"Be ye holy, for I am holy." (I Peter 1:16)
That is what God expects of us. God is the reason we are to be holy, and He is the power for our holiness. We can never achieve holiness in our own power, by our own effort. Holiness is not a burden to be borne; it is the only true path to happiness, although it may hurt for a little while, as we allow God to prune those things from our lives that keep us from being holy.
The compromises that we have made with the world erode our holiness. We cannot fill our minds with worldly things, and expect to live holy lives, lives that are pleasing to God. and accomplish his purposes. We don't want to be self-righteous or legalistic, but we have to realize that holiness and sin both matter --- more than we can ever imagine. Holiness must not be just a theological precept; it needs to transform the way we live.
Holiness is not just for the pastor, or evangelists, or missionaries: every person who names the name of the Lord is called to live a holy life. True holiness starts on the inside: our thoughts, attitudes, values, and motives --- those innermost parts of our hearts that only God can see. Our holiness should be apparent in all that we do: the way we work, the way we use our time, the way we treat family members and employees, the way we use our money, the way we honor the Lord's Day. Our leisure habits, our entertainment choices, and the things we do for fun, should all reflect our desire to live holy lives.
To be holy is to be clean and free from the weight and the burden of sin. We know that sooner or later sin strips us of everything that is truly beautiful and desirable, and robs us of the many blessings that God would bestow upon his children.
Why We Should Desire To Be Holy:
Sin is the enemy of holiness. What makes all sin so heinous and grievous is that it is against a pure and holy God. We cannot think of a certain sins as mostly harmless, we cannot rationalize them or make excuses for them. We must realize that all sin is a sin against God. God considers our sin, spiritual adultery; a betrayal of our relationship with Him.
Even beyond how sin affects a holy God, and how it affects others, sin exacts a price from those who would indulge in it. Before you yield to temptation, remind yourself of these consequences:
Moral or spiritual landslides, most often occur because we have paid little attention to the little cracks in our own walk with God and our moral conduct. Small, seemingly harmless compromises snowball, and set the stage for tragic consequences. We bring reproach to the name of the Lord when we fail to take sin seriously.
God does not intend for his children to live under the weight of sin. He has provided a way for us to receive his mercy and his grace by confessing our sin. It is faith in Christ Jesus that transforms us into a life of holiness. We are saved and declared righteous by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. And we are sanctified, not by our own efforts, but through faith in his sanctifying grace. Jesus can keep us from sinning; when we do sin, it is Jesus who will cleanse and pardon.
To live a life of holiness, we must "put off the old self". (II Tim. 2:2; James 1:21 Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:8-9) This takes effort on our part; God isn't going to do is do it for us. It requires that we take up our cross DAILY, and follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23) There is no instant and effortless path to holiness.
Another word for "put off" is "mortify", which means "put to death". Holiness and sin cannot both thrive in our life: one or the other must die. The one that we nourish is the one that will flourish. We must make a daily, determined choice to reject sinís rule in our lives: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions." (Rom. 6:12) We must decide: is God SoveREIGN in our lives? If God is SoveREIGN, sin cannot reign. If sin reigns, then God is not SoveREIGN.
When faced with temptation or opportunity to indulge our sinful "old self", we must be willing to do whatever is necessary to avoid sin. The Bible warns us to "flee" from sin: That means run for our spiritual lives, for our holiness depends on it! (I Cor. 6:18; I Cor. 10:14; I Tim. 6:11; II Tim. 2:22) This may seem extreme, but the question is: how serious are you about wanting to be holy? If being holy matters to you, you must be willing to do whatever you have to do to guard your heart and mind and protect yourself from sin. That's what Jesus meant when He said, "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away." (Matt. 5:30) We cannot experience the freedom, forgiveness, and fullness that we long for until we learn to "put to death" our sinful flesh.
In addition to "putting off the old self", we must also "put on the new self". To put off without putting on is to leave the job half done. Itís like tearing down a condemned house, and considering the work complete before the rebuilding is ever begun. To "put off" without "putting on" is to remain naked: exposed, vulnerable, and open to attack. (Matt. 12:45)
Merely putting off sinful practices isn't sufficient to make us holy. We must also put on righteousness. Just like putting off the old self requires effort on our part, so does putting on righteousness. We have to be in intentional about cultivating new patterns of godliness. God is not interested in us changing into a better version of ourselves. He wants us to be changed into the image of His Son, Jesus. This can only take place by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.
A commitment to Holiness means having a life that is always open to inspection; a life that can stand up to scrutiny -- not just in the obvious things, but in the hidden places where most might not think to look. Like the Pharisees, we have the remarkable ability to feel good about ourselves because we don't commit certain sins, while we brush off the interior pollution of our hearts as insignificant.
Is there any hypocrisy in our lives? Are we certain that whatís on the outside is the same as whatís on the inside? Do we outwardly appear to be Godly, but inwardly harbor unholy thoughts, attitudes, or values? Are we as concerned about how we appear to God as we are about how we appear to others? Do we have our eyes, hearts, and minds set on eternity, or on things of this world?
How important is holiness to us? How much thought, attention, and effort do we devote to pursuing holiness? Are we intentional about putting away everything that is displeasing to God? How important is the holiness of our children? Are we more concerned with their grade point average, their batting average, or their future earning capacity as we are about their purity of heart and life? Does the sin of ourselves or our loved ones drive us to our knees? Does sin in our own life or the lives of our loved ones grieve us, or are we content to close our eyes to it, rather than confronting it?
The church has long been waiting for the world to get right with God. When will we realize that the world is waiting for the church to get right with God? Repentance needs to begin within the church! "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (I Peter 4:17) It is time for us to become what God intended all along:
"Be ye holy, for I am holy."
This is a synopsis of a Bible Study by Nancy Leigh DeMoss titled "Holiness: The Heart God Purifies" by Moody Publishers. Visit Nancy's website,
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