“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
Things have actually gotten pretty crazy here in the U.S. We’ve lost the idea of sacredness. We’ve lost the idea of right and wrong. An idea of relativity has been adopted. The way that seems right to a man, is the way people are being taught to go. (Proverbs 14:12) Whatever you want to do, do it, and hate the ones who don’t agree. That’s a sad state of affairs. When it’s more important to be right, or to have my way, than it is to care about someone else, even if they disagree, well, we’ve become less than human.
This idea that we ought to be holy because our God is holy isn’t just an old fashioned, Old Testament idea. Peter reiterated it. Why? Because our natural tendency is unholiness. What we see in the world today is man’s natural tendency. This is what man is like without God. But the thing is, we were created to be with God. We were created for God. We were created to bear His image in the world, not to be empty shells bearing empty, selfish images. But it’s a supernatural undertaking to get back to being who we were created to be. It takes surrender and surrender is a bad word nowadays. But surrender is the only right response before a God who created us and gives us every breath we take. And only when we surrender to Him do we find out who we really were meant to be.
So here is Peter in chapter 1 telling us how to surrender to God. To be holy like Him we first have to surrender our minds and our thinking. We have to fill them with His ways by His word and that’s not enough. We have to prepare our minds to act on those truths. Yes, America, there is a truth, and it belongs to this God who created us and everything that is. And it belongs to this God who loves us more than we understand. It’s His truth that will set us free, not freedom from His truth. Freedom from His truth is just captivity to a lie and a liar.
So we must prepare our minds in Him and act on the truth we learn from Him. Be sober-minded. Stop being drunk. Get out of your drunken stupor where your mind is distorted by sin and you can’t see straight so you wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you in the face. In 1 Corinthians 15:34, Paul says, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” It’s a shame. It’s a shame when we want to hold on to our bad habits that strongly even though they hurt us and our families. It doesn’t matter if I’m a believer or not. It’s a shame to choose the gutter over truth.
But sin gives us that buzz. It’s all about my feelings. It ceases to be about what’s right for anyone. I just want to validate my feelings, despite those around me. What happens to my morality? It’s diminished. My moral compass becomes skewed or non-existent. My spiritual sensitivity becomes dull or void. My ego gets high on itself. Everything gets out of focus. And the thing is that sin is worse than alcohol because there isn’t a single person who can tolerate even a drop of it without being effected. And the more we drink, the more addicted we become. The more we drink, the more we imprison ourselves in it’s power and lack of thinking.
But the truth is that there is power in God and in His word and in the truth of all that He is. To reset our minds on Him is to have hope that as He reveals Christ to us day by day, more and more, until one day, we see Him return, that He is working Himself out in us. I can choose to obey Him as my loving Father and be conformed to Him and walk away from the passions that I sought in ignorance. I can choose the fullness and love of my Heavenly Father and be free from the passions that controlled me and made me empty. He’s holy. He’s Something Other, Something Above all I could imagine. He’s better. He’s fuller. He’s love unimaginable and yet I can experience Him. He’s relationship though I don’t deserve relationship. He’s Faithfulness and Forgiveness and Fullness and Satisfaction and Joy and Hope and Peace. Everything else is an empty sham.
I don’t care if you are a Christian, an atheist, or just John Doe out there. If you think your money is your own, your wrong. If you’re aiming at prestige and power, your missing it. If your choices are made to protect your own best interests, how sad. If all you want is recognition, how empty. You can even be influential and look like a good American, a good person, but if you are just full of the wine of the world and drinking the best of it, you’re empty, you’re just a shell of what you were created to be.
There is a truth and there is a God and His will, will be done. His will is that all men would come to know Him and what they were created for- to be in relationship with Him. Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) And repentance isn’t just about being sorry for choosing against Him. Repentance is acknowledging our wrongness and turning from it to Him. Repentance is recognizing God for who He is and turning to Him in relationship because You realize that everything else is emptiness without Him.
It’s not only those who are not believers who are living in error and emptiness. Error and emptiness also creeps into the lives of believers. This isn’t a hate message, this is a call to be loved and to love as we are loved by God. Paul tells this to the church, but it doesn’t just apply to the church. It applies to all people, everywhere, because God is a holy God and He is calling all people unto Him in relationship in salvation. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) It’s not just people on the outside who choose to listen to their feelings over the truth. Any of us can get drunk on ourselves, drunk on our anger, drunk on our feelings of what we think we deserve and how someone isn’t meeting that need that we think they should. We can get drunk on our own passions and lose sight of You so easily. And then we want to change the truth into a lie.
