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We Are Called To Holiness – 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2024 1:00 am

We Are Called To Holiness – 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 1, 2024 1:00 am

We live in an era of casualness towards all that is holy. Each one of God’s children is called to live like we belong to Him. In this message from 1 Peter 2, Pastor Lutzer explains two ways we can be like God in His moral character. As God’s exclusive treasures, God has made a way for us to be free from the power of sin.

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It's easy to let the world press us into its mold, but God has a higher calling for His own. They are to enjoy the fruits of holy living. God clearly said, be ye holy, for I am holy. Today, dispelling common myths about holiness.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, many people think only religious leaders can be really holy, thinking they're stuck doing the best they can. How will today's message clear the air? Dave, I have to tell you, I don't know of any word in scripture that is so greatly misunderstood. Let me ask our listeners this question. Have you ever seen an icon, a saint, smile?

Of course you haven't. So the whole idea of holiness seems to be somber, to be somehow distinct in the world because of your seriousness. All of that, of course, is important. But where's the joy? The word holiness, as we shall discover, has to do with our relationship with God and the freedom that we have in Christ. If you are blessed as a result of this ministry, it's because other people just like you have contributed to this ministry.

At the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be explaining to you how you can become a part of the Running to Win family. But for now, let's listen to God's word. Let me begin today with a question. I'm going to give you a word, and as soon as you hear that word, I want you to think of what you associate with it.

If this were a classroom, I would ask you to say it out loud, but we can't do that here because we have so many hundreds of people. But I'd like to know, actually, what you think when I mention the word holy or holiness. A number of years ago, a man by the name of John White wrote a book on prayer, and he says that when he casts about for what comes to his mind when he mentions the word holy, he says it is hollow-eyed gauntness, beards, sandals, long robes, stone cells, cold baths, fasting, stained glass. I remember when we were on the island of Patmos, you know, out there in the east, you have Eastern Orthodoxy that has icons. And the tour guide said, if you look at an icon, have you ever noticed that a person is always expressionless?

That's intentional. Because they are so holy that they should have no expression on their face at all. I began to realize, you know, I've seen a lot of icons, but I don't think I've ever seen an icon with a smile on his face. Have you?

Expressionless. If that's what you think holiness is, I wouldn't be surprised that if I were to ask you, would you want to be holy? You'd say, do we really have to? Is this something we really want to do? Do we want to really ruin our lives and suddenly become holy?

What is it? What misconceptions? To be holy really means that you are set apart to God. God is holy and God is separate and we are to be separate as well. We are set apart to God so that if I give you a fuller definition, it might be something like this, to be free of sin so that we can be God's exclusive treasure. I'll probably be repeating that a couple of times in this message, to be free of sin so that we can be God's exclusive treasure.

That's what holiness is. Now take your Bible and turn, if you would please, to the book of 1 Peter. I hope that you are taking time to memorize chapter 2 verse 9. Chapter 2 verse 9 is sort of the capsule verse that we are using for a four part series that comes out of the book of 1 Peter. And you'll notice it says you are a chosen race.

We dealt with that last time. What does it mean to be chosen by God? To be called to a living hope and then it says you are a royal priesthood. We'll talk about that next time and you are a holy nation.

And the next messages are going to deal with what it's like to proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. But for today, a holy nation. A little boy was asked as to what holiness is and he answered very correctly. He said that holiness is to be clean inside.

And that's at least half the definition. Clean inside, exclusively belonging to God alone. When you get married, what you're saying is I want to be committed to you alone and committed to no one else in the marriage relationship. To be holy means separated unto God for his exclusive use and pleasure. I hope now and as we go through this that you will want to be holy. Now what I'd like to do is to give you three reasons why we should be holy. Three reasons why and I begin here at verse 13 of chapter one, chapter one verse 13 first Peter, therefore preparing your minds for action.

Be sober minded. Set your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ as obedient children. Don't be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but he who has called you as holy. So you be in holy in all manners of conduct for he is holy. Therefore you be holy. The text says in verse 16 and then it goes on to talk about God as father.

All right, let's back off now for a moment and let's put this in perspective. Why should you and I be holy? First reason is because we have now the nature of God. We are God's children. We are born children of corruption, children of disobedience.

We are by nature children of wrath. The Bible says, but when we have been born again to the living hope that we talked about, we are being born again into an entirely different family and like father, like son, the Bible says that we are partakers of the divine nature. Having escaped the pollution that is in the world as a result of lust, Peter says in second Peter. And so what we really need to recognize is we now have the nature of God and that is what God likeness is all about. Being like God. Now there's a big word coming up. I want to warn you in advance.

It's one that I use only every two or three years, but I like to use it when I do. The big word is this that we are not like God ontologically. We are not like God in his essence, but we can be like God in relationship to some of his moral attributes and that's what holiness is all about.

