Assuming I invite you for lunch at my place. As we are about to eat, you notice me going through the kitchen trashcan and getting some garbage. Then I start cutting the stinky rotten vegetables I picked up and sprinkle that onto what is prepared for our lunch. Would you eat it?
Of course not! I understand this example is just preposterous because none of us want to mix food and garbage for a meal. We don’t want to eat something dirty and unhygienic. We don’t want bacteria, molds or germs that can make us terribly sick or can kill us. We want food that is clean, fresh and nutritious. In short, we want to have healthy bodies.
Sometimes, we forget God has commanded us to live holy and pure lives.
Christians are to live godly lives. To be godly simply means to have a love for God that causes us to live a life pleasing to Him. In 1 Peter 1:15-16, God commands us to live Holy lives. “Holy” means “set apart, different” not stained by the garbage of the world. By living a life of purity and holiness, we are able to have a positive witness for Christ.
HERE ARE 3 AREAS OF LIFE TO FOCUS ON:
I. OUR THOUGHTS.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). What we see, hear, and think will come out in our actions. Impure actions begin with impure thoughts.
II. OUR SPEECH.
In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (NIV). What we talk about is a reflection of our heart. A Christian’s speech should be noticeably different from that of other people. What we say not only affects our own purity, but also the purity of those who hear us.
III. OUR ACTIONS.
In Galatians 5:19-25, we are reminded that what we do with our bodies and how we behave is a clear indication of our walk with God. Many people worship the gods of sex, alcohol, or drugs, which all have their root in selfish desires. God has commanded us to respect our bodies in a way that pleases Him and that will glorify Him.
If you are truly going to make a difference for Christ in your family and among your friends, then they will have to see a difference in you.
Do you have anything in your thoughts, speech, or actions not pleasing to Christ? Do you have one of these areas where you need to “take out the garbage?”
But here is the rub. We can’t be holy and righteous on our own. We can’t be holy and pure by trying hard to obey the laws. We can’t muster enough strength in us to work our holiness. I know people who try so hard trying to be righteous on their own and they end up frustrated and lost. How can we therefore have clean thoughts, words and actions?
The Concise Oxford Dictionary explains, to sanctify is “to set apart or observe [something] as holy” or “to purify or free from sin.” These definitions reflect the fact that the Bible uses the word “holy” in two main ways: 1) a special status, that is, set apart for God’s use, and 2) moral behavior—thoughts and actions appropriate to a holy status, thoughts and actions that are in keeping with the way God wants.
God is the one who sanctifies his people. He is the one who sets them apart for his use, and he is the one who enables holy behavior.
The questions include: How active a role should Christians take in being holy or in sanctification? To what extent should Christians expect to succeed in conforming their thoughts and actions to the divine standard?
The Bible tells us that humans are morally corrupt and cannot of themselves choose God. It also reveals that God must initiate reconciliation. God’s gracious intervention is needed before a person can have faith and turn toward God. He selects people for his use and thereby sanctifies them or sets them apart from others. Here are some scriptures that tell us that our holiness is made possible only in Jesus Christ.
Consider these passages. Christians are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:2). “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:10). Christians are made holy through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:29; 12:12). They have been declared holy (1 Peter 2:5, 9) and throughout the New Testament are called “saints”—”holy ones.” That is their status.
However, God’s purpose for his people goes further than a simple pronouncement of a new status—it is a setting apart for his use, and his use involves a moral transformation in his people. Something happens in the Christian. There is a conversion, a remarkable change. He or she becomes a better person. Just like in a marriage relationship, the husband and wife grow in their relationship. Just because they are declared married does not mean they are free to do their own thing. The relationship has got to be nurtured and grown in a love and grace-based relationship. This is not about salvation or being made guiltless. It is about growing in relationship with God.
While we have been declared holy and righteous by God yet, this is also about living in intimacy with the Lord from day one. A relationship includes both parties in the love relationship. If God has declared us holy from his perspective, and yet we decide not to participate and live it, then we will live miserable lives. Not because of God, but because of our own self-willed rebellion.
People are “chosen…for obedience to Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). They are to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). They are not only declared to be holy and righteous, they grow. A new life begins to build up, a life that is exhorted to behave in a holy and righteous way. Therefore, the initial sanctification leads into behavioral sanctification.
We are made holy by the work of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. He changes us from the inside out.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, holiness and sanctification have something to do with behavior. Life in Christ purifies us. In addition, we are also told that we are saved and made holy so that we might produce good works and good fruit (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 5:22-23). The good works are not a cause of salvation, but a result of it. Good works are evidence that a person’s faith is genuine (James 2:18).
When people come to faith in Christ, they are not perfect in love, deeds, or conduct. Paul in many of his letters to Christians has shown that they have many sins in their lives. In fact, the frequent exhortations in the New Testament imply that the readers need not only doctrinal instruction but also exhortations about behavior. The Holy Spirit changes us, but does not suppress the human will. Holy living does not automatically flow from faith. Each Christian must make decisions whether to do right or wrong, even as Christ is working in us to change our desires.
Christians are exhorted to become what they have been declared to be. Christians are to live holy lives because God has declared them to be holy, designated for his use.