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From History, Mystery, Liturgy: “The Pursuit of Holiness is Not An Option” (1 Peter 1:13-16)

May 26, 2007

Rev. Mike of the History, Mystery, Liturgy blog has another sermon in his excellent series on holiness, titled The Pursuit of Holiness is Not an Option.  This message is based on 1 Peter 1:13-16 and I would say it goes very well with some of the material we have looked at recently on assurance and “making our calling and election sure.”  In part of this message Mike gives us three tests for whether or not we will be holy people–and in my opinion makes the Book of Leviticus relevant for anyone seeking to understand its teaching on holiness:

What we consume may be the biggest test of whether we are going to be holy people.  By consume I don’t just mean what we eat and drink at the dinner table, although that could be a part of it.  We consume far more than what we eat.  Our minds consume what we read, what we watch on TV.  Our thoughts consume whatever feels good or that we are looking at that may not be the best that God has for us.

What goes into our lives is not always what God wants to go into our lives.  When we do what He does not want us to do we are not being holy.

The second place in Leviticus where God’s people are commanded to be holy because God is holy is in the 19th chapter.  God commands Moses to tell the people to be holy because He is holy, therefore they are to obey the commands He has given them.  The second test of whether or not we will be holy people is what we do.

We demonstrate our holiness with our obedience to God’s Word.  Holiness is the absence of sin in our lives.  Yet unfortunately, we will never be completely free from sin in this life but like the psalmist we can hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we don’t sin against God. (Ps 119:11, TNIV)  If we don’t know what God says we are doomed to run against it at just about every point in our lives because the wisdom of this world and our own wisdom are not the same as God’s wisdom.

He commands us to do the opposite of what we naturally want to do.  We are told to love our enemies.  We’re told to turn the other cheek when we’re attacked.  We’re told to serve others first.  We’re told to place ourselves after someone else to let them go first.  We are told to become slaves to God and his righteousness.

None of that makes sense unless we see that God’s ways are not our ways and by following His commands we show the world around us that we truly belong to Him and no one else.  Holiness requires that we obey God; for it is in obedience where the rubber hits the road in our lives.  We can say we are followers of Christ all we want but if no one can see it by our obedience, I wonder what evidence there is of our new life in Christ.

That goes along with the third place that God says we are to be holy as He is holy in Leviticus.  In chapter 20 God tells the Israelites that they are not to consult those people who claim to know the future or to be able to talk to the spirit world.  He says that because they are supposed to be a people that is consecrated to God and God alone.  The third test of whether or not we will be holy people is Who we trust.

When we run off to consult our horoscopes and fortune tellers or those people who give us some kind of insight into the spiritual realm that has nothing to do with following Christ, we tell God that He isn’t good enough.  He can’t possibly know the future, I need to know it now, not later after it happens so we head off to check out the local palm reader or horoscope in the paper.

When we look somewhere else besides God, we cannot possibly be holy. We have taken the dependence that God wants us to have on Him and placed it firmly in a place that does not acknowledge God.  We aren’t looking to God for our provision for the future, but to whatever knowledge we can gather ourselves.

Brothers and sisters, if we are going to be holy, we have to come to God and say He is sovereign over all the events of this world.  We can trust our future to Him without worry because He will do what is best for us which gives Himself the greatest glory in our lives.  That is why Peter said we are to fix our hope on the grace that is to be revealed in Christ Jesus.

This is excellent counsel indeed, and if anyone is looking for advice on evaluating the fruit of his or her own life and measuring it against the standards of Scripture, this sermon can be most helpful.

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