You Shall Be Holy!
1 Peter 1:14-16 holds truth that gives a child of God knowledge and at the same time sets him on a pathway in this life which enables him to achieve God’s best. “As obedient children; do not be conformed to the passions of 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.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NAS)
Considering that Hebrews 12:14 says, “Make every effort… to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” It is a good idea to gain Biblical understanding of holiness. “Holy” (ἅγιος hágios) is a religious awe, something or someone sanctified for the Lord’s use. Practical application: It is devotion to the service of God, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement.
To live a life of holiness is to have Holy Spirit illumination of the truths found in the whole counsel of God’s Word. It is to live a life that indicates that the sinful nature has been overcome, the influence of this world’s system has been cast off, and the lies of the devil fall on deaf ears.
Most Christians do well at avoiding lifestyles of murder, homosexuality, adultery or thievery. However, bitterness and a critical spirit keep them from continued fellowship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. The vice-like grip of anger and resentment often comes from nursing bad attitudes towards work, disappointment in friends and family and having wrong expectations of this life. Surrender to our temper and persistent sin keeps us from enjoying the victorious birthright of holiness that is promised to the children of God.
The worldly view that holiness is shown in plain hairstyles, long skirts and black stockings is not a Biblical precept, nor is someone with a holier than thou attitude necessarily a holy person. Holiness is very much a Scriptural truth. The whole book of Leviticus is devoted to the subject. The word “holy” in various forms appears in the Bible at least 600 times. Leviticus 11:44 says, “I am the Lord your God, consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” In writing about “Living as Children of Light” the Apostle Paul writes, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Holy Spirit illuminated Christians understand that their desire to overcome sin is not for themselves, but rather from a longing to avoid breaking the heart of God. They know that living by faith is both knowing the Word of God and then trusting Him to provide the ability to live out His precepts. They do not categorize sin as either unacceptable or tolerable. They see the whole counsel of God’s Word as coming from a holy Lawgiver. Thus, His children are bound to conform to His will. They know that there are only two choices, obedience or disobedience to the Lord, Jesus Christ. Let it be said of you, “That person is hungry for the holiness of God!”
Consequences to Breaking God’s Heart
The world view of God is a somewhere out there Deity, whom has no feelings toward our lifestyles down here. There is a One true God, there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35) He cannot be over thrown, He cannot be bribed, He cannot be deceived, He can be praised by His children, and He can be hurt by those He has created.
In the Bible there is a truth which should awaken our hearts, “it grieved Him to His heart.” (Genesis 6:6) This truth is found in another passage of Scripture which tells us God has emotions which are affected by the actions of mankind. In Psalm 78:40 we read “How often they rebelled against Him…and grieved Him.” To grieve (עָצַב ʿāṣaḇ) the Lord means to hurt Him or to cause Him pain. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 858). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Willful disregard of God’s will, purpose and directions pierces the Lord’s heart with mortal anguish. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 1, p. 88). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)
Parents who have sacrificed time, strength, and finances to protect, provided and enable their children to achieve their goals in this life – know this grief when their children are unappreciated of what has been done for them. Just as a husband is grieved to the heart when he sees his wife in the act of adultery, the Lord is grieved when mankind adulterates their lives with a world view which is lied to by the Devil, who entices the flesh. Just as a mother is grieved by a wayward child, the Lord is grieved by a backslidden Christian and an adulterated church.
The Lord is Grieved
John Piper wrote, “…it is not for lack of compassion that men perish, but for lack of heart that delights in the God of compassion because of hard and rebellious hearts.” Mankind is compassionate to fulfill their dreams, to live what they believe and to express their view point. Sinful mankind has no regard for what the Lord wants and no desire to seek out His will. It is this type of heart which grieves the Lord who made “everything in it and gives mankind life.” (Acts 17:24-25)
The Lord is grieved over a stubborn hard heart. We see this in Mark 3:1-6 when the religious leaders were looking to see if Jesus would heel on the Sabbath, so they may attack and tear down His character. Many people today are like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, grieving the Lord as they are looking for reasons to not except Him, reject His love, guidance and despise His authority over them.
The Lord is grieved when a nation sheds the blood of the innocent and is governed by lies and deceits. The Bible says, “There are six things the Lord hates, even seven things that are an abomination to Him.” (Proverbs 6:16) Two of them are: “…a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.” (Proverbs 6:17)
The Lord is grieved when mankind turns a blind eye to sin. The Bible says, “…they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God…” (Romans 1:28) “…although they know God’s righteous degrees, [they continue to sin] and approve of those who practice [sin].” (Romans 1:32) Just as God sent the Apostle Paul to address sin in the Corinthian church, Christians with the New Testament appointment of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 4:11-12) need to rise up and confront the sins of today.
