Summary: Many of us here have struggled and continue to struggle with a holiness-deficiency. Holiness demands our separation from the world and sin to live a life of purity before and for our Creator.
Opening illustration: A California driver’s license examiner told about a teenager who had just driven an almost perfect test. “He made his only mistake,” said the examiner, “when he stopped to let me out of the car. After breathing a sigh of relief, the boy exclaimed, ‘I’m sure glad I don’t have to drive like that all the time!’” (Reader’s Digest [1/84].)
That boy was like a lot of churchgoing Americans. They put on a good front when they know someone is watching, but the rest of the time they let down their standards. There’s not much difference between them and those in the world, except that they go to church a little more. The divorce rate among Christians is about the same as in society at large. In fact, the third highest divorce rate occupationally, after doctors and police, goes to pastors! Christians watch the same TV shows and movies for the same number of hours weekly as everyone else. Christian youths are involved in sexual immorality to the same extent as those not naming Christ as Savior. Many Christian businessmen have a bad reputation. It would seem that our Christianity doesn’t have much effect on the way we live.
This just tells us that we are no different from the world. It helps us to see whether we are genuine Christians or not and to do something about it. If we are to be separated from the world, then our standards and data collected on us will be way different (extreme) from the rest of the world.
Introduction: The word holiness sends up red flags in the minds of many. After all, holiness smacks of legalism, and few of us want that. Besides, we're trying our best to be culturally relevant for the sake of winning unbelievers to Christ. Holiness sounds a little outdated.
Is holiness out of vogue in the church? And if so, what do we do with Scripture's unequivocal call to holiness? The answer to these questions may lie in our definition of holiness. In our day and age, holiness is usually defined as a person's private moral choices. Somewhere along the line, we've missed the real meaning. So what is God's definition of holiness? It can be defined as "being dedicated for God, and set apart from sin and its influence." Is it even possible to be holy? Are holiness and cultural relevance mutually exclusive? Is holiness a personal or a corporate calling?
I know of no text that needs to be burned into the thinking of the church in the West more than 1 Peter 1:13-16. Writing to many who had come from pagan backgrounds, living in a pagan society where there was great pressure to conform, Peter calls his readers to holiness in light of the coming of Jesus Christ and the holy character of the God who calls us to salvation. Here he gives us three reminders that will help us stay motivated to be holy, when we lack motivation:
Why should we lead a life of holiness?
1. Reminds us the CHARACTER of God (vs. 13-16)
One of the fun things associated with having a child is watching everyone ask, "Who does the baby take after?" I always find it amusing as people identify the nose as coming from the father's side, the mouth from the mother, and the legs from Uncle Tom. Even so, there usually is some sort of family resemblance.
Here Peter says, be like your heavenly Father - pattern yourselves after him “in all that you do.” Literally in every day, every moment, every thought, and every action. You see; it's the nature of children to imitate their parents. And we should delight in being like God, because he is our Father, and because his moral excellence is beautiful and desirable to be like him is the best way to be.
It can be helpful to remember how good, and loving, and just, and holy God is and to remind ourselves, "If Jesus were in my shoes, he wouldn't do this!" The recipients of this letter knew that the Roman gods were warlike, adulterous, and spiteful. They knew that the pagan gods were bloodthirsty and promiscuous. Peter says, "Your God is holy and just - imitate him."
Illustration: David Brainerd was a missionary to native Americans, and out of his missionary work, he wrote this: I never got away from Jesus, and him crucified. When my people were gripped by this great evangelical doctrine of Christ and him crucified, I had no need to give them instructions about morality. I find my Indians begin to put on the garments of holiness, and their common life begins to be sanctified even in small matters when they are possessed by the doctrine of Christ, and him crucified.
2. Reminds us the DISCIPLINE of God (v 17)