Drive Beyond the Crossing of Hope and Holiness



God’s gift of eternal life is worth celebrating. Our freedom from the leash of sin is better than any other freedom. The love and adoration we enjoy from our Heavenly Father is comforting beyond measure. Praise God for His ever-reaching mercy and grace.

But the Christian life is not all fun and games. God didn’t intend for us to stop at celebration. When we start off on the road called Hope, we should quickly merge onto the road called Holiness. Do we Christians and faith communities (and even churches) cruise up and down Hope and steer away from Holiness? Do we celebrate and thank God for His forgiveness, glibly excusing our humanness as that part of life God no longer holds against us?


God expects more.

We’re not only saved because it’s good for us. We’re also saved to sacrifice for God. Timothy wrote that God “saved us and called us to a holy life” (2 Timothy 1:5-10). And, of course, we remember Romans 12:1:

…I urge you…in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God––
this is your true and proper worship.

God expects much from us. He expects a changed heart, a changed mind, obedience… And, even though that’s already a lot, He expects our lives. I’ll be the first to admit, I often take my life back from Him.

Peter wrote a letter to Christians scattered throughout the area generally known today as Turkey (1 Peter 1:1-2). It seems these Christians were happy about their salvation and eternal home, but they needed direction for living as God expected them to live. They might have praised and thanked God for giving them much, but maybe they didn’t follow Jesus further than that. They enjoyed the hope of new life but maybe they didn't pursue holiness.

Even still, life was difficult for them. They were exiles and faced situations that tested their faith. So, Peter began his letter with what seems like a recipe for spiritual maturity – a maturity that is expected of each of us.

Here’s how Peter began his letter:

[They were] chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
to be obedient to Jesus Christ…

1 Peter 1:2a


Then he described the Christian journey (“the sanctifying work of the Spirit”). Our journeys should progress from hope to holiness and look something like this (which is what we find in 1 Peter1:1-2:10). Of course, it begins with celebration.



1. We celebrate the fact that God blesses us with eternal security (1 Peter 1:3-5).

I bet many of us can name the date and circumstances surrounding the moment we accepted Jesus as our Savior. I was at a church youth group meeting when I met Jesus, on February 13, 1981 (Friday, the 13th). It is a moment worth celebrating.
  • Our eternity is secure because God acted on His mercy (1 Peter 1:3, Psalm 89:14, 2 Peter 3:8-9).
  • We look forward to Heaven because we acted on our faith (1 Peter 1:5). Of course, our faith is a gift from God, so our eternal security is entirely from God.

2. We enjoy God’s blessing of maturing hope (and we may not even realize it) (1 Peter 1:6-9).

We celebrate but life is hard sometimes. We eventually realize that hardship tests our faith, but hardship can’t take the Heaven out of us. We make it through, and we know we can do it again with God’s help, and we praise Him. We look back and we celebrate.

3. We gain wisdom and understanding because God blesses us with spiritual clarity (1 Peter 1:10-12).

We have God’s complete revelation. The prophets heard from God and they spoke of the spiritual blessings, especially of our salvation, that we can now fully enjoy. We don’t wonder when Jesus will come. We know He already has.

While we continue to celebrate, we begin to realize God expects more…


4. We realize God expects us to be holy (1 Peter 1:13-17).

We are so blessed, in more ways than I mentioned above, so we celebrate. But God also wants us to be holy. Peter urged us to clear our minds and become ready for action. We have a new way of life: obedience.

5. We make life choices to honor Jesus because of His sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-21).

We can never repay the debt of our sinfulness. Jesus paid it entirely and offers a real and forever relationship with Him. For this, He deserves and expects our honor.
  • God bore the complete cost of our undeserved freedom (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • The gospel would elude us if Jesus never came (1 Peter 1:20).
  • We enjoy a solid relationship with God because of Christ’s death and resurrection (1 Peter 1:21).

6. We value people more and more (1 Peter 1:22-25).

When we obey God – when we truly seek to honor Him – we love people. If we struggle to love others, we should look inward and consider whether we are obedient to God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth
so that you have sincere love for each other,
love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22


1 Peter 1 describes 3 blessings from God, followed by 3 things God expects of us. In chapter 2, he seems to cut to the chase in verses 1-10 with 2 more expectations. He said to rid ourselves of evil, to desire spiritual food, and make sacrifices. He said to be who he chose us to be: a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people of God.

