Why Live a Holy Life? Isn't That "Bondage and Legalism"?
Summary: “Are you one of those holiness churches?” some ask mockingly. To which I reply, “Is there something wrong with holiness?” Others sarcastically use the “holier-than-thou” expression as if we should apologize for pursuing biblical holiness. Let me suggest eight solid reasons for deliberately living a holy life.
Because we are created to be like God in holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 …put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
1 Peter 1:15-16 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
• This is an astounding statement — We are “created to be like God in…holiness.” This sets a very high standard for His people. How high? “As He…is holy, so be holy in all you do…” Sadly, this type of biblical thinking is greatly lacking among many modern Christians and is rarely if ever preached in most pulpits. When a pastor does preach holy living, behind the scenes there are often some who accuse him of putting them in "bondage and legalism." Sadly, that is a very antiblical excuse for disobeying God's clear call to a holy life.
• The Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity, is called the “Holy Spirit” nearly 100 times in the bible (NIV). Various Psalms exhort us to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness. Holiness should not be thought of as some burdensome set of rules. No! It is a beautiful thing (“the beauty of His holiness"). And it reflects the heart cry of our holy God for us, His people: "You be holy as I am holy." That establishes the pursuit of holiness as a high priority for the believer who desires to please God.
Because God has chosen and called a holy people for Himself.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…
1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.
• God originally called Israel as His “chosen people.” The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus opened the door to all, Jew and Gentile alike, to be included in His “chosen people … a holy nation … called to be His holy people.”
• Since the One who called out a people is holy, it is only fitting that His called people on earth should resemble their God in holiness. Remember, we are “created to be like God … in holiness”!
Because without holiness we will not see the Lord!
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
• Read that carefully and soberly — “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Preach that thoroughly biblical message in many of today’s churches and you’ll create a “back-door revival.” Yes, some will hear God speaking to them and will repent. But others will find the exits and go look for a liberal church that tells them we’re all “OK” just as we are.
Because our living a holy life is pleasing to God and shows reverence for God.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
• “Holy and pleasing to God” — not only does our holiness please God, it is also part of “true and proper worship.” Our worship is “true … proper … [and] pleasing to God” when we are making every effort to live a holy life.
• And there is never a place where we have reached “enough” holiness. Rather, we should be in a dedicated, lifelong commitment to “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” If we fear and revere God (which we should!), there will never be a time in this life on earth where we take our foot off the gas pedal and just “coast” on our present level of Christlikeness and character. As long as we are short of full conformity to Christ’s perfect image, we have work to do!
Because biblical holiness is the solution to our out-of-control, sex-saturated culture.
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
• Sexual immorality is rampant in our modern culture, even among a substantial percentage of Christians. Unrepented loose living is often justified by anti-biblical excuses such as: “God understands” … “nobody is perfect” … “God wants me to be happy” … and similar rationalizations for sinful conduct.
• By contrast, the word of God says there “must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity … these are improper for God’s holy people.” Again, we need to be reminded of God’s call that we be “like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). In our wildest dreams we cannot imagine a hint of sexual immorality in God! And that’s the standard of holiness that we are called to!
Because Jesus loved us enough to die for us to make us holy.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Hebrews 13:12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
• Jesus loves His church. How much? Enough to be tortured, to shed His blood, and to die for us. For what purpose, Lord? — “to make [us] holy”!
• We are called to be the radiant, holy, spotless, blameless Bride of Christ. Jesus intends to “present [us] to himself as a radiant church,” not a loose and carnal one.
Because the holy believer is useful to the Master and fit for His work.
2 Timothy 2:21, TLB If you stay away from sin you will be like one of these dishes made of purest gold — the very best in the house — so that Christ himself can use you for his highest purposes.
NIV: …made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
• That should be one of your goals in rejecting sin and pursuing holiness — that is, “that Christ himself can use you for his highest purposes.” I want to be useful to my Master. To be so, I am told by the Lord’s word to “stay away from sin” and to be “made holy … and [thereby] prepared to do any good work” that the Lord calls us to do.
Because we want to be holy and ready to meet the Lord at His coming.
2 Peter 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
• Jesus will come again to earth a second time in the latter days. I don’t know when that will be, but it is possible that it will be during your lifetime. Will you be ready? It will be a cataclysmic event. The elements will melt in the heat, the earth will be laid bare. Jesus will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on the enemies of the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, KJV).
• The apostle Peter asks, how should we be living in anticipation of that dramatic event? The answer: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward” to the Second Coming and to spending eternity with the Lord.
If you are already a born-again believer, I hope that this message has motivated you to an ever more diligent pursuit of holiness. If you haven’t yet made your commitment to Jesus Christ and His salvation, I sincerely encourage you to read a few of these salvation scriptures that will help you to become a child of God Almighty now and for all eternity!