Elected to Holiness

“Blessed is God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; blessing us with every spiritual heavenly blessing in Christ, just as he elected us in Him before the foundation of the cosmos to be holy and blameless before Him in love.”

(Ephesians 1:3-4)

It is worthwhile to dwell on this notion that God has elected his people for a purpose. And that purpose is that we be “holy and blameless before Him in love.” In Christian circles, the word “holiness” is one that is used heavily but often misunderstood. People usually think that a “holy” person is a person who is exceptionally godly and spiritual. And while that ought to be the case, such is not what the word actually means.

Holiness refers to be set apart for God’s use and for his purposes. For instance, the clothing that Aaron and his sons would wear in their official capacity was set apart as holy (Exodus 28:2). These garments were for Aaron’s work in the temple. They were not to be worn casually or in his daily routine as it were, but he was to use them for God’s work and for God’s purposes. The same thing can be said of the other items in the Tabernacle and around the altar. They were set apart for God’s use alone and not for common usage. 

Yet, not only were the things of the Tabernacle and then the Temple set apart as holy, so too was Aaron (Exodus 28:36-38) and further, the people of God were also referred to as “Holy to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 7:6). And, if one would be tempted to suggest that this is only an Old Testament statement, the Apostle Peter cites the language from Leviticus 11:44 about the people of God being “holy as God is holy” and applies that to Christians (1 Peter 1:14-16). That means, as Christians, we have been set apart as holy to God — chosen by God and set apart for his purposes. The world may seek worldly pleasures but that does not belong to our being — we are called to pursue the blessedness of God (as Paul already mentioned) which is far greater than anything this earth can afford us.

How often Christians get their minds and priorities turned upside down. How often they forsake their calling to be holy and how often we slip into sinful ways and practices instead of pursuing the blessedness of God. And, how often the “godliness” that we often associate with holiness is seen as something for someone else to strive toward and not for us. Every word, every action, every thought that fills your life and your days is something that should be seen as being used for the glory of God.

This does not mean that every Christian is called to be a pastor, a missionary, or a street evangelist. What it does mean is that every Christian is called upon to point others toward Christ in their daily activities. This does mean that every Christian is called to live their lives deliberately that we may seek to please God in all we do, that we may seek opportunities to point others to faith and repentance in all we do, and that we are to seek to live and act in such a way that the name of Christ is not besmirched by our actions.

How remarkably sad it is when Christians compromise their holiness for worldly things. How remarkably sad it is that many Christians are willing to strive for excellence in worldly things yet compromise eternal things. As Americans, we often celebrate those Christians who are professional athletes in our midst. Yet, how many of them break the Sabbath because it happens to be “game day.” And no, there is no amount of argument that you can give that will convince me that watching or playing football on Sundays is “doxological” in nature. We are called to set apart the day as holy, not the hour. And holy is God’s use alone.

The Christian doctrine of holiness is not a convenient one nor is it an easy one in our day and age. Yet, it is meant to further set Christians apart to a different kind of lifestyle than is the world. Yes, the world may pursue earthly pleasures. Yes, the world might treat the Lord’s Day as the second day of the weekend — a chance to get things done, go shopping, and be busy with things of personal interest. True, it may be relaxing to go to eat on a Sunday, but you are breaking the Sabbath by employing others to provide for your leisure. These are things that Christians rarely ever contemplate. 

God did not elect a people so that people could spend their time however they wanted and then enjoy eternity. May that never be said. God elected a people to be set apart for his use and to find our pleasure in His blessedness, not in worldly things. That does not make us ascetics, but it does mean that we distinguish between worldly and divine and that even when we might enjoy a worldly pleasure, like a good meal or good fellowship, we recognize it as a good gift from God. If you are a Christian, you have been called to holiness; pursue it without reservation, it is what you have been set apart to do.

Author: preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

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