Looking to Jesus

Holiness Reinvisioned

1 Peter 1:13-16 speaks of hope and holiness. It deals with the mind as well as actions. Christians are to fix their hope on the grace that will be theirs in the future in Christ, and be holy as God is holy. Just hearing the word holy strikes fear in the hearts of many Christians. They instantly feel like they don't measure up.

I can't help but think that within the Christian community we often think of holiness in the wrong ways. We think of it as a human ideal to measure up to rather than what it really is, a divine character to imitate and align with. It hasn't helped that through the years holiness has meant many things to many people, and it usually has to do with the standard of behavior that is expected and even forced upon adherants. 

Therefore many believers live defeated lives because they can't measure up to the community standards or they are told they don't measure up to those community standards. They try with all their might to be really "good" and just end up feeling plain bad.

We think holiness is falling in line with a certain standard of behavior in a certain community. That can be a daunting and stressful undertaking. One that involves peer pressure, and judgment, and sometimes stringent expectations, both expressed and implied.

According to the Bible and specifically to 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 14, holiness is being like God. And holiness is not something that we can work up on our own. It comes as we dwell in Him, abide in Christ, and allow the character of God to permeate ours through dwelling in the Word and obeying what it says.

Most of the time we get so frustrated with our seeming lack of holiness according to the community standard version, that we throw our hands up and give up and don't even consider the God's character produced by the Holy Spirit version.

It might help if we look to a parallel passage of scripture. Take Romans chapter 12 verses one and two. We are told to not let the world conform us into its mold, but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we could see holiness and transformation as similar things and maybe even parallel ideas, different words reflecting the same concept or idea, maybe then we could get a better handle on the idea of holiness.

God transforms us through his Spirit by His word as we align ourselves with him. He changes our desires, giving us new desires for goodness and holiness when we come to faith in Christ. The progressive sanctification that we enjoy, although sometimes excruciating, is a mixture of progress and regress, and involves God at work in us to will and do His good pleasure, as well as us working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12–13.

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