Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sermon --1/28/07--Faith's Call to Holiness

Faith’s Call to Holiness—1 Peter 1:13-16

We’ve been looking at how Faith changes our lives how we can Praise God for our New Life and Living Hope, how we can rejoice even in trials, and how we must marvel in the message God has passed down to us.

In our walk with Christ—we must understand that Faith calls us to a life of 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.’”

Holy means to be set apart—in this sense morally distinguished from the rest of the world in belief, action, and thought. Holiness is much about consistency—consistency of character, consistency between what you say you are and what you really are.

In Faith’s Call to Holiness, we must show 4 things.

Determination—prepare your minds

Prepare—to put in proper condition or readiness—make a concerted effort at getting something ready. Older translations use the terms, “gird up the loins of your mind”. That may sound strange but think about it—if you were wearing several layers of loose fitting robes that hung down to you shins, can you just start running at full speed whenever you want to? Anyone want to try it?

For a people that wore long flowing robes, to move quickly, to fight, or to work hard, you had to pick up or tie up your clothes.

It’s just like our need to put on a belt—I expect my grandfather would have said something like—“hitch up your britches”. Can anyone think of another phrase?

“Roll Up Your Sleeves.”

They had to make a deliberate decision to get ready and prepare themselves for action. They had to put in some effort, not just sit back and let things magically happen. But Peter wasn’t talking about clothes, he was talking about…

Your Mind—while there are many things our mind is wired to do—learn languages for example—your mind and thinking doesn’t come pre-wired or preprogrammed with knowledge that can help you accomplish architecture or calculus. Those things are learned. Your mind requires preparation to accomplish great things.

Your will, your thinking, your controlling agent. Your mind not someone else’s. Many have said that victory, invention, and other things are won with 10% Perspiration and 90% Inspiration. Athletes, soldiers, car salesmen, you name it, must have their mind prepared for the game, for the battle or whatever situation before the physical side begins. They must have a plan, must be focused on the goal, they must be determined and prepared mentally to accomplish the task at hand.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

That is Determination, but determination with a purpose. All believers must prepare your minds b/c Though Precedes Action …

For Action—it is pointless to make all the preparation necessary and then do nothing with that preparation.

no one gets all the ingredients for cookies on the table and then sits down expecting to taste the results. All the preparation is useless if you don’t use it, if you don’t follow up your thoughts and ideas and listening to the leadership of God with action, with obedience.

Preparation without action is like Good Intentions. For those of you who teach, how many times have you heard, “Well, I intended to write my paper. I really wanted to. I even did the research for it.”

This is a clear example that God does not want you and me to sit idly by and let not get involved. Take today for example—you come here to fellowship together, you come here to worship God, you come here to hear from His word—if you think God is satisfied with you just showing up, just sitting in the pew and going home and your done for the week—then let me say clearly that you are sadly mistaken.

This isn’t about legalism or guilt, or twisting your arm—it is about the fact that this time here is Preparation—you are supposed to be fed and encouraged here—to be prepared by God—FOR ACTION out there. To live your life changed, ready and prepared to respond to His leadership, to serve the person sitting next to you or your neighbor or your spouse. To be ready and prepared to ACT ON HIS BEHALF.

1 Peter 3:15—“always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness & respect.”

If you never think or believe that you may be called upon to enter a battle—then you won’t be ready when the call to prayerfully intercede for someone comes. You won’t be ready to answer someone’s question about your faith or their problem with the Bible if you have no intention of letting this time of Worship to Prepare you to be used for the Kingdom of God.

Have any of you been a backup in some organized sport? Not the starter, IOW. You have to be ready to go into the game at any time. Imagine if in next weeks Superbowl, some of the Bear’s backups had the attitude—“well, I’m probably not going to play anyway, so I don’t need to bring my helmet out to the sideline.
I might as well not wear my pads or uniform. I’ll be able to enjoy it more if I’m in my street clothes and I’ve got my camera.”

Your mind must be prepared for action. You must be Determined to Prepare your mind. You must also show…

Discipline—be self-controlled

What does Self-Control look like to you? What does someone without Self-Control look like?

You be-self controlled—this is not an easy task—it is not natural to be self-controlled. Self-Controlled means to reign in impulse and sheer reaction. While it is possible for someone to learn self-control apart from faith in Christ—there is a reason that Self-Control is listed as one of the Fruits of the Spirit. God at work in our lives produces Self-Control

To be self-controlled is to not allow other things to control you—things like your desires, like your emotions, like temptations. No one else is responsible for you—other people’s actions and behavior is only able to control you if you give them the power to do so. So don’t worry, complain, or criticize what other people are doing or getting away with. As long as you are looking at them, you’re letting some part of yourself get away with something.

One of the things that you are Determining your mind to do is be in control of your emotions, desires, and that self-centered nature that powerfully fights with you to think of only what you want, only what you “need” and willing to do anything to get it, even sacrifice, insult, belittle or abuse those you love. You must have self-control as opposed to out of control or hysterical in the face of trials, troubles, temptations, or conflict.

If you are not self-controlled, then you are vulnerable to any and every temptation Satan throws your way. Satan knows how to play your emotions and desires. He knows how to provoke you to act and live out of control. What is damaged in those moments is your walk with Christ, your testimony to His love and forgiveness.

Self-Discipline is also alive and well when your conscience tells you something and you don’t talk back. So often we know what we should do but and ignore the good and choose whatever is most satisfying at the moment.

Self-Discipline and control has the ability to save your life. It keeps you fit and ready when the battle comes upon you.

