Reasons to Be Holy

Reasons to Be Holy - 1 Peter 1.13 – 2.3

Pray.

There were no lights on, only candles,
…the church would be packed,
…and everyone would keep their coats and scarves on for the whole service, because it would be freezing.
That's how I remember Christmas carol services in my church when I was growing up.

But there's another part of the service that sticks in my mind as well,
…and that is in the third verse of 'Once in royal David's city'
When my Mum, and every other parent I could see, would turn and face their children as they sang the line,
'Christian children all should be, mild, obedient, good as He.' (!)

Christians should be good.
I hope that doesn't come as a surprise to you tonight!
Christians should be different from the world around them,
…distinct from the world around them,
…living by God's standards, and obeying God's laws.

Christians should be 'good',
…or, to use the Bible word for it, Christians should be holy.

And that's what our passage in 1 Peter is all about tonight.

The headings that you'll see in your Bible aren't part of the original text,
…which is why we don't read them out in church, and why most of the time you should just ignore them.
But tonight, whoever wrote the heading for 1 Peter 1v13 – 2v3 got it absolutely right.
In our passage tonight God says to you and me,
…if you're a Christian, you should Be Holy.

But why?
Why should we Be Holy?
Being holy, if you've tried it,
…living God's way, is hard.
So why should we do it?

Yes, 'Christian children (and their parents, and everyone else who calls themselves a Christian) should be mild, obedient, good as he.'
But the question is, why?

And it's a good question to ask,
…and it's important that we go to passages like ours tonight, in the Bible, to find the answer.

Because when we don't,
…and we just guess the answer,
…we'll often get it wrong.

So before we look at our passage to find the right answer,
…let me tell you what I think are the two most common wrong answers.

First, we should Be Holy, we should be good,
…because if we're good enough, then God will save us.

That's what people very often think,
…but it's wrong.
It's wring because we can never be good enough to earn or deserve to be saved by God.
Have a quick look up to v3, which we saw last week.
The only way we can be saved, the Bible tells us, is by God's great mercy.
The reason we should Be Holy is not that so that God will save us.
No, the Bible only calls people who have already been saved to Be Holy.

The second very common but wrong idea,
…is that we should Be Holy so that God will love us more.

That's the idea that thinks on our 'good days', God must love us more,
…and on our 'bad days' he must love us less.
Well, that's not true either.
God loves us because of what Jesus has done for us.
Being Holy doesn't make God love you more,
…and not Being Holy doesn't make God love you less.

So, why should we Be Holy?
If it's not to be saved,
…and it's not to make God love us more.
Why should we Be Holy?

Why should you stand out at school,
…or be different from your colleagues at work?
Why should you not join in with what the other Mums are talking about,
…and not spend all your money on yourself,
…and not live for your holidays,
…and not just do whatever you like, any old time?

If you're a Christian here tonight, why should you bother Being Holy and different and godly this week?

Well, 1 Peter 1v13 – 2v3 gives us three very good, but perhaps surprising, reasons.
(You'll find them on the handouts)
And the first is,
…if you are a Christian you should…

1) Be Holy…because God is Holy, 1.13-16

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;"

That's the call to Be Holy.
And then he tells us why in v16…

"for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy.""

The first reason that Christian should Be Holy is that God is Holy.

Now, why is that??

Well, I think it's telling us that we should Be Holy because God is Holy, and He is our wonderful father.

You may have seen in the papers this week, that in the middle of celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday and all that she does for our country,
…Prince William was accused of being 'workshy'.
He was accused of being lazy in comparison to his 90 year old grandmother, the Queen.
Now, why is that a news story?
Why does it matter how William lives now?
A. Because one day he will be our King.
It matters how he lives today because of what, one day, he will be.
And it's the same with us.

It matters how we live today,
…it matters that today, if you're a Christian, you're striving to Be Holy, because God is your father and you are his child.
…and one day, when Jesus returns, you will join Him in glory.
One day you will be revealed, before your classmates, and your colleagues, and your family and your friends, as God's child.
Perhaps they don't know that now, or understand that now, but on that day they know and understand that you are the adopted child of the King.
Be Holy because God is Holy and he is your father.

But secondly, Be Holy because God is Holy and he is a wonderful father.

If you're a Christian and God is your father, then you have experienced the greatest love in all the earth.
If you're a Christian and God is your father, then you've experienced how incredible forgiveness feels.
You know how good it is to be shown mercy and grace.
You know, on a daily basis the joy that comes from patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness.

God is a wonderful father and he has shown you a better way to live
…so don't go back to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
Don't go back to lies, and bitterness and anger and jealousy and lust.

Be Holy…because God is Holy.


2) Be Holy…Because You Were Bought At An Unbelievable Price, 1.17-21

Look at v17

"Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."

That's the call to Be Holy

Why? verse 18-21

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

7 years ago Gayles and I got married, and soon after we got married we decided to move to America for me to study at a theological college outside Boston. And about 6 months before we left for America our car died.
We knew we couldn't live without a car for 6 months, but we didn't have a lot of money,
…so we looked online and found a Citroen AX for sale for £400!

Now one of the great things about owning a car that cost £400 is that you don't really have to take care of it very much!
You don't really feel like you have to clean it,
…and it doesn't really matter if you reverse into a tree or hit a bollard while you're trying to park at Tesco!

Well, for 6 months that car served us very well, and then we decided to give it away to a girl at our church called Helen, for her 17th birthday.
Now just imagine for a moment you were given that car.
…it only cost £400 in the first place,
…and its previous owners didn't really care about it.
How would you treat that car?
Chances are you won't be too precious about it, would you?

