Reasons to pursue holiness from a putrid and vile sinner

We live in a world that glorifies sin. Fresher weeks across the country encourage drunkenness. Sex before marriage is flaunted as normal practise on our television screens. Pornography is readily available on the Internet. Stealing is as easy as downloading, and the government wants to make it illegal to proclaim that practising homosexuality is an immoral act. Our world loves sin. This should not be surprising considering that the Bible says that those who do not know God love what he hates (1 Jn 2:15). Holiness is an unpopular concept even amongst Christians (we are sinners who desire to cling to our transgressions after all (Rom 7:22-23)), yet God desires that we live holy lives. Therefore, below I have decided to offer some reasons for why Christians should aspire to live in a manner that is worthy of being called holy.

a)   The LORD is holy. (Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:15-16)
Above all else Christians should be holy because the LORD is holy. He is without fault and is blameless in all ways; this is his beauty. He is the blueprint for perfection and as his people who are created in his image we too should be like him. It is illogical for Christians to be in Christ and not holy (Col 3:1-3, 9-10). The LORD is holy; on this matter law and gospel agree.

b)   Scripture says so. (1 Thes 4:3)

Scripture is the medium in which God has chosen to reveal himself to humankind (Heb 1:1-2, 2 Tim 3:15), and God reveals in scripture that his will for each and every Christian is to be made holy (1 Thes 4:3).

c)   We are to fear God. (Deu 6:5).

Fearing God does not mean trembling before someone of whom you are afraid and doing acts they command in fear of being punished. Fearing God means giving God the reverence he deserves and obeying his commands in love of who he is. On this topic the Bible says that seeing God’s perfect character through the medium of scripture will cause us to fall in love with God more (Phil 1:9).

d)   We are to love what God loves (Jn 14:15)

Loving God will mean obeying him. I believe that some do not understand this concept. They understand that love is someone allowing them to do what they please, which is usually what feels good to them at that time. However, imagine a parent who restricts their son or daughter from taking drugs whilst insisting they get an education. This is the love God gives his children. It is a love that desires the very best for those who are in him (Rom 8:28). Loving and obeying God are not separable. Jesus commands total love and obedience.

e)   Christ died so we can be holy (Eph 5:25-26)

Jesus died on a cross not only so we can be saved but so that we can also be holy. This means that when we reject the notion that Christians must live holy lives we also reject the fact that Jesus died on a cross to sanctify us.

f)     By sinning we add to Christ’s punishment (Rom 3:5-6)

On the cross Jesus suffered the wrath of God for every one of each Christians’ sin. If you are a Christian then Jesus suffered the punishment for each one of your sins. This means that every time you sin you have added to the punishment that Jesus suffered on the cross in order to save you. This alone should be encouragement enough to live a holy life: which of Jesus’ children wants to be actively responsible for adding to their saviours’ punishment?

g)   Holiness is the only evidence of our salvation (Js 2:17)

Christians receive the Holy Spirit upon conversion (1 Cor 1:21-22). He is our guarantee that we are headed towards Heaven (2 Cor 5:5). His job is to sanctify us (Rom 5:3-5). His work of sanctification in our lives is the only evidence we have of our salvation. If a Christian claims to be a Christian but does not act like Christ then he walks in darkness and not light (1 Jn 1:5-7).

h)   Holiness is the only evidence that we love Christ (Jn 14:15)

Jesus says that those who love him will obey his commands. It is logical to assume that those who do not obey his commands do not love Jesus. The only evidence we have of loving Jesus is measured by whether we obey him.

i)     Practising holiness will mean that we are more likely to act holy towards others (Lev 19:18)

God commands that we love our neighbour as we love ourselves. This is a hard thing to act out as our default sinful behaviour is to desire the good of ourselves. However, if we are practising holiness regularly we will be more likely to have holiness as our default position and treat others with the love Christ showed us.

j)     We will never enjoy Heaven without Holiness (Rev 21:27)

Heaven will be a place of perfect holiness. There will not be found a single sin or a blemish of ungodliness. Heaven will be completely unlike the sinful world. God is using our life now to prepare us for an eternity of perfect righteousness. If we do not desire holiness now then we will not desire Heaven. God is the epitome of holiness, and his home is in Heaven.

I pray that these reasons to strive for holiness have been encouraging. I have certainly been challenged by my inability to be holy through my continual desire to reject God and his love. May God continue to work sanctification in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit via the medium of his word as it reveals the work and love of Jesus Christ so that the Father might be glorified through our holy living.

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