Don’t study the Bible. Study holiness
Kids Watch for: the Princess Warrior
When you have 5 little kids it helps to have Table Rules. Written out. Posted near the dinner table. The list grows. We add to it as we come across “behaviors”. For a visual aid this morning I have the actual list from our house. Usually the kids insist I recite the rules in the voice of a one-eyed pirate, who has a “Yooper” accent. I haven’t figured out how one eye affects the voice.
Manners matter. If you’re going to be a Smith at the dinner table there are expectations to dine like a human being.
Just like there are certain “ways” for Smithlings to act at the dinner table, there are certain ways for Christians to act. Now that we have been brought into the family of God, there are Table Rules for life. God expects His children to know how to act, and, upon salvation the learning begins.
Todays sermon is called “Be Holy” from 1 Peter 1:13-16. Drop the Bible and out of it will spill verses commanding us to be holy. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thess. 4:7). Or as 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
The idea is like that of the Jews during The Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they would begin the week by purging their homes of all leaven. Or its like when the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land: the land was theirs, but they had to go through and purge everyone who was living there before them. Why? Because they were wicked, and the Israelites were to eliminate all wickedness in the land so that only holiness was in the land. We believers are on a lifelong journey of purging unholy ways from the landscape of our lives. We’ve displayed enough unholiness before we were saved. God saved us so we could go forward displaying holiness.
Today we are going to look at 3 ways to help us grow in holiness: 1) God is Holy, 2) The Prophets, 3) Prepared
#1: GOD IS HOLY (15-16)
The first place to start if we are to “be holy”, is with God, “because I am holy.” A.W. Tozer said in his enormous little book “The Knowledge of the Holy”,
“Holy is the way of God. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, all His attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.”
Simon Greenleaf, one of the founders of Harvard Law School, who was a skeptic until he evaluated the 4 Gospels and became a Christian, said in his review of those Gospels something about man as a worshipping creature. He said,
“Man is everywhere a worshipper. The object of man’s worship, whatever it be, will naturally be his standard of perfection. He clothes it with every attribute, belonging, in his view, to a perfect character; and this character he himself endeavors to attain. As in human society men become assimilated, both in manners and in moral principles, to their chosen associates, so in the worship of whatever deity men adore, they ‘form to his the relish of their souls.’”
This is why I think God’s holiness is the most important place to start. Whatever we conceive God to be like is going to be what we are becoming like. And it has to be said here: Not holiness as we imagine, but, holiness as God has revealed in His word. Revelation, not imagination, is always what governs how we understand God. And I am not understanding God if I am not understanding Him as holy.
- Moses asks in his song in Exodus 15:11, “Who is like you – majestic in holiness…”
- OVer and over the Psalms praise the “splendor and beauty of God’s holiness” (Ps 29:2) and that “holiness adorns His house” (Ps 93:5).
- The seraphim cry night and day around His throne, “Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:3).
- The 4 living creatures of Revelation 4 also sing around His throne, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty, who was and is and is to come”.
- God Himself declares that He will show Himself holy to the nations, and that His name will be regarded as holy in the whole earth (Ez 36) and
- He burns with righteous anger when His holiness is profaned by His people (
- In His holiness He is too pure to even look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13).
- Even the heavens are not pure in His sight (Job 15:15).
- Because He is holy He will break out in judgment against sin and wickedness.
And, because He is holy, He says for us to be holy too. What He is He expects us to be. God created us, and redeemed us, in order to reflect His holy character. Man is most “man” when He is holy. This formula is repeated in other ways too: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” Jesus said. “Forgive as your heavenly Father has forgiven you.” Jesus also said. Be holy because your Father in heaven is holy.” Prove He is your Father by imaging His holiness in this world. Let your life be an explanation to others of who God is.
APPLICATION: This is why the wrong question to begin with as a disciple is “God what do you want me to do?” That is a great question, but, it is not the first question in a life of holiness. The right question to start with is “God, who are You? What are You like?” Discipleship starts with seeing, not doing. Discipleship is obeying a Lord, not a list. And that obedience is driven by awe and adoration from seeing that holy Lord. “Be holy, BECAUSE I am holy”. God knows He’s holy. We need to know it.
#2: The Prophets Served Us (10-12)
The previous point had us looking up. This point has us looking back. Be holy because the prophets served us. Notice in verse 13 the word “Therefore…” Always study a verse in context, which means you understand what comes before and after that verse. The reason is that Biblical writers have thoughts that grow out of thoughts. What Peter said just before verse 13 is what leads him on to say what he says in verse 13-16. What did he say? Follow me in verses 10-12, “…”
Peter is telling us that the prophets spoke and wrote and that what they said was to serve us who came after them. It makes me think of Romans 15:4, “For everything written about in the past was written to teach us…”
Peter says they wrote about the coming of Christ, and they tried to understand what they wrote as the Holy Spirit spoke through them. But Peter doesn’t want us to just know the study habits of the prophets, nor does he want us to only know they wrote for our benefit. Peter wants us to know specifically how the writings of the Prophets are supposed to benefit us. And that is this: holiness. The prophets were preoccupied with the coming of Christ. And we are too, as Peter even says in verse 13, “when Jesus is revealed.” Peter is connecting the coming of Christ with our holiness. What connection does Peter see between the coming of Christ and our holiness? The answer is this: when we are driven by the coming of Christ it will drive us to holiness. This is why Peter’s thoughts go from the OT prophets to living a holy life. They studied to try and figure out when Jesus was coming.
