I try to check my Spam folder with some regularity. I’ve found a few important emails that fell through the cracks or somehow didn’t make it to my inbox, so I try to scan the Spam folder weekly, but I have to admit . . . I dread the job.
Immediately I’m hit with all kinds of strange names and titles in the subject lines. People are hawking everything from flab-control pills to lonely senior citizens wanting to chat. But today when I scanned the folder, I wanted to cry. And to throw up.
Here’s what greeted me:
“Why wait? Have an affair with a cheating married woman!”
Who sends these kinds of messages?
What are they selling?
And who in the world would open an email with that subject line?
This subject line takes God’s sacred plan for marriage and smears it with the profane. Holiness smattered with smut. I’ve been thinking a lot about the subjects of holiness and purity lately. Maybe I’ve been thinking about it so much because I see so little of it expressed in our culture . . . and I long to see more of it in me.
What is “holiness” exactly anyway?
[box]“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” (1 Peter 1:15–16)[/box]
The Greek word translated “holy” in this passage means to be “set apart,” to be distinct or different in the sense of being special or sacred . . . set apart for God’s purposes or use . . .
The Holy of Holies in the temple was “set apart” as the most sacred place. A holy place is not to be profaned or treated commonly. It has the distinction of being set apart for God’s purposes.
If I’m to be holy “in all (my) behavior,” what does that mean or look like?
Well, one thing I think I can safely say is that holiness means I will take on God’s character in the moral sense of being pure, blameless, and righteous. In this way, the holy person is one who is able to be distinctly identified as belonging to God.
But please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here . . . holiness is NOT self-righteousness.
Holiness is shattered self -righteousness provided by redeeming blood. It is His righteousness alone that produces holy desire and provides us with the victory for daily holy living.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, believers are provided with positional righteousness, we are cleansed by His blood, and we are the “dwelling of God on earth.”
Because we are a “dwelling place for God,” we are called to live holy lives:
[box]Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)[/box]
I’m still mulling over how to “perfect holiness” in my own life . . . it begins with a “fear of God.” Out of reverence for who He is, I desire to live a holy life . . . that is my basic motivation for living a holy life. If I truly desire to glorify Him, I must reflect his holiness. But I won’t “become holy” through focusing on a bunch of self-inflicted rules and pumping up my will-power to live out those rules.
No, I think the way I flesh out holiness, and begin to take on His holy Character, is through “fixing my eyes on Jesus” and loving Him more than I love my sin:
[box]Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin . . . (Hebrews 12:1–4)[/box]
I’m asking myself these questions a lot lately:
Am I “striving against sin” in my life?
Am I recognizing when I’m unholy in my thinking, my actions . . . my response to others?
What about you?
How are you “striving against sin” and “perfecting holiness” in your life?