One day, I’m gonna die.
When I die, because I have placed my faith in Jesus, I will spend the rest of eternity in communion with Him and all the saints in a place called heaven. It will be a place where there are no more tears, pain, sin, or death. It will be a place where all will have been made right. It will be a place where we have perfect communion with God. I believe it will be here on earth, that ‘heaven’ will be God restoring creation to the perfection of the pre-fall period, not blowing it all up and starting again (ultimately though, who knows).
All that to say, heaven sounds pretty great.
Unfortunately, many of us (yours truly too) live as if the blood of Jesus ONLY seals our eternal locale.
The Bible however teaches us that the blood of Jesus makes us holy.
If we evaluate our memories, our experiences, our childhoods, many of us would conclude that we were talked to way more often about where we are going (heaven or hell) than what we have become.
Now, heaven is obviously a great thing for us to look forward to. I definitely look forward to the perfection that is promised in Scripture. I look forward to seeing Christ face to face, seeing those I love who are also in perfect communion with God (they aren’t waiting for me, mind you, they’re in a perfect utopia, remember?).
But, the Christian life is not just about the endgame (oh, wow, just typing that makes me excited for the Avengers movie that is about to come out. Just thirteen more days)!
The Christian life is about who we are, not just where we’re going.
The Christian life is about holiness, not just heaven.
If following Jesus was only about going to heaven when we die, then we wouldn’t need to care about living lives of holiness today.
Oops, I just described how I too often live.
I just described how many of us who claim Jesus live.
If following Jesus is just about dying and going to heaven, then honoring Him with our actions, thoughts, words, and habits in the here and now isn’t that important.
In some churches, we have been taught more than this. We have in fact been taught about holiness, and how being set apart should show itself in every area I described above. But even in those settings and circumstances, we can hear it the wrong way.
Since I was sixteen years old, my dad has encouraged me with the following mantra: “Be God’s Man.” He has texted it to me, told me face to face, e-mailed it, and modeled it.
Here’s how I have misheard it at times.
In moments where the gospel is far from my view, I start to make it a standard to live up to, instead of my identity to walk in.
In those moments I strive with all my vigor and power to become the man of God that Jesus is calling me to be through the encouragement of men like my father. When I fail to live up to my self-imposed standard, I feel woefully inadequate.
But, man alive, listen up!
Because of my faith in Jesus, I AM God’s man! I am a child of God! It’s not something I have to earn or live up to, it’s something I already AM! That’s where the power for holy living is found! The grace of God! My dad’s encouragement is for me to walk out who I AM, not earn the title!
My point is, many of us hear about calls to holiness in church. If you attend the church I work at, you’ve likely heard it from me. We can hear these calls to holy living and misunderstand. We can hear these calls to holy living and spend our energy and effort trying to earn the title of holiness. Yet, Scripture makes it clear that we already are holy in the sight of God! We are already saints! Already set apart! Already righteous!
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
The title of holy is not something you have to earn, it’s who you ARE.
Let’s quickly run through just two implications of this.
If I’ve been made holy in the sight of God, it is my Savior who should be praised, not my sin.
Let me be clear, repentance and confession are powerful. Acknowledging my sins to my wife, friends, and family in Christ is important. There is freedom found in doing this. But if my sin becomes the point of emphasis in an effort to be “authentic” and “transparent”, I am glorifying the very thing that put Jesus on that cross.
My youth group knows that I sin. I tell them.
My family and friends know. They see it.
Those I disciple know that I sin.
But my youth group, family, friends, and those I disciple all know as well that I have a Savior in Christ Jesus who set me free from anything they see and anything I confess. I glorify my Savior, not my sin. Let us not be so concerned about not being judgmental to others that we start to parade our sin and not our Savior.
If I’ve been made holy in the sight of God, so are all others who follow Him
Our churches are full of men and women who are prone to act like immature toddlers (same as I). Gossip, slander, backbiting, attention seeking, anger, rudeness, selfishness. There is this in abundance. But, if we are all holy, shouldn’t we thus see the best in those around us? Where would gossip and slander go if we acknowledged that Becky and Brandon were holy? Where would the selfishness and attention-seeking go if we realized we were all equal in the sight of God?
I believe that these classic church sins would disappear if we saw each other as fellow recipients of the holiness of Christ.
You, if you’ve put your faith in Jesus, are holy.
Stop trying to earn it.
Stop waiting to live with and for Christ once you die.
Accept who you are.
Let it change everything about you.
Nothing so floods our hearts with the experience of God’s grace as making sure it overflows from our hearts. – Bryan Chapell
In His Name,