I remember attending a Catholic elementary school until I was 12 years old. I remember having to conform to rules and codes of conduct. Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. Boundaries for children can be beneficial. It teaches kids how far they can go and the consequences of their actions. I believed the entire time I was attending Catholic school that the rules were based on my best interest and must be good. If I chose to follow them, I wouldn’t get in trouble.
Fast forward to ages 9 through 12 as a boy trying to be independent. I thought I needed my own identity since I was an identical twin. Yes, I have an identical twin brother. He lives in South Carolina. Have you ever worn the same clothes as another individual and was told that was OK? Really. Outside of school until I was about 8 years old, our gifts of clothing were exactly alike. The reasoning was unless we wore the same clothes, you couldn’t tell if we were twins. Not like our faces and physical structure was identical. The world needed to see the identical clothing of the 50s and 60s on us. Two kids wearing paisley shirts, corduroy trousers, and white socks. Are you laughing at me? I was finally released from the fashion statements I made and got to choose what to wear. I also chose to change the way I looked at rules.
My point is this. In my effort to obey the rules at school, and my parent’s rules about clothing, was independence really that important? In my effort to find independence, was trying to live by the standards of the world the right thing to do? What a paradox!
The same paradox exists in our life as a Christian. We are asked to live Holy. When you think of the word “Holy”, do you think about rules and living obediently? Do you think about it as being a burden or overbearing? Maybe you think living Holy is inaccessible to you. Maybe you’ve said to God, “But God, if You really knew me, You wouldn’t like me.”
Peter said this in 1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV): Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 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.” Did you see what I saw? God’s Word says for us, as obedient children, to not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. Peter calls us to live holy. When we think holy is all about rules, it can be very stressful. At the very best, people think of a holy person as somebody who keeps all the rules. While holiness does have to do with living obediently, the word means so much more. Holiness goes so much deeper than keeping all the rules. Holiness is an attitude of the heart in which you look at God and say, “Use me.” This is a tremendous clash with modern culture. In modern culture you’re supposed to be independent. You’re not supposed to let anybody use you, but that’s the antithesis to this. A holy person is someone who looks at God and does NOT say, “Just give me the rules and tell me what the rules are so I can get to it.” Friend, a holy person is someone who says, “I belong to you. I’m set apart for you.” Holiness is not just separation but it is separation and dedication. It is to be set apart from ordinary and evil use and devoted to glorifying God.
So how do we get there? It’s in God’s Word. Peter gave some important instructions in verse 13. Let’s go back and read it again. 1 Peter 1:13 (ESV): Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Then it goes on to say, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance…” 1 Peter 1:14 (ESV). We need to prepare our minds for action. We need to be sober minded. And we need to not be conformed.
If you want to know more about putting these pieces together for Holy Living in an Unholy World, click on the podcast link http://painesvilleag.com/exiles-in-hope to hear a powerful message from Pastor Aaron Taylor.
Friend, we need to live Holy in an unholy world. Leonard Ravenhill said this, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” God bless you in your journey.