by Johnathan Arnold
Continued from Called unto Holiness: Part 1, Not of This World.
Read: 1 Peter 1:13-25.
Peter is clear that because Christians are not of the world, Christians do not live like the world. He addresses his audience as “obedient children” who once “fashioned themselves according to the former lusts in their ignorance” (v.14, emphasis added).
There are only two types of people in this world: obedient children, who do what is right, and disobedient children, who do what feels good.
We are all born as disobedient children. We were all once the enemies of God. We have all sinned. But Peter says earlier in verse 2 that obedient children are ones who have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus — they have faith in what Jesus did on the cross.
Jesus makes all the difference.
Jesus cares about disobedient children.
Jesus died for disobedient children.
The person who confesses his sins, repents, and trusts in Jesus has his sins forgiven and is changed into an obedient child. He has a new nature; according to verse 8, it is a nature which loves God. "He is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The obedient children of God’s family do not live like disobedient children of the world; they cannot, for “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Obedient children are marked by a new nature which loves God.
WE DO NOT LIVE LIKE THE WORLD
James 4:4 rails, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Romans 12:2 charges us, “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Peter says that disobedient children live “ignorantly.” They do not think seriously about their actions or their consequences. They are slaves to their desires. But we are obedient children. Because we are living for heaven, we are persuaded that everything we do matters. Nothing is harmless if it weakens our reason, impairs the tenderness of our conscience, obscures our sense of God, or takes off our relish of spiritual things (Letters of Susanna Wesley, June 8, 1725).
Someone's description of a movie may appeal to our desire for excitement, but if it contains sinful trash, it is not right for us to watch it. A swimming pool on a hot summer day may appeal to our desire for refreshment, but if people are walking around unclothed, it is not right for us to be there. A casual flirtation may appeal to our desire for friendship, but whether or not sexual immorality crouches at the door, flirting is not right.
How many things do we do because they are pleasurable without ever thinking seriously about whether or not they are right? Romans 13:14 is unambiguous: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." Not a little provision. No provision! Starve the desires! Do not feed them at all! “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
How many things do we do because they are pleasurable without ever thinking seriously about whether or not they are right?
WE LIVE A HOLY LIFE, FOR GOD IS HOLY
Just as Peter characterizes the way the world lives as ignorant and pleasure-driven, he characterizes the way Christians should live as holy. The Christian’s right-living is described as a walk of holiness.
“Holy” means two things: set apart and pure. Peter uses God’s holiness as his reference point, for God is wholly set apart and perfect in purity.
The corrupt and polluted world is not our reference point. God’s fearsome holiness is our reference point.
God as Creator is completely set apart from everything that is created. God is infinite while His creation is finite. God is eternal while everything in this world has a beginning and an end. He is wholly other. Likewise, Christians are to be set apart from the ungodly world.
The Bible says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? … Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? …God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
Then, secondly, God is pure. There is no sin in God. Likewise, Christians are to be pure. We are entreated in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
“For 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. ... For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).
2 Timothy 2:21 unites both principles: “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” (emphasis added).
We are to be pure and set apart “in all manner of conversation” — “in every aspect of our lifestyle.”
In all of these things, we should be holy — not just better than the world or barely getting by. The corrupt and polluted world is not our reference point. God’s fearsome holiness is our reference point.
As God is holy, so we should be holy while we wait for our eternal salvation. Peter goes on to say we are “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) and a “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). Holiness characterizes the people of God.
We should be holy, not just better than the world or barely getting by.
WE LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF OUR SAVIOR
The Bible goes as far as to say that Christ died for the purpose of making His people holy. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27, emphasis added).
Observe that the church is without spot or blemish. Peter says in verse 19, we are redeemed with “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (emphasis added). We are to be a holy church for the holy Lamb! We are to have a spotless soul for the spotless Savior! A life worthy of our Savior is a life of holiness. We are called to follow the Savior; we are called unto holiness!
“‘Called unto holiness,’ church of our God,
Purchase of Jesus, redeemed by His blood;
Called from the world and its idols to flee,
Called from the bondage of sin to be free.”
Continue reading Called unto Holiness: Part 3, God's Divine Standard.
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