The goal of holiness is realistic because God has already changed their hearts . – R.C. Sproul, Reformation Study Bible
I heard a statistic last week that floored me. The survey said that 43% of evangelicals believe that many religions lead to God. This belief is the precise point of contention that occurred between the Roman empire and the 1st century Church. Rome said, “There are lots of gods. We are happy to include yours.” But the Christians said, “There is one God and one way to God, and that way is exclusively through Jesus Christ. All other ways are lies.” This chasm between the Church and the world was an irreconcilable difference; it still is.
Countless times I have heard someone say from the pulpit or in Sunday School or in small groups that we should strive to be holy, for God is Holy. I fully agree with these pithy exhortations, but usually, the silent message is, “but you really can’t be holy.” Well, I am not able to say that I have attained holiness, yet we read in 1 Corinthians 1:2-3:
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice that Paul states, “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.” – The standard Christian definition of sanctification is:
Paul’s statement on sanctification runs counter to modern teachings. Most American Christians don’t think in terms of “being set-part to God or being holy.” Holiness, sanctification, the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), Jesus as the only way (John 14:6); many modern Christians have exchanged these for political correctness and social acceptance.
So, to make sure we are all on the same page of the hymnal, God said, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16) God did not leave wiggle room. Nowhere in Scripture does He tell us that it’s okay to reject the torture and death of God’s beloved Son and choose an alternative way to salvation. We’re either “all in” or we’re out.
Holiness is the bar that God set for each one of His children. We need to be like the apostle Paul when he wrote:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. – Philippians 3:12
Now, as Christians, we know the main thing. So the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing! Be holy because God is Holy.
Photo by Jamie Hagan on Unsplash
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