Holy Living in an Unholy World

Holy Living in an Unholy World: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #3

This is an exposition of 1 Peter 1:13-21. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 2, 2017.


Life on this fallen planet can be extremely frustrating.  It seems the whole world has just gone haywire.  Nothing makes sense.  Given the intellectual and moral climate in which we live, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live the Christian life.  Now we have to add to that the fact that we all deal with an inward struggle with living the Christian life with consistency.  After all we have been given new life in Christ.  We have been declared righteous in the sight of God but we are in the process of being sanctified.  We are in the process of being made holy.  We are, as Martin Luther put it, “at the same time justified and a sinner.”  We are holy and accepted by God because of the Lord Jesus and at the same time weak, marred and sinful.

Why couldn’t it have been different?  Why didn’t God just take us immediately to glory the moment we believed?  You pray the prayer and swoosh you’re out of here?  Then we could just live in his presence and skip all the heartache down here?  Wouldn’t it be nice to never have to struggle with sin?  Wouldn’t it be nice to never stumble or fall?  Never disappoint the Lord, never let others down?  But it doesn’t work that way.  Rather we are called to live above reproach in this corrupt world.  We are called to live holy lives in an unholy world.

It is a startling thing to read, “Be holy even as I am holy.”  Does God really expect us to be as holy as he is?  He is infinitely pure – I’m hopelessly depraved.  This call to holiness seems to either ignore human frailty or impose certain failure.  What are we to do?  How are we to respond?  Do we respond by saying, “Get real?”  Or should we burst into tears sobbing, “I can’t do it?”

How do you live a holy life in an unholy world?  Some have suggested isolation.  The only way to live above reproach is to gather ourselves together in small groups that are self-sufficient and removed from the world system.  After all you can’t walk through a coal mine without getting dirty!  The best thing to do is to form a monastic community and literally live apart from the world.  But is that a biblical solution?  Are we called to remove ourselves from the world?

That doesn’t seem in keeping with the prayer of Jesus found in John 17:14-15.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but protect them from the evil one.”

Jesus prayed for insulation not isolation.
We are called to a lifetime struggle of swimming upstream against the current.
Practicing contact without contamination.

Of course it is necessary for us to define “worldliness.”  Too often we accuse everyone outside of the church of worldliness while assuming we are immune from such charges.  Yet some of the most worldly people I’ve ever know have been church members, church leaders and pastors!

1 John 2:15-17 defines worldliness from a biblical perspective.
Worldliness is a mindset.

  • It is to be caught up in the “spirit of the age.”
  • It is an approach that operates apart from and at odds with God.
  • It finds its source in Satan – the father of the worldly system.
  • It is a way of thinking and evaluating everything in life.
  • It effects every area of life including the church.

Our text this evening is found in 1 John 1 of 1 Peter.

Text: 1 Peter 1:13-21

Thesis: As the people of God, we are called to live holy lives in the heart of a corrupt world.

I don’t think there can be any question as to the legitimacy of that statement.  There is no denying that we have been called to such a life.  The question is, “How do we do that?”  what is it going to take for us to live holy lives in the face of such corruption?  It is one thing to “live the Christian life” at church.  In is another to live it at work.  It is one thing to speak for Christ in a context where everyone is doing so.  It is another thing to buck the system and go against the crowd.

For some help in how to live a holy life we turn again to the apostle Peter.
As an old man Peter is writing to encourage a new generation of believers to stand firm.
He is calling them to hold the line in the face of persecution and death.
He has reminded them of the great doctrinal truth of their salvation now he calls them to live out that salvation.

Note the “therefore” – what is the therefore, there for?

In our text we find three demands for holy living.

  1. Holy living demands a conscious, deliberate effort.  (1:13-16)
  2. Holy living demands a life of reverential fear.  (1:17)
  3. Holy living demands a divine focus.  (1:18-21)

As the people of God, we are called to live holy lives in the heart of a corrupt world.
Holy living demands a conscious, deliberate effort.  
Holy living demands a life of reverential fear.
Holy living demands a divine focus.

That is a tall order and a staggering challenge.  But keep this in mind.  Your salvation is granted by grace and so is your sanctification!  Remember the words of the apostle Paul –

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.   Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?    (Galatians 3:1-4)

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