Did you know that you can be holy?
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16
I’m guessing that you probably don’t feel all that holy. I know I certainly don’t. I can probably think of half a dozen ways I was unholy just this morning…and it’s only 9:30am!
I also don’t remember being taught that I could be holy. I was often told what an awful sinner I was…the focus being, primarily, on my wretchedness and unworthiness. So, reading that I am to be holy, as God is holy, kind of threw me for a loop!
So, how is it even possible to be holy?
And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 1:23-2:3 (emphasis mine)
When we receive Christ and are born again, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) is planted in us, in seed form. As we spend time in the Word (abiding in Christ) that fruit begins to grow.
Thankfully, God uses things in the natural to teach us spiritual truths.
When we plant a seed, we don’t get instant fruit. If that happened, we would freak out because that’s just not how it works! There is a time to sow and a time to reap. The two do not happen at the same time. So, why would we think that we would instantly begin producing spiritual fruit when we haven’t even given it time to grow? We need to give ourselves time to grow up! And cut ourselves some slack when we mess up. That’s what grace is for.
[Side note: Grace is not about sinning and getting away with it. If you’re looking for ways to sin, but still get to Heaven, then your heart is not in the right place. Jesus took on our sin to remove it and reconcile us to God. He died so that we can be holy…not keep on sinning. What an insult to the One who paid the very highest price! I know not everyone will agree with me in this area; however, “hyper-grace” cannot be reconciled to the rest of Christ’s teachings…especially the more difficult teachings such as “dying to self.” End
rant side note.]
Grace sustains us in our Christian walk. It helps us as we do battle with our flesh. During times of adversity, fiery trials and persecution, it enables us to persevere.
When we, as Christians, struggle with sin, it doesn’t mean we have “lost our salvation”…it just means that we haven’t yet GROWN UP in our salvation. We are convicted of sin (which leads to repentance), but we are not under condemnation.
In Romans 7, Paul talks about wanting to do good, but finding evil right there with him. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:15-25 (emphasis mine)
But then he goes on to say:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:1-6 (emphasis mine)
Just as an acorn is a mighty oak in seed form so, too, are you a holy child of God! We both just need time, and nurturing, to grow!
We are already free from sin because of Jesus. As we set our mind on the things of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit begins to grow. Does that mean we won’t stumble or have setbacks? No. But, because of God’s grace, we are free to struggle with our flesh without coming under condemnation.
And as we continue to walk in the Spirit, we begin to sin less and less – and manifest the fruit of the Spirit, more and more.
So, if you are walking in the Spirit, but find yourself struggling with your flesh, take heart! You are not under condemnation, but are growing into who you were created to be. You were created to be holy! Don’t get frustrated…stay focused on the things of the Spirit by keeping your mind renewed (in the Word) and eyes fixed on Jesus (who is the Word!). And remember that the Holy Spirit is right there, with you, to keep you on track.
*All Scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.