Holiness: a Bi-Product of Abiding
Key Verse to Read and Treasure
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope 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.” (I Peter 1:13-16, ESV)
Holiness has gotten a bad rap in the Christian community. We have stigmatized it by placing negativity and loftiness around it. For example, if a person doesn’t partner with us in certain activities we might label them as trying to be “holier-than-thou” or someone who is a “goody-two-shoes.” Indicating they are someone who thinks they are better than us “regular” Christians.
It’s good to read Peter’s letter and that he brings to our remembrance what we normally read in the Old Testament books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy. A reminder that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but only to fulfill it. We cannot be perfect but he is. We cannot fulfill the letter of the Law. but Jesus did. We cannot keep the commandments perfectly, but Jesus could and did.
If we are given pause to Peter’s instructions then we might ask ourselves when did we stop striving for or desiring to be holy people and accepting sin as our norm, weakness to sin as acceptable to live by and from?
In, the beginning we were created in the image of God (Read Genesis 1:26) and holiness is part of God’s nature; being good and pure part of his character. The serpent entered in and used persuasiveness arguments to first, convince Eve to sin, then Eve enticed Adam to sin. Just in case she would be the only sinner in the family.
But God sent Jesus to die for sinners so sin would not separate us from him eternally and even now. Through Jesus’ blood and righteousness, all who believe in his saving work on the cross can once again enjoy living in the image God created us to have. We can take on a renewed nature as we are joined into God’s family and filled with his Spirit through Holy Baptism.
The definition of holiness is not perfection but devotion to God. Taking on a life of discipline, giving focus on and attention to matters of righteous living. It is living a life fully presented to God in a way that glorifies him. Therefore holiness for the believer is simply commitment to live a life of prayer, study of God’s Word, use of spiritual gifts, and doing good to others.
We cannot become holy by reading a Christian or inspirational book, or many books, about the holy life. We cannot become holy by copying other believers or joining a certain denomination of the Christian Church. We cannot become holy by pretense. Obeying God’s command to be holy as he is holy can only come through an abiding relationship with Jesus. When we abide, rest, remain, yashab in the vine Jesus, we take on his nature—which is holy and pure—and our desire to sin no longer rules over us and being more like God in goodness and purity increases.
God said, “be holy as I am holy.” We must ask ourselves, “would God command me to be or do anything that is impossible for me to be or do?” If not, then even in our sinful nature holiness must be possible and be ours, not through human effort or striving, for outside of God we cannot possibly have this nature of holiness—but abiding in Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, you commanded us to “be holy as you are holy.” I know on my own—not even by my will or self-disciplines can I attain holiness. Praise be to God through an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ I can enjoy living and cultivating a holy life. Fill me with your Spirit so I can become all your intended and command me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen
Are you uncomfortable with holiness? Based upon the definition of “holiness” and knowing being holy is not so much what we take out or get rid of but what we embrace and add, what does living a “holy” life mean for you?
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