I thought getting my moles checked would be like when you get a massage and they have the warm blanket over you and they uncover your arm and then cover it, then uncover your leg, then cover it. It's not. Having an elderly woman with lipstick on her teeth (and unevenly on her lips) tell me about skin cancer, wearing my sunscreen, and warning signs for mole growth while walking slowly around my naked body was...mmm...off-putting.
Then she hands me a brochure about sun protection. The cover is a woman out hiking in the sun who is covered from head to toe. Long sleeve windbreaker, long pants, huge safari hat with a neck flap. It was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I left it there. But picture something like this:
I'm sorry. I'm sure that is a GREAT way not to get a sunburn, but seriously...is that really necessary?!
Is that how you feel about holiness?
I mean holiness is a great way not to get in trouble...but isn't it extreme? Like these guys swimming fully clothed with their dumb hats on? Won't most of us be okay just putting on our sunscreen and drinking plenty of water?
Here is the secret that Satan has been great at keeping all these years: Holiness is not judgmental, extreme, conservative, old fashioned, hypocrisy, or legalism. Real Holiness can actually make us extremely happy!
Here are 3 ways.
1. Holiness is our CALLING.
1 Peter 1:15-16 "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy".
My kids are still really young, but I will admit that I fantasize about them someday saying, "I want to ____, just like you mom!". Whether it's writing, serving, studying, cooking...anything! Isn't emulation the highest form of flattery? Our father DELIGHTS in us when we say, "Daddy, I want to be holy just like you!" It is the absolute core of who God is, on a completely different plane than hobbys, sports or talents. Can you imagine how painful and disrespectful it is when we say holiness is not worth our time or effort?
We are adopted children of the king. You know what is beautiful about our new place in our family? Although we couldn't have been any more different that our father and big brother at the time of our adoption, over time, we start to resemble them more and more. There is a family identity as a child of God and we are invited to participate in it!
God's Holy Spirit lives in us (Romans 5:5, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 1:13). God is love, and for us to be able to hear his spirit, love him and others, and truly be holy or "set apart" as his children we have to obey him. (1John 5:2-4, John 15:12-14). Obedience, or holiness, is how we respond to the Spirit of God's love and truly experience our calling as His children.
2. Holiness gives us FREEDOM.
Romans 6:14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Does holiness feel restrictive? There is an amazing truth waiting for you in God's word.
You know what is restrictive? Sin. Ugh. It's packaged to us like fun times and cool kids and marketed by Satan like cigarettes- but it's death. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, addiction, aimlessness, angst, bitterness, victimhood, broken relationships...sin is a disaster waiting to happen. During different seasons don't we all feel powerless before our own tempers, sex drives, or other cravings? You may not be in a dark place at the moment, but the result of sin is always death.
In Romans 6 Paul draws the line. You are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness...there are no free men. Holiness can feel like slavery to righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:14)...but it's actually freedom from sin! You don't have to be stuck in the cycle of meaningless, broken, defeating sin. Ditch the baggage. Just stop what you are doing. Tell God and anyone else that you need to that you are sorry. Decide to be different- to love others, to learn the truth, and to follow God. You will be amazed at the transformation and freedom that the Holy Spirit will bring to your life.
3. Holiness produces JOY!
John 15:10-11 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.
Did you hear that? These "commandments" from Jesus aren't mean to make us miserable...they are designed to protect and deepen our relationship with God so we can experience complete JOY! Here's the truth about sin. It separates us from God. When we let sin into our lives and refuse to deal with it, we are letting distance come between us and God.
Satan would love to claim your soul, but he'll settle for your life.
We can't have an intimate relationship with God if we are still sneaking time with our ex-master on the side. The distance grows and grows. When we are far from god we can't hear him speak love into our lives, his wisdom seems so hidden, his strength inaccessible, and our will to follow him and his power to change our lives and use us to affect the lives of everyone around us isn't there. We don't even realize what we are giving up! The immediate pleasure is not worth the ultimate gift that came at the ultimate price (1Peter 1:13-20, Pastor Andy Wood says more).
Just say no. No to mediocrity and YES to holiness with all of it's purpose, freedom, and joy. Chasing after God and trying to obey him by learning the Bible, living in christian community, and obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit inside of you is the only way to truly live.
Check out my other post "5 Ways to Know if it's a Sin" to think more if there is something in your life that may be keeping you from the happiness of holiness.