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cropped-rose-4.gifKey verses – (1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”

Our scripture – 1 Peter 1:13-16

Our Theme – We should be holy in every area of life because God our Father is holy.

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The word “holy” means to be separate. When applied to God, it points to His transcendence, that He is above and beyond His creation in such a way as to be distinct from it. Contained in the word is the notion of God’s purity, that He is totally separate from all sin. When God calls us to holiness, it means that we are to be set apart from the world unto God, separate from all sin. But since sin dwells in the very core of our being as fallen creatures, how can we ever hope to be holy?

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Introduction

If you were on East 60th Street in New York, you might want to stop by Serendipity 3, a famous restaurant known for its Forbidden Broadway Sundae and its Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. And if you had $25,000 to burn, you might try the Frrrozen Haut Chocolate Dessert. Or maybe not! One fact might deter you – in 2007 the restaurant closed for a month or so after it failed two health inspections in a row. Inspectors had found a live mouse, mouse droppings, fruit flies, house flies, and more than a hundred live cockroaches. However, in spite of that little setback,” the restaurant remains a popular place for meals and desserts.

How would you react if a restaurant served your meal on a dirty plate? Would you stay in the restaurant and wait for another plate of food, or would you get up and leave? How might this illustration relate to offering ourselves to God for His use?

God expects us to live holy lives. Often, we offer ourselves to Him without paying attention to the sins in our lives. Peter wrote about our need to be holy to the many individuals who had come from pagan backgrounds, living in a pagan society where there was great pressure to conform, much like Christians today.  Peter calls his readers and including Christians today to holiness in light of the coming of Jesus Christ and the holy character of the God who calls us to salvation.

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I. The Prerequisites for Holiness – 1 Peter 1:13, “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”

A. We Need to be READY

Peter wrote about the living hope we have at salvation (1 Peter 1:3). That living hope should affect our lives, beginning with our minds and then moving to our practice or spiritual growth. To be holy people, we must be focused on Christ’s coming, obedient in all of life, and growing in our knowledge of God’s Word and His Holiness.

In Peter’s day, men wore long, flowing robes that could get in the way. If a man wanted to do strenuous work or a quick activity, he would lift the bottom of his robe and tuck it into his belt (1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29; John 13:4-5; 21:7). Since the belt went around the loins (or waist), this action was called “girding up the loins.”

Peter applied this custom to the minds of believers. As believers in Christ, we are to gird up our minds, or prepare our thought processed for action. As we focus on Christ’s return (the living hope), we will not focus on many of the world’s distractions. What are some of the worldly focuses or distractions a believer might be tempted to fix his/her mind on today?

The worldly focus or distractions could be our work to accumulate all the wealth we can. There is expensive cars, luxury homes, entertainment, power, self-gratification, and many more that the great deceiver (Satan) will tempt us with. The list is endless and I’m sure you can add your own to this list. The problem with focusing on the things of this world will eventually lead a believer to confusion and disappointment. We don’t need what the world is focusing on. No matter if we are rich or poor, healthy or sick, famous or unknown and doesn’t even depend on where one lives; however, it does depend on a right relationship with God and the salvation He provides through His Son, Jesus Christ .

Getting our minds focused on Christ and His return will shape our attitudes first and then our actions. Peter was well aware of this truth when he called for his readers to gird up the loins of their minds. A teacher told his class he would be going away for several weeks, and he offered to give a prize to the student whose desk he found in the best order when he came back. However, he didn’t tell them what day he would be returning. Because the prize was so big, each child was determined to get it, including a little girl whose desk was normally quite messy. Her classmates jeered, “Mary, you’ll never win. Your desk is never neat.” “Oh, I plan to clean it the first of every week from now on.”

But,” someone said, “Suppose he comes at the end of the week?” “Then I’ll clean it every morning.” “But,” another classmate persisted, “He may come at the end of the day.” For a brief moment the child was silent in thought. Then she said decidedly, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll just keep it clean!”

If we want to receive our Lord’s approval at His return, we must always be ready. Jesus didn’t tell us to “get ready,” but rather to “be ready” (Matthew 24:42-44, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”).

We are to live continuously in a state of spiritual preparedness, anticipating any moment when He will appear.  Thus, we need to plan as if Christ’s return were years away but live as if it were today.

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B. We Need to be DISCIPLINED

While “sober” includes self-discipline from any intoxicating beverage, Peter surely meant more than that in verse 13. There the word refers to the self-control that will keep believers from intoxication with any sinful indulgence or excess which the world offers. God makes self-discipline, or self-control, possible for us by giving us His Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and helps us as we yield to Him.

However, as soon as we begin to develop these spiritual virtues, the devil uses his tricks to “steal them away” from us by tempting us to sin. The next thing we know, Christlike character traits are replaced by un-Christlike ones. Our fruit is gone. To protect ourselves, we need to focus on the truths of the Bible, choose to do what is right, remember our purpose as God’s redeemed children, trust God, and pray always (Ephesians 6:13-18). As we do these things, we will be fruitful and not be victims of the fruit-stealer (Satan).

