17-21 The Episode in Christ
This will be the one last thing I share. Eventually I’m going to look at one last verse – the one that is my key verse – Galatians 2:20.
But first I share a story. My friend Mike from Santa Barbara came and shared with our fellowship Sunday an interesting definition of holiness. He said, “Holiness is the way things should be!” We make holiness so intricate. The “do’s” and “don’ts” of man’s holiness are far more complex than what God says holiness is.
Remember, the Lord says in the “sermon on the mount” “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Borrowing from my friend’s definition, holiness is not what we want it to be; it’s the way things should be. What does God say about holiness?
NIV 1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Peter uses verses from Leviticus to remind us of our call to be holy. Evidently, holiness is not just a “Jewish thing” but also a way of life chosen for every believer in Jesus Christ. Leviticus 11:44 records the first mention of this call to holiness. This Old Testament verse in context is a warning about interacting with unclean things. It’s fascinating that Peter would quote a verse that he argued with the Lord about to justify his position of separation from the Gentiles in the book of Acts. He now applies it to the one body of Christ. The key to this holiness is consecration, which is separation. The church is called to be separate from the world. It’s not the “do’s” and “don’ts” that we are naturally inclined to do, holiness is the way things should be – the church walking in complete separation from the world with God.
The degree of worldliness acceptable in the church has become alarming! We discover compromising standards under the mask of tolerance. I’ve heard of pastors turning a blind eye to immorality with the excuse, “it’s not something we deal with here.” Things have become relative to what the individual considers holy; and we wouldn’t want to judge others! (That was put cynically.) And sadly, as the believer succumbs to sin for a long period of time, the difficulty of extracting the life from the weakness becomes amplified. The person is well on the way to catastrophic failures that bring about a lifetime of sorrow. It remains a mystery with most just how one gets to the way things should be.
This passage gives the answer! It’s not the law or adding anything special to your faith, just a life lived by faith. That’s the way things should be that makes holy. Now listen to my key verse, verse 20 in the Message Bible.
Message Bible 20 Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I love those words, “Christ’s life showed me how and enabled me to do it.” It’s not “doing” so much as “being.” It’s not “doing” something on my own so much as “being” in Christ’s life! The verse continues, “I identify myself completely with him.” My life is consecrated in the life of Christ. Christ lives in me and He becomes my primary way of living; the way things should be!
How does holiness happen in the churches of God? Only by each individual member living the life of faith in the Son of God! And our motivation for such a life becomes remembering Jesus who loved me and gave himself for me. When we forget Jesus we loose perspective on holiness.
However, living our lives by the faith of the Son of God is the key to the book of Galatians! A person is saved by grace through faith. Don’t try to add to it and work it out to be more holy, you will just fail and be under greater bondage. The key to enjoying the Christian life is found in Galatians 5:1-5.
NIV 1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
So, discover the grace of God in the life of Christ and take care to not listen to those distorting the gospel!
J. Robert Hanson