Summary: Without a life of holiness we appear no different than the world around us.
I’ve heard many people say so many times that you can’t tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. Alice’s sister-in-law, Keiko, is a New Age Soka Gakkai Buddhist. She is so serene, so filled with peace and joy, that Alice’s brother, her Mom and Step dad, have all been drawn into this cult. Why? Because the “Christianity” that they experienced was full of criticism, anger and abuse. Where is the peace and love that Christ taught us? How can we live it? How can we show it to the world?
Many of you, I’m sure, have made the decision to accept Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior. But is that all there is to it? Can you go on about your business, safe from the fires of hell, and continue in the life you once lived? Let’s see what the scriptures say.
I Peter 1:13-16 Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.”
Holiness. What does this mean? To some people it brings to mind an image of some monk hidden away in a monastery? Or a pious old lady who does nothing else but read her Bible and sit with hands folded? Many of us are afraid of the word. But, what holiness really means is that we are changed, set apart from the world to God.
In II Corinthians 5:17, we read, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.”
If we are in Christ, we are new creatures. This means there should be a difference in our lives after salvation. It can’t stay the same. There also has to be a difference between the world and us.
What is a holy life?
First of all I believe a holy life is one totally committed to God. God is holy. His holiness demands our commitment to holiness.
In John 5 verse 5, Jesus healed the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. In verse 14 of the King James Version, Jesus told him, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
Again, when Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, He said in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” In both cases, they were forgiven and restored to a relationship with God--but they were both told to live different lives after salvation.
God does not require perfection to fellowship with him, but I believe He does expect us to be serious about it. Holiness is following God’s commands. Holiness is living a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
It’s good to gather together for worship and fellowship. We need to meet often to support and encourage one another. But that’s only the beginning.
We can’t leave Christ at the “church” door. God must be part of all of our life--work, family, friends, big decisions, or small problems. A holy life, totally given over to God, can seem radical when we first look at it. We fear giving up our “selves”, we fear seeming “weird” to non-believers, but a holy life grounded in God’s wisdom, under God’s direction is a life of peace, joy and assurance. And a holy life is in complete harmony with God’s plan for each of us.
Not only do we need to be firmly grounded in a personal, ongoing, intimate relationship with the Lord, we need to reflect His love to the world. We need to be different in our behavior, our goals, and our desires.
There needs to be a difference between the believer and unbeliever that doesn’t need a long “witnessing” session to reveal. If I may paraphrase St Francis of Assisi, we need to be preaching Christ constantly to everyone every day, and using words only if necessary.
Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
A holy life pleases a holy God. A holy life also reflects Christ to the world. But how do we live a holy life?
First, we need to be in complete obedience to God. Only when our wills are in submission to His, can He work in us. We have to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When our own sinful nature rules us, we grieve the Holy Spirit. I’m talking about constantly living unholy or sinful lives, not occasionally falling into temptation and immediately asking God’s forgiveness. Accepting Christ is a choice; living a holy life is a choice also, and we need to make it every day. We are not our own, we belong to Christ.