October 22, 2015
Life can get hectic. People work fulltime and still manage to attend their son’s little league game, their daughter’s piano recital, doctor appointments, shopping, and then there’s that pesky trip to worship services on Sunday mornings. The stress of daily living is more than people were ever meant to bear. Automobiles, microwaves, dish washers, vacuum cleaners, and automatic clothes washers should make our living easier and give us more free time, but somehow we just cram more activity into life. Stress increases and finally something has to give. Something has to be pushed onto the back burner because there just aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything. Usually it’s God who gets pushed aside. The weekend comes and on Saturday household chores must be done, the kids have to be shuttled from one activity to another, and there’s a backyard bar-b-cue with the neighbors. Then comes Sunday and you just sleep in. Monday morning comes around and it starts all over again. Although God should be first before anything in our life, somehow it’s easy to put off prayer time, worship time, and Bible reading time. “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.“Leviticus 20:7. Modern life is upside down. Everything comes before God and there is little holiness in a Christian’s life. That’s just opposite of what it should be. God needs to be first and other things will fall into place.
If Christ isn’t first in your life then He is in the wrong place and your priorities need to be rearranged. Your children will follow your example and if you place everything else before Jesus they will too. Years ago I knew a teenage girl who I thought a lot of. Her family had been true to Christ for generations – they put Him first in their life. Though she hadn’t started her senior in high school, this young lady had a wonderful opportunity to attend a college program in another state. She would be gone through the summer and most young people her age would have regretted missing the county fair, but not my young friend. Her regret was that she would miss Vacation Bible School. She loved Jesus and had learned the right priorities at a very young age through the example of her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. As a Christian parent or grandparent, you need to make choices that separate you from the world because your choices will affect generations to come. “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.” 1 Peter 1:15-16. There are two words in these verses we need to understand. The first is “conversation”. It is translated from the Greek word “anastrophē” which means: manner of life, conduct, behaviour, deportment”. The next word is “holy”. The Greek word is “hagios” and it is defined as “most holy thing, a saint”. You, dear brethren, are holy. A pope cannot declare anyone a saint because if you have accepted Christ as your only way of salvation then God has already declared you to be a saint. In the above verses Peter is encouraging believers to conduct their life in a way that is holy and saintly, because Christ is holy. Every choice we make should reflect Christ.
In Scripture, the Apostle Peter is often seen as brash and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He had a habit of saying whatever came into his mind and sometimes we cringe at his statements. He swore to defend Christ no matter what the danger, yet a few hours later Peter denied knowing Him. Peter was nowhere to be found when Christ was crucified. In spite of his failures, Peter chose to allow Christ to change him. He became a leader among the Apostles and the Christians in Jerusalem, and his sermon on the day of Pentecost was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Today we are blessed by the letters he wrote and encouraged that even a man such as Peter can be used of God if he is willing. Peter wasn’t a pope, which isn’t a Biblical office, but he is someone we can look to for an example of holiness that only comes through Jesus Christ. When encouraging us to be holy, he reminds us of where our redemption comes from. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” 1 Peter 1:18-19. The word “conversation” is the same word, “anastrophē“, used in verse 15 above. We are redeemed by the blood of Christ not by corruptible things, so how can you let corruptible things get in your way of living a holy, set apart life? Redemption is only through Christ’s shed blood.
How do we obtain holiness? When we first accept Christ as our Saviour we are justified and set apart in His eyes. To the world around us we may still look like a lost sinner, but Christ sees us as redeemed and saved by His grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.“Ephesians 2:8-9. Works won’t save you. Christ did it all and salvation is a free gift. Once you have accepted this free gift, works in the name of Jesus should begin. This is the outward evidence of the faith you profess with your mouth. Works won’t make you “more saved” but should always glorify Christ. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:17-18. Because you have been saved by your faith in Christ, godly works should follow. For some Christians it might be as simple as giving up television in order to study God’s word. For others it might mean starting a Bible study in your home. Still others may need to sweep the sin of addiction from their life or choose Christian friends rather than the unsaved who will cause them to stumble. Whatever you do, start with prayer. Thank Him for His shed blood on the cross and for your salvation. Talk to Jesus about what He wants you to do with your life and He will guide you. Ask His forgiveness when you fail and for help in overcoming sin. Whatever you do, do it for Jesus and not for selfish reasons.
There is a hymn that I have always loved called TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY, written by William Longstaff. It carries a message of encouragement in drawing closer to Jesus as you go through life.
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His word,
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak
forgetting in nothing, His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be;
thy friends in thy conduct his likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let him be thy guide,
and run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
and, looking to Jesus, still trust in His word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
each thought and each motive beneath his control.
Thus led by his spirit to fountains of love,
thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
As Christians we need to please our Lord, and taking time to draw near to Him pleases Him. “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9. The phrase “accepted of him” is better translated “pleasing to him”, and most Bible translations state it that way. As long as we live on this side of Heaven we will continue in the struggle to live our life to please God instead of following the distractions of this world. There always seems to be plenty of time to participate in secular activities that do nothing to honor Christ, but a 15 minute Bible study or prayer time is asking too much. Make the choice to put God first and to draw near to Him and take time to be holy.
Brothers and sisters, one day you will leave this life. The distractions that came between you and Christ will suddenly be put aside. You will stand before Christ at His judgment seat and your actions will be judged. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10. For the Christian, this judgment is not one to decide if you have been good enough to enter Heaven. Nobody is good enough without Christ, but your salvation was secured when you accepted His death, burial, and resurrection as the atonement for your sin. The judgment you will face when you stand before Jesus is the judgment of what you did with that free gift. Did you hide it so nobody around you knew you were a Christian? Did you do good things for selfish gain instead of doing all for Christ? “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. It’s better to live your life today to please Him with works of gold, silver, and precious stones which will last, rather than feel shame and regret when you stand before Him and watch your selfish works be burned up in the fire of judgment. Take time to pray and study His word. Develop friendships with fellow Christians and allow Christ to guide all of your decisions. Whatever you do, be sure that it honors the One who gave His life for you.
Take time to pray, study His word, and learn to be more pleasing to Him. That time is time well spent and it will affect the way you conduct your life and the choices you make. Brothers and sisters, take time to be holy.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.