Friday, July 10, 2015

Is Striving for Holiness Legalistic?

I am reposting this from just over a year ago. Please forgive me as we have had many summer activities at our church and I have taken some time of vacation for my family and to catch up with some household items.

Recently on Facebook I posted: “God’s grace is not a reduction of His holiness, it is a fulfillment of it. We fell short and couldn’t afford the cost so Jesus paid our fine. Our gratitude for this ought to be reflected in holy living. Doesn’t mean we can be perfect, but God is worth the try rather than submitting to our own nature.”

I wanted to take a  few moments to expound upon this thought. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, 
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior ; 16 because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."

If you notice in verse 13, the focus in on grace. As a matter of fact, we are told to “fix our hope  completely on the grace…” (emphasis mine). Our hope for salvation is found ONLY in the grace that has been provided through the blood of Jesus Christ which He shed on the cross. We often cling to this grace (as we should, rather, all the time). But we often cling to grace to the exclusion of obedience.

 Notice verse 14, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts…” (emphasis mine). So first we have grace as our focus for hope, but we have obedience as the action that is the result of the gratitude for the grace we receive.  This gift of grace is a HUGE gift with immeasurable value. If we are not careful, we can be guilty of treating God’s grace with contempt and little value: 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace ?  (Hebrews 10:28-29)

 You see, it is already a big offense to God that we broke His law when we sinned against Him before we knew better. It is an even bigger offense when we sin willingly and claim that it’s okay because it is covered by the blood of Christ.

The reason this is important to God is because He has not changed. He has always been and always will be holy. He sent Christ because we were not holy and He wanted to make us holy and acceptable (Romans 12:1-2).  So, striving to live a holy life is not being legalistic. It is an attempt to be pleasing to God. Not because it benefits us, but because it declares His worth.

So let’s make our lives a living declaration of the worth and glory of God. Let’s reflect His holiness by striving daily to be holy as He is holy so the world might be drawn to Him.

For God’s Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

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