Read 1 Peter 1.
Holiness is hard work. Being declared holy isn’t hard work, at least not for us, because God did for us in Christ. When Jesus lived a perfect life and died as a sacrifice for sinners, he did everything that was necessary for God to declare us holy (see verse 2).
Now that we have been called to be his children, God commands us to become holy like he is, as we read today in 1 Peter 1:15-16: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”
Becoming holy in real life is where the hard work of the Christian life lies. We have what we need—the Holy Spirit within us, the Word of God, the community of other believers, but we also have significant opposition from our own sin nature, the world around us and the devil.
As you live the Christian life and grow in Christ, you also experience the frustrating, painful struggle to do right when it would be so easy to do wrong.
So how do we cope with the tug-of-war between what God calls us to become and what we often want to remain?
Verse 13: “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” It is thinking about the future that God has promised us in Christ that pulls us toward holiness. When we desire to sin, we need to remember what God has taught us in his word—that sin is pleasurable, but that pleasure is temporary and costs far too much while God is glorious and those who live by faith in him will be rewarded with great joy and glory when Jesus comes. That’s why Peter, after telling us in verse 13 to “set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming” follows that with verse 14: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”
Yes, the evil desires we had before we knew Christ remain in us, but when we think forward to the life Christ promises us, it empowers us to live obediently to God instead of obeying (“conforming”) to those evil desires within.
What are you grappling with right now?
What sinful urges inject evil thoughts into your mind when you least expect it?
What sin are you toying with or being tempted by?
Do you know anyone who has succumbed to this sin? Did it make them happy? Did it cause them or anyone else pain?
What would your heavenly father think if you surrendered to the desire that Christ died to free you from?
How much will that sin matter to you when you see Jesus and are welcomed into his kingdom?
These questions clarify the lies that sin and temptation tell us. Sin offers us pleasure, promises us freedom, lures us into rationalizing the act and causes us to ignore or downplay the painful consequences that sin will bring into our lives.
So, knowing what Christ has done for us and has promised us, “sober up” (v. 13a) and think about your sin, your desire, your temptations from Christ’s eternal viewpoint. That is where you will find the strength to choose holiness over sin, faith over unbelief.