Math has always been a sore spot for me. I struggled with math in school – I barely passed some math classes because they were difficult for me. My wife can find a sale item and calculate 35% off in her head before I can use the calculator on my iPhone. Some people – my wife, for example – can rattle off the multiplication tables like they are nothing; I can’t.
Regardless of how good or bad we are at math, we call need to add holiness to our lives.
God expects His people to be holy, for He is holy.
“As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:15-16)
Just as children wish to imitate their parents, God expects us to imitate Him, our holy Father.
Throughout Scripture, we find the image of God’s holiness: e.g., “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Is 6:3).
God has called His people to holiness.
“If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim 2:21)
“God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thess 4:7)
When we speak of holiness, we speak of being different or set apart. If you go to the Old Testament, you will read about different items used in tabernacle and temple worship as “holy” – those items were for no other use but the worship of God in the manner He directed. God Himself is holy – He is totally other, for He is separate from other “gods” and from mankind and from sin.
As we think of becoming holy, we think of separating ourselves from sin, becoming different from the world around us, and molding our lives into the image of our Father.
What are some steps that will help us achieve the goal of holiness? Most of the suggestions I make today are “heart issues” – they originate and take place in the heart. That seems the perfect place to start – Jesus told us that sin originates in the heart (Matt 15:19) – it would seem, therefore, that the opposite, viz., becoming holy also originates in the heart – and we must carefully guard our heart, for from the heart “flow the springs of life” (Prov 4:23). Let’s think about some ways that we can put our hearts to work toward holiness.
Make holiness your goal.
Over the past week, I’ve talked about the goal of holiness, and now is the time – it’s really past time – for you to determine that you will make holiness a goal in your life. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). Strive for holiness. Make it the goal of your life and your life’s work.
Remember to Whom you belong.
As a Christian, you belong to God he is holy; therefore, you also must be holy (1 Pet 1:15-16). How many of us had parents who reminded us of the heritage our last name carried? If we acted unbecoming of that name, we could bring shame on the whole family. Likewise, if we forget we belong to God, we can bring shame and dishonor to His holy name!
Remember who you are.
You are not who you used to be. We are “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). Our baptism was a demarcation in our lives where we pledged to “walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). No more running to sin. No more living as those around us. No more living as we once did, but walking “in newness of life.”
Never forget that pledge you made! Never forget to walk in newness of life.
Make holy habits.
We all have habits, and some of those can be very good. I’m in the habit of going to the gym every single day and swimming – that is good for my health. But, far more important are the habits we make toward holiness. What habits do you need to cast away from you? What habits do you need to embrace and foster that you might live a holy life pleasing to your Father?
Cultivate the Christian graces in your life: “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:5-8) What specific steps do you need to take to add those qualities to your life?
Learn from your failures.
Holiness does not come easily, and you are going to fall. But, look at each sin as an opportunity to grow. No, don’t sin that you might allow grace to abound, but look at your sin and see how you could have lived differently. How could you have avoided that sin? What way of escape did God provide that you failed to follow?
Separate yourself from the world.
When His people were about to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land He had sworn to the Patriarchs, God said, “ It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth” (Deut 6:13-15). No being like the rest of the nations. No following their gods. But, a different life – a life which honored YHWH as God.
The Lord expects you, too, to live a life different from the people around you. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? Go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord” (2 Cor 6:14-17). How different from the world are you? Do you watch the same TV programs the world watches? Do you wear the same clothing the world wears? Do you frequent the same places the world visits? Do you view the same websites the world views? Just how different are you?
You must avoid sexual sin.
All sin keeps us from being holy before the Lord, but sexual sin falls into a category all by itself. “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18). Sexual sin keeps us from the holiness to which God has called us: “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thess 4:3-8).
Keep yourself from sexual sin. Keep yourself holy to God. Do you allow your mind to play sexual fantasy and sin in your heart? Are you involved in a sexual relationship outside of a heterosexual, God’s ordained marriage? Flee sexual immorality as did Joseph. Keep your body holy and present it to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him (Rom 12:1-2).
The goal of holiness. The goal of becoming more and more like Jesus. I know of no greater goal in all the world. Strive for holiness that you might see God. Until Monday, be blessed!