Summary: We are called to "be holy as God is holy" - but what does that mean for you and me?
Be Holy As I Am Holy - 1 Peter 1:13-23 - December 30, 2012
Series: Communion Sunday
Someone once wrote these words, “God makes us miserable through conviction to make us happy through confession.” “God makes us miserable through conviction to make us happy through confession.” And I think there is some truth to those words for when we come to a conviction of sin in our lives it lies heavy on our hearts. It fills our thoughts and wears away at us. In Psalm 51 King David wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” [Psalm 51:3] He could not escape an awareness of his sin any more than we can, and while he may have been able to hide it from others for a while, in his inner heart, he knew, that what he had done was wrong in God’s eyes, and because of that he had no sense of inner peace. He writes, “When I kept silent, [that is, when “I did not confess my sins,”] my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night [the hand of God] was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” [Psalm 32:3-4] Sin eats away at us. It leads to feelings of shame and failure, frustration and despair. It hinders our communion with God, leads to powerlessness in prayer, and threatens the fellowship of believers. When sin lies heavy on our hearts, peace flees and turmoil ensues.
And it is far better that we do feel miserable under conviction then it is that we live unaffected by our sins. For if our sins do not bother us, if they do not strike within us a chord of remorse, a glimmering of awareness that through our sins we have grieved a Holy God, then we have quenched the Spirit of God that lives within us and silenced our conscience. A lot of people live that way today. We have hardened ourselves to those things which are pleasing to God and reveled in those which are offensive to Him. And for the most part we don’t think of it as any big deal. We think of our own sin as small but the sin of others as being much bigger.
Let me ask you a question: Which is the bigger sin – homosexuality, theft, drunkenness, or the tongue that gossips and slanders others? The truth is that in our hearts we tend to rank them because we see some sins as being worse than others. And in a way it’s true. Murder seems infinitely worse than gossiping over a cup of coffee with your friends. But that’s a very human perspective on sin. That’s seeing sin in the context of our relationships with other people, when what we should be doing, is seeking to see it against the holiness of God. When we only see the human dimension, of sin we fail to see the complete depravity of sin, and began tolerating sin in our lives - because in that light it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal after all. But listen to what Paul writes to the church in Corinth …
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? [That’s Paul’s nice way of saying, “Not everyone is going to heaven.” What that really means, is that some are going to find themselves in Hell – they will face the terrible outpouring of God’s wrath, and judgement on the day when all sin is brought into the light. On that day we will not be able to stand before God in our sin. Our own acts will condemn us. How much better for us to be miserable now, under conviction of sin for a time, that we might have an awareness of sin, a heart to turn from it and to seek God, and to know His healing and forgiveness in this day!
Without that conviction of sin we will continue in our guilt, blind to it all the while. And while we protest our innocence now, while we deny the sin we live with is really something to be put to death and turned away from, in that day every excuse that we use to justify our sin, will be revealed to be empty and hollow and useless, as every motive of our hearts is laid bare before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the end we will not be able to protest our innocence – for every tongue will be stilled – and we will realize that God is just and right in His judgment. And so Paul writes to the Corinthian church and says to them …] Do not be deceived: [For sin is deceitful – it promises life but brings death] Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10, NIV84)