“HOW TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE” 1 Peter 1:13-16
INTRO – Let’s start this sermon today by just letting the Holy Spirit of God speak through the Word of God regarding the holiness of God:
- Leviticus 11:44-45
- Leviticus 19:1-2
- Leviticus 20:7-8, 26
- Leviticus 21:8
- Leviticus 22:31-33
- Psalm 77:13
- Psalm 99:2-3, 5, 9
- Psalm 111:9
- Isaiah 5:16
- Isaiah 6:1-4
- Isaiah 40:25
- Isaiah 57:15
- Ezekiel 28:25
- 1 Peter 1:13-16
- Revelation 4:8
“The only attribute of God ever raised to the superlative is holiness.” (Walter Price, God Focus, p. 9). Or as R.C. Sproul said, “There is only 1 attribute of God that is ever raised to the 3rd degree of repetition in Scripture.” You don’t find anywhere in Scripture where another attribute is given the force & emphatic proclamation that His holiness is given. Not:
- “Goodness, goodness, goodness”
ONLY HOLINESS! “This is a dimension of God that consumes His very essence” (Sproul). So there must be something extremely significant about His holiness.
What does it mean that God is holy, holy, holy? I have to confess that I find it difficult to preach about the holiness of God b/c I feel like that there just aren’t enough words in the English language, or in all the languages of the world combined to adequately describe God in His holiness. We seem to find it a bit easier to talk about the love of God b/c we have some personal understanding & experience of love. Or the patience of God for the same reason. Or the forgiveness of God b/c we had someone forgive us for something we had done wrong; or we’ve forgiven someone for something they had done wrong. So, on a human level, we can relate somewhat to those traits of God.
But…HIS HOLINESS… How do we relate to that when we simply are not holy in & of ourselves? It just doesn’t compute in our finite, human minds. We hear the verses out of Leviticus & 1 Peter – “Be holy, b/c I am holy” – & we wonder, “What does that mean?” God is clearly telling us that HIS expectation of our lives as His children is that we will be holy. His will for our lives is that we WILL live a holy life. So, what does that mean?
SEE THE MAJESTY OF GOD’S HOLINESS – We must focus our mind’s attention & heart’s affection on God. Knowing God as deeply & as passionately & as intelligently as possible in this life should be an all-consuming desire for us as Christ-followers. If we are to be holy b/c HE is holy, then we must see & know & understand His holiness as must as we possibly can. We know that on this side of eternity, our knowledge & understanding will be limited & incomplete. But that does not excuse us or relieve us of the responsibility & the joy of striving to see the majesty of His holiness.
The verses that these men read at the beginning of the sermon give us some understanding of the soaring majesty of God’s holiness. They spoke of the greatness of God, the exaltation of God, the awesomeness of God, the righteousness of God, the power of God, the incomparableness of God, the foreverness of God – How our hearts burst within us as we ponder on the majesty of the holiness of God!
God’s holiness as we see in Scripture describes the majesty of God, the grandeur of God, the greatness of God. It describes His elevation above everything else in all of creation. It describes His otherness, His worthiness, His preeminence, His splendor. Do you see how our words just go on & on, & yet we still know down deep that we are coming up far short of truly describing the majesty of His holiness?
I read a story of a pastor who recently took a trip to the Holy Land. Did all normal things that folks do when they go there. Guide’s name was Amir. Would gather group in a semicircle at different places & give historical b’ground & significance of that site. This pastor was particularly struck by something Amir said that is another indicator of the majesty of God’s holiness:
I remember one talk in particular. With the Mount of Olives shimmering in the background, Amir described what he saw as the basic problem of the universe. “God longs to come down to earth to redeem the righteous and judge the wicked,” he said. “But there’s a problem.” He leaned toward us and stretched out his arms like a scarecrow. “His presence is like plutonium. Nothing can live when God comes near. If God came to earth, both the righteous and unrighteous would perish. We would all die!” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/may/how-we-forgot-holiness-of-god.html)
Our God is a consuming fire, the Righteous Judge, the Lord of hosts, which describes a God who is ready for battle, poised at the head of a heavenly army. When He showed up in Scripture, people trembled, quivered, fell on their faces & bowed down. Some them were totally speechless, or unable to move, or they collapsed. They would not dare try to get cozy w/ God. Would never refer to Him as “the big man upstairs.” Would fear for their life if they took His name in vain, or were flippant in any way in their interaction w/ Him.
If we are going to live a holy life, we must strive to see the majesty of God’s holiness.
And when we do…
SEE THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR SINFULNESS – What happened to Isaiah when he got a glimpse of the majesty of God’s holiness? When he SAW the Lord on His throne, high & exalted, w/ the train of His robe filling the temple, when he saw the angels flying – When he HEARD the angels calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the WHOLE EARTH is full of His glory!” – When he FELT the doorposts & thresholds shaking – When he SMELLED the smoke filling the temple? What happened when he got this glimpse of the majesty of God’s holiness?
He cried out in despair in Isa. 6:5, “Woe is me! I am ruined [I am destroyed! I am cut off!]. For I am a man of unclean lips, & I live among a people of unclean lips, & my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
What happened to cause Isaiah to cry out like that? When he saw the majesty of God’s holiness, he immediately saw the magnitude of his sinfulness, & it completely broke him. He saw that there was nothing in him that made him worthy to be in the presence of God, & it drove him to a point of utter despair & brokenness.
Our sin is ALWAYS against the holiness of God. No matter how “big” or “little” we think our sins are, they are ALWAYS against the holiness of God. After David’s fall w/ Bathsheba, he recognized this truth & wrote in Ps. 51:4, “Against you & you alone have I sinned & done what is evil in your sight…” And when we hear God say, “Be holy b/c I am holy,” we recognize even more how dreadfully & deeply sinful we truly are. Jerry Bridges: “B/c God is holy, He can never excuse or overlook any sin we commit, however small it may be” (The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 35).
BUT Isaiah didn’t stay in that place of despair & hopelessness. How awful if God had left him in that condition! But He didn’t! In Isa. 6:6-7, we see that God took care of Isaiah’s guilt & sin by dispatching an angel to touch his lips w/ the live coal. The glorious news for us today is that God has sent His Son to touch our lives & take away our guilt & atone for our sins!
SEE THE MAGNIFICENCE OF CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS – Isa. 7:14 – “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be w/ child & will give birth to a Son, & will call Him Immanuel.” Isa. 9:6 – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, & the gov’t will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Back to 1 Peter:
It is only b/c of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, & presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit that we are MADE holy. And it is only b/c of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, & presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit that we can BE holy.
- When we see the majesty of God’s holiness, we are speechless.
- When we see the magnitude of our sinfulness, we are hopeless.
- When we see the magnificence of Christ’s righteousness, we are breathless.
So – LIVE YOUR LIFE FOR HIS GLORY!