|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
God, our Creator and spiritual Father, has many amazing qualities that cannot be fully fathomed, adequately described, measured or appreciated. He is transcendent, the God above all. From our hearts we worship Him as we stand in awe before Him. It has been suggested that God’s greatest attribute is His character of holiness. Nothing else would matter if God wasn’t holy. All through human history God has not merely declared His holiness, but He has demonstrated it too many times to count. The Father, Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God are all infinitely holy (Isaiah 6:3).
The natural response to God’s grace is one of holiness (Titus 2:11-14). Jesus suffered and died for you and me not only to save us, but to set us free from the stranglehold of sin and enable us to be holy now. Being called out of the world and translated into the kingdom of heaven, we are to renounce ungodliness, evil lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly the remainder of our days. My friend, Jesus didn’t go through the shame and anguish of Calvary to give us immunity from an ongoing lifestyle of practicing unrighteousness (1 John 3:5-10). We must not buy into an old doctrine that says what we do in our bodies has no bearing on our spiritual being or our relationship with God.
The Christian’s standard is one of holiness. If you and I think like the world, speak like the world, dress like the world and pursue the interests of the world, then we should not be surprised that Jesus sees us as worldly rather than holy. You and I are to measure each thought, word and action against the standard of holiness. If I wear certain clothing in public, if I participate in a given activity, if I go to a certain location, etc., will I promote a spirit of holiness?
The Christian’s pursuit is one of holiness (Hebrews 12:14). One emphasis here is that holiness is not only passive, but there is a determined interest and active element on our part as saints. Yes, God makes us holy. Yet, there is individual responsibility in the matter. God says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). These words identify a challenge from God and a choice on our part, because He imposes His holiness upon us.
The writer of Hebrews penned, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). According to Thayer, the idea expressed by the original term translated “follow” means “to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing.” In a metaphorical sense it means “to pursue.” We are not to be indifferent either about having peace with others or having holiness as our dominant character trait.
Our spiritual lives are not to be static but progressive. We are to grow in our walk with God, becoming more like Jesus with the passing of time. Jesus died for us that in holiness we might walk and live with Him.
God, through His Word, calls us to a high moral standard by which we should live. To Israel He repeatedly said, “Be holy for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). In like manner Peter urges us, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16). We are to walk in purity of heart and lifestyle, as this sets us apart from the evil attitudes and actions characteristic of the world around us.
Why has God required this kind of life from us? Is it so we can’t have fun or enjoy the pleasures of this life? The answer, of course, is, “No,” but so we can enjoy life as it should be. Only life in Christ is truly abundant (John 10:10), as it’s within the parameters for which God designed us and means for us live. For example, I read several years ago about an individual who, at that time, was fifty years old. As a result of alcoholism, he suffered sustained memory loss. He could remember in great detail events of his life until he was twenty, but after that everything was blank. Even more tragic than that was, whenever anything happened to him, he could remember it for only a few seconds. For this person, due to his following the pattern of the world, even watching television was an impossible task as he would forget the beginning of the show before it would end. He was a man truly lost in time.
This is just one example of what living in the pleasures of sin has to offer. How many have suffered due to being addicted to drugs, the misery of existence that brings? Or how many have lost themselves and their families due to living a sexually immoral lifestyle? I know of family members separated because of words spoken in anger, and no one is willing to yield so that forgiveness and reunion can happen. Lying only brings more problems, not solutions. The broken hearts and lives that are created in the wake of sin are seemingly endless.
God calls us to His holiness and His way of life because it’s the best life to live. It doesn’t embarrass us, hurt us or ultimately destroy us. It allows us to truly enjoy this life, without it controlling or dominating us. It offers hope for eternity. Don’t be deceived by the allure of sin, because Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and never delivers on what he promises. Hold fast to those things that will endure for eternity. As Paul admonished, “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). To do so, and so live, means “when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). This is truly the life that’s worth living.