Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why does Holiness matter?

1 Peter 1:15-16 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

We have spent the past several days defining and discussing holiness.  Today we want to probe further and ask this simple question: Why does holiness matter?  As we consider the answer to this question in light of the above verse, we will propose that the first reason holiness matters is because it Prioritizes Life around God. 

Exposing a commonly believed myth
The Old Testament is not the only part of the Bible that teaches about Holiness.  Many people mistakingly assume that the Old Testament teaches about Holiness and the New Testament switches to focusing only on the love of God.  If anything, the New Testament's emphasis on love derives from Old Testament passages that emphasize the importance of loving the Lord and one's neighbor. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18).  Likewise the New Testament adds even more emphasis to the priority of holiness in the believer's life, as we will see in the passages below. 

Holiness is important because it prioritizes Life around God in the following "realms" of one's life:

1. Prioritizing Church life around God
Romans 14:19-20 states - "So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense." This chapter emphasizes much the same themes as Leviticus 11-12, the emphasis on what is "clean" in the context of how one eats.  The point being that a church that prioritizes life around God will cherish holiness, since concern will be for others above oneself.

2. Prioritizing Business life around God
2 Corinthians 6:14-16 states - "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." We need to discern whom we make covenants with whether it be business, marriage or any type of covenant arrangement.  Whenever we make covenant with one another, my friends become your friends and my enemies become your enemies and vice versa. 

3. Prioritizing Family Life around God
Does Holiness matter in the realm of family life in the New Testament? Consider these words in Ephesians 5:25-27 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless."

4. Prioritizing your thought life around God
All Christian growth has its genesis in the realm of the mind.  1 Thessalonians 4:2-4 shows how holiness is the will of God in the realm of the mind - "For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor"  Notice there in verse 2 "by the authority of the Lord Jesus". Truly if the holiness of our thought lives is important to Jesus, it ought to be our priority too. 

As we have noted in past blogs, to speak of "The Holy" is tantamount to speaking about God Himself. (compare Isaiah 6:3).  We are not building our lives merely around an abstract concept of holiness, but around God Himself.  This is the first reason why holiness is important.  Tomorrow we will consider the second reason: namely holiness points to Jesus Christ. 

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