These two additional expectations put a capstone on our relationship with God.


7. We become serious about our relationship with God and all that pleases Him (1 Peter 2:1-3).

Do we really shun sin and sinful behavior? I admit, I don’t really hate all kinds of evil. Sometimes I gratify my sinful tendencies. I find myself in confession far too often for someone who wants to be remembered as a man of God who gave his all for Christ and led his family to do the same.

This begs the question: How serious am I really about my relationship with God?
Answer: Not enough.

But we are all in process, aren’t we? It’s okay to admit that. It’s not okay to use it as an excuse. We need to get to know God better. We need to study. We need to learn about Him, learn about ourselves in the process, and grow in our appreciation of His compassion and sacrifice for us. We need to reciprocate. We need to think about Him more than ourselves. When we do so, we will hate evil more today than we did yesterday, and more tomorrow than we do today.
  • Experiencing God’s blessings produces an aversion to sin (1 Peter 2:1, Psalm 34).
  • Experiencing God’s blessings produces a desire to study and grow (1Peter 2:2-3).

8. We make sacrifices because He set us apart for Him (1 Peter 2:4-10).

This is the bottom line of our relationship with God. Are we living up to our calling? Are we fulfilling the purpose and the reason God chose us to be His people? If you ever wondered, “What’s the point of being a Christian?,” chew on this:

You were chosen…that you may declare
the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

We were chosen to tell others about how marvelous God is, and how He saved us from eternal condemnation. We do this, not by putting our best foot forward. We do it by making sacrifices – by giving up the right to live our own lives and following God’s lead instead.
  • God is setting us apart as spiritually-minded people (1 Peter 2:4-8).
  • If we are set apart, we are set apart for a reason (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Consider this quote from blogger friend Karen Friday:

We must trust who God is…the sum total of His attributes. Yet, sometimes we only concentrate on the feel-good parts of God’s character. Such as God is love, merciful, and good.

And all those characteristics are absolutely true about God. But He is also holy, just, the one true judge, in control, on His throne, the only God, and sovereign – reigns over all things. Every one of these aspects are what make God, God.

We deny God’s full Lordship when we only celebrate one aspect of His character.






So, where are you in your journey as a child of God? What blessing or expectation above speaks to you most today. We might understand and grow in a different order than how it is listed above, and we cycle back through some of the stages at various points in our journeys, so number 1 is not just for young Christians and number 7 doesn’t necessarily describe mature ones. Whichever step we find ourselves in, God is speaking to us about our growth. Feel free to share about it by commenting below.







If you want to know more about God’s love and how to have a relationship with Him, please email me at authordlv@att.net.

Read more blog posts here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Comments

  1. Wonderful reminder that faith does not end when we accept Christ. We are His, mind, body and soul. He has an eternal purpose for each of us. Don’t miss out on the incredible journey He has planned for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Yvonne. Some of us are well into those incredible journeys and many of us will enjoy them soon. Let's celebrate our Savior while pressing on to serve Him.

      Delete
  2. Love this, Stephen. I liked how you named two roads, Hope and Holiness. I"m especially walking through number 2 right now. Like this, it produces "out-loud hope." Not only is my blog theme about hope, but I also love writing about it. I also realize hardships are meant to build our hope and faith and trust in the Lord as never before. I know my current suffering will not be wasted one tiny bit. God will use it to make me stronger and help others. And it's keeping me close to Him and His heart. This is chalked full of great insight and truth. And thanks so much for sharing my blog excerpt and the full link. I pray to appreciate every aspect of God's character whether I'm on the mountain or in the valley.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God is blessing you, Karen, as you keep your focus on Him through the fire. I definitely see your out-loud hope as you continue to do what God designed for you. It took 5 or 6 months for me to write this blog post (yes, way too long), but along the way I read your post about unstoppable faith and I knew I had to reference it. We humans like to enjoy the qualities of God that satiate ourselves, but we don't like to respond to the qualities that make us sacrifice. You brought that out so well and you continue to live it. I'm sure I speak for many when I say we appreciate your sacrifice for Him.