You know, I could explain that list of things that God is telling us is so foreign to what we’ve been created as and for. And hearing that list is going to anger some people but that’s because they’re being angry drunks, letting lies control their minds and lives. This isn’t who you were created to be. Read the list. Do you fall under any of those categories? Are you feeling angry and empty and like people are against you? Maybe it’s because this isn’t where you were created to be. Maybe you were created to be loved in holiness and by Holiness. And maybe you were created to be like Him, loving others in holiness, not selfishness. Read the list, I have. I’m a believer and I’m so glad that I didn’t stay in that drunken stupor. I’m glad that You didn’t give up on me, God. I’m glad that You remind me that the drunk I was, isn’t who I have to be now. Yeah, I can pick up the wine of my passions again. I can let them control me again. It’s my choice, just like anyone else. But You washed me, You sanctified me and set me apart for You, and You justified me in Jesus and by Your Spirit. I’ve lived in the drunken stupor, more than once. I don’t want to go there again.
I don’t want my mind to be my own. I don’t want my life to be about my passions. That’s emptiness. I want to live in the One who loved us so much that He sacrificed His passions by sacrificing His life for me a sinner and a rebel. I want to give my all to the One who chooses to stick closer to me than a brother, to the One who gives of Himself to allow Himself to live inside of me.
People say today, “I can do whatever I want.” They said that in Paul’s day too. “All things are lawful for me.” Paul was quoting that from the people of Corinth, not because it was truth, but it was the attitude. He corrected that attitude. Not all things add up when they’re added to our lives. They’re just not profitable for us. But why was Paul quoting that? Because it was a misinterpretation of the people. Paul was reminding that there is law, there is a structured order, and we are free to obey as we can in our culture. It’s not license to sin. It’s a freedom to obey even when we are restricted from obeying fully.
There is a law and it’s higher than man’s law, it’s the law of God. We can acknowlege it or we can fight against it. Surrendering to it brings peace and love and personal knowledge of God. Fighting it brings pain and emptiness, it doesn’t matter if you’re a believer or a non-believer. It doesn’t matter if you are involved in a homosexual relationship or a heterosexual relationship if you are going against God’s design. It’s not about hate. It’s about experiencing the love of God but we can’t if we are so caught up in loving ourselves we won’t even let ourselves see Him. Look at the list. Do I think that homosexuals are worse than the sexually immoral? Do I think that adulterers are worse than idolaters? Do I think that the greedy, or the thief, or the drunk, or the reviler, or the swindler is better or worse than the others? No. And neither does God. Sin is sin. All sinners are equal. We all need to surrender to a God who knows and is the way to life.
I can choose to live according to my passions or I can choose to surrender to a God who created me to be filled with His passion. He demonstrated the intensity of His passion for us through Jesus. “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:9.10) David understood what a lot of us are missing. “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) I don’t want to live for my own passions. It’s too easy to be controlled by them and for my focus to get warped. I want to live in Your presence where You fill me with everything that is right. I want to live in Your presence by the power of Your Spirit in the power of Your resurrection because then I am loved and then I can love others rightly.
It’s funny. There are so many angry people today. They’re so focussed on their passions and their agendas that it’s all they can see, and they’re angry but don’t even realize how that doesn’t go together. I mean the “tolerant” can’t tolerate anybody else. How is that right? But I could get there just as easily if I also choose to focus on myself, my passions, my agendas, my rights. There’s a better way, and His name is Jesus. ” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” ( John 14:6) It’s true. There is a right way. There is one truth. And there is real life. I don’t want to live in an alcohol induced dream world. I hope you don’t either. I want to choose to seek the One who sought me out and continues to seek me out. I want to choose to be sober minded and to actually know the One I follow. I want Him to make me like Him, just like Him. I want Him to be my passion but I want His passion to be what controls me. I don’t want to look like the world. I want to look like Something Other. I want to be holy like He is holy because I want to help others be filled with all the goodness and love that is You, Lord and it can’t be found in ourselves without You filling us.