Called to Be Holy

by Mike Ratliff

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. (Luke 12:33-36 ESV)

One recurring warning throughout the New Testament is that Christians should live in such a way that they will be ready when their Lord returns. What would that life look like? How should we live in order to be ready when He comes and knocks? I doubt that it would look like the self-indulgent, pop-culture oriented, heavily marketed, so-called Christian lifestyle that waters down the gospel and breeds “Christians” who are both theologically and scripturally ignorant. They follow “another Jesus” whose creators have designed to fit the image that draws the crowd they want. The “followers” of this “other Jesus” resent any call to live lives of repentance before a Holy God who is to be feared. What does the life look like that is prepared for our Lord’s return? 

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 ESV)

13διο αναζωσαμενοι τας οσφυας της διανοιας υμων νηφοντες τελειως ελπισατε επι την φερομενην υμιν χαριν εν αποκαλυψει ιησου χριστου (1 Peter 1:13 WHNU)

The first word in this passage is “therefore” or διο. “Therefore” is a good translation. It could also have been rendered as “consequently.” This word is referring back to Peter’s exposition of how Christians are born again to a living hope. In light of the wonders of this salvation given to us in 1 Peter 1:3-12, we are being prepared for the eternal purpose of it and how we should live to be ready for it. The following phrase pertaining to this “therefore” is preparing your minds for action. However, the Greek actually should be translated as “girding up (αναζωσαμενοι) the loins (οσφυας) of your mind (διανοιας).” The ESV translation states what this colloquialism means to the 21st Century Christian, but the original translation would be like us telling our readers to “fasten their seat belts” or “roll up your sleeves.” This is a way to stress that what is required for the life that is prepared for the coming of the Lord is not one of passivity or laziness, but one prepared for vigorous and sustained spiritual exertion.

With the loins of our minds girded up for action, what are we to do? We are also to be sober minded (νηφοντες). To be sober minded is to be discreetly watchful of what is going on. The Christian whose mind is ready for action yet in a sober-minded way is one who doesn’t follow after the crowd. Trends and what the masses go hard after are looked at very carefully by this Christian. Things like the Purpose Driven Church, the Emergent Village, the tattooed outlaw preachers, et cetera will be seen by this Christian for what they really are and he or she will not be deceived nor follow after the crowd. He or she will remain faithful to what the Word of God calls them to do and to be because his or her hope (ελπισατε) will be fully (τελειως) on the grace (χαριν) that will be brought to them at the revelation (αποκαλυψει) of Jesus Christ (ιησου χριστου). Where is the focus of those living this way my brethren? Is it on self with hope tied to things in the temporal? No! Those preparing correctly for the return of their Lord have their hope FULLY on the grace that will come their way at His return! That says a lot about how one lives in the temporal doesn’t it? Will this person hoard the world’s goods or will he or she use what they have to extend the grace given to them by their Saviour?

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

14ως τεκνα υπακοης μη συσχηματιζομενοι ταις προτερον εν τη αγνοια υμων επιθυμιαις 15αλλα κατα τον καλεσαντα υμας αγιον και αυτοι αγιοι εν παση αναστροφη γενηθητε 16διοτι γεγραπται [οτι] αγιοι εσεσθε οτι εγω αγιος (1 Peter 1:14-16 WHNU)

Notice that those who live this way are called obedient (υπακοης) children (τεκνα) who are not (μη) conformed (συσχηματιζομενοι) to the passions (επιθυμιαις) of their former ignorance (αγνοια). This is the new life in Christ taught throughout the New Testament. This is a life of repentance and it is not maintained passively, but with a mind that has its loins girded for action. This mind is no longer ignorant or consumed by lusts or passions of the flesh. In v15-16 we have our calling. We are called to be holy as our Lord is holy. This means that we are to be set apart from sin to the service of God. Our standard of and motivation for holiness is the absolute moral perfection of God Himself.

No one is saying that any of us can do this perfectly. If so then there would be no need for the following passage.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10 ESV)

My brethren, we are being called to extricate ourselves from the bondage to our flesh in which this evil world specializes. We are to train up our minds for this high level of discipleship which we find in wonderful passages such as Romans 12:1-2. I pray that all reading this will take this call seriously as they actively pursue this close, holy walk with the Lord as living sacrifices whose minds are being constantly renewed through living the Cross-centered life set apart from the flesh and this evil world to the study of God’s Word, all for His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

15 thoughts on “Called to Be Holy

  1. Hi dear brother
    I trust you are feeling a little better :-)

    When I read what you have written above it is just a reminder that it is with a broken, grateful heart, and at immense cost to our Lord, that I have been taken into His Life, through His Sovereignty and Mercy alone. That without those, I would be crawling in the mire still. Not only, has He protected me from all the other stuff that goes on in the name of “God” throughout my life, but He has opened my eyes to what goes on that I might ‘see’ when so many that I knew have run off after Pied Pipers and are now sadly fallen by the wayside.

