Partly Holy Christians

I’ve noticed that the blog posts I write that get the most views are the ones about controversial or touchy subjects. Not many read my posts on the philosophy behind God’s name as the present tense, first person, “to be” verb. I find it vivifying and exhilarating!

Not many read my post on gluttony. Who cares right? That’s a sin we’re okay with in our culture, and if we’re not, we just keep it to ourselves. I can’t tell you how many people didn’t read my posts about Progressive and Normative Dispensationalism. I bet most of you even skipped over those four words!

The posts people do read are the ones about sex, homosexuality, trans-genderism, drinking, and cussing. That’s the stuff we care about, or at least, that’s the stuff ya’ll read more often. The question is, why?

It might be that people are honestly seeking answers to these tough questions. The culture has put these issues at the forefront of our minds! The Christian today really has to make up his mind on those topics. The world out there wants to hear what Christians think about them. Either the world wants a reason to write-off the Christians or it wants to hear if they actually have a reason for what they believe. Let’s hope more of the world has motivations like the latter.

I think that the click counts might have something to do with the Christian vs non-Christian readership. Only Christians are going to read a post about YHWH’s name or lucifer’s description. The non-Christian has no files in his head labeled “YHWH” or “lucifer” in the folder called “interests.”

Everyone, however, has some interest in alcohol. Whether you are a prohibitionist or an alcoholic, you think about it. Our beloved country and culture have made it impossible not to have some interest in homosexuality. Whether you regard it with contempt, disgust, admiration, reverence, or some nuance in between, you regard it nonetheless.

Is it possible, however, that the average non-Christian has a few issues that they prop up as “proofs” against Christianity, but deep inside them is a yearning to have these “proofs” refuted? Is it possible that they truly have emotional doubts that they mask in loosely constructed “counter-arguments” and “causes?” I believe so. Perhaps this is why more than just my Christian friends read the posts about worldly sins. Perhaps my non-Christian readers join in on certain issues because they really want to be proven wrong. Perhaps they long to have a well-reasoned, clear, and concise statement of truth to oppose them, rebuttals to which they cannot provide. Whether or not they find such truth here is a different matter. I hope that they do, but it would be foolishly arrogant of me to suppose this blog is a place where ungodly ideas come to meet their doom. I pray that it happens, and if it does, to God be all glory. The more realistic view is that this is a place where non-Christians come solely for assurance that they have one more website to add to their “do-not-read” list. But I have to wonder why they have such a list in the first place. Probably because they’re afraid they’ll find truth, and won’t know what to do when they do.

What about the Christians, though? Why is it that more Christians read posts about sins they are un-tempted by, than read about the sins they might actually deal with? Why is it that the average Christian is content to be biblical in only some aspects of their faith? Why is it that we strive for holiness in some areas, but not others? Why is it that those areas of focus are either the easy ones, or the ones we’ll be noticed for, or the ones we will never encounter anyway? Is our holiness a question of perception, more than one of actuality? What is holiness in the first place?

I’m not sure I have answers for most of these questions, but I can definitely answer the last one.

“Holy” literally means “set-apart.” It was used of the Israelites to describe how they should be in comparison to the rest of the nations. They were to be holy, set-apart, as God’s people. (As opposed to all the other people who didn’t belong to YHWH.) The book of Leviticus is all about holiness. The theme verse is 19:2 (repeated in 20:26). “Be ye holy for I, the LORD your God am holy.” Be different from all the other nations because I’m different from all the other nations’ gods. They don’t exist… I do. They can’t save you… I can. They are made by humans… humans were made by me. That’s what the book of Leviticus is all about: teaching the Israelites how to be set apart from the rest of the world.

What about us Christians? Are we called to be holy? Are we called to be set apart from the world?

Answer: Sort of.  We’re called to be set-apart, but from something else: our old sinful selves.

1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:6-10; 2 Cor 7:1; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Thess 4:7

You didn’t actually go look those verses up did you? Well, you should. They prove the point

We are set apart from the world in that we are set apart from sin; at least, that’s what we Christians are supposed to be. When we sin, it’s not consistent with our new nature. There should be a dissonance in our spirits about sins we commit. There always is with me. The times that I know I am being tempted and knowingly give in to that temptation are the times when I feel the least like who I really am.

We are called to become practically more and more like the Savior that defines us. We are supposed to look more like Him and less like ourselves as time goes on. If we simply neglect to reform certain areas of our lives (such as the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the drinks we consume, the thoughts we entertain, the friends we confide in, the sins we don’t confess) because they are easier to get along with, we are ignoring part of the command to transform. The Holy Spirit, given to all Christians at the point of conversion from death to life, is the fuel behind the transformation. You are the vessel and subject of that Holy Spirit and transformation. Every little part of your life should be transformed by the mighty and powerful and Holy Spirit of God.

Christians should look different from the world, but that difference isn’t limited to your stance on homosexuality or how many beers you have at a party. It may include those things, but it certainly doesn’t start or stop there. It’s about who you truly are. Who you truly are is an inward reality, a question of nature. You are a sinner saved by grace. But often that inward reality gets informed and shaped by your interactions: what you do and what you say. Are you living like a sinner, or more like one who’s been saved by grace? Often this reality is revealed not in your stance on the controversial issues, but your reaction to the undiscussed little ones. Are you kind to your neighbor? Do you pray in secret? Do you think of yourself as a pretty great guy?Are you easily angered? How often do you think of others? Do you give to those in need? Do you repent and confess your sins quickly? Are you a holy individual? Are you set apart from the world, or are you a set part of the world? The answer to these questions will tell you who you truly are. What you do with that information is up to you.