If we were honest most Christians would not have the most positive view or experience with the idea of holiness. Many of us would use words like denial, sacrifice, punishment, striving, separation or goal to describe what we think of when we think of the path to holiness. But in reality, scripture gives us a very different picture of holiness. Take a look at Ephesians 1: 3-10 in the Message
3-6 Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7-9 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making
God’s purpose is to restore creation
Ephesians teaches us that holiness and the love of God go together. God chose us to be his children and to be the object of his love. Is that amazing or what? In that he has made us his children. The amazing thing is that he has made us whole and holy by his love. Ephesians goes on to say that “we are a free people-free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds.”
How do we live out the holiness that God has given to us?
We live like Jesus lived through the power of the Holy Spirit. The hope of Christianity is to live the life that Jesus modeled for us. Freedom, fulfillment and joy in this life come when we live like Jesus did. Most of us know this is true because we have experienced the opposite and the pain that comes from living an unholy life. We know the weight of sin.
We have also tasted freedom from sin. What a relief to be free from sin and to pursue a deep and genuine holiness. To lie down the struggles of our youth and experience the joy of God’s Spirit at work in us.
Jesus did not live an easy life, he had many challenges and Satan tried every trick with him and none of it worked, the Pharisees, difficult people and circumstances, temptation (Luke 4). The Bible says that Jesus was a man and was tempted in every way we are tempted.
Our lives are not easy either. Church planting is not for sissies, we have challenges and temptation and feel the devil working against us at every turn. In the midst of all of these challenges, holiness is our ticket, holiness is the highway to experiencing all God has in store for us and protecting us from Satan’s schemes.
Many things in this life can get in the way of our pursuit of holiness and we must be aware of them. Here are two to consider.
- Christian hypocrisy – Jesus spoke about the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 25-27 calling them “white washed tombs,” because they taught one thing and lived another. It’s not the letter of the law that is important, but the spirit of the law. The question is not what you are saying, but what are you doing?
- The Great Commandment – Do you really love God and love people? What does it look like to love God? Scripture would challenge us to love God is to obey God. How about people? Are their people you don’t like and therefore choose not to love? It is embarrassingly common in the Church today for us to hate our brother or sister and justify it in our own heart and mind.
These things should not be true of Christians. Let us examine our own hearts today and turn hard in the direction of holiness.
Holiness is a gift that God has given to his followers. When we live in his holiness it has power to transform us into the persons God wants to use to accomplish his purpose and plan in the world. Holiness truly changes things, and it is a gift, reach out and receive it.
As we attempt to raise up the Church out of the culture, what more powerful tool in our arsenal than holiness. “Be holy for I am holy.