Albert Mohler: Be Holy as I Am Holy: Awakening & Personal Holiness

Albert Mohler: Be Holy as I Am Holy: Awakening & Personal Holiness


Well, thank you so very much. I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ. What a privilege to be here tonight and to
be here with all of you. I appreciate those very kind words, but I
am the first to tell you this is the Lord’s doing, and the Lord confounds the wisdom of
the wise, and the Lord vindicates Christ and His Church and His Word and His gospel, and
it is a marvelous thing to see. And we are here to join together as the 2018
Ligonier Ministries National Conference, but we are here on the theme of awakening, spiritual
awakening. We cry and we call, and we yearn for spiritual
awakening. And we are also here because we are they who
understand that spiritual awakening will not and cannot come without reformation. It will not come without a reassertion and
a reaffirmation and a reclaiming of the gospel, as it was taught in the Reformation and articulated
in the great battles of the Reformation. And we want to stand in a long line of faithfulness
going back to the Apostles and continuing all the way to the present. And the reference to the fact, it was just
documented this week by the accrediting agency, that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
is now the largest seminary in the world. But let me tell you what brings me so much
joy. Our great purpose is not to be big, but just
about every one observing theological education warned me twenty five years ago when I was
elected president that if you indeed require every professor to believe in the inerrancy
and infallibility of the Word of God and if you intend, as you say, to make the confession
of faith regulative and to require every single faculty member to believe every word of it
without hesitation or mental reservation and without any private arrangement with the one
who invests him in office, if indeed you want to make every historic doctrine of the Christian
faith as held by Christians through the ages required, you’re going to scare off all the
students. The Lord has the last word and that, by the
way, could give us hope for a spiritual awakening when you consider what’s going on. You see these students from Reformation Bible
College, you consider what’s going on through faithful seminaries and faithful Christian
institutions in higher learning that aren’t ashamed to stand for the gospel. And here’s the thing that perplexes observers
and especially frustrates theological liberals. Why do we have all the students? They are the ones who are supposed to be relevant,
but guess what? This generation God is raising is looking
for the ancient paths and the old ways, the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It is such a great joy to be here at this
conference. I look forward to it regularly, as you do,
and we look forward to being back together again. It is a great joy to be a teaching fellow
with Ligonier Ministries. Someone came up to me just a few moments ago
and they said, “You know, you guys look like you enjoy being together.” “Well, that’s just an act we put on.” That’s just … we, we really have nothing
to do with one another. We just happen to meet in the same place to
talk about the same truths. No, not hardly. This is, what you see going on in this conversation
is what goes on all the time, and we just enjoy the fellowship. What a great stewardship to be entrusted to
teach together and to teach these great truths together and, yes, we are dear friends as
well as colleagues in this task. There’s no deeper friendship I know in the
ministry than serving alongside one another long enough that you see how the Lord uses
your friends, and those friendships are established in truth. It is so important that we are here this year
at the 2018 National Conference. We could not have envisioned a year ago why
this year would be so important, but nothing would please R.C. Sproul more than to know that here in this
room are thinking Christians thinking biblically, thinking evangelically, thinking historically,
thinking together, and that’s what we’re doing. We are exulting in the truth of God’s Word. We are rejoicing in the gospel of Jesus Christ,
and we’re seeking to think about the application of God’s Word to every dimension of life. That’s what we are called together to do here,
and that’s what we are going to do in 2018 and so long as we can till Jesus comes. Here we are. And if, by the way, this kind of gathering
of thinking Christians is rare, then because of the fact that it is rare, it’s more urgent,
and the fact that we get to be here just makes all of this more of a blessing. The theme of this conference is awakening. My assignment is to speak about awakening
and personal holiness. As the Lord said to Israel and says to the
church of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Be holy, as I am holy.” The single most important and emphatic declaration
in holy Scripture, you know this already, is the holiness of God. This is the single most emphatic declaration
in Scripture. I think most of us who are here can remember
where and when we read R.C.’s book, The Holiness of God. It becomes something of a talking point because
the when and the where has a great deal to do with the who of who we are now. R.C.’s book came out when I was a student
in seminary, a long, long time ago when dinosaurs walked the earth. And at that time, at that time I read that
book, and you know the amazing thing in retrospect is that I knew everything he said in that
book. I did. I knew Isaiah 6, “Holy, holy, holy is the
Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.” I knew the Hebrew background. I knew even most of the historical illustrations
