Summary: What does it mean to be a holy man or woman? This passage looks at the term "sanctification" and how it applies to believers.
Called to Be Holy
Text: 1 Peter 1:13-16
Introduction: It was the late 1920’s when a woman and her new husband moved into the man’s old family home. It was a clapboard house with a hall down the middle. It wasn’t much of a home, but it was all they had. Ten years later, however, the two had managed to save just enough money to tear down the old house and build another next to it which was to be their home for the rest of their lives. To cut back on the expense of the new place the husband, without informing his wife, decided to reuse many of the materials from the old house in the construction. He used old facings and doors, and many other pieces of the finishing lumber. When it was completed, the woman was finally permitted to inspect her "new home." As her husband walked her through it tears streamed down her cheeks. Unfortunately they were not tears of joy, however, but sadness. For as she looked around she saw the same old doors that wouldn’t shut properly; the same crown molding that was split and riddled with nail holes, the same unfinished window trimming. There wasn’t much in fact that was really very "new" about it. So on what should have been one of the better days of her life; she eventually sat down and had herself a good cry. Her husband was confused at her response. "But I’ve built you a new home," he objected. "No, you didn’t," his wife responded. "You just rearranged the old one."
It seems to me like a lot of people in our churches today have approached the Christian life in much the same way as this man approached the construction of his "new" home. Rather than allow God to completely remake us in His image, we have asked only that He remodel us so that we are nothing more than a little better version of what we were before. God is not interested in reforming our fallen, sinful nature. He is in the business of making us new creations (See 2 Corinthians 5:17 & Romans 6:4) that are the visible representation of Jesus Christ in this world. This process by which the lives of men and women are conformed to the very likeness of Christ is called sanctification. The word means "to make something holy." In the Bible it refers to the ongoing work of God and man that makes us increasingly free of sin and like Christ.
Today we are beginning a new series here at CLCBC called "In the World, But Not of It." Obviously, this is taken from John 17 where Jesus, in what has become known as His "High Priestly Prayer," makes a request of the Father on behalf of all believers: "My prayer," He says, "is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."
For the next 10 weeks we’re going to be looking at what the Bible has to say about the subject of holiness. It is my prayer that every person in our church would see significant change in our moral conduct as a result of sitting under God’s instruction on this important subject. I invite you now to open your Bibles and look with me at this wonderful work of sanctification. A work, we are told, that begins at conversion, increases throughout life and is completed at death.
I. Sanctification begins at conversion. The concept of saints, though regularly abused and distorted by some who wrongly interpret the Word to apply only to those who are especially spiritual among us, is a very biblical idea. Christians are commonly referred to as "saints" in the Bible (See Romans 1:7). The word actually means "holy ones." In fact, the exact same word is used in 1 Corinthians 1:2, but there it is translated "holy." How do we become holy ones/saints? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 tells us that this is what happens to us when we are washed in the blood of Christ. The Apostle Paul in defending himself in Jerusalem said that this is what happened when he became a follower of Christ (See Acts 22:16). His sins were washed away and he was born again. When we turn from sin to Christ and place our trust in Him we are cleansed of our sin (See Titus 3:5), and equally important, liberated from its power. This is John the Apostle’s claim in 1 John 3:7-10. To understand his point, you must understand how our relationship to sin changed when we became Christians.
A. We were slaves to sin (See Romans 6:17). When a person receives Christ, a choice is made to follow a new master. By virtue of this decision we acknowledge that we have been under the rule of a different master which Paul identifies here as "sin." He uses the word "slave" to drive the point home. A slave is never free to do what he wants. He is obligated to perform the will of the one to whom he submits. Those in sin, according to the Apostle, are compelled to obey it. Application: Try explaining this to an unbeliever sometime. It probably will not go well. Everyone values freedom and no one wants to be told they’re living in bondage to anything, but living in bondage they are! This is not to say that an unbeliever is incapable of doing something good. It is to say, however, that their inclination is always going to be toward sin and rebellion.