Summary: Come out of the world. You must no longer live like unbelievers.
There were once a number of beech trees which had formed a wood; they had all fallen to the ground through a storm. The fact was they leaned upon one another to a great extent, and the thickness of the wood prevented each tree from getting a firm hold of the soil. They kept each other up and also constrained each other to grow up tall and thin, to the neglect of root growth. When the tempest forced down the first few trees, the others readily followed, one after the other. Close to that same spot there was another tree in the open, bravely defying the blast, in solitary strength. The hurricane had beaten upon it but it had endured all its force unsheltered. That lone, brave tree seemed to be better rooted than before the storm. Is it not so with professors? They often hold together, and help each other to grow up, but if they have not firm personal roothold, when a storm arises they fall in rows. A minister dies, or certain leaders are taken away, and over go the members by departure from the faith and from holiness. I would have you be self-contained, growing each man into Christ for himself, rooted and grounded in love and faith and every holy grace. Then when the worst storm that ever blew on mortal man shall come, it will be said of your faith, “It could not shake it.”
If we are to live in holiness we must become firmly rooted in Christ so that the temptations, the storms, the ravages of the Devil and this world cannot uproot us.
CIT: Come out of the world.
CIS: You must no longer live like unbelievers.
Speaking to believers, the Apostle Paul says we must no longer live as the unbelieving world, the Gentiles, live. (vv.17-18) “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.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV84)
What is holiness? A.W. Tozer rightly defined holiness thusly: “Holy is the way God is. To be holy he does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.
He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because he is holy, all his attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.”
Holiness is rightly understood as an attribute of God but there is more to holiness than merely something which God possesses or measures in accordance with His own being and His own nature.
Holiness is both a requirement for and a consequence of salvation. Holiness has a twofold operation in the life of the believer and in salvation because there are two main ways that holiness is to be properly understood and discussed for the Christian believer – the holiness of Christ and the holiness of the individual.
(1) There is at the outset and most importantly the positional holiness of the believer when he receives the holiness of Christ by faith. Holiness was a requirement for Jesus to pay the penalty of sin and that holiness is transferred to us in salvation. God’s mercy is not Him “overlooking” sin.
The requirement for Heaven is not to be free from sin it is to be holy. Entrance into the Kingdom is not predicated upon moral neutrality but positive holiness.
We were in the airport the other day on our way back to Virginia and for the sake of not missing the flight by being stuck in Chicago traffic, we intentionally gave extra time and arrived at O’Hair Airport early. There is a nice play area with a complete pretend airport play set for the kids and they played there for an hour or so. At one point I was playing the cargo hold of the wooden airplane with my children and a little girl. Now, she was very sweet and very nice and was talking to me and the kids were playing so well together that it was almost like she was one of the family. However, even though she was saddened when it was time for us to leave, she couldn’t come with us. She wasn’t one of us. She wasn’t part of our family. We liked her. She had not done anything wrong. In fact, she was very pleasant. The fact remained, she was not my child.
Friends, salvation is so much more than becoming morally neutral, being without sin. It is about receiving the very inheritance of righteousness from the first born Son of God. In Christ we are positionally holy; making us family.
(2) Then there is, and this is harder to attain, but no less costly, the propositional holiness of the believer when Christ empowers him to live out salvation.