Holiness Is Not Your Job

Could you imagine being given the job of fitting a square peg in a round hole? The idea that someone would remunerate you to perform a task that is categorically impossible seems preposterous.

But is it possible that the Lord God has given such a job to every Christian alive today? When we flip through the pages of 1 Peter, we come to a verse that many of us know so well, but often ignore the great tension and anxiety that this verse creates.

“Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””

It has been said that “holy” as it relates to God means “set apart.” But that statement only generates more questions. What is it that God is set apart from? We do know that He is set apart from sin. In Him there is no sin at all. So, is that holiness, then?

Oswald Chambers in his seminal work, My Utmost for His Highest, communicates this on holiness: “I am not holy, nor am I likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy, His teaching only causes me to despair.”

What’s Jesus getting at, then? What is it to be holy as God is holy? Some translations amend the 1 Peter passage to read “Become holy yourselves in all your behavior.” This subtle change in verbiage makes quite a difference. When someone commands you to BE something, you are usually being commissioned to DO something. But when someone commands you to BECOME something, the imperative is a little less forceful.

The truth of the matter is the path to holiness is not a job you do. You can never work hard enough to become completely set apart from sin. Even though your sins have been forgiven and do not affect your eternal destiny, it is certain that you will continue to commit sins for as long as you take a breath on earth.

In fact, it is the Spirit in you that is making you holy. He’s doing all the hard work. And it is His timing that determines when you will achieve what theologians call final sanctification, or perfection. For today, you are on the road to holiness being led there by the God who dwells in you.

So, why the imperative to become something beyond our grasp? It is important to remember that our willingness to be transformed into a holy child of God matters. It’s not as much about trying hard to be good, but rather our willingness to be made good.

So, stop working so hard at becoming something beyond your grasp. Rather, draw near to God, and be sensitive to the progressive work of the Spirit as He transforms you into something truly set apart for God.

Pastor Scott