"Modern Christians seem more afraid of appearing uncool than of being unholy. Instead we should fear being irrelevant to a world in need."
- Randy Alcorn
So, how exactly can we live a holy life? How can we gauge whether our behaviors are holy or unholy? How can we strive to be relevant in this world? Scripture gives us some very definitive life characteristics that help us to answer these questions. First, God’s Word tells us that unholy lives are marked by sin: sexual immorality, impurity, greed, (Ephesians 5:3) grumbling, complaining, (Philippians 2:14-15), idolatry, wild living, slander, drunkenness, extortion, (1 Corinthians 5:11) and finally - theft and covetousness (1 Corinthians 6:10.) If these things are prevalent in our life or our life gives hints to these things, there is no way that we can say that we are exhibiting holiness and living a life that testifies of Jesus.
To add to this discussion, it is imperative that we begin to understand that every follower of Jesus is called to be holy just as He has called each of us to pick up our Cross and follow after Him. These two ideas (holiness and carrying our cross) are not usually connected but please ponder this: many people have taken this teaching about picking up our cross and tried to turn it into a self-motivation tool to help them persevere or to accomplish something. However, when we really think about it, crosses are not meant for encouragement. Crosses are meant to die upon. For us that is where holiness begins. We die and Jesus lives through us! Furthermore, as we examine the Scriptures and characteristics listed above, it is clear that un-holiness is directly tied to sin. So we can only conclude that putting sin and our selves away; leads us to live holy lives for Jesus.
So how then do we pursue and gain holiness? 1st – It bears repeating; we must actively die to our self and our own personal desires. This is bigger than any specific sin and this is exactly what Paul is implying when he writes in Galatians 2:20 that: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." 2nd – We must actively work and strive to get rid of the sin in our lives. Hebrews 12:1 teaches us this: "therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." 3rd – We have to move past the thinking that we can live however we want to and it's perfectly fine. This is simply not true. Holiness is Christ in us – lived out. God’s grace and forgiveness are not a hall pass to live however we want. So much teaching in the church today is about what is permissible. To the point that we have completely lost the concept of being set apart (being Holy).
Church - are we relevant? Is Jesus’s life clearly being lived out in us? Or is His life hidden by some sin that hinders the evidence of His glory in our lives. That is a question we must all wrestle with! Relevance is our calling. God Bless you all in this pursuit.