Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Call to Holiness

I Peter 1:13-16 says "Therefore 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; 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'." I posed two questions on Facebook this week to begin thinking about this passage. The first question was "do you agree or disagree with the statement 'the closer you get to being holy the more you realize how far you are from being holy'?" The second question was "how does the passage above affect your view of holiness, what does holiness look like, and can it be achieved on this earth?" A little bit of background is necessary to understand where Peter is coming from and where he is going with this passage. (Remember to join us beginning September 23 as we go through the rest of I Peter,II Peter, and Jude.) Peter is writing to those gentiles who had chosen to turn from their wickedness and put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He knew that they were used to living a certain way and that they needed to be taught about God's holiness and what was expected of His children. He begins by telling them to get ready! "Gird up the loins of your mind" is a reference to getting prepared for action. We cannot go into battle without being mentally prepared and physically prepared, and we cannot go into spiritual battle without also being spiritually prepared. I cannot say enough how extremely important it is to be in God's word, studying it, memorizing it, APPLYING it and OBEYING it! We have to let it sink in, shape us, and change us. Equally important is our prayer life. All throughout the gospel we see Jesus going off alone to pray, almost always right after and/or directly before a huge ordeal, including his praying in the garden right before the crucifixion. (The prayer life of Jesus is an amazing study too by the way). If Jesus (who IS God) had to spend hours at a time in prayer with God, how much more time should we be spending in prayer! We cannot fulfill the function in the next few verses if we aren't practicing getting prepared. Now we can move on to what Peter tells us in the rest of the passage. No longer are we to continue doing the things we did before salvation. Peter calls this former behavior our "ignorance" as it was the way of life before we knew Christ. Now that we have seen our need for a savior and have trusted in Christ to pay the price for our sins we are a child of God. Verse 14 calls us to a life of obedience, not one of conforming to our former way of life. We are not supposed to continue fulfilling our own lusts, we should replace that mentality with one of holiness according to the next line that says to be holy in ALL your conduct. God has called His children to a life of holiness, so it stands to reason that He would not command us to do something that isn't possible to do. True, complete holiness will only come in eternity in Heaven, but I firmly believe that we CAN achieve a life of GROWING holiness, continually getting closer and closer to the person God desires us to be. The most basic definition of holiness is to be set apart. Study scripture for even a little while and you will see that God wants His children to be different from the world. All through I Peter we are referred to as aliens, pilgrims, travelers through a strange land. We must remember that this world is NOT home for a believer. We are only here for a short time and we can either waste it by fulfilling our temporary pleasures, or we can fulfill our God given purpose and continually develop a life of holy living that is pleasing to God. Too often I hear people hide behind the truths of Grace in order to live in their sin. This is not at all what scripture teaches. A right understanding of God's grace WILL drive us to pursue a life of holiness. A false understanding....well, that's a whole other blog!

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