Are we concerned enough about our sin to not only want Jesus to pay for it, but to rid ourselves of it for good? Do you want to be holy? I mean really holy, not just “enough to get into Heaven holy,” but holy as the Lord is holy.
Of the many passages of Holy Scripture that give me pause every time I come across them none give me more trouble than 1 Peter 1:15-16. There the apostle says, “…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.’”
That is a pretty tall order. Yet because the Christian grace which is granted to us in the Holy Spirit is our power and strength we have no excuse to not be holy as the Lord is holy. The issue is not one of ability, but of desire. Many times we use our remaining sinful nature as an excuse for not giving up the things which keep us from experiencing the blessings of holiness. We are to be holy, for Jehovah God is holy. The standard is the standard. No amount of nuancing our way out of it is going to change the fundamental truth of the Bible. As the prophet Obadiah notes the church of Christ should be known for being a place of obedience and love for God, “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness.”
As a believer in the Lord Jesus we are called to be set apart from the world and not to be as the world, and are to, as the previous verses note:
…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.
Not only do we have the grace to be holy, but the Lord has given to us in His mercy means by which to improve on that gift. Prayer, praise, and fellowship are but the main avenues of that blessing. The first expression in the verse above is one we have heard before. It is almost always used for a man getting ready for battle. In the days before pants everyone wore a long dress. As any lady will tell you running in an evening gown is not going to gain you many medals in track and field. What the men would do is tie up the extra cloth around their waist so as to create a sort of military onesie to help with maneuverability in battle. They had to be ready for the fight and it took some preparation to get there. What does that have to do with being holy? Well, think about all the language in the Bible about the warfare between good and evil. There is no real question as to whether or not we are going to be involved in it. The Scriptures know nothing about a spiritual Switzerland. You are either for the Lord or for the Devil. Either Jehovah is your Father or Satan is. Two teams. Two outcomes. If you were going to choose on which side to fight what would be your banner of truth?