Practical Holiness

In our first few studies on holiness, we talked a good deal about the theory behind it all. We explored the fact that holiness is a violation of God’s character. We learned that holiness is not about having victory over sin but rather obeying God. We even spent time working through the concept of our positional holiness versus our practical holiness.

What’s In It For Me?

But today is the last day of our study, so let’s digress a bit and talk about what we get out of the whole thing. Sure, we obey God because He deserves our obedience; but the Scripture is full of promise and reward. We serve a God who loves to bless those who seek Him.

So what are some of the blessings of holy living? We’ve already touched on some of the most obvious benefits, so I’ll just mention them briefly. Psalms 66:18 reminds us that holy living keeps our fellowship with God strong. Hebrews 12:6 lets us know that if we aren’t living holy lives, God will discipline us; so a holy life is a life filled with God’s favor. But lets jump down the rabbit-hole; you’ll find it goes much deeper.

The Him in ‘Follow Me’

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, you’ll find Paul making a fairly shocking statement. If you turned on the television and heard and evangelist say this, you might just switch the channel. “Be ye followers of me…” What cult leader makes a statement like this? Before you pour the Kool-Aid, realize that Paul goes on to qualify this statement: “even as I also am of Christ.” He can tell people to follow in his footsteps only so far as they match those of the Savior.

But the real significance here is that Paul’s life becomes an example of right living because he is pursuing holiness. The greatest reproach to the Gospel is a Christian steeped in hypocrisy; the greatest proof is a Christian steeped in holiness. Falling down can be weary business, and often many lose heart. Your holy example coupled with your loving encouragement can make a world of difference.

Sure, the dramatic stories of drug dealers coming to Jesus gives us all a little excitement; but what a rare and precious thing it is to be able to say to your children, your spouse, your friends: “If God could carry a poor wretch like me into holiness, He can surely strengthen you!”

Spiritual Alzheimers

Perhaps one of the most amazing lessons I’ve learned about the blessings of holiness is found in 2 Peter 1. Peter sets the stage in verse 3 by explaining that God’s divine power has given us everything we need. He goes further: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” God has, through the promises in His Word, allowed us to partake, or share in the attributes, of His nature.

Verses 5 through 7 then list some of the things that we should be “adding”, and adding diligently, to our faith. Some of you are starting to swoon at the thought of a works-based salvation, but don’t forget–our holy living is a response to salvation, not a requirement. In fact, verse 8 make it clear that we ought to do these things as “fruit” of our knowledge.

And what’s more… verse 9 makes it crystal clear that a person not doing these things, not living a holy life, will be “blind” and will forget that his sins have been forgiven. In short, the more you indulge in unholiness, the more elusive spiritual assurance will be in your life.

When I was younger, I was caught in the all-too-familiar cycle of “getting saved”, sinning, feeling like I wasn’t saved because of my sin and “getting saved” again. This went on and on for years until I came across this chapter, and it revolutionized my thinking. Instead of thinking, “I did something wrong; therefore I must not be saved” I started thinking “I did something wrong; therefore I’ve hurt my relationship with God, and I need to confess it.”

See, this saved-sin-sorry-saved-sin cycle is really just a cop out, a grasping for something to blame the failure on. Instead of taking responsibility for your actions, you’re shifting the blame to Christ. Each time you kneel down and ask Him to “save you again”, you’re basically saying, “God, it didn’t work last time, so here I am again, I’m hoping You get it right this time”. A true believer still struggles with sin; but the answer is not rebirth, it is confession.

The Cure For Blindness

But holy living helps us avoid all of that “blindness” and keeps firmly fixed on the doorposts of our mind the idea that we are bought with a price and that we must glorify God with our bodies, because they are His. That is a true gist of holiness; honoring God’s purity in His strength with every action of our lives, no matter how difficult, no matter how small.