Grace To-Do List #4

. . . 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.”   1 Peter 1:15-16


If you listen to most teachers, you would begin to believe that holiness is something you do.  To be holy, according to many, is to do certain things and to avoid certain things.  If you want to be holy, they would say, here is the way.  Doing holy things, according to this teaching, leads to holiness.

But those who have discovered the true message of the Scripture, the message of God’s love and grace, read about holiness differently.  Holy is what we are, not what we do.  Those who belong to the Lord are already holy—because of Him, not because of us.

You see, the concept of holiness means to be “set apart,” made special for the use or the glory of God.  A place may be known as a holy place because it has been set apart for the glory of God.  An item, something in the Temple for example, is said to be holy because it has been specified as belonging to and purposed for the Lord.  People are holy when God has chosen them for Himself and has made them His own.

So, if you belong to Jesus, you are holy.  It is already decided, already done.  You can’t become more holy or less holy.  Your actions can be consistent with or inconsistent with holiness.  That would be to take the holy and use it in a profane or common way.  Holiness extends to conduct, but does not proceed from conduct.

I find it very hard to sing the popular chorus:

“Holiness, holiness is what I long for, Holiness is what I need…”

It seems to me that only unbelievers should sing that.  We have holiness because of Jesus.  We are holy because He has made us holy.

In fact, if you really want to rattle your legalist friends, assure them that you are just as holy as Jesus.  It’s true because He is your holiness.

So… be holy!


Filed under Freedom, grace, Grace definition, Legalism, Relationship, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Grace To-Do List #4

  1. Sue

    I’m having a hard time understanding what you’re saying here Dave. Call me thick, but when I read the 1 Peter verse above, it is telling us to behave in a holy manner. Doesn’t that put the onus on us? Help me understand?

  2. Sue, I looked at my youngest son yesterday – noting his wide shoulders, growing arm muscles, and strong neck – and said that he was getting “thick.” You should have seen the glare that he gave me. Apparently, he did not consider that a compliment! So,no, I won’t call you “thick.”

    Actually, the purpose of these posts is to show that we do have things to do under grace. Living out our holiness is one of them. So your point is good. I would say that Peter is telling us to live according to who we are. Since we are holy – chosen by God and separated unto Him – then we should be holy.

    But how? How does that change our conduct? Are we better able to do that now that we are believers? What has changed in my abilities or even attitudes? For a while I was nicer, I suppose, and I tried harder to do right, but over the years the drive of living as a believer has yielded often to the continuing influence of the flesh.

    My concern with what you have written is the idea of the onus being on us. If that’s the case, then we are in trouble. The flesh is no more able to truly live a holy life now than it was before. But many Christians try. They act holy. They compare themselves to the holiness they think they see in others. They make lists and rules to define holiness.

    But I would suggest that holy conduct is only that which Jesus does in and through me. In other words, as I walk with Him – focused on Him – my conduct conforms to His conduct and to my holiness. That doesn’t mean that I go through my day asking what Jesus would do, as though I could presume to understand His ways and have the strength to do them. Instead, it means letting Him guide me into things, asking Him about decisions, trusting that my flesh (with its desires) is no longer in control. This is living in the Spirit. This is an active relationship with a living Lord.

    If the onus of right living is on me, the burden is neither easy nor light. But the onus is on Him. My only goal is to put and keep my eyes on Him. Now you see why this is easier to say than to do! This is certainly not a passive life.

    Let me know if this helps or if it prompts other questions. This is an important discussion and I know that others wonder about all this also. Your questions give me the opportunity to clarify and to address things that jump out from what I have written. They also make me think!

    • Sue

      I’m still learning and trying to understand what it means to live in the Spirit and not on my own strength. Leftover junk from a legalistic life. And I’m still faced with outside influences that I feel I need to answer to, to please, etc. It can be a fine line for me at times. and at times I think I think too much about it! 😉

      I will take what you’ve offered and chew on it for a while. Hopefully others will chime in here and give me more to think on.

      Save travels to you!

  3. Forgot to say that I am traveling again. So, if it takes a day or two for me to answer, I hope you understand. I often travel to places with poor or no internet and have to wait to find a connection. Yes, there are still those in the US!

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