that he used. But the book was transformative because reading
that book, putting it all together as R.C. had the power to concentrate and to distil
and to expound. You can hear his voice, his audible voice. You can virtually hear in the text of that
book, and I realized that I will never look at theology the same way again. This is one of those books that becomes a
pivot point in life. In just a few weeks, many of us are going
to gather together for Together for the Gospel, and those of us who are the principals of
that movement, we were trying to come up individually with the ten most important books in our lives
and then we told, ‘Don’t repeat.” Well, that’s ridiculous. I said, “You can have one or the other. You can have the ten most important books
in our life or you can have a non-repeating list,” and we’re actually going with a non-repeating
list, so there you have it. But the problem was every single one of us
had the Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul as one of the ten most influential
books in our lives. R.C. wrote: “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute
of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned
three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that he is merely holy or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible says that God is love. It never says that God is love, love, love
or mercy, mercy, mercy or wrath, wrath, wrath or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that
the whole earth is full of his glory.” Now that’s distilled theology right there. God is love, but the Bible never says He’s
love, love, love. God is just, but it never says He’s just,
just, just. It says He is holy, holy, holy. But what are we going to do with that? Rudolf Otto did describe this as the mysterium
tremendum, which is a wonderful Latin phrase, and you know how R.C. used to love to say
it, “mysterium tremendum,” and he would say it as only he could. You know, pointing to the fact that the very
Latin affirms and underlines the reality that we can never exhaust what it means for God
to be holy. We can never fully define what it means for
God to be holy, as this tremendous mystery, mysterium tremendum, it is beyond our language
and beyond our expression, but by divine revelation it is given to us as the most emphatic statement
made about God in order to get our attention. “Holy, holy, holy.” R.C went on to describe the primary meaning
of the holiness of God is the fact that God is separate. Separate, separate in every way imaginable,
infinitely separate, eternally separate, separate from His creation. The confusion of the Creator and the creation
is one of the fundamental heresies, the perennial heresies throughout every form of idolatry. Virtually every dimension or manifestation
of heresy comes down to some sort of confusion between the Creator and the creation. Biblical revelation makes very clear there
is no confusion between the Creator and the creation. The distinction is clear, and the distinction
is revealed. But it’s not just that God is separate, but
as R.C. went on to say, that He is transcendent. So, he went on to phrase that God is transcendentally
separate. He is beyond us and separate from us. His otherness is a holy otherness. It is an otherness that is transformed into
worship. It is an otherness that affirms the creator
as separate from His creation and Lord over His creation. It is a transcendental separateness that belongs
to God and to God alone. But importantly, he then moved to talk about
holy things. The Old Testament famously speaks of holy
things, those things which are holy unto the Lord, those things that are associated with
God and with His worship. Just think about the holy things in the tabernacle
and as he wrote, “The things that are holy are things that are apart, separated from
the rest. They’ve been separated from the commonplace,
consecrated to the Lord and to His service.” But we’re talking not just about holy things,
not just about vessels and instruments found in the tabernacle and in the temple. We’re talking about human beings, the holy
ones, even as the holy things in the tabernacle were fitted for service, for the worship of
the one true and living God. So the holy ones purchased by the blood of
Christ are the evidence to the world of the saving power of the transcendently separate,
thrice holy God. Thus God’s holy things and God’s holy ones
are to be marked by purity. But it’s right, it’s not just an issue of
being separate, which leads to the transcendental separate. It is the fact that it is also a purity that
must be a transcendental purity. God’s people must reflect God’s own purity,
and we must do so in a way that matches the expectation given to us as the church is revealed
in Scripture. So all of that, of the thrice holy God, all
of that in the vision of Isaiah, in Isaiah in chapter 6, the “Holy, holy, holy is the
Lord of hosts. The whole earth is filled with his glory,”
the reality of what it means for God to be transcendentally separate and for the holy
things to be transcendentally pure, all of that is the background for the text of our
consideration tonight in 1 Peter. I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter chapter
1, where we will read together verses 13 to 25. This is the Word of the Lord. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter the Apostle
to write this letter we know as 1 Peter, and he addresses it first as he identifies himself
in verse 1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” and then he tells us of those to whom he is
writing, “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia,
Asia, and Bithynia according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of
the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.” Now that’s enough for a letter right there. My goodness, the Holy Spirit has inspired