    The wonders of His mercy in this leaves me quite without adequate words.

    It is the Lord who brings us to this Life and the Lord who sustains us. It begins and ends in Him. It can be no other way.

    Blessed be His Name!

  2. Mike, I so appreciate your teachings, particularly because of your focus on the Word and nothing more. I love clarification of the Word with your use of the original languages. Sometimes if I don’t have time to read them daily, I print a few and read them in bed as for my nighttime devotion. I would appreciate your thoughts on the Amplified version of the Bible.

  3. So right, Mike! He is to be our first love. As I desire to know Him, He then shows me how to live…in repentance, obedience, faith, being sober minded and not ignorant, etc., little by little every day. This all comes out of wanting and loving Him. And it is reading the Word which brought all the initial changes in my life. Feeding on the Word will change our desires from those of the world to Jesus.
    God bless you today.

  4. I am feeling better today Steph. My medications are starting to become more balanced as I have completed two cycles of temporary prescriptions. Yes, the wonders of His mercy is beyond our ability to describe. Oh yes, blessed be His Name!!!!

  5. Marie, God’s Word is incredible. I see no reason to go after paraphrases and such because that only gives you men’s opinions that can be influenced by things outside of the pure milk of God’s Word. The Amplified version is different though. It gives you the multiple meanings of the key words in the verses. I don’t use one because I like to dig out the meanings of the words myself and blend that with the proper grammar and context. I think you miss those elements with the Amplified. On the other hand, if you want to know the meanings of those words the Amplified certainly gives you that.

  6. Hello Mike,

    Happy and blessed to read that you are feeling better, praise His Holy Name.

    Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. (Luke 12:33-36 ESV)

    Thank you, Lord.

    God’s pure Word is truly incredibile.

    Thank you, dear brother, and I hope and pray you are strengthened, increasingly, as you so evidently walk in grace and trust of God’s precious Word.

    In Christ,

    Karen

  7. I plan on posting this on a forum, Mike, with your permission. Many of the members need to read this for encouragement.

    Praise God that you are feeling better. I will continue to pray for your health, and that the Lord use you to strengthen His body. Your ministry is a blessed gift to us!

    Heather

  8. Hey Mike….I have often thought about that term “living sacrifices”. It reminds me that when the Jews offered their sacrifice to God it was burned. Consumed. Reduced to ashes….without His grace and mercy we too could be ‘consumed’ by the Fire of His Holiness. But He asks us to become “living sacrifices”…a sacrifice ever on His altar…His Holy Fire continually cleansing us….burning up our flesh and sin nature…moment by moment…we fail and sin at times, yes….but I want to stay on his altar and let Him do His continual work in me (no matter how painful) because I’m being fashioned more and more into His image….when we step off the narrow way, take up our salvation in our own hands, striving and working OUR WILL rather than surrendering to HIS WILL for our lives we become lukewarm, eventually cold , and end up by the wayside, another casualty from “churchanity” and “religiosity”. Lord make us like Issac..where we lay down upon your altar and become that living sacrifice!!

  9. Amen T.J! Very well thought out my sister and well said. I really appreciate that last part about being another casualty from “churchanity” and “religiosity.” While we are not talking about true Church and how a right and proper Pastor shepherds his flock, there are tons and tons of false churches and denominations, etc out there that everyone thinks are what “church” is all about, but all they are are forms of idolatry as “churchanity” and “religiosity”. My sister and all reading this, as a Christian you have permission from God Himself to come boldly to the throne of grace. As you said, as living sacrifices we put ourselves on the altar and are not consumed by God’s Holiness because we are holy and righteous in God’s eyes because we have been given our Lord’s holiness and righteousness. On the other hand, we sin and when we do we lose this close, intimate fellowship with our Saviour, which is available only to those who lay down upon our Lord’s altar and become that living sacrifice. It is us looking to God instead of our fleshly wants and desires for fulfillment. When we do this, we seek His glory in everything. Notice also, that we call none of the shots when we do this. We are slaves to our Lord’s Righteousness at this point and in this we find complete fulfillment. We could be in the most intense of fiery trials in the temporal, but be held close and comforted by our Saviour at the same time. He sustains us and as long as we do this all from the motivation of seeking His will in all things for His glory then we can patiently endure it all. That is my goal and I pray that it is yours as well.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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