      Delete
  3. I am thankful God guides me along in my faith journey. If I take a step forward and two steps back, He is always there to catch me and put me on the right path. I pray my words and actions will glorify Him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God loves to keep us on the path when we want to walk with Him. And sometimes those 2 steps back are part of the plan. We just need to keep walking.

      Delete
  4. Great post, Stephen! You've covered all the bases of growth in holiness and you've done a great job expositing 1 Peter 3. I appreciate your transparency, because all of us struggle and all of us are mid-growth until we go to be with Jesus. My husband and I hit some bumps during our recent move and are still bickering and picking at each other. I'm attempting to rely on Jesus when I want to retort, the example Jesus set so well for us in 1 Peter 2:22-23 of not retorting when provoked. Please, pray for us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad this is meaningful for you, Melinda. Sometimes we slip back into our unsanctified selves when our routine and ordered lives get disrupted (like after a huge move). But God is still here and working, adding grace for those trying times. 1 Peter 2:22-23 is amazing! Jesus took the blows and all for us (in obedience to His Father and in compassion toward us). I'll remember you both in prayer.

      Delete
  5. I so love the reminder that our journey with Jesus begins with celebration! And it's always humbling to remember that God saved us yes because He loves us, but also — and just as importantly — to glorify His Name. So our lives of sanctification bring honor to His Name. What an amazing journey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Emily. We begin celebration and it is ongoing! There is always something to celebrate, even in our darkest times because we have gained so much. We have gained the perfect hope to enjoy on earth and in our future home in Heaven. So we sacrifice for His glory. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      Delete
  6. This is such a great reminder that God is always here for us, no matter where we are in our faith journey! He is always here for us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen. Without Him, we would be lost - directionless and without appropriate guidelines. We need to follow Him with obedience and sacrifice.

      Delete
  7. Such a deeply profound and thoughtful post. Thank you for spelling this out, step by step. God has blessed us beyond all comprehension. But as part of that blessing, He calls us to draw closer still, to be holy as He is holy. To be conformed to the image of Christ. Encouraging and challenging! Awesome message.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Melissa. God expects much from us. It is very clear from even just a partial reading of His Word. It is only reasonable that we give ourselves to Him for all that He has done for us.

      Delete
  8. Love this. I heard this once compared to a door and a house. When we accept Jesus, we open the door and walk in. The rest of it, how we live and move and work in the house, is our discipleship journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a neat illustration, Jessica. Entering through the doorway with awe and excitement is just a small part of our journey. It's just the beginning. So much more is yet to come.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. God bless you in your journey. Thank you for reading.

      Delete
  10. Stephen, I loved the picture of the roads name Hope and Holiness merging. You're so right. We need to learn holiness so we can better understand what—and Who—our hope is in. We choose to walk out faith, don't we? As we walk on Holiness Road, we find our hope is refined and deepened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeanne. I like what you said, that our hope is refined and deepened as we walk Holiness. Certainly hope and holiness are interdependent, and they are actually better together. May we walk that road called Holiness. It is the natural response to all that gives us true hope.

      Delete
  11. Yes - biblical hope does indeed motivate us to holiness!
    Thank you for this powerful reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, hope is tied to holiness and holiness is tied to hope. One spurs the other. Blessings to you, Ava.

      Delete
  12. What a wonderful reminder that though our journeys may be up and down and have twists and turns, the one thing we can be certain of is that Jesus is with us. He provides what we need as we stumble and learn and grow, gradually transformed into his likeness. I liked the reminder we should have an eschatological view, keeping in mind that we have the promise of external life. Living with this eternal view in mind, so many of our earthly woes would decrease in their power and significance. Thanks for the article Stephen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Jesus is with us and He helps us transform. May we always have a focus on eternity. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Stone Cold Truth about the Grave, Grace, and Honor

Getting Off on the Wrong Two Feet

A Whole New World Awaits

Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum and a Smile in the New Year

Honoring Authority within God’s Big Picture (Part 2):
God Frames Ever-Changing Hues along the Path Toward Honoring Him

The Narrow Gate Is Worth the Cost of Admission

Honoring Authority within God’s Big Picture (Part 3):
God Adds Texture to Our Portraits with Visions of a Masterpiece