A personal model for every believer in Christ should be a “Spiritual Checkup.” However, given a choice, we probably wouldn’t voluntarily visit our doctor for a physical exam, or eye exam and dental exam. We would inclined to assume that everything is okay and not bother our doctor about it. You don’t have any aches or pains and you choose not to make an appointment.

If we were given a choice, many of us would be a little afraid of a spiritual checkup as well. After all, if we check our spirit too closely, we might have to change a few things in our life that aren’t very pleasing to the Lord. I suggest that we get over our reluctance. With God’s guidance, let’s undergo a spiritual checkup this morning, using (Proverbs 4:20-27) as a checklist.

Proverbs 4:20-27, “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are like to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Our Ears (v. 20): Are we hearing God’s Word clearly and with understanding? Are we doing what those words tell us?

Our Eyes (vv. 21, 25): Are we keeping our eyes on the teachings that will guide us toward righteousness?

Our Heart (v. 23): Are we protecting our heart from evil?

Our Tongue (v. 24): Is our mouth clean and pure?

Our Feet (v. 26): Are we walking straight toward God’s truth without wavering?

So, how did you do on your examination? Are there areas where you need to take action? Regular checkups will help to restore your spiritual vitality.

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C. We Need to be LOOKING

The expression “to the end” in verse 13 could be translated “completely. The idea of the phrase “hope to the end” is that we are to set our hope completely on the grace of God, which will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We are already recipients of His grace, but there is a sense in which that grace which brings salvation will be culminated at the appearing of Christ. Peter encouraged his readers to set their hope completely on the return of Christ.

Yes, we need to be ready, be disciplined, and looking as these serve as three conditions for holiness. However, we should also take a few moments and reflect on the following characteristics of a Holy God:

(1)      His SOVEREIGN control over our circumstances;

(2)      His HOLY character in spite of our sinfulness;

(3)      His COMMITMENT to us even when we wander astray;

(4)      His LOVE that holds us close;

(5)      His GENTLE compassion in our sorrows;

(6)      His CONSISTENT faithfulness through our highs and lows;

(7)      His STRONG “no” when we need to hear it;

(8)      His SURPRISING “yes” when we lack the faith to believe it;

(9)      His WISE “wait” when we are impatient and rash;

(10)    His UNDERSTANDING when we are confused;

(11)    His SPIRIT that enlightens our eyes;

(12)    His GRACE that removes our guilt; and

(13)    His ETERNAL and Precious Word that gives us direction and purpose;

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II. The Command for Holiness – 1 Peter 1:14, 15b, “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”

God commands His children to be holy (v. 14-15). As Peter communicated God’s command, he called the readers “obedient children” because they had obeyed the truth in the past, and now Peter was urging them to continual obedience in this matter of holiness.

A. Negatively stated (1:14)

God has given many positive commands, things His people must do. He also has given many negative commands, things His people must not do. God knows that in order to have positive holiness, the negatives must be addressed. Holiness involves being set apart for God in our attitudes and behaviors. The things God call out of bounds must be avoided and the things God prescribes must be accepted. Scripture says we “put off” and “put on” (Colossians 3:5-14). Holiness is both a negative and positive action that extends to every area of our lives.

The negative command in 1 Peter 1:14 is  not to conform ourselves to our former lusts. and some specific attitudes and actions we should “put off” as believers is pride, anxiety, anger, deceit, lust, selfishness. Peter said that we must not “fashion” ourselves according to the desires of our former or pre-salvation days (v. 14). This word (not fashioning) appears only one other time in Scripture, Romans 12:2, where it is translated “be not conformed.” The idea in 1 Peter and in Romans is that the unsaved people of this world have a certain shape, style, or pattern of living, which believers must avoid. (Of course, behind this is Satan, who wants to lead men, women and children to sin).

The believer should not let himself be shaped or patterned by the world. Just as a piece of clay will take the shape of a mold, so many Christinans take the shape of the world because they fail to recognize or counteract its pressures. Resisting the pattern of the world will not be achieved by merely wishing for victory. If we do nothing to prevent it, we shall become like the world. We must actively resist that mold in order to avoid it.

Farmers in Japan, are preparing and have been for some time now, full-grown watermelons for shipment; however, these are no ordinary melons, because they are square! They were placed in tempered-glass cubes while they were still growing. Why would anyone want a square watermelon? They’re much easier to store in a refrigerator. It’s rather amusing to think how a naturally round watermelon can become square because of the shape of the container in which it’s grown.

The pattern of the world is a system controlled by Satan, who operates through many cultures that have little regard for God and especially His Eternal Word. These forces  contradict God’s revealed will and try to conform us to their way of thinking, living, what we value and manner in which we act. That’s why in Romans 12 we are told not to be “conformed to this world,” but to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.” The idea is rather simple. We are to allow the transforming Word of God to work within us and produce outward results, instead of permitting external pressures to shape us.

