to cloud our thinking, and we make poor choices because of it. Being sober-minded requires us not only to keep from being drunk or high, but it also requires us to have a proper foundation for making decisions. That means that we allow God’s Word to guide and direct us rather than our constantly changing emotions. God’s Word will consistently point us in the right direction, while our emotions will have has being tossed back and forth by the wind of our desires.

The third action is that we are to set our hope on the grace of God. Our hope isn’t found in our goodness or knowledge, but in God’s wonderful and amazing grace. This is so very important because we can’t measure up to God’s standard of holiness. We can’t be holy as He is holy without help. That help is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate expression of God’s grace. We are only holy because of Jesus, and if we are going to become holy we have to follow Him. Thank God holiness doesn’t depend on us, because I would have given up a long time ago! My hope isn’t on my efforts, but in God’s grace.

The fourth and last action that Peter gives us as we strive for holiness is obedience. Part of obedience is staying away from evil. We are not to conform to the ways of the world, rather we are to be different. Part of not conforming is to have a different standard for living and for judging right and wrong. What is to be our standard? Our standard is to be God’s Word. I will guarantee that you will be conformed to standard of the world if you do not make an effort of know and obey God’s Word. Obedience is more than not conforming, it is also about completing the tasks given to us. If we are obedient children then we will love God and love people, we will serve our neighbors, we will worship God, and we will make disciples. In other words we will seek ways to give our lives away in service to God.

The reason most of us don’t live holy lives is because we are concerned with how close we can get to the line of sin without crossing, and in the end we stunt our spiritual growth. In the end we prevent ourselves from living the lives God created us to live. We are called to be holy, just as God is holy, and that requires moving away from the line and following Jesus as He leads us to true and everlasting life.
  • Point to Ponder: Holiness is not a line, but a direction.
  • Questions to Consider: Are your thoughts moving you toward holiness or toward sin? Is holiness a goal in your life? Why has God called us to be holy? What is a step you can take today that will move you towards holiness?
  • Prayer to Pray: Holy God, thank You for being merciful and gracious. I haven’t been holy and I haven’t desired holiness in my life. Forgive me from being ungrateful of Your gift of life, and help me to prepare my mind for action, to remain sober-minded, to keep my hope on Your grace, and to be an obedient child. Guide me along the path of holiness….

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