1 PETER 1:14-16
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
May 18, 1997
I invite you to read with me 1 Peter 1:14-16:
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
If someone offered you an all expense paid trip on a houseboat - a real relaxing time to get away from it all - would you take them up on the offer? What if the houseboat were tied up twenty feet above Niagara Falls?
How about a vacation in South America - relaxing in the sun and swimming in a the Amazon river near a school of piranhas? Or a brand new home built right on top of the San Andreas Fault?
Some things make no sense at all - like lighting a match to see if your gas tank is empty - or petting a rhino to see if he’s tame. There’s a name for people who try stuff like this - "victims.”
This morning we’re focused on holiness. To be holy - to live a holy life in obedience to the holy God. For those who are sincere in their relationship with God - the pursuit of holiness is not an option. There’s a realization that to not pursue holiness is an easy way to spiritual disaster.
As I look around - and talk with others - who are sincerely pursuing their relationship with Jesus Christ - no matter how intense the desire - how great the realization of need - this daily pursuit of holiness is an ongoing struggle for all of us. And that is why this topic this morning.
We struggle with holiness.
Its so easy to be desensitized by the world around us. Things that once shocked us now pass us by with little notice.
The things we fill our minds with - the places we allow our minds to wander. Would we be embarrassed if others knew our thoughts?
Think about what you saw on TV this last week. How many adulteries - murders?
Practically, how can we pursue holiness in our lives?
In the verses we read, Peter - a man who also struggled to pursue holiness - shares two major encouragments for us. Two things we can do to help us pursue holiness.
1. PURSUE OBEDIENCE TO GOD
The Great Wall of China is a gigantic structure which cost an immense amount of money and labor to build. When it was finished, it seemed impregnable. But the enemy breached it. Not by breaking it down or going around it. They did it by bribing the gatekeepers.
Someone has said, “A fence is only as strong as its’ weakest link.” Satan looks for our weakest links. The place we are most vulnerable to attack. And then he’s very subtle.
Satan uses little temptations to lead us into little compromises - that set us up for major sins with disastrous consequences for our lives.
What’s your weakest point? For most of us its the small compromises that we’re making - the little compromises where we think that it really doesn’t matter if we live in 100% obedience to God.
Imagine how important little things are - What we’d get if 99% were good enough.
Only in baseball is 40% good enough to get you in the Hall of Fame.
Little things in our spiritual life add up to big things latter on. Yielding to Satan’s temptations are a set-up for a larger disaster later on.
Peter writes to believers in verses 14 and 15 - and these are great words of instruction for us to listen to.
He says, “obedient one’s” - you were living in your former lusts - your former sins - in obedience to these sins - they controlled you - and you didn’t know anything different.
But now, you’ve given your life to God - you know better. God has saved you through the blood of Jesus Christ - you’re His child - He has called you out of your former life and has called you to holiness.
You know better - the trap and bondage of sin - don’t go back - not even a little - don’t even entertain the thought of sin - pursue obedience to God.
2. PURSUE GOD’S HOLINESS
By now most of you have seen our minivan - the “flame red” one. Its kind of hard to miss. When we originally went to buy a van - not in our wildest dreams did we think of getting something so bright. One thing about a “flame red” van - it collects dirt.
Washing the van is not a major priority in my life - so when it rains the van gets washed. If the outside occasionally gets washed, the inside rarely does.
A while ago I decide to clean the inside of the van. I took out the seats - vacuumed - and even used soap on the carpet an upholstery. I am absolutely amazed at how much dirt and “stuff” can be hidden in such a small area.
We are really good at cleaning the outside of our lives. We do things that seem “holy." We come to church services, associate with other Christians, say and do all the right things. We put on our game face for Sunday morning and try looking holy in the presence of God’s people.
But God looks at the interior of our lives. He sees and is concerned with what we often would rather not even admit to ourselves - the dirt - our hidden actions and attitudes.
When God demands “holiness” of His people His expectation is that our inner life before Him will be pure - cleansed from sin - that we be holy as He is holy.
Simon Kistenmaker - in His commentary on this passage in 1 Peter 1 says this, “God calls His people to be holy because He is holy. Among God’s characteristics....none is more significant than His holiness....the descriptive adjective “holy” reveals God’s absolute purity....The state and action of God’s being. God is sinless, cannot be influenced by sin, and in His holiness destroys sin.”
This is the standard of “cleanliness from sin” that we are to pursue.
God has so much that He wants to do in us and through us. But, unless we are inwardly cleansed before Him, we hold ourselves back from His blessing and power in our lives. If we really want to see God do the miraculous in our lives then we must allow Him to cleanse us inwardly - to yield our lives totally and completely to Him.
Peter - if you were to look at the verses around the ones we read - says the result of pursuing holiness is:
1:3 - a
Think with me for a moment about our life together before God. How can we serve God together - how can we pray to Him and expect answers - how can husbands and wives work in partnership together - how can we worship God - and how can we expect His pleasure and blessing if we are not holy before Him? All of these require a right - sinless - holy relationship with God. Imagine - how will the HOLY Spirit work with the heart of unholy man?
Go ahead and talk with Him about those things which keep you from full surrender to Him. That’s what confession is, agreement with God as to the sin in our lives. You might pray something like this. “God, I agree with you, this (name the sin) keeps me from holiness before you. I give it to you. Cleanse me and help me to live surrendered to you.”