It takes an act of god to become holy!
Let’s be honest, there are more similarities between churchgoers and unbelievers than there are differences these days. It is almost as if Christians today cannot carry the responsibility of holiness. The life of the believer is set apart from the world, by God, and placed among a holy nation, for the Kingdom of God. This process of moving towards holiness is evident in every healthy Christian and healthy church. Where members are moving towards holiness in sanctification, the church is sure to be a healthy one. Pray for a healthy tension within your spirit that: 1. Knows God has named us a Holy people, 2. is longing for sanctification, 3. heeds the commandment to be holy. The Church is God’s people, and God’s people are commanded to be holy, which makes reaching perfection possible through Him, but not yet due to sin! This creates a need for a constant lean into Him, and we should expect nothing less from a Jealous God! He wants our devotion to Him alone. Wrestle well brother and sister!
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:9-12
Real quick, let’s work identifying what Peter is not saying! The holiness of one’s life is not measured by the unholiness of others. It is easy to make much of yourself when others in the community are walking in sin. If the idea of holiness is doing a little better than those who are by nature children of wrath, then we need a realignment to that which is Holy! When looking for the purest example of holiness, look no further than Christ.
Notice, Peter does not write that believers were awesome, and in God seeing that, He set them apart for His kingdom. Rather, it was so that believers would proclaim the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness! God does not save because we are awesome but rather because we are utterly lost in darkness until He finds us, and that makes Him awesome. When God saves, He moves the believer from the darkness to the light. The believer does not have the option to not be holy. Peter clearly states that the believer is called holy. Believers have a new name, we are a new people, and that name is a Holy Nation and a possession of God. But, if we are honest, we do not feel holy most of the time. We still sin, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and sin is still ever-present in the life of the believer (see 1 John 1:8). We have been called holy, but it is almost as the status of holy cannot be achieved in everyday life. This tension can create a certain type of rest for the believer, I hope to explain.
Romans 8:29 reminds us that the end goal is to make us into the image of His Son. For God to settle for anything less would make a mockery of the life-transforming salvation that He freely gives to people. Can we really get behind the idea that God has saved without a transforming work present on the backside of a God type salvation? In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul describes becoming holy as being changed from one degree of glory to the next. This is the process of sanctification. This process is played out through the believer's life for as long as that person lives. Although justification has happened and we are considered holy and blameless before God, the fact is we still sin. However, sin should not dominate the life of the believer. Paul actually says that he would not be dominated by anything (1 Cor. 6:12), and the believer should take this mindset towards sin as well. This confidence in not sinning comes from being named a holy people. It is not about just being named a holy people, but rather it is Who is naming the people Holy. Believers have been named Holy by the Almighty God. This means that He will do His part in moving the believer to become a holy people, and that is good news for the person who is struggling with becoming holy. It is there, this tension of called to be holy, but not there yet, meet one another. This is the power of the Holy Spirit working out the sanctification process, and in that process we see God keeping the promise of Romans 8:29, and although there is sin in the life of the believer, like 1 John 1:8 states, we wrestle!
“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Not only have believers been named Holy and Set Apart, called to repent from sin in the sanctification process, but they have also been commanded to be holy. Ask yourself this, "What would cause the wrongdoer, trespasser, transgressor, thief, evildoer, adulterer, delinquent, and the inventor of evil to heed the commandment in Matthew 5:48?" Perfection seems so unattainable at this point. Holiness seems far fetched in the light of what the scriptures say about the believer, before Christ, but it is also in the scriptures where believer finds their new name. It is time to start thinking about who we are in Christ: Holy, blameless, children of God, a Holy Nation, People who have received mercy. Heeding the commandment to be holy will be a direct result of believing what God has done and called us to be, which is HOLY!
I urge you just as Peter does, abstain from the passions of the flesh… because of Him, repent as God shines light in your life…. because of Him, it will only be by Him that you are able. Paul says in Corinthians, "all the promises of God find their 'yes' in Christ Jesus". It is because of Him that holiness exists. I get it. There is a tension because of the "not yet" aspect of holiness, but the believer can rest when the desire to be holy is present, knowing that God is where this desire for holiness comes from and the work is being done by Him. So rest, work, and tension……yes, and amen to all of these, because it is God who promises to make you something that you were not able to be before. However, in your struggle, when it comes to the responsibility of holiness, you can rest assured and know it is God doing the work to make you what He called you……. HOLY!