be holy

Posted: December 14th, 2009 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: | 7 Comments »

‘You shall be holy because I am holy.’ -1 Peter 1:16

As far as I could count, the command for a person to be holy is found six times in the Old Testament (KJV) and twice in the New Testament (KJV).

Purity and sanctification are goals because we believe it’s God’s will for His followers. As a group of people who want to offer our best and keep ourselves from immorality, we use precaution. We’re told to safeguard our lives in order to keep us in ‘right relationship’ with God.

The foundation of the Christian is belief in Jesus and the label ‘Christian’ carries the weight of responsibility. A responsibility to be pure. To live a sanctified and holy life. Anything that falls short is a piercing alarm. It’s either a cause for concern or a ground for excommunication. Either way, your connection to the body of Christ is questioned.

The problem is in how to fight the fear of failure that permeates the culture. If you think ‘the fear of God’ pertains to divine expectation and the wrath of discipline, then a fear of failure is a dominant and inevitable force.

Fear is the knuckle cracking step-dad wearing a beer stained wife-beater.

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed lovebanishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. -1 John 4:18

Fear is the opposite of love. Fear marks the sign on the street corner: ‘The party ends in Hell.’ Fear sits on the shoulders of the kid who watches his ‘non-church’ friends play from his window. Fear is the pivot of the heel as the friend distances himself from the fall.

The fear is warranted. When you are living with the kind of religious responsibility required to be holy, the opportunity for stumbles and spills is overwhelming. You’re on a minefield of morality bombs and you’ve seen far too many comrades get blown to pieces right in front of you.

Fear is the knowing that in safeguarding yourself, there must be something that you’re missing. And they’re right. “Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment.” (Lev5:17NAS)

You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. -James 2:8

No wonder people are afraid. Murdering is found in the same law as picking up a dead fly (Lev5:2NAS).

So, where does Jesus come in? He’s claimed when the man notices that he can’t reach the mark. The assumption is that he’s sufficient until he’s not, but at least there is a length of self-sufficiency and that length is the measuring tape for which he judges everyone else.

You’re either sufficient or you’re not. Jesus is not an extension cord. He’s not your safety net. He’s not your back up plan.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. -Romans 3:21-22

You cannot make yourself holy. You cannot expect others to be holy. Sin is not evidence of a missing relationship with Jesus. Sin is evidence of a continual need for Jesus.

An inside track to God is not found in your good reputation. Jesus is the only way and you find your way to Jesus through awareness of sin. Your sin calls for grace and grace makes you sufficient. Your insufficiency is His specialty.

Grace is a supernatural gift that changes the recipient from unclean to spotless. The fear of the disillusioned self-sufficient is that forgiveness of sins opens the door to more sin. If a punishment doesn’t ensue, then the criminal has no reason not to offend again.

Grace is not a new suit, grace is a new identity. By the supernatural character of the gift of grace, the recipient is transformed and made innocent, not just by decree, but by nature. There is an innocence that was missing from them before. There is a desire to maintain the innocence and the lesson that only the guilty could have learned.

Grace makes you a better person because you have the wisdom of guilt and the heart of innocence.

You can’t do this for yourself. Soap can’t get all the sin off. ‘Being’ something you’re deeply not is no different than putting on another man’s suit.

‘You shall be holy because I am holy.’ -1 Peter 1:16

You shall’ is not just a command, it’s a proclamation. If God can speak four words and the sun appears in the sky, then He can speak four words and create His light in you. He commands it and it happens.

I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it. I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done. -Isaiah 46:11

Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ So, it is finished.

be holy


7 Comments on “be holy”

  1. 1 Larry said at 8:03 am on December 14th, 2009:

    Ah, Serena… For years I tried to live out "Be holy as I am holy…" by muscling up. Try harder. Git 'er done, boy! And was always frustrated that my efforts eventually failed. Or I lived in this spiritually schizophrenic space of success and failure living simultaneously together. And, come to think of it, that pretty much has been most of my life.

    So… Is that just life? While life is struggle… and faith is struggle… and growth as well. The thought began to take seed in my mind as I read your post, that becoming holy as God is holy may be like two people who've been married for a long time. I have noticed, that people act like and even begin to look like each other when they have lived with and loved each other for a long time. Becoming like God…Holy… may be just part of the relational nature of life with God. The love coming from God to us inspires our love in return. And that is a life long process. And it can be messy… like a marriage can be at times. I know I have had a hard time feeling loved by God. Performance was what I thought God expected. So I worked. I am learning, though. Through the love of some of his children, I am beginning to "feel" loved by God. And I want to respond. Slowly, I beginning to believe that issues which have given me problems for years, can be dealt with because God loves me and will help me live a healthier life. But grace is why I'm beginning to believe that. I could have told you that intellectually, for years. But I am actually beginning to drink the Kool-aid myself. I'm trusting God, because I've found Him to be trustworthy.

  2. 2 Sisterlisa said at 11:26 am on December 14th, 2009:

    And the kind of life that lives by those fear is not really trusting in Jesus, are they? They are trusting in their self-righteousness to protect them from sin. We can set up physical boundaries for our lives, but they won't halt us from falling into sin. These boundaries are why so many Christians fear listening to certain music or being around people who go to different churches (or no church). They live in fear and don't understand that Jesus did not only die to bring them heaven, but also freedom from living in fear of curses.

  3. 3 April said at 5:11 am on December 15th, 2009:

    What does it mean to be holy?

  4. 4 April said at 5:17 am on December 15th, 2009:

    Shouldn't there be evidence of holiness? sorry, trying to piece together my thoughts on this… they are coming randomly 🙂

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 5:55 am on December 15th, 2009:

    holy: righteous, sinless, pure, consecrated, sacred, blessed, sanctified

    Acquired through faith, received as a gift.

    questions designed to analyze thought process:

    What type of evidence is sufficient for determining how God sees self and/or others?

    What place does evidence have when deciding whether or not you or another is holy?

    Once the determination about yourself or another has been made, what do you do with that information?

  6. 6 April said at 8:59 am on December 16th, 2009:

    I am holy because Christ lives in me and He is holy. thank you for adding the questions!!

  7. 7 Serena Woods said at 8:58 am on December 17th, 2009:

    no problem, April. 🙂