Thus, if we meditate on God’s Word daily, it will influence our thoughts and help us grow to be more like Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Then we will act in a manner that pleases Him. My brethren, pressures of the world will continue to try to shape our character, but they will not succeed if God’s precious Word is changing us from within. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, John said that we can be victorious in our struggle against evil, because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Someone stated it this way, “If we are being transformed by the Word of God, we won’t be conformed to the world”.

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B. Positively stated (1:15b)

Not only must believers stop doing certain things in order to be holy, but we must also do something positively. Be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (v. 15). In sharp contrast to being fashioned after pre-salvation desires (former lusts), God provides a new standard for believers. For the Christian holiness has more than one aspect. Positionally we are already sanctified, set apart or holy (1 Corinthians 1:2; Hebrews 10:14). In Christ, and with the Holy Spirit dwelling within, we have a holy standing before the Judge of the universe. Now that holiness should be demonstrated in all our conduct.

What does holiness look like practically! The word “holiness” has the root idea of being “set apart.” In the Old Testament certain clothes, vessels, days, and so on were considered holy. Those did not mean that there was anything inherently better about one vessel than another. It simply means that those vessels were set apart for us in things that pertained to God.

Some of the positive attitudes and actions we must “put on” as holy believers are found in Colossians 3:13-14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”.

Thus, holiness goes contrary to self-centered human nature. We want to serve and to please ourselves. Morally we will take the path of least resistance and follow the example of the world around us. Then, the question may arise, How holy must I be? God desires holiness in all that we do. Holiness on the personal level means that we must be holy and set apart for God in the area of our thoughts, We must avoid the philosophies of the world (negatively stated) and fill our minds with God-honoring concepts (positively stated). We must evaluate ideas by the standard of God’s revealed truth. The messages of the entertainment media, of our neighbors, of politicians, of society’s opinion makers, of printed and electronic news; all must be put through the grid of God’s Word before being accepted.

Our first focus is on the attitudes and actions that God specifically names. The lengthy list of Scriptural do’s” and “don’ts” contains the items God is most concerned with. When we learn to obey Biblical principles of separation to God, we can make proper judgments about contemporary matters that the Bible does not directly address. The command for holiness demands that we live our lives for God in every area and separate from all wickedness. We will never outgrow our need for holiness.

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III.      The Reason for Holiness – (1 Peter 1:15a, 16)

“He who hath called you is holy,” Peter reminded believers that our God is holy. He is separate or set apart from all that is sinful. His nature cannot accept sin. He does only what is right. Some have said that holiness may be the foundational attribute of God, that it forms the basis for all the rest of His character. He never violates His holiness in any of His plans or work. The believer’s motivation for being holy is that God is holy.

 Some may read this and say, “I cannot be holy like God. He is perfect, but I fail so often.” This is true for all of us. However, Peter did not say to be holy “like” or “as” God is holy. He told us to be holy “for” or “because” God is holy. We can never match God’s holiness, for His is a divine, perfect holiness. We as redeemed creatures are to be holy because our Father is holy.

A father could say to a son about to have a vaccination, “Son, be brave like Daddy.” By this he would not mean to be just as brave as the father is. He is rather saying that the son should model himself after his father and, within his own range of possibility, be brave. We will not be holy to the degree God is holy, but we are to be holy because our Father is holy.

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Further thoughts:

Isaiah 6:3-5, “And they (seraphim) were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. Woe to me! I cried, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Have you ever observed while setting in your living room when there was a tiny gap in the curtain covering the window and allowed a ray of light into the room? With that tiny ray of light, you could see particles of dust drifting in the light. Without the ray of light, the room seemed clean, but the light revealed the dirty particles.

What we can observe from this illustration will shed light on our spiritual life. The closer we approach the Lord of light, the clearer we see ourself. When the light of Christ shines in the darkness of our lives, it exposes our sin – not to discourage us, but to humble us to trust in Him even more. We can’t depend on our own righteousness, since we are sinners and fall short of God’s standards (Romans 3:23). When we are proud, the light reveals our heart and we cry as Isaiah did, “Woe to me! . . . For I am a man of unclean lips . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isiah 6:5).

God is absolutely perfect in every way. Approaching Him calls for humility and childlike trust, not self-importance and pride. For it is by grace that He draws us to Himself. It is good for us that we feel unworthy as we draw closer to God, for it humbles us to rely on Him alone.
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Our title is “Not Sinless, but Sinning Less

If we do not deal decisively with our sins, some of which are lust, anger, wrath, malice, lying, they will grow, multiply, and eventually dominate us. They can also destroy our effectiveness in serving Christ and damage our testimony for Him. The solution is to say no to sin (Romans 6:12). We also need to focus on Christ and His Word, setting our minds “on things above, not on things on the earth.” We must also “put to death” the sins that seek to invade our lives (Colossians 3:2, 5, 16). That’s the way to keep sin out!

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Sins are like weeds in a garden; keep them out or they will take over.