Crafting Gospel-Centered Holiness in Everyday Life
Early Morning Holiness Blues
Picture this: you are stumbling through a dark room early in the morning on the way to get coffee only to have a run-in with your favorite table leg. Because the pain bypassed your reasoning, a profane word crosses the barrier of your lips and your hope of a “quiet time” with God is ruined. After you finally manage to get a cup of your favorite high test brew, you sit down rubbing your sore toe.
Then memory kicks in. Today was the day you said to yourself that you would try to spend time with God. Only now, the only time left is to try to recover from your verbal reminder of how “unholy” you feel. Thankfully the biblical idea of holiness has less to do with how we feel and more of who we are.
A Perfect God
Understanding holiness is difficult. The problem rests primarily in our understanding of just what biblical holiness entails. Leviticus 19:2 and I Peter 1:13-16 teaches that followers of God are to be “holy.” And yet, Isaiah 6:5 graphically portrays what happens even when a “good man” encounters the holiness of God. Isaiah is crushed by the weight of his guilt.
Jesus doesn’t help us because he teaches that the standard of our conduct is nothing less than perfection. “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Jesus’ standard creates a problem for us because no one is perfect.
A short study of these verses could lead to the conclusion that the answer to our “holiness problem” must be to try harder to love people, pray more, and read the Bible more consistently. All of these are good, but they do nothing to advance our holiness. If activities were the answers, then early morning stumbling wouldn’t be so detrimental. We could simply just do more.
If the answer isn’t doing more, then what we can do? To answer this question, let us have a look at how the Apostle Peter framed holiness.
1 Peter 1:13–16 (NET) — Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance, but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”
Notice Peter’s logic. He pivots his entire discussion of holiness on grace. — Set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Peter points our attention far into the distant future at the point of Christ Jesus return and his final judgment. We do not need to worry because we are covered by grace through faith.
Because we have placed our hope of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, we no longer have reason to fear. So the answer to our holiness problem is found in applying God’s grace and forgiveness to every aspect of our life. Holiness then is appropriating God’s grace to all areas of brokenness, insecurities, and fears. They may never completely go away, but they don’t have to keep us from running to the Father.
Right living results not from us trying to live perfect lives but being dependent upon the perfect life of Jesus Christ. That is true gospel-centred holiness.