When I was in college, I had friends that wanted to be a part of a sorority, either social or professional. As they were going through the motions to be a part of the desired society, I noticed that there was a common factor among both the social and professional sororities (or fraternities): they expected certain values or behaviors out of their members and potential members. When you wore clothing with their Greek letters on it, you were representing that group and needed to live in a way that demonstrated their values. When we believe that our salvation comes through Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, we learn that God has a standard for all believers to live up to: be holy. Please read Leviticus 19:1-2.
God is holy and we are His children. This means that we are live out the values of our family in God which God says clearly in Leviticus. He didn't stammer in this statement and He didn't leave room for exceptions. God is holy; therefore, we are to be holy. My small group is doing a Bible study on the book of James right now, and each day as I read the book and work in the workbook I am convicted of how much I fall short of this! I think too often we focus so much on making a decision to follow Christ that we lose sight of what following Christ means. Following Christ isn't just a decision to believe in Him, it is a decision to live like Him - holy.
I don't want to confuse the issue - the Bible is clear that our works are not what save us. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God is so rich in mercy that He made us alive in Christ even though we were dead in our transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved." Paul continued on in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Our works do not save us; however, as a result of our salvation we should be living a holy life. James writes clearly on this idea in chapter 2. In order to clarify this thought he wrote in James 2:21-22, "Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete." Basically, faith is not just believing - it is acting on what we believe.
I know this is a strong message, and believe me when I say that this message is very much for me. But after studying about the fact that God is holy, we need to come to a realization that His holiness is incredible and it effects us. His holiness demands holy living. The good news is that we are not in this alone. Our ability to live holy comes through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
How is God's holiness effecting you?
This post is linked with Brag On God Friday.