APPLICATION: Don’t make knowing the Bible your goal. Make knowing holiness your goal. Don’t study to know more information. Study, read, watch other believers, listen to sermons, all to learn more about holiness.
#3: PREPARE (13)
The 3rd way to be holy is to prepare. Notice what Peter says in verse 13, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action….”
Oh there is nothing more important than your mind as you live for Christ. Your mind must be renewed so you can be transformed, Romans 12:2. The thoughts of your mind must be taken captive and made obedient to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5. Later Peter would say that your mind needs to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).
And here your mind is the key to being prepared for holiness. The idea behind “prepared” is from an ancient expression gird your loins….it meant to gather up all the loose dangling clothing of your robe and tucking it into your belt. Today we might say “roll up your sleeves” to mean the same thing. They said gird up your loins. The point was that if you were about to run or do something physically strenuous, the clothing would not be getting in the way, causing you to trip.
Illustration: There are so many joys of having little girls. At home, our girls will dress up in princess dresses and come show Annie and I. “Daddy look!” they say. One day, Grace, our 3year, old came up in a dress. This time however we could tell she was playing with her brother Levi because she also had some nerf guns and toy knives tucked into her outfit . She was apparently a princess-warrior. While showing us her getup her brother’s voice came from downstairs and challenged her to a battle. She immediately turned to chase him, but stepped on her big long dress, forcing her to slam to the ground. (…”Gird your loins girl”)
Thats the idea for the Christian mindset: getting rid of mindsets that will trip you, incumber you, tangle you and make you stumble and fall flat on your face. “Girding your loins”, or “preparing your mind for action” means intentionally thinking about how you think and adopting a Christlike frame of mind for your day. Know yourself: know how you falter in your own thoughts:
- Tend to get impatient
- Quick to self pity
- Know you’lll look at certain things online if you stay up
- Tend to think Im always right
- Tend to doubt God will come through
- Tend to be cynical and expect the worst of everyone
What does it mean though to gird the loins of your mind? What does it mean to have your mind ready, prepared for action?
First, be prepared for Christ’s return. verse 13…Colossians 3:1-4….Philippians 3:20-1…..It’s the idea that we will be found ready when he comes – ready means living in a righteousness that looks like His righteousness…
Theres something about expecting Christ to come that has a purifying effect on our lives. Notice how being confident that Jesus is bringing you grace is supposed to motivate you to holy living. I used to be one of those fools who thought grace meant you can live how you want without consequences Have you ever heard someone say, “So, if God forgives me for all my sins then I can just go and do whatever I want and there’s no consequences?” That is always a sure evidence someone does not know God. .
But real grace – biblical “God” grace – doesnt lead us to sin. It leads us to holy living, as Titus 2 says. Turn with me to Titus 2:12: “….”
THEN: see how just like Peter, Titus connects holy living with waiting for Jesus in verse 13: “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”
Expecting Jesus to come is seen in living for Jesus now. “I know He’s coming for me. And when He gets here, He’s gonna find I’m waiting for Him.”
Second, be prepared for your sinful desires. verse 14….These desires are at war with you, 1 peter 2:11…
A life of holiness will be a life of ungratified desires. Holiness will be the result of depriving ourselves of acting out the evil desires that come from within ourselves. Now, because we know God, we know what righteousness is and we live in it. Romans 6: says…
Notice Peter’s language: “lived in ignorance.” Sinful living proves ignorance of God. IThe absence of holiness is the evidence of ignorance. When someone is living for the appetites and passions of their flesh they don’t know God.
- Romans 1:28…
- 1 Cor 15:34…
- 1 Thess 4:3-5
Application: Thats why you can know every verse in the Bible (chapter and verse), but not know God. The Pharisees knew the Bible but Jesus told them they didnt know God (Jn 5)
Application: A lot of times people will say about a sermkn or teaching, “Yeah, I already know that. Ive heard it before” Especially people who grew up in Church. Do you really know it though? Can you explain it to someone else? More importantly, how has what youve heard made you more holy? be specific in your answer. We dont really know Gods word just because we’ve heard it. God considers us to know His word when what weve heard has added to our holiness.
Third, be prepared for trials and persecutions (v 5-9)
- Seek to know God.
- Be a student of holiness
- Expect Jesus to Come
- Deal with your desires
- Expect trials and persecutions