Under Orders

1 Peter 1:15

Someone said that impression minus expression equals depression. The study of facts about holiness will do more harm than good unless we follow up with the right acts. We Christians are under orders: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15).

You are a Christian; the call to holiness is always to believers, never to unbelievers. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and able to overcome temptation in His strength. In the popular phrase, you have a lot going for you. The pagan cannot help falling and failing and sinning, but there is no need for you to sustain defeat. Is this not what Paul implied by a sentence like this: “Our lower nature has no claim upon us: we are not obliged to live on that level” (Romans 8:12 NEB).

Paul, after three chapters of Ephesians describing our wealth, makes a plea for a holy walk (Ephesians 4:1). To the Corinthians he wrote about God indwelling His people, and then followed with the exhortation, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

When you set your face toward the sweeping transformation you need, you are ready to renounce whatever is wrong. Something of the old life must die (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5). This will probably be costly, and has been compared to a crucifixion (Galatians 5:24). In practice it means saying an unqualified and determined “No” to every action unworthy of a Christian. It means to reject all that stands condemned by the standard which Jesus sets for His people, that is the standard of Christlikeness. It means to make no provision in imagination or intention for anything less than holiness.

Accompanying the turning from all that is wrong will be an equally determined turning toward all that is right. Paul tells us what to “put off” and then what to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Everything in our life must be either renounced or dedicated.

Christ is the pattern for His people. The little word “as” is potent: We are to “walk, just as He walked” (1 John 2:6 NKJV); to receive one another “as Christ received us” (Romans 15:7); to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7); to love one another “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The same mighty monosyllable is on His lips in that solemn prayer of consecration: “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18 NIV).

Edward Read, Studies in Sanctification

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