I struggled for several weeks with whether I should really answer a question that a friend, wanting my opinion, posed to me. I didn't struggle with the wisdom I would share. Nor did I struggle with my ability to communicate the truth in a way for it to be understood. My struggle wasn't even about my friend’s reaction or our relationship long-term. My uneasiness was focused on the lifestyle adjustments that this new wisdom would require. It would require him to do one of the hardest things in life to do. And that is, change.
It was a hard truth that needed to be heard, but it would be much harder to implement and live by.
This is the same reality that we face in the area of holiness. Many of you that are reading this today know that holiness is not a denomination, nor a cultural phenomenon. It is a biblical mandate that still holds true, despite its branding of being out of date, out of style, or even that it requires what I call 'spooky religious' behavior.
The mandate of holiness is a hard truth that can be hard to discuss and converse about, but it still requires change, accountability, consistency, maturity and obedience.
New believers don't believe that it's attainable. 'Churched' Christians minimize it as old fashioned. Carnal Christians ignore it. And rigid (Pharisaic) Christians use it (the concept) as weapons to belittle and manipulate others.
With all of this division, God’s Word still carries the expectation and requirement that holiness is the standard, which leads us to the question: If God’s Word expects it, how do we actually live that out in our daily lives?
1 Peter 1: 13-16 provides clear instruction on this process of moving toward holiness. Indeed, it is a process that is more marathon and triathlon than sprint and quick jogs. This passage shows us in a very practical way how to begin to live out holiness in our daily life.
Peter writes to believers, in a simple approach, that we must:
1. Prepare Ourselves (v. 13)
2. Purge Ourselves (v. 13)
3. Position Ourselves (v. 14)
4. Purpose Ourselves (v. 14)
We prepare our hearts, minds and bodies to act in a way that pleases God. This requires an intentional plan of action that puts us on alert to doing God’s will. It is the same effect as when we drive a car and immediately our sense of lawfulness arises and we begin to check our speed, confirm that we are buckled in, ponder our tag expiration, etc. When we prepare for holiness, we alert ourselves to the presence of God.
We purge our hearts, mind and bodies of things that don’t reflect the character and nature of God. The good news is that God doesn’t require us to complete this process alone. He has offered the Holy Spirit to be an active part of our lives and thus enable us to live according His Word.
We position ourselves on the hope that the grace of Jesus Christ provides. This provision is one that is of faith, hope and love – all of which are unconditional. We position ourselves to live holy lifestyles when we extend to others what we have been recipients of.
Finally, we purpose and commit to living holy regardless of the adjustments, change and awkwardness it takes. The tension that comes from pursuing God is well worth enduring and embracing. This hard truth may hurt our toes, but it’ll help us walk better.
Scripture Of The Day: "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do." - 1 Peter 1: 14-15 (NIV)