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When you struggle to be holy

Our church recently began a study on the book of 1 Peter.  This happens to be one of my favorite books of the Bible, so I was thrilled when they made this announcement several weeks ago.

This past Sunday our Pastor preached a sermon from 1 Peter 1:13-21, titled “Connecting Hope to Holiness”.  At the beginning of his sermon he said:

“Hope is what liberates us to live a life of holiness.”

Holiness doesn’t always feel liberating to me.  Somehow the idea of living a holy life carries with it something that I have to work toward, constantly checking to see whether or not I’m living up to the standard.  Which, by the way, Scripture teaches is God.

So, how is that hope liberates me to this kind of God-like living?

Because Jesus has already made me holy. 

And if my hope is truly resting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross–His blood shed for the forgiveness of my sin–then God already sees me as holy because Jesus mediates on my behalf.

So, why a sermon about living a life of holiness?

Because even though Jesus has already made me holy, I still struggle with the sinfulness of my flesh. 

My sinfulness seems to rear its ugly head the most when I am uncomfortable.  And I am most certainly uncomfortable at 29 weeks pregnant.

Add to that the fact that our downstairs air conditioner is currently broken.  Yes, it is officially the first day of Fall now, but the outside air has not cooled down enough to make our home cool off with the windows open.  So, it is sticky and warm downstairs, the center of our home.  The place where we cook, eat, hang out, etc.

And so on Sunday afternoon, after listening to a wonderful message on hope and holiness I found myself sitting in a rocking chair in my hot living room, being anything but holy.

As I sat there stewing, the sermon from that morning started to replay in my heart and mind.

I love how the Holy Spirit does this.  He meets us in our ugliest moments and He reminds us of His truth.

The promise is that Jesus has made me holy.

The conviction in that moment was that I was not reflecting God’s holiness in my attitudes and actions.

The temptation for me right then was to berate myself for not being perfect, for not trying harder to exemplify Christ.

Holy living is : “to keep being more honest, not more perfect.”  That’s what our Pastor had said toward the end of the sermon that morning.

And so in that moment of ugliness, I began to talk with the Lord about my attitude.  I named and confessed my specific struggles.  I asked for forgiveness.  I begged Him for help.  To give me the strength to keep going even though I didn’t want to.  To pour into me His power so that I could serve my family even in the midst of feeling uncomfortable and tired.

Did a switch magically go on and turn my grumpiness into holy perfection?  No.

But as I began that open conversation with the Lord, I was able to lean into His strength.

He helped me to make dinner that night, even as sweat poured down my face in our hot kitchen.

He enabled me to find joy in serving my family, even as my youngest kept following me around while crying for no reason.

 

Our holiness before God both in our salvation and in our sanctification is completely dependent upon the work of Christ, for us on the cross and in us as we are being changed moment-by-moment into His likeness.

So, I need not work toward being perfect, more holy, crossing off milestones on my perfection chart.

I need simply to commune with God, keeping an open discussion with Him about the condition of my heart, leaning into His power that will enable me to walk in a manner worthy of Him.

“…that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience…”

-Colossians 1:9-11-

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2 Comments

  • Reply Jenn A

    Thank you for this fabulous and encouraging post! I Peter is a favorite of mine too.

    September 23, 2015 at 8:10 am
  • Reply Miranda

    Where do you all go to church? I’d love to download this sermon 🙂 Thanks for sharing – so so good!

    October 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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