But now imagine that for your birthday you weren't given a clapped out, worthless car like ours,
…but instead you were given a brand new car.
How would you treat that?

And imagine that it wasn't just any brand new car, it was the car of your dreams,
…beautiful and expensive and perfect.
How would you treat that car?

But now imagine that your dream car had been given to you by your parents,
…who had careful and sacrificially but aside money, every month, since you were born,
…so that on your 17th birthday they could by you that car.
How would you treat it then?

Be Holy, Peter says in v17.

Why? Verse 18-21…

" For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

If you are a Christian, like the people Peter wrote this letter to nearly 2000 years ago,
…then you have been given a new life.
You've been saved, as it says in v18, from your empty way of life,
…and been given a wonderful, new life.

And you should treat that new life as incredibly precious, as incredibly special,
…you should Be Holy,
…because your new life was bought for you at an incredible price.

Just remember what it cost God to save you, Peter says.
Not meaningless, trivial things like silver and gold.
God didn't pay money to save you, what is money to God?
No, God gave something far more valuable than silver,
…and infinitely more costly than gold.
He gave up his Son for you.

God sent his one and only Son, to die, to save you.

From before the creation of the world, v20, God made a plan to send his Son, whom he loves,
…to die.
To save you from your empty way of life,
…and to give you new life.
So how are you going to treat that new life that God has given you?

Why should you stand out at school,
…or be different from all the others in the office,
…or not join in with what the other Mums are talking about,
…or what the lads are joking about?

Why should you Be Holy?
Because you were bought at an unbelievable price.

And finally, if you are a Christian then you should…


3) Be Holy…because God's word is perfect, 1.22 – 2.3

Look at verse 22

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart."

You already love one another, he says,
…but now you should love each other even more.
Deeply, sincerely and from the heart.
That's the call to Be Holy.
Why?

Verse 23 – 2.3…

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

"All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever."
And this is the word that was preached to you.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Now again. Peter's reason for our holiness probably comes as a bit of a surprise to us.
Christians should Be Holy, he says,
…because God's word, is imperishable.
We should Be Holy because the Bible is living and it's enduring.
Now how does that work?

Well, God's word teaches us how to Be Holy.
God's word reveals to us what he is like and how to live holy lives as his children.
And Christians should Be Holy and obey God's word,
…because that word is perfect.
Look at the quote from Isaiah in vv 24-25…

"All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever."

Just think for a moment.
We all live our lives believing and obeying certain rules.
Let me give you an example.
We chose what we eat for lots of different reasons, don't we?
Sometimes we just eat whatever we like, but often we're influenced by what we're told is 'good' for us, or 'bad' for us.

We're told, for example, that we should eat 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day.
So when I'm hungry and I head into the kitchen looking for a snack,
…I'll think to myself, 'What I want is cake, but what I should have is an apple.'
And I'll eat an apple, sometimes!
Because we're told that some things are good for us, and some things are bad.

The problem is, sometimes what we're told changes.
One day we're told that alcohol is bad for you,
…the next we're told that drinking a glass of red wine per day is good.
One day we're told that fat is bad for you,
…earlier this week I heard on the news that scientists now believe that butter is good for you.
One day we're told to count our calories,
…and the next we're told it's our G.I. index that's important, whatever that is.

The point is, what we're told changes!

Or take science text books.
Kids don't use the same science text books in school today, that I used when I went to school.
Why is that?
A. Because things change.
Things that they thought were true in the 90's, they know aren't true now.
'Facts' change. Text books change. Government health warnings change.

"…but the word of the Lord stands for ever."
Living your life according to the latest health advice,
…even living your life according to the latest text books,
…is of limited value.
Because soon we could learn that we were wrong and come up with a new theory.

But the word of the Lord stands forever. It is imperishable, it is living and enduring,
…it will never be revised or replaced or renewed.
It is perfect.
So we can trust it.
And we should obey it.

Build your life and your behaviour and your choices and your morals and your principles and your priorities on God's word.
Obey God's word.
Be Holy…because God's word is perfect.

So Christians should crave God's word, Peter says in v2, like a newborn baby craves its mother's milk.
Crave obedience to God's word and holiness,
…because holiness is wonderful.
God's word and his ways are good.

It turns out Once in Royal David's City was right.
"Christian children all should be, mild obedient good as he."

If you're a Christian here tonight,
…whether you're a child or a parent,
…young or old,
…whether you became a Christian last month, or have been following Christ for 50 years,
…you should Be Holy.
You should strive to Be Holy.
You should Be Holier than you are,
…and than you have been.

Not because Being Holy means that God will save you,
…no, if you're a Christian then God already has saved you, entirely by his mercy.
And not because Being Holy means God will love you more,
…He couldn't love you any more.

You should Be Holy…because God is Holy,
…and he is our wonderful father.

You should Be Holy…because you were bought at an unbelievable price,
…God gave up his Son to give you new life.

And you should Be Holy…because God's word is perfect,
…and the only thing in this world that is worth building your life upon.

If you are a Christian, then your job and my job this week, by God's strength and with God's Spirit, is to Be Holy.
To Be Holy, and stand out at school.
To Be Holy and different from your non-Christian colleagues at work.
To Be Holy with your kids at home and Holy among your friends.
To Be Holy with your time and your money and your energy.

So let's pray that God would help us to Be Holy.
Let's pray.

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