walk in the word
As obedient children, … like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior. 1 Peter 1:14-16
What image does that word bring to mind? It takes me back to when I was maybe five years old, standing in a country church, staring straight ahead with my suit and tie choking the life out of me. In the same row was my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, each gripping the pew in front of them till their knuckles turned white. They sang Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty with a medieval organ backing their trio.
For me, God’s holiness was connected with the clock ever so slowly ticking out the remaining minutes of some monotonous message. Do you relate in some way to that picture? Maybe you have known some people who claimed to be fired up about holiness but there’s nothing appealing about their legalistic lifestyle.
That’s not God’s kind of holiness. No man-made righteousness could ever substitute for a fearful and wonderful encounter with the living God. In fact, the only way to comprehend God’s grace is to understand two things: God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Any presentation of the gospel that leaves out that combination is incomplete. It’s God’s holiness that casts us upon His mercy.
Try to remember that the next time you are tempted to gloss over a sin in your life. “Well, it’s not that bad.” Or “everyone understands.” Refuse that rationalization. Allow God to grip your heart with this truth and you’ll find you have no more patience for your own lame excuses!
Contrary to popular opinion, God does not offer to forgive us simply so we can enjoy eternal benefits. God saves us because He wants to transform us, to make us holy just as He is—today!
First Peter 1:14-19 completes this truth, “As obedient children, … like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’… Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
Think of that. God said, “I want you to be like Me—holy. I’ve done what you could not do so you would have this incredible opportunity to be holy—now go for it.”
Will you let the holiness of our awesome God shake you so that you can never see temptation as tempting again? Begin by rejecting the kind of surface adjustments that substitute for holiness in so many corners of Christ’s kingdom. Let this be God’s wake-up call to you. As you are forgiven and cleansed, I challenge you to respond to God today with a passionate pursuit of living as He has called you to live—transformed and holy.
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