It’s Monday Grace!
Holiness must be the concept most misunderstood and misapplied in the church. For generations, preachers have called their people to holiness, to become holy by living good lives. Yet, if you ask most church people if they are holy, they claim that they are not but are trying. To strive to be holy, for some, is the work of the Christian life.
That’s putting the cart before the horse. That image of things in the wrong order is very old. Before the 16th century it was to put the cart before the oxen. The idea is that of a horse behind the cart it is supposed to pull. Interestingly, the word “preposterous” means exactly that: the “pre” and the “post” are mixed up.
We do not act holy in order to become holy. We accept the fact that we are holy and learn to act according to who and what we are. No amount of human effort or sacrifice will make anyone holy. It simply doesn’t work that way.
To be holy is to be set apart to the Lord. Another English word is to be “sanctified.” It means to be set apart for the Lord and by the Lord. God made all of Israel holy when He identified the people as His and pulled them out of Egypt.
For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. Leviticus 11:45
Then, after He did that, He called them to be what they were. He made them holy, now He wanted them to live in the holiness (consecrated) state they were in.
Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 20:7
Notice that it does not say they were to “become holy.” They were already holy and are asked to live like that.
This truth is important and runs throughout Scripture. We cannot overcome sin on our own. We cannot pay the price of our own redemption. We cannot become holy. Instead, God reaches out in His love to those who are willing and makes them holy through Jesus. That’s the gospel.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, Ephesians 1:3-4
He chose us and made us His. We are in Him because of His initiative, His work. Only God makes people holy.
The call to right living is a call to live in the holiness God has given. The old has passed away, the new has come. Live in the new. The old life was a constant struggle of grief and shame, live in the new life where you are accepted and loved and strong. The old life was bondage, the new life is freedom and joy. Live in the new.
Your flesh remembers the old life and finds it both comfortable and reasonable. So you are pulled back into sin and shame almost daily by that old way of thinking and the pressures of the world and the devil. But you are no longer that old person. You are holy, set apart to the Lord. Your conduct, behavior, does not have to be dictated by the old thinking. Now, let the Spirit of God guide you into the pleasures and peace of the new mind in you.
You belong to Jesus. He bought you with His own blood. You are holy and nothing will change that, not even your behavior. When you slip, when you disobey, when you forget, He still loves you and guides you back. And He is not ashamed of you.
For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Hebrews 2:11
Nothing can separate you from the Lord who has chosen you for His own. That truth alone brings freedom and rest. If there are things in your life that do not reflect who you truly are, let them go. Stop doing the things of sin. Look to Jesus and follow Him moment by moment. Why? Not to become holy, but because you are holy.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39