The Lord is grieved when His ministry is compromised: The author of the Book of Jude “warns Christians to guard against compromise. …He challenges us to keep ourselves faithful in the love of God. For he knows what is healthy for our souls and life.” (Barry, J. D., Mailhot, J., Bomar, D., Ritzema, E., & Sinclair-Wolcott, C. (Eds.). (2014). DIY Bible Study. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press)
In the book of Jude, under the preoccupy, “The Sin of the Ungodly” we read, “I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men …have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:3-4) “…they follow their own desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” (Jude 1:18) The cancers of denominationalism, legalism, traditionalism, faddism and self-indulgence are killing spiritual growth placing spiritual leaders under the warning found in Malachi, “‘If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor My name,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.’ ‘…For the lips of the priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.’” (Malachi 2:2; 7)
God is grieved when mankind violates the Marriage Covenant, for marriage is His idea not mankind. (Matthew 19:4-5) When mankind cheapens the pulpit or rewrites the definition of marriage – it grieves God’s heart. There are clear Biblical instructions on marriage. People with no desire to seek His direction, protection and blessings, would be better off to enter a Civil Union, which has the approval of governmental law, rather than touch the holy things of God with unholy hands. Most marriage ceremonies today are about the show with no desire to please the Lord. Some wedding ceremonies have become a license to a drunk feast, others a weak proclamation of vows – thus grieving the Lord – thus the high divorce rate.
When man does not love His wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25; 28) and when wives do not “live dignified, sober-minded and faithful in all things,” (1 Timothy 3:11) this grieves the Lord, because it cheapens the marriage covenant agree between man and woman (Malachi 3:14; Matthew 19:4-6). 1 Peter 3:7 warns husbands to live with their wives in an “understanding way and honor them” or their prayers will be hindered.
Whenever mankind, Christian or not, places their own ideas over seeking the Lord’s guidance, protection and enablement hurts the Lord in some way. God intervention in all things hinges off this truth, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Samuel’s sons did not seek the Lord as Samuel did, (1 Samuel 8:5) thus, tempting Israel to sin. God took His steadfast love away from King Saul because Saul had grieved God for making him king. (2 Samuel 7:15; 1 Samuel 15:11, 35) God took the priesthood away from Eli and gave it to Samuel, because Eli and his sons hurt God in their service at the temple of God. (1 Samuel 2:30-36) In Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants, our Lord reveals a horrible truth of His people grieving God by rejecting His servants, abusing them and worse yet, they killed His Son. (Luke 20:9-19)
Our prayer of protection from grieving the Lord is, “Lord, renew a steadfast spirit within me, especially in the mist of living in a sin cursed world blinded by the devil and intoxicated with the sinful flesh. Reveal to me the temptations within my heart, enable me to discern your guidance, teach others of your truths and empower me to walk in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ.”
The Consequences of Grieving the Lord
Hebrews 10:26-31 says, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The Bible also says, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) — if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.”
There comes a time when God has had enough. A continued grieving of the Lord moves Him to action bringing negative consequences. In Genesis we read of God being grieved to His heart. His judgement of unrepentant mankind was to destroy the wicked, the creatures and the earth. (Genesis 6:7) When we grasp the writings of First and Second Kings, we understand the author was not providing historical information, but rather he was setting the account straight on Israel’s spiritual conditions resulting in the chastisements or blessings of God. In the Bible, we see God’s response to an unrepentant hard heart, underscoring the necessity of obedience which enables Christians to have a genuine walk with the Lord. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (1 Ki). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.) God had enough with the priest Eli and replaced him with Samuel, of which the Bible says was, “the man of God; …highly respected.” (1 Samuel 9:6) God had enough with King Saul and replaced him with King David. (Acts 13:22) – Both Eli and Saul died as the result of a battle. Time and time again we read, “They did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” In the Bible, we read of the sever chastisements of God effecting the sinful kings and the people they ruled over.