You'll notice it says that we should not be conformed to the world and to the passions of your former ignorance. There are two ways at least that we can be like God, maybe more, but first of all, we can be like God in purity, in purity. As a matter of fact, that's the emphasis most often when we're talking about God likeness because God has no sin. God is entirely and totally pure and he says, I am a holy, therefore you be holy. Now you and I know what impurity is, don't you? You've had the experience of being in church and you have been praising God and you've been reading the word and you'd really do feel cleansed and then you go home and you see something on television that is sensual and it's as if the fellowship that you had with God and the cleansing that you had simply drained away. We know what impurity is. We know what uncleanness is.

When Jesus cast out demons, they are sometimes called unclean spirits. Those of you who are in sinful relationships, you have told yourself there's nothing wrong with it. You have justified it.

You've rationalized it. You've given a hundred different reasons why of course it's okay, but there's something within you that says this isn't right. It is impure. It is unclean.

And if you're struggling with such a thing as pornography, you know that that is unclean. And so God is entirely pure. And so what God is calling to us today is deep repentance, not just about the sins of the flesh, but the sins of covetousness, the sins of dishonesty. In him is no sin, the Bible says about Jesus and the same about God the father. And God is calling us today to purity that we might be washed and sanctified without spot and without wrinkle.

Let me ask you something. What does God have to put you through before you are willing to give up uncleanness? There's another way that we can be like God and that is in love. It says in the fourth chapter or perhaps chapter five of Ephesians, it says, be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love. There's another way that we can be like God. Why should we be holy? Because God is holy. Key verse today, verse 16, you should be holy because I am holy. And he's quoting the old testament where over and over again, God said to his people, be holy for I am holy. And then God says in the 19th chapter of Exodus and you shall be my treasured people. That's what holiness is all about to belong to God.

And when you look at it that way, it's enough to make even an icon smile. Maybe holiness is more than simply expressionlessness as indeed it is like father, like son, begotten of God. Be holy for I am holy.

There's a second reason. A second reason is not very well accepted in evangelical circles today and that is because of the judgment of God. Notice what it says in verse 18, excuse me, verse 17. And if you call on him as father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourself with fear throughout the time of your exile. Now he uses two words there that seem inconsistent with grace.

Let me ask you a question. Is it safer to sin today than it was in old testament times? You know, in old testament times you knew that if you sinned, you might be stoned to death.

You might find that the earth opens up and you're swallowed up into it. We don't have those kinds of things happening today. So people take a casual attitude towards sin because they say it's safe to sin. Right now as a staff, we are dealing with someone who used to be a member who has decided that he's fallen in love with a different woman other than his wife and in the marriage relationship he was unfaithful and now he's divorcing one woman so that he could marry another and supposedly he's a believer and in emails back and forth he made this statement to the effect, I know that God will forgive me and then I'll move on. In other words, God will forgive me. That's kind of his business. I mean, isn't God in the forgiving business?

And then I'll move on. Now let's look at the text. You see, we live in an era of such casualness, which is totally contrary to the new testament because he uses the two words, judgment and fear. You say, does that refer to us as believers?

Absolutely. It refers to us as believers. Just Ananias and Sapphira who lied and God struck them dead. Can you imagine that they arrive in heaven and they say, we didn't understand this.

We thought that this is the new testament era. We're under grace. There was a pastor who said that if God dealt with people like that today, we'd have to have funeral parlors in the basement of churches to take care of all the dead. God says, just because you're under grace, that doesn't mean a casual attitude.

Yes, indeed. God will forgive you. But there are two kinds of judgment. First of all, all sin has immediate judgment, immediate judgments. And by the way, speaking of sexuality, when it comes to that kind of sin, David, the Bible says he was totally cleansed by God because God does forgive and he bounced back, but his children didn't.

You have four sons. Each of them ended very, very badly in great sin. Yes, you see, all sin has some immediate judgment. You can receive forgiveness for it. That's true, but the consequences continue to boomerang and the fact that you are forgiven does not mean that the consequences are thereby negated.

They might be lessened in certain contexts, but at the end of the day, all sin is judged, including a believer's sin, especially a believer's sin. The other word that he uses, and by the way, that's the immediate judgment. There's also a future judgment. When we stand in the presence of Christ and there in his presence, we are going to be judged, 2 Corinthians chapter five verse 10, for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad, the thoroughness of that judgment is amazing. And John says in the book of first John, we should live in such a way that we do not have shame at his coming.

Wouldn't that in itself be a judgment to have shame at his coming? The other word that he uses is not only judgment, but he says past the time of your exile in fear. Most pastors will tell you that fear simply means reverence. I mean, why should we who are under grace fear God?

