freedom … and cookies
Being holy, being different … they are things which could trap us in anxiety and burden. That’s because it’s so easy to see holiness as this set of heavy expectations and rules. But what’s the truth about a holy life — the real and genuine truth? Truth is, the “rules” you see aren’t actually rules. If God presents characteristics of a holy life (honesty, integrity, goodness, sexual purity), those things are invitations to true freedom. Left to the desires of our sin nature, our lives become train wrecks. Leaving the door open to any choice, shuts it behind you as you walk into a cell of your own making. Cultivating goodness, honesty and purity frees you from the hurt and harm of your sin nature left unchecked. In Grant’s illustration of enjoying cookies when he was young and still at home, and the “freedom” he experienced in being on his own is a sobering one. Learning to live with wisdom and limits brings maturity and true freedom. What Jesus did in taking our sins to the cross, broke the power of the guilt and shame, wrong choices and selfish living. A life of following Him is not oppression, that is what sin brings.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
As we’ve heard repeatedly throughout this series, being different requires transformation. At the moment you believe, you are saved, you are secure, and you are holy. You have been set apart by God, but although Jesus’ death broke the power of sin over you, salvation does not remove your sin nature. Living a holy life will only happen as you engage with God through scripture and allow it and his Spirit to begin changing (transforming) your mind.
you have it all
Nice teaser, right?! “No, I don’t,” you might answer. Well, when it comes to what is needed to live a holy life, yes you do.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3
With the gift of his Spirit residing inside of us and the love story that is the Bible, God has given you everything you need to live a holy life. You don’t need patches and upgrades or extra stuff, every bit of what you need is already within you. It’s your decision … will you use it to live a holy life, or will you come back insisting that you need more?
As God is transforming you, He is actually making you into something new. Your sin nature fades and His divine nature begins to emerge and grow within you.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:4
So how does this divine nature begin to grow within you? Peter continues in the very next few verses to explain the proper progression…
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
2 Peter 1:5-7
At the moment of belief, you have faith. Faith is no small thing, but it is not the only thing which sustains a holy life. As you walk with Him, reading scripture and applying it to the challenges and trials which will undoubtedly come your way, these other things begin to develop. They are a progression, and each new thing depends on the one before and gives seed to the next.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
2 Peter 1:8-9
The apostle John said that knowing God, knowing Jesus, that is eternal life (John 17:3). Knowing Jesus is an outcome of the maturing progression of adding goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love. Knowing Him more is real life. Climbing to a comfortable spot and staying there is forgetting what Jesus did for you.
As this series draws to a close, it is critically important to draw a distinction. Being holy and living a holy life are calls on the life of one who already believes. So I guess none of this matters to someone who doesn’t yet believe … right? Please hear us when we say, “it does!” We do not exist as a community of believers just to teach and help each other to live holy lives. Our hearts bleed for the one who doesn’t believe. Everything we do is meant to create an environment where you feel welcomed and accepted as you question and search. Please do not fail to hear the call of Jesus to you individually and specifically. God calls out to all, no matter where you find yourself or what you’ve done. In Luke 15:4-7, Jesus tells a beautiful story about a shepherd who has 100 sheep, and discovers there is 1 which is lost. He is that shepherd; the one who leaves the 99 to sacrificially and passionately search for the one who is lost. If that is you, Jesus is out there looking. He is calling out, and he (and we) desperately wants you to answer back. Don’t wait another day, another hour, another minute. Answer back. Our doors are open. Don’t wait.