Peter to write to those he describes as elect exiles, as resident aliens. He’s writing to Christians who are facing
the full force and the full fury of Rome, and they have nowhere to call their own. They are as if exiles wherever they go, and
the Holy Spirit says to Peter, “That’s fine.” As Paul will say, “We are citizens of a heavenly
kingdom.” We may be denied any earthly kingdom. We may be denied any earthly citizenship. We may be considered no one, and the world
may say we’re nobody. It’s all right. We belong to Christ. We have a heavenly citizenship. Even though we are here in this world for
now, it’s not just those to whom Peter is writing, it’s every single Christian, it’s
every single Christian church, it’s every single congregation throughout time until
Jesus comes. We are rightly, theologically, biblically
understood as resident aliens, as exiles. Then not just exiles, elect exiles. Don’t you love that. This is not an accident. Before the foundation of the world, we were
chosen to be Christ’s and to be elect exiles. How’s that? Probably not the first thing you say in evangelism,
“I’m going to tell you the good news about how you too can be an exile.” But that’s exactly what the gospel is, and
we’re told the world is not our home. Who, looking at this world, who would want
to be at home here? I’ve had several people come up to me today
and say, “How in the world do you do The Briefing without being depressed?” Only one reason, Jesus Christ is Lord. I mean how do you look at anything? How do you look at the headlines? How do you have a conversation with your neighbor? How do you look realistically at the world
without giving up hope? It is singularly and sufficiently the fact
that Jesus Christ is Lord. Now if Jesus Christ is Lord, you can look
at the worst headlines and go to sleep, hopefully thoughtfully. And we as Christians are called as elect exiles. You remember the Sermon on the Mount, we’re
told to be salt and light. We have a responsibility. We’re not here by accident. Even as we are before the foundation of the
world chosen in Christ as His and we’re described here not just as exiles but as elect exiles,
God has a sovereign purpose that is being demonstrated in this age in us as Christ’s
right now. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that God
has not chosen the strong things of the world but rather the weak things. He has not chosen the wise things of the world. You do the math. But He has chosen us in order to show the
exceeding greatness of the gospel, the exceeding greatness of Christ, the exceeding greatness
of His name. The existence of the Church as elect exiles
over against all the threats that the church has faced, now faces and will face till Jesus
comes, it is the sign to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord. Peter here says he’s writing as an Apostle
of Jesus Christ. He writes to those who are elect exiles. How? According to the foreknowledge of God the
Father in the sanctification of the Spirit. Notice how quickly sanctification shows up. It’s in his introduction to the letter. He can’t even say “Hello” without getting
to sanctification. Why has the Holy Spirit led Peter to write
this letter? It is because those who are elect exiles of
the Dispersion, wherever they are found, whenever they are found, we are so found according
to the foreknowledge of God the Father and in the sanctification of the Spirit. You all notice not occasionally or usually
in the sanctification of the Spirit, not oftentimes when you find those who are foreknown by God
unto salvation do you sometimes usually, occasionally find sanctification. You’ll notice it follows in a sequence of
an unbroken logic. And then there’s a “for,” “for obedience to
Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.” There is atonement in that, but there is also
more than a shadow of martyrdom in that. But our main text begins in verse 13. In verse 13, we begin reading: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action,
and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at
the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed
to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he called you is holy, you also be
holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges
impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the
time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from
your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious
blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of
the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him
are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory so that your faith
and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience
to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living
and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass, and all glory like the flower
of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but
the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word … and this word is the good
news that was preached to you.” The turn to personal holiness in this text
is profound, and it is quick. A part of what it means to be the elect exiles,
Christ’s people wherever and whenever we are found, is to demonstrate sanctification in
the Spirit and personal holiness that is the hallmark of the church, and as we shall see,
is a great perplexity to the world. But notice how the text begins, because it
doesn’t actually begin where we might think we would begin in making this argument. In verse 13 we read, “Therefore preparing
your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will
brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It’s interesting, is it not, that the first
thing we are told about being a holy people unto Christ is that we have to think about
it. I mean, the verbs here are pretty shocking,
“preparing your minds for action.” You know, you’ve heard this in the King James,
“girding the loins of your mind.” You’re getting ready as if to run. We’re thinking actively and carefully like
a runner would prepare himself to run, so also the Christian is to prepare himself,
herself to think as a Christian. There’s a principle in Scripture, “As a man
is in his heart, so is he.” “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Thinking precedes action, and we are called
to be thinking Christians, not just as a matter of some kind of intellectual exercise, but
as a matter of what it means to be sanctified in the Spirit. Preparing your minds for action and being
sober-minded, there is a proper intellectual sobriety to the Christian. We, in order to be Christ’s people, demonstrated
as Christ’s people, obedient as Christ’s people, in order to be the sign of contradiction we
must be to the world, then we must be a people who think in obedience to Christ in order
that we may live in obedience to Christ. And there’s a sobriety when we understand
what’s at stake. It’s just not a matter of intellectual interest. It’s not just a matter of intellectual curiosity;
it is a matter of intellectual discipleship that is prerequisite to obedience to Christ. We can’t live above what we know, there’s
a principle in Scripture. That’s why preaching and teaching the Word
of God is so important because we can’t obey what we do not know. The Holy Spirit and the ordinary means of
grace says that it’s through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God that we are
conformed to the image of Christ, and it requires intellectual engagement. It requires intellectual discipleship. The obedience of the mind is required for
the obedience of the body. And it is so clear in this text, “Preparing
your minds for action, therefore.” Well, you already see the hermeneutical issue. We began reading with the word “therefore.” That’s never a good idea. It’s never a good idea. “Therefore” is a link word. Husbands know this. I just guarantee you husbands know this. If you came to breakfast this morning and
your wife started the conversation with “therefore,” this is not a good sign. This means that that conversation you thought
was over is only taking a turn, “therefore, therefore, THEREFORE!” Charles Spurgeon put it this way. He said that whenever you see the word “therefore”
in Scripture, you need to ask the question, “Wherefore the therefore?” or “What is the
therefore there for?” Wherefore the therefore, what’s therefore
there for? It is to point backwards in the text. We point backwards not only to the introduction,
which we have read, but to the verses especially as you see here in the text from verse 3 to
verse 12. We do not have time to read them, but you
know it is the passage about being born again to a living hope. You know it is about God’s saving purpose
realized in Christ. You know it is about the atonement accomplished
by Christ. You know it is about the fact that we have
been bought, and then look at a verse like verse 8. I mean, who could skip over this in order
to rush past the “therefore”? Look at verse 8, “Though you have not seen
him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe
in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome
of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Mercy, don’t rush past that. “Concerning this salvation,” by the way, “the
prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours,” that’s ours, “searched and
enquired carefully, enquiring what person or time the Spirit in Christ in them was indicating
when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” The sufferings of Christ, we just confessed
them in song, and the subsequent glories, we just confessed to those as well. “It was revealed to them that they were serving
not themselves but you,” that’s us, “in the things that have now been announced to us
through those who preach the good news to us by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things
into which angels long to look.” Now that’s not a part of angelology these
days. Most Americans think angels populate little
cute paintings on bathroom walls. Little cherubs, you know, they’re just little,
flying around telling you to be happy and self-actualize and “Don’t worry, God’s happy.” Those are not the angels found in Scripture. When an angel showed up in Scripture, you
had a heart attack. I mean, when the angelic host showed up speaking
to the shepherds they didn’t say, “Hey, how ya’ doin’?” The first thing they said was, “Glory to God
in the highest. Don’t die! We bring you good tidings of great news, which
will be known to all people.” They’re messengers of God. Just think of what it means that this text
tells us that when we’re talking about the gospel, and we’re looking into the reality
of the gospel, the revelation of the gospel, we are talking about that which is not only
directed to us as information; it is God’s saving act whereby He transforms sinners into
saints. We’re talking about the miracle in which the
Jesus whom we love is revealed in His suffering and in His glory, and we are told that the
angels long to look. Angels are envious tonight. Angels are envious of the fact that we are
here confronted by God’s Word about our salvation. Angels are envious of the fact that when we’re
speaking of the gospel, we’re not just speaking of God’s saving purpose; we’re talking about
God’s saving purpose realized in us. That’s quite a “therefore” then, isn’t it? On the basis of all that has been revealed
about the gospel in preceding verses, we are to prepare our minds for action and as sober-minded
believers, we’re to set our hope fully on the grace that we brought to you in the revelation
of Jesus Christ. In the beginning and in the end of this passage,
there’s a clear eschatological reference. We are awaiting a salvation that is accomplished,
and it is promised, but there is an already and there is a not yet in the Christian life
is not understandable. It is inconceivable without this eschatological
focus. We are awaiting the fulfillment of the promises
of everything that has been assured in Scripture. We are looking forward to the day when every
knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of
God the Father. We are looking for that great day of the Lord. We are looking for the revelation of Jesus
Christ yet to come. “As obedient children.” Notice the language here. It’s very similar to Paul in Romans chapter
12 where he says, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal
of your minds.” And he speaks about what it means to be a
living sacrifice. So also Peter says here, “As obedient children,
do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you
is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct since it is written, ‘You shall be holy for
I am holy.'” Now notice something. Have you noticed the parallel here not only
between the warning about being conformed that we find in Paul in Romans chapter 12
and here in Peter, but do you notice how the mind is explicitly mentioned as an organ of
discipleship, “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” or hear we read “do not be
conformed” to what? “To the passions of your former ignorance.” Let me just tell you, in terms of the descriptions
of the church, this is actually one of the most precious because of the verb tense, the
temporal context. This is a former ignorance. Did you notice that? Former ignorance. We’re not ignorant anymore. If you are born again, if you have come to
know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, you are no longer ignorant. You no longer have any excuse for living as
if you are not called to obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. That was a former ignorance. There is no such ignorance among Christ’s
people. Then very quickly, you see this reference
“but as he who calls you … he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your
conduct.” There’s that word “holy” again, and you notice
a repetition. It’s not like “holy, holy, holy” as we find
in Isaiah 6, but it’s another repetition, “as he who called you is holy,” it’s a parallelism,
“you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am
holy.'” There it is, “You shall be holy, for I am
holy.” But don’t rush over the introduction there
where it says, “for it is written.” It is written. How do we know this? How do we know anything about the Christian
life? How do we know about Christ? How do we know about the gospel? It is because we are given the gift of divine
revelation. This is why our instinct is again and again
and again constantly to turn to the Scripture. Why? Because it is written. Sacred Scripture. It is written. It is God’s gift to us in divine, written
revelation. It is written. There’s a finality to that, and we need to
feel that finality. If it is written in Scripture, then it is
true. If it is in Scripture, it is true and it is
eternally true. It is always and everywhere true. It is enough just to say in Scripture, “It
is written.” But what’s written? Notice the citation here from Leviticus chapter
11 verses 41 to 45, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” One of the most important things we need to
do in reading Scripture is to return and look back to the context in which this is said. What’s the quotation? Where’s it from? It’s from Leviticus chapter 11 verses 41 to
45. Before you read it, I simply want to tell
you it is one of the easiest texts of Scripture for you to obey, and I promise it upfront. Look at verse 41, Leviticus 11: “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground
is detestable; it shall not be eaten. Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes
on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground,
you shall not eat, for they are detestable. You shall not make yourselves detestable with
any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become
unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy,
for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming
thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of
the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Yes Lord, yes. Yes, I promise that I will never, I will never
make myself detestable with swarming things on the ground. As a boy, I was tempted to play with them,
but never, never was I tempted to eat them. This is just one of those texts of Scripture
I just want to go “Got that one down! Got it. Got it. Got it.” No swarming things in here, not going, not
going to happen. Whew! But look at that and just ponder a moment
that this is the context in which the one true and living God declares to His people,
His covenant people Israel, “You’re mine. You’re mine. You belong to me. I chose you amongst all the nations.” And the holiness code and the dietary laws
are given to Israel not just so that Israel would have a unique diet, but so that Israel
would, by those repetitious acts of obedience, by the fact that such particular attention
was necessary to what one wore and what one ate, there would be a constant attentiveness
to the fact that they belong to God and that they are called to a different way of life
simply for that fact. And they also were to be a sign to the nations,
other peoples, believe it or not. One of the first things you need to realize
when you’re reading Scripture, I realized this the first time I read through Scripture
when I’m thirteen, God had to say, “Thou shall not” because somebody’s doing this. Seriously, somebody is looking at swarming
things and saying, “Yum.” God’s saying, “Not you. Not you.” And it’s in the middle of this passage which
seems so shockingly odd to us, it’s in this passage that God says to His people, “I am
holy. Therefore, you’re going to be holy. Because I am holy, I expect you to be holy.” And it’s this very passage that Peter cites
as the Holy Spirit inspires him to write to the church, a church of elect exiles wherever
they may be found. The church in every age and every place, wherever
it is found is told from this very context in Leviticus chapter 11, as it is now repeated
in 1 Peter chapter 1, “Because He is holy, therefore we also must be holy.” The passage continues, and there’s so much
in it that resists any one sermon and summarization, “and you call him as Father who judges impartially
according to each one’s deeds. Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the
time of your exile.” You know, I’m sure you’ve heard, as I heard
as a boy and I hear even now, and I read in certain popular Christian literature, “fear
here doesn’t mean fear.” I want to tell you what fear means, “fear.” Fear. Don’t let anybody tell you that fear doesn’t
mean fear. The same people who are putting angels on
plaques in bathrooms are the people telling you that fear doesn’t mean fear. In the Bible fear means fear, and I know so
you say well it says, “Fear your father,” you don’t have to fear him. Well if you disobey him you’re supposed to
fear him. It is a godly fear. The Bible speaks of a godly fear, and the
most important godly fear is the fear of God. There is this eschatological vision that is
very clear in the text. It’s an eschatological yearning, but wherever
you find eschatology you find it not only as yearning and comfort, but as warning. “Conduct yourselves with fear, knowing that
you were ransomed.” Don’t you love that? “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited
from your forefathers,” and you know the background to that. “Not with perishable things such as silver
or gold.” Remember the precious things in the tabernacle? The precious things in the temple, silver
and gold, precious. But here, we’re talking about infinitely precious. We were not ransomed with perishable things
such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without
blemish or spot.” We were foreknown, remember that. We are elect exiles, in verse 2, “according
to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” but the ultimate foreknowledge is what we see
in verse 20, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest
in the last times,” for the sake of whom? For the sake of the church, “who through him
are believers in God. God raised him from the dead and gave him
glory.” Don’t you love that? God raised Christ from the dead and gave Him
glory. He already had glory, didn’t He? What does John tell us? “We behold His glory, the glory as of the
only begotten of Father, full of grace and truth.” But we’re told that after the resurrection
the Father gave Him glory. This is the infinite glory of the resurrected,
obedient Son. This is the glory of the One, who by His active
and passive obedience fulfilled the Law in every respect, even unto death, even death
on the cross. This has now been made manifest. This is the preaching of the gospel. It is manifest in the last times for the sake
of the church, “who through him are believers in God who raised him from the dead and gave
him glory.” Why and what is the result? “So that our faith and hope are in God.” There it is. Just simple. Our faith and hope are in God. We’re told to fear God, but now in Christ
we are told that as His ransomed ones, we’re told that our hope and our faith are in God. And then you notice sanctification again. Notice what comes in verse 22, “Having purified
your souls by your obedience to the truth,” notice that the Bible is just so unembarrassed
to say we are “to trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but
to trust and obey.” Obedience, the Bible is not embarrassed about
the word “obedience.” It never is. We’re called to obedience, and obedience to
God is in one sense just a synonym for sanctification and holiness. “A sincere brotherly love with which we are
to love one another earnestly from a pure heart since we have been born again.” Notice again, “not of perishable seed but
of imperishable.” Isn’t that sweet? Seed seems a strange word here, except it
shows up so often in Scripture about our salvation in reference to the work of Christ. It’s an imperishable seed. It never fails to bear fruit. It always brings the harvest. Jesus said, “All the Father gives me will
come to me. And the one who comes to me, I will never
cast out.” For this is through the living and abiding
Word of God. Here comes the Scripture, “It is written.” Now this is through the obedience to which
we are called, the sanctification that is the Spirit’s promise and work, the holiness
that is to be the mark of Christ’s people, the personal holiness. It is through the living and abiding Word
of God. In the end, we’re right back where we started,
with the authority of Scripture. If the Bible is God’s inherent and infallible
Word, then notice the testimony again. Also familiar words to those who heard this
passage first as a letter and those who hear it now, “All flesh is like grass, and all
its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but
the word of the Lord remains forever.” It is written, and it is enough. It is written, and it is final. It is written, and it is all we need for the
knowledge of godliness and obedience to God and faithfulness to Christ. “The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever,” Oh, and this, “this is the good news that
was preached to you.” I love that. Peter is saying, “All this was in the gospel
that was preached to you in the first place.” All this was there. When you heard the gospel and you knew it
was good news, the good news of the fact you’ve been ransomed and redeemed, when you heard
the good news of what God has accomplished in Christ, you heard the good news that while
we were yet sinners Christ died for us, when you heard the good news that all who call
upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, when you heard the good news that if you profess
with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him
from the dead you shall be saved, when you heard that good news it was this good news. It was the good news of the fact that with
the fact of Christ’s accomplished work as our justification, such that in Him we are
justified, in Him, we likewise are sanctified. And as Paul says in Romans 8, in this sense
we are even already glorified in the sense that it is already promised. And brothers and sisters, it is written. So it will happen. This is the good news. This word is the good news that was preached
to you. Finally, four points, four points on personal
holiness. In the background of the holiness of God and
the reality that obedience is not an option, the background of the reality as we saw in
verse 23, to be born again is to be made holy and to be obedient. First, personal holiness is the visible evidence
of being born again. It’s in this passage and it’s symphonically
throughout the New Testament. Personal holiness is the visible evidence
of being born again, and the Bible points us to look for that visible evidence in others,
but particularly in ourselves. When we make our calling and election sure,
we must be looking not only to the assured promises of Christ. We need to be looking at the evidence of sanctification
by the Spirit and by the Word in our own lives. So, personal holiness is the visible evidence
of being born again. Secondly, personal holiness is the tangible
manifestation of obedience to Christ. What does obedience to Christ produce? Not merely people who follow rules. Not merely people who repent of their sins
and are obedient to Christ. That tangible manifestation of obedience to
Christ is in holiness. It’s in the fact that we are conformed to
Christ’s image. We become, by God’s grace and by the means
of grace, we become holy even as God is holy, and that’s tangible, that’s tangibly manifest. Third, personal holiness is the indelible
product of the ordinary means of grace. There it is, by the preaching and teaching
of the Word of God, by the ordinances, the sacraments, by the fellowship of the saints,
by prayer and the reading of Scripture. By the ordinary means of grace, Christians
are conformed to the image of Christ, and personal holiness is the indelible product. And finally, personal holiness is the undeniable
sign to the world of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A sanctified people becomes a tremendous perplexity
to the world. Christians not conformed to the world but
transformed by the renewing of our minds, Christians who are no longer conformed to
the passions of our former ignorance but are rather alive in Christ, Christians who by
the ordinary means of grace are being conformed to Christ’s image and are visibly, tangibly,
manifestly obedient to Christ, we become a great problem to the world because the world
cannot explain how this could possibly happen without Christ. The world cannot explain Christians who are
obedient even unto death without Christ. The gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes
the only possible explanation for what has happened in us, and those who know us in the
before and the after see the transformation that comes that can only be explained by Christ. If the church is not … if the church is
not the undeniable sign of the power of the gospel, then the gospel itself is nullified
in their eyes. So personal holiness is first the visible
evidence of being born again. Secondly, it’s the tangible manifestation
of obedience to Christ. Third, it is the indelible product of the
ordinary means of grace. And fourth, it is the undeniable sign to the
world of the power of the gospel. So just how important is personal holiness
to the Christian life? Ask Peter. He gets to it before he can say “hello.” How does it happen? It’s because it is God’s work in Christ, in
Christ’s own. How is it accomplished? Well, by obedience. And how is that obedience to come about? By the power of the Word of God, the Word
that never fails. You look at a passage like this and you say,
“How in the world, how in the world do we jump from Leviticus to 1 Peter?” How in the world do we jump from swarming
things to a church that demonstrates the power of the gospel? We get there because common to both is the
fact that the thrice holy God says unto His own people, “I am holy. Even as I am holy, therefore you be holy.” Let’s pray. Our Father, we’re just so thankful for every
word of Scripture. For indeed the grass withers and the flower
falls, and the Word of the Lord endures forever. Father, we pray that even now Your Word will
be used by Your Spirit to conform Your people to the image of Christ. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.

3 Replies to “Albert Mohler: Be Holy as I Am Holy: Awakening & Personal Holiness”

  1. As I was watching this video, the Department of Education in CA approved controversial changes in the State's health and sex education curriculum. Humankind relentlessly is heading towards a Sodoma & Gomorrah condition. What's the point awakening little kids' innate human drives so early in their lives? Shockingly terrifying.

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