The Call to Holiness


1 Peter 1:16 ~ “Be holy for I AM Holy.”

God is holy. He expects us to be holy as well, living as His representatives, revealing His holiness through our holy lives.

It is all good and fine to note the call, but simply agreeing with God that we are to be holy is not enough. We need to understand what that means, and I will tell you, looking at the defining characteristics of the holy gives insight that breaks chains away.

I’ve shared before about a time when in nursing school, I was visiting with two other women during a break. One of them used some impolite expletives, then, looking at me with a look of great respect, she apologized to me for her language. My other friend, obviously incensed, blurted, “Excuse HER. What about me!” “Yeah, but she’s different,” responded the first. Immediately the thought that flowed to my heart was, “O God! I don’t want to be so different that others are uncomfortable around me.” With that thought / prayer, I turned a spiritual corner and hurt my testimony for the rest of our time in school. If I had known then what I am seeing here now, it would have helped me receive the compliment with rejoicing and hope that God could use me to help others desire to be better. God exalted me in the eyes of this one who was watching and was under conviction in her own life, then I blew it because I did not know how to accept the exaltation and realize it as a God-thing.

That intro done, to make sure we understand what this call to holiness means so we can fulfill the call, let us define it:

Holy:

  1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred.
  2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered: a holy book.
  3. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy person.
  4. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose: a holy place.
  5. Solemnly undertaken; sacrosanct: a holy pledge.
  6. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence.

In all of this definition we find what we are to be portrayed to the world as the holy people of God. God is holy. He expects us to be holy as well, living as His representatives, revealing His holiness through our holy lives. We do that by

†   remembering who we belong to as His own possession (1 Peter 2:9)

†   living according to His will and way revealed in Scripture and in the power of His Spirit

†   realizing we are set apart for a purpose, finding what that is, and doing that

†   walking as people who know their time and work here is for His glory and is a solemn undertaking, sacrosanct, a holy pledge

Yes, I skipped #2 and #6 on purpose. It is the focus I want to major on. A phrase in definition #2 catches my attention: “worthy of worship and veneration.” Now if you are like me on that fateful day in nursing school, I thought only God is worthy of worship and veneration and my receiving such veneration as a daughter of God revealed was to sin against God and rob His glory, so I fell. As I look at this today, I get some new found perspective that would have made a world of difference had I known this back then. So let us look more closely at this worship and veneration we are to live so as to receive.

First the word “worship” is better stated as “worthship”. In worship we see the worth of the one worshiped and laud the glory of that which is worthy. Then we come to…

Veneration: To venerate – To regard with respect, reverence, or heartfelt deference.

Deference: 1. Submission or courteous yielding to the opinion, wishes, or judgment of another. 2. Courteous respect.

God definitely has worthship. His worth is far above that of any other beings. No one can live up to His worthiness. So to worship God for His worth, giving Him His due adoration and respect for His worthiness, is much greater than any note of worthiness made for any human being. If we have right perspective to know the worth of God and keep His worthiness at the top of our favorite heros list, we will have and keep Him in the right place in our lives: most holy and most worthy. Worship of God for His worthiness will far exceed any other as we keep Him first in all things.

Now realize that we are called to be holy as He is holy. Taking that into consideration in light of the defining characteristics that make one holy, we see that we must live lives that are seen as worthy of veneration as good examples, representative of God and His character and power at work in our midst. People have a worthiness that can be recognized and lauded as worthy of appreciation and respect. That is especially true of those who know with practical realization that they are the chosen possession of God, and that God is faithful to supply our every need so that we may live holy lives that honor Him as Lord.

Of course, the flesh beings that we are, our worthiness of such attention falls far short of God’s worth. The thing is, as people of God who are to be holy, when people applaud our worth, we need to learn how to receive that with realization that God is the One who is truly worthy as He empowers and equips us. With that realization in our hearts, knowing that God calls us to be holy and that holiness involves being worthy of veneration, when venerated we can take the compliment with rejoicing, because if we are lauded as the people of God, He is glorified in that.

We cannot and must not be put on a pedestal that is as high as or higher than God’s. He is the only one with worthiness to sit on a pedestal of that height. But scripture teaches that He “exalts” the humble, (Luke 14:11, 18:14; James 4:10). He brings them to a position of worth, worthy of veneration. It is humility that keeps the applause coming to us from going to our heads and making our pedestal unstable or even to topple. Humility before God receives graciously the compliments of others while giving glory to God.

Father, may we be found living a holy life that sets a good example, worthy of respect, veneration, note, to the glory of Your name. In Jesus, amen.

You may stop here, or if you want a little more, read on as we note some significant passages in Scripture that give insight regarding the exaltation we may find ourselves in:

“God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” ~ Psalm 75:7.

In Joshua 3:7 we see Joshua about to step up to the plate following heavy hitter, Moses. God assures Joshua that He will exalt him before the people so that they will know that as God was with Moses, so He would be with Joshua. That is the purpose of our exaltation today as well, beloved. We are to live exemplary, notable lives so that others may know that God is with us.

In 1 Chronicles 14:2 we see that God exalted the kingdom under David for the sake of His people.

In 1 Chronicles 29:25 we see God exalt Solomon to become one of the most well-known and beloved kings in scripture. We also know that Solomon had his sin issues, yet God’s mercy and compassion toward him chose to exalt him anyway. You are not beyond God’s work of exaltation if you are seeking His face and trusting Him. His love and grace is sufficient to cover your unseemly places while He continues to lift you up and increase your beauty as His possessed representative. Like Dundee said of his land in Crocodile Dundee 1, God claims His right over you, calling you “BelongaGod”. If you belong to Him, He will work exaltation in you.

In Psalm 37:34 we see that those who wait for and keep the way of the Lord are exalted.

In Psalm 89:16 we see the righteousness of God gifted to us is what makes us worthy of exaltation. That’s the gift of God’s grace through Jesus, people.

In Psalm 89:24 we see that those who trust in the faithfulness and loving-kindness of God have their “horn” exalted: in other words they are given great strength and prosperity.

In Proverbs 14:34 we see that uprightness and right standing with God (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) elevate a nation.

In Proverbs 24:7 we see that “wisdom is too exalted for a fool”. Thus we know that turning from foolish ways exalts us to receive true wisdom.

In Proverbs 29:25 trusting in the Lord so as to not give self to fear brings God’s exaltation.

Then we have warning:

In Isaiah 24:4 we see that exaltation can and does fade away. If we live godly lives in our youth soHaughty as to be deemed worthy of veneration, we must continue to practice those things that make us worthy. Relying on yesterday’s pedestal moment to the neglect of the next will see this glorious position God placed us in fade over time. Remember, the reason we are exalted is so others know Jehovah is our God. We cannot serve Him today and forget Him tomorrow and stay in our high positions of honor with God who exalts us.

In Jeremiah 48:29 we are reminded that “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, KJV) It is God who points us out to others and exalts us before them. It is Him who places us in positions of honor, and He can and will remove our lampstand if we become haughty and try to rob His glory for ourselves, or if we turn away and run after the things of this world.

So, live life to the full as honors God and represents Him well, beloved. When exaltation comes, receive it with grateful heart that sees God’s pleasure in the exaltation of His people. Give Him glory and praise Him with thanksgiving.

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