That Holy Ghost Kind of Holiness
Believers Should Want to Be Different, and Be Like Their Savior
Of the many passages of Holy Scripture that give me pause every time I come across them none give me more trouble than 1 Peter 1:15-16. There the apostle says, “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”
That is a pretty tall order. Yet because the Christian grace which is granted to us in the Holy Spirit is our power and strength we have no excuse to not be holy as the Lord is holy. The issue is not one of ability, but of desire. Many times we use our remaining sinful nature as an excuse for not giving up the things which keep us from experiencing the blessings of holiness. We are to be holy, for Jehovah God is holy. The standard is the standard. No amount of nuancing our way out of it is going to change the fundamental truth of the Bible. As the prophet Obadiah notes the church of Christ should be known for being a place of obedience and love for God, “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness.”
As a believer in the Lord Jesus we are called to be set apart from the world and not to be as the world, and are to, as the previous verses note:
…gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.
Not only do we have the grace to be holy, but the Lord has given to us in His mercy means by which to improve on that gift. Prayer, praise, and fellowship are but the main avenues of that blessing. The first expression in the verse above is one we have heard before. It is almost always used for a man getting ready for battle. In the days before pants everyone wore a long dress. As any lady will tell you running in an evening gown is not going to gain you many medals in track and field. What the men would do is tie up the extra cloth around their waist so as to create a sort of military onesie to help with maneuverability in battle. They had to be ready for the fight and it took some preparation to get there. What does that have to do with being holy? Well, think about all the language in the Bible about the warfare between good and evil. There is no real question as to whether or not we are going to be involved in it. The Scriptures know nothing about a spiritual Switzerland. You are either for the Lord or for the Devil. Either Jehovah is your Father or Satan is. Two teams. Two outcomes. If you were going to choose on which side to fight what would be your banner of truth?
I am sure we all at this point we would sign up for #TeamJesus.
However, what is the reality of the situation? Whose side are you really on? It all goes back to the question about girding oneself up. Are you preparing in the ways of God or of the Evil One? Who is getting your time and energy? If it is the Lord then you are being obedient to the commands we see in 1 Peter. If you are trying to serve both God and Mammon, then the later is always going to win out for your affections. Double agents never win. They always end up supporting with a little more gusto that which has their heart. One group gets the real aid and the other gets shoddy work. When it comes to this question of holiness God has something to say about the question: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Ask yourself that question. Who, or what, have I placed before my Lord? But don’t just ask that generally or broadly. Remember the context of what we are talking about here. What has gotten in the way, or better yet, what am I allowing to take precedent over my “girding up the loins of your mind”? If we are weak in spirit, and are slothful in our righteousness it comes from somewhere.
But I want to switch gears here for a second and ask a different question. What does it say about us if we don’t really care about holiness? In other words what if it does not bother us to sin. We go through the motions of doing outward works of religion but feel no compunction to going home after church and engaging in a little inappropriate web activity. If they will know we are Christians by our love what is it that we love? Ourselves? Our sin? Or do we strive to be holy as our Lord is holy because we love Him and want to be as He is?
These are hard questions because we don’t always like the answer.
Be honest with yourself. Do you lament your sin? Is Psalm 38 an example of what you are going through in the moments where your conscience is really dealing with you? Can you say with David, “My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness”? Or is that language too strong? Too much meddlin’. Well the disciple whom Jesus loved has something to say to us here, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
That’s really what the whole shooting match is about.
Are we concerned enough about our sin to not only want Jesus to pay for it, but to rid ourselves of it for good? Do you want to be holy? I mean really holy, not just “enough to get into Heaven holy”, but holy as the Lord is holy. How we answer says a lot about how we understand the gospel, and what we really want out of life.
Choose this day whom you serve. Selfish sinful desires? Or the one able to give peace and whose comfort passes all understanding.
You make the call.
Here’s today’s reading help:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church