Summary: A call to personal Holiness from God’s perspective
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)
God has called His sanctified Bride, the Church, to be holy. (1 Cor 1:2 NIV). He has commanded that we "Consecrate" or keep ourselves apart from the standards and ways of the world, focused totally and exclusively on His will and ways. This begins by keeping His laws or "decrees" and following them. It is the "LORD, who makes you holy." (Lev 20:7-8 NIV) Becoming holy is less about do’s and don’ts and more about who you are in Christ. God says that "You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own" (Lev 20:25-26 NIV) He is the one who has set us apart from the world. But we are to "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Heb 12:14-15 NIV)
So where do we start? How do we become "holy"? We start with the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. Too often we make the mistake of looking at God’s Word from our perspective, but the Word was written from His perspective to us. It’s more about God looking down upon us that we looking up to Him.
Christ the Head
Jesus made some very significant references to the Church in the Book of Matthew. The first is in verse 16:16. The Church’s foundation is the confession that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God"
The second is that the Church is indestructible; "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (16:18).
The third significant reference to the Church is the discipline of a believer found in Matthew 18:17: "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
Two principles emerge in this verse. First, the Church is the final court of appeal, after individual confrontations have failed, Second, failure to heed the Church leads to excommunication from the Church. By deduction, we also learn that the Church gathered has a high level of authority over the lives of her members. She speaks for God. She must be holy.
God’s Standards for Church Members
Matthew 5:1-12 identifies personal characteristics of those who are part of Christ’s body. This passage moves the focus from the corporate church to individual members.
What are their qualities to be?
· Poor in spirit (5:3)
· Those who mourn (Deplore) sin (5:4)
· Meek (5:5)
· Hunger and thirst for righteousness (5:6)
· Merciful (5:7)
· Pure in heart (5:8)
· Peacemakers (5:9)
· Persecuted because of righteousness (5: 10)
· Insulted and falsely accused of evil (5:11 )
Note the counterculture nature in each of the characteristics. None of these are seeker-sensitive nor truly sought after traits in the world system. Jesus repeatedly reminds us of the fact that we are not of the world. (John 15:18-19).
God expects, no demands that we: