by Johnathan Arnold
Continued from Called Unto Holiness: Part 2, A Life Worthy of Our Savior.
Read: 1 Peter 1:13-25
In giving attention to the life of holiness, there is a first-rate, gospel-level issue at stake. Both the Bible author, Peter, and the hymn writer (of "Called unto Holiness"), Lelia Morris, allude to it. We are able to pursue holiness because of the redemption available through Jesus’ blood. We do not pursue holiness in order to be saved. We are saved by faith in a holy Savior, not by works of holiness which we have done.
Before the world was even founded, Peter points out (1 Peter 1:20), God decided to send Jesus, because He foreknew that mankind would transgress His standard of holiness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus bore the penalty for our unholiness on the tree. Through Jesus, we believe in God -- that God raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory — and are saved (1 Peter 1:21). Through union with Christ, God sets us apart from sin and begins purifying our lives.
We are saved by faith in Jesus, which motivates us to live a live worthy of our Savior. Genuine faith always leads to holiness. An unholy person does not have faith. Because of Jesus, our "faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21), as we wait for our eternal salvation.
Holiness and God's Word (1 Peter 1:22-25)
The bridge which leads unholy people to this faith in the Savior is the word of God, and the same word continues to be the guide to holy living. The life we live is a changed life, consistent with the transforming power of God’s word.
Peter calls this word…
He refers to the word as the gospel because the whole word of God, contained in the Bible, is summed up in the gospel. Holiness is not moving on from the gospel to something new. It is going deeper into the gospel that we already have.
God’s word is the only reliable standard for holiness. The holiness which we sing and shout, loud and long, is Scriptural holiness. Wesley summarized Methodism’s purpose as “to spread Scriptural holiness over the land.”
The holiness standard is not a manmade standard, for Scripture was not “ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). God’s word has not been corrupted by human mistakes. It is able to change our hearts and lives. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
When Paul calls the Thessalonians to holiness, he warns, “whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
SANCTIFIED BY THE WORD
If we answer the call to holiness, Peter says we “purify our souls by obeying” the word of God, “the truth.” Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them with thy truth; thy word is truth.”
We do not judge how holy we are by looking at the world. We judge how holy we are by looking at the Word. The world is not a reliable standard. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures for ever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
Man’s standards change. Culture shifts. But God’s Word is settled in heaven. God’s Word stands the test of time.
If you want to live a holy life, flee to the Word. A.W. Tozer said, “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of the others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."
A holy people is a Bible people. Read the Word. Spend lengthy periods of time searching the Word. Most importantly, seek and obey the Author of the Word. God’s Word is the only reliable standard.
Peter says that this obedience to the Word is “through the Spirit” — empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. Without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. No one is holy without the Holy Spirit of God.
Every holy desire and every holy decision is because of the Holy Spirit moving in our hearts. We should be sure to thank Him. We should call upon His name. We should seek Him constantly. And since the Bible says that He can be grieved, we should be careful not to displease Him by being irreverent or disobedient.
LOVE, THE GOAL OF SANCTIFICATION
Finally, the result of our obedience is “unto unfeigned love of the brethren” — sincere, honest, heartfelt, wholehearted, sacrificial love for our fellow believers. Not petty bickering. Not talking about them behind their backs. Not resenting them in our hearts. But seeking their best interests at the expense of our own.
John Wesley said that holiness — Christian perfection — is nothing more or less than perfect love for God and man. In Peter’s call to holiness, he says it this way: “see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” No matter how conservatively we live, we are not holy if we do not have love. If we are becoming more conservative, but we are not becoming more loving, we are not becoming more holy.
Love is the bright red clothing that holiness wears. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,” Jesus said, “if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
As we wait for our salvation, let us answer the call to holiness. Let us look to the Word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to pass our time in this present world with divine love.
For more on holiness, read Maintaining the Holiness Standard by Samuel Logan Brengle.