Actually, it's throughout the New Testament. It says regarding the early church and they met together in the fear of the Lord. Paul says in Philippians, work out your own salvation with fear and with trembling. Yes, fear means fear. It doesn't mean a soul destroying fear. It doesn't mean the kind of fear that a servant has of his master, especially if the master is unpredictable.

It's not that kind of fear. It's the kind of fear that we have between a son and a father. You know, there's a sense in which I feared my father. It was not that I ever thought he would disown me or cast me out of the home or not take care of me, but there was something about dad. All that he needed to do is to look at you and you kind of shivered. Were there others of you who had a dad like that? He just looked at you and that's all that was needed.

Now, my older brother needed a little more than simply a look, but I was the youngest and the youngest is always the charmers. You know, they, they just need a look and they begin to obey, but I feared him, but in a good sense, in the very same way we should fear God. You remember when Joseph was confronted with sin, what did he say when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him? How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God? That's a proper fear of God. What he was saying is I have a right view of God and I have a right view of sin. He didn't say, now how can I have this affair on the side and get by?

What lies can I tell afterwards? It's not the fear of God that is insulting God. It's not the fear of a servant, but it is the fear of a son. Why should we be holy? First of all, because if you're born again, you have the nature of God and not only that, but we anticipate the judgment of God. God takes it very seriously.

And by the way, if you're here today and you're simply investigating Christianity, I want you to keep listening because I want you to know what you're missing out on when it comes to holiness and everything else. There's a third reason and that is because of the investment of God. Notice how Peter connects these ideas. He says, for example, in verse 18, knowing that you were ransomed, and this is a continuation of the sentence, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ like that of a lamb without blemish and without spot who was foreknown or foreloved or chosen from before the foundation of the world. Peter says, don't you know how much God invested in you? Now, when we think of the word ransom, we have to realize that there's the word redeem. You have a situation in those days where there were many, many millions of slaves and a slave could have bought his own freedom if he had had enough money, but of course he didn't. In that sense, the slave had a better chance of redeeming himself than you and I do because he could have won the lottery or in some way he could have had the money that he needed. But there was no way that you and I could redeem ourselves dead and trespasses and sins. Everything that we do is somehow tainted.

There is really no way that you and I could have accomplished our own redemption. Jesus had to do it. Just like in the Old Testament, you remember the story of the Israelites in Egypt, how that God was going to send a plague and he did. And the firstborn of Egypt were killed by the angel of death, the angel of the Lord. And yet if there was a lamb that took the place of the firstborn, when I see the blood, I will pass over you, God said. And that's why we have the Passover is because God passed over all those who were protected by the blood of Christ.

My friend, whenever I contemplate the origin of the Passover, when I think of the words, when I see the blood, I will pass over you. What a blessing it is to know that the blood of Christ covers our sin. And here on Running to Win, we are constantly emphasizing Jesus Christ and salvation. And if you've been blessed as a result of this ministry, it's because people just like you have contributed. They have made an investment.

Would you consider making an investment? Now I have in my hands a letter from someone who writes to us. It's a Spanish speaking listener. This person says that the messages are always inspiring and they call for transformation. I have been transformed and I share these messages with others. Now, as I emphasize, this comes to us from a Spanish speaking listener. Running to Win is in seven different languages in 50 different countries, thanks to you. Consider becoming an endurance partner.

That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. I hope that you have a pen or pencil. Write down That's When you're there, you click on the endurance partner button or you call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you for investigating this. Go to

Click on the endurance partner button or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Pastor Lutzer, as we all know, forgiving others can get complicated.

Here's a question from an anonymous listener. What does it mean to forgive someone who says he's a believer but continues to live in unrepentant sin? Well, my friend, today when someone asks forgiveness, they should understand that this means that they are turning from the sin that has necessitated the forgiveness. And if somebody says, well, forgive me, but then they continue on in their sin, it is very clear that they are not really sincere in asking for forgiveness. Or what they are really trying to do is to use this kind of forgiveness as a cover so that they can continue to do what they want to do. True reconciliation, as I've said many times on this broadcast, involves forgiveness, trust, and respect. So there really can't be reconciliation until there is an ownership of the sin, and that sin needs to be dealt with. It needs to be put away.

Bottom line, I hope that you seek out a counselor, someone who can be a mediator between the two of you, someone to whom this sinner can be accountable, because I pray that you will be reconciled, but it's going to take more than simply words. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer.

You might want one of your questions answered. If so, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Having a right view of God means having a right view of sin and a desire to avoid it. Next time on Running to Win, more on how we're called to live in sync with God's will, and that includes a separation from sin. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-01 02:35:21 / 2024-05-01 02:43:58 / 9

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