Lord Sees the Righteous
Even when the Lord has been grieved to the point where He hands out sever consequences and chastisements, His eye is clear to see the heart of the righteous and He uses them for His redemptive work. God sough Noah was a righteous man. He used Noah to build the Ark which became the Lord’s salvation for people, the animals and the creatures. (Genesis 6:8-9:29) In the midst of a church which was poorly overseen by a weak priest, the Lord hears the prayer of Samuel’s mother, Hannah, who trusted God to give her a baby and she fulfilled her vow to dedicate him to the service of the Lord. (1 Samuel 1) In the New Testament, among the Pharisees and Sadducee’s, to whom Jesus said their father was the Devil. (John 8:44) God brings Saul, who was a Pharisee, to repentance. Saul received Christ (Acts 9) and become the Apostle Paul, an Apostle for Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 2:6)
God sent His son to die for us, while we were His enemy. The Bible says, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10)
God is love (John 5:8), He is merciful (Luke 6:36), He is Sovereign (1 Timothy 6:15), He is all powerful and He can empower his obedient saints (Isaiah 40:27-31), He is long suffering (Exodus 34:6), yet He can be grieved. (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40) Grieving the Lord has extreme consequences and not having a reverent fear of grieving Him places people under His judgement.
The church’s lack of understanding of the serious consequences of grieving the Lord is seen in this story of R.C Sproul teaching 250 Bible college students.
“On the first day of class, the great Bible teacher R.C Sproul told his students there would be a term paper due on the last day of September, October, and November. At the end of September 225 students handed in a term paper, 25 did not – all 25 presenting a remorseful sorry. Applying our modern day understanding of grace, professor Sproul gave them an extension, but warned them not to be late for October’s term paper date.
The end of October rolled around, and 200 students handed in their term paper, 50 did not. Of which all 50 begged for mercy, of which Professor Sproul gave them an extension, giving them a stern warning, there will no more grace, they will get an ‘F’ if they do not get the November term paper in on time.
The end of November came, and only 100 students turned in their term papers, the other 150 students did not saying, ‘We will get it done soon.’ Upon which consequences came. Professor Sproul said, ‘you get an F’.
The students all complained, thus falling into the sin of resting upon God’s grace as a license to sin (Galatians 5:13), sin (ἁμαρτία hamartía) meaning to miss the mark of seeking perfection (Matthew 5:48).”
The grieving of the Lord has its serious consequences. Christians who have a reverent fear of the Lord do not fall under God’s judgement, like the people we read about in the Genesis flood account or like Eli and King Saul did. Christians, who seek and trust in the Lord strive to be like Samuel, “a man of God, …highly respected.” They are used of God like Noah, Samuel and King David, becoming instruments of righteousness for His redemptive work.
A Changed Lordship
Most Christians have a desire to live their lives for the Lord. However, many find themselves agonizing in prayer, seemingly without getting victory over sin and without enjoying the promise of Romans 6:6-7, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
Scores of books have been written on how to live a victorious life. Many church attendees are reading books that teach, “just stop trying and start trusting” or “let go and let God.” Sadly, most Christian books are like eating your favorite candy, satisfying the taste buds but only clogging the arteries. Even after digesting the best selling Christian books, most Christians are living with the frustrations that come with pride, jealousy, materialism, impatience and lust. Most Christians eat too much, waste their time, criticize each other, shade the truth just a little, and indulge in a dozen other sins, all the time robbing themselves of an intimate relationship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Jerry Bridges wrote, “Years ago, a Christian friend warned me, ‘Satan will confuse the issue of what God has done and what the Christian’s priorities are.” Lack of Biblical understanding on the truth of pursuing the holiness of God is what is keeping the children of God from enjoying God’s holiness.
The whole of Scripture teaches that dominion of sin has been broken for those who have Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. Christians have been set free from the realm of sin, so they can choose to live a life of righteousness. (Romans 6:18) The Bible teaches that people not under the Lordship of Christ are dead in their transgressions and sins, because they follow the ways of the world and the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 2:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:26)
Our modern day style of presenting the Christian life has given the children of God a wrong perspective. Before Christians can grasp the need of total surrender to Christ, they must believe that Jesus won the battle for them. (Romans 6:18; Colossians 1:13-14) However, there is still an enemy who wants to devour their relationship with God. (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8)
The Christian battle on earth is like warfare. In any nation any two competing factions can be fighting for control of a country. Eventually, often with the help of an outside army, one side assumes control. Rather than giving up, the losing side changes their tactics, sometimes adopting guerilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is so aggressive that the country supplying the outside help cannot withdraw its troops. Galatians 5:17 describes the Christian’s constant warfare, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”
In this realm where bad things happen, and sin so easily ensnares there is only one solution, choose not to say as Christ’s enemies, “We do not want this man to be our King.” (Luke 19:14) Christians who say “No” to lord sin and “Yes” to Lord Jesus turn lust into healthy natural desires, indulgence into natural appetites, immorality into healthy sexual desires, materialism into practical clothing and shelter. Let Christ have Lordship of your entire life!