One man, back in 1915 reportedly survived the torpedoing of the Lusitania because he had Determined to Discipline his mind and body to the freezing cold water before ever getting on the boat. He chose to “practice” by sitting in a tub of ice water every day for as long as possible. What started at a few minutes in the tub became a few hours. When the Lusitania was hit, this man was rescued from the near freezing water 5 hours later, still in excellent condition.

What if this man had never disciplined himself to withstand the cold water? What if he thought it wasn’t necessary, or that he was capable of surviving without deliberately setting his mind to survive.

That sadly describes far too many believers. We have not determined to be self-controlled in our preparation, we have not shown the discipline it takes to be self-sacrificing in our service of those around us.

We have not disciplined our mind to survive any struggle and temptation our enemy and this world throws at us. When someone wrongs us or says something hurtful—self-control keeps us from hurting back. We are not to treat each other or even non-believers with the kind of venom that our hearts can produce.

Not only must we Be Determined in our Preparation, and Discipline in our Thoughts and Actions, we must have the proper Direction and focus

Direction—set your hope--

This is the 4th time in 13 verses that Peter has mentioned Christ’s Return.

This Direction allows us to endure the present time of waiting and suffering

All the determination and discipline is useless without an eternal direction

So many people are desperate for any kind of direction in their lives. That’s why so many people are buying books about purpose, why so many others are looking to drugs and alcohol, why some are anticipating some sports team to give a direction and purpose in life.

All the determination and discipline is useless if it is not pointed in a direction that has eternal value. Most of you are where you are because of disciplined study and effort—that disciplined and studied effort had to be partnered with a

1 Corinthians 9:25, they do all those things to “get a crown [trophy, paycheck, title] that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Set—make a conscious decision

Your hope—your expectation and anticipation in what God is doing—your faith, your trust, your love for Jesus and the promise of His resurrection

Fully—completely, totally—relying and looking toward nothing else.

On the only thing that is worthy of our hope, only one thing that your Direction in life should be striving for, only one thing that should govern and dominate every decision, every thought, every action in life—the Grace that has been given to you and the Grace that Will be fully revealed when Jesus Christ Returns for His Bride.

If anything can give us the strength and the hope to make it through the trials and struggles of life, the Promise of the Return of Christ can.

That is our future, that is our Direction, that is what we have to look forward to. So much in life can be described by “Where have you Been and Where are you Going?”. Anyone without Christ may be able to tell you about their experiences, but they will never be able to say for sure what their future is going to be like, especially when they consider something like death. Believers may not know every step of the way, but there is a future that we can hold to, there is a certainty of where we are going, where the whole universe is going—the end that God has Prepared His Mind for Action: to Bring about a Certain End—He has determined the direction He is taking this universe.

God does not make a plan without the intention of carrying it out. The Future exists because God wills it.

Colossians tells us that all things hold together b/c of the ongoing work of Christ. This moment is in His hand, and so is the future. We can live that little phrase—“I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.”

Faith calls us to be Determined, Disciplined and with the Proper Direction, but we must also show the proper Devotion.


2 Timothy 2:22—“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Jesus said, “if you love Me, obey My commands.” Now that we belong to Christ, we are called to a life of devotion in which the old way of life has been replaced. Just like children are to obey their parents, we are to live under the guidance and direction of God. but just like children, we have a choice to make.

We’ve had a heart transplant. Ask anyone who’s had one and they’ll tell you that if given the choice, they wouldn’t want the old diseased heart back.

V. 14—Living Bible—“Obey God because you are his children; don’t slip back into your old ways—doing evil because you knew no better.

In other words, ignorance is no longer our problem. We know the good things we should be doing, we know the way we should be living. Our temptation is to fall back into the old patterns, that it doesn’t matter how we live.

Instead Faith Calls us to Holiness. Just as He who called you is Holy—since everything about Jesus is Holy, without fault, without sin and since our lives are now His and He is to be living through us, then we must determine our minds, discipline ourselves, and direct our lives to the goal of being just like Him.

What does Holiness mean?

“Be Holy in all you do.” Be Holy—set apart from this world, living a different kind of life, having a different set of values and motives, thinking and acting in a way that distinguishes you from those who don’t know Christ.

This world is supposed to know we are His disciples by the way we love one another—by the way we serve one another, by the way we live for God and not ourselves.

When something is considered Holy it is because of its relationship to God. A goblet, an altar, a lampstand are ordinary so long as they are for common purposes but the moment they are “set apart” to serve God, they become Holy. This call to Holiness is a call for us to be Set Apart for divine service. Faith calls us to be set apart so God can use you for His purposes.

That’s why God calls the nation of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6—“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'

That’s why Peter later calls us a Peculiar people in the very next chapter. We are set apart as God’s possession, for Him to use and because He is Holy, we are made holy by His use of us and we must strive to live up to the proper instrument of God. True holiness, expresses itself in patient and loving service while awaiting the Lord’s return.

Devote yourselves every day in every moment, in every action in every word in every thought to your Faith.

Why would anyone truly come to Christ if He makes no difference in your life, if there is no change in your life? Why would the powers that be threaten or put down or suppress a group of people that are no threat to what they are trying to do? If they are casually going through life looking to government, trusting and depending on the government more than their belief and trust in the Hope of Christ?

True Faith calls you to a life of Holiness—calls you to a new life, a life set apart from what and who you used to be and calls you to a Determined, Disciplined, Directed, and Devoted Life in Christ. Are you willing? Have you entered into that new life in Christ?

Now, if you've made it this far in your reading, do you have any thoughts to add about holiness? About God's call and how it is to affect our thinking, our actions, our morals? One suggested that obedience needed to take a more prominent position. That's legitimate--obedience to what God has revealed about our lives and how we should live--in all things, not just the ones we like. We don't have the option of picking and choosing the commands of God--we're putting ourselves in His place when we do that. Any other thougths?


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