How important is it, really, for Christians to seek holiness? I mean, if salvation is by faith alone, then what difference does continuously seeking to be more like Christ really make?
After all, no one will ever be perfect in this life anyway, so wouldn’t seeking holiness just make us hypocrites? Why does holiness matter?
Paul writes to the churches around Ephesus, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1 NIV). Paul makes it abundantly clear in all his letters that they were saved by grace alone, but he still urges them to practice a life that reflects their calling. Why?
Very early in the Bible God called Abraham out and told him, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2 NIV). In full context we know that God was speaking about the work that would be done through Abraham’s obedience to God.
Abraham’s name would be great and he would be a blessing, but not by himself. The blessing to the world came through Jesus—as a descendant of Abraham. Everything God ever spoke to Abraham was for the sake of the salvation that Jesus would bring for anyone in the world who would receive it. It was by Abraham’s obedience that he was able to be used as a blessing to the world.
Later on, the nation that was formed from the line of Abraham was led out of captivity by Moses—who was led by God. And in the wilderness, after being saved from their bondage, the Israelites were given a message from God.
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6 NIV).
Obedience to God is key to His promise here, not because God needs minions to stroke His ego, but because God’s commands are the only way to live a fully authentic, purposeful, and joyful life. This is why Paul emphasizes, “There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NIV).
There is only one God! Paul makes it clear that any other religion, worldview, or philosophy is false and can only offer a false hope. As such, only God’s commands are truly beneficial to us.
Just like the Israelites, we live in a world today where everyone has their own philosophy and world view. However, there is only one truth. And Christians must realize this basic logical fact—that anything that contradicts what God says is a lie and will lead to death, even if we don’t understand how. Only when we live by the truth and share it can we be a nation that is a blessing to the world.
Do we want to be a blessing to the world? To our community? To our family? Even just to our children? If so, then we first need to realize that we can only do this if we are completely obedient to God. When we, as individuals, are willing to accept and carry out this truth, then can we be a true blessing. Anything else will make us a curse.
God told the Israelites that the whole earth is His. He has made it clear that He does not want anyone to perish. And so He leaves His Church—the believers—to be that holy nation, that royal priesthood that is to be a blessing to the rest of God’s creation. That is why holiness matters, because it is the only way to be a source of light into the world.
Let each individual seek holiness so that we, as His Church, might truly become one nation under God.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome.