Every generation tends to fall off the horse on the opposite side. If the previous generation emphasized God’s holiness to the exclusion of God’s love, the next generation emphasizes God’s love to the exclusion of God’s holiness. Sitting straight in the saddle requires us to recognize both aspects of God’s nature.
Grace is an amazing gift from God. But it doesn’t negate God’s call to holiness. Freedom is a beautiful truth. But it doesn’t exempt us from the teaching of God’s word to live holy lives. Many Christians have acted as though holiness and obedience are out of date concepts and unnecessary encumbrances to the life of the believer. Holiness is mislabeled as legalism. Obedience is ignored as an unneeded vestige of the law. What a tragic misunderstanding of God’s word and way!
Holiness is spoken of often in scripture and not only in the Old Testament. Obedience is a common theme of God’s word for those who would follow Jesus. We ought not ignore this in a misguided attempt to improve God’s plan of grace or provision of freedom.
Let’s note three reasons why holiness still matters.
1. Holiness matters because sin harms us. Sin’s result is never to our benefit. It won’t give us more peace or joy or life. The goal of the enemy isn’t for our good or our gain. Ultimately, sin kills, steals and destroys. It is important for Christians to be aware of this truth.
While sin is packaged well, its substance is poison. God’s call to holiness is, therefore, to our benefit. It is in our best interest to obey the Lord and to our great detriment to disobey. The better you see God’s perspective instead of the world’s, the more you will see this truth that holiness keeps us from harm and blesses our lives. God calls you to obedience because it is in your best interest.
2. Holiness matters because discipleship demands it. Discipleship is all about following and obeying Jesus. It means we go where Jesus leads and do what Jesus wants. If we do what we want, we aren’t following Jesus. If we go the world’s way, we aren’t obeying Jesus. A way to think about the importance of holiness it to note this simple truth, “You can’t obey Jesus by disobeying Jesus”.
Jesus asked the question, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?” (Luke 6:46) If we call him “Lord” we must obey him. If we don’t obey him, how can we call him “Lord”? At the heart of discipleship is our obedience to the Lord and there is no way around this simple truth. Obedience is the pathway to our spiritual growth and dynamic walk with God.
3. Holiness matters because love leads to it. There is a common view in our culture that says it is unloving to say anything is wrong or sinful. But is it unloving for a parent to keep their child from playing in the street? Is is unloving for someone to warn others of a defective bridge? Instead, aren’t these things a result of love itself?
The Bible tells us, “This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands.” (1 John 5:2-3) Love and obedience are deeply connected in scripture. God’s holiness and love cannot be separated. Love leads us to obedience and holiness, not to licentiousness and immorality. Living a holy life is the natural result of loving God.
Holiness should matter deeply to God’s followers because it matters deeply to God. Don’t miss this important truth and the blessings that come with it.
Holiness still matters.