Here is a situation that probably resonates with most of us. You go shopping for a birthday or Christmas gift for one of your kids or grandkids, only to discover when you get home with the toy those dreaded words written in incredibly fine print: “Batteries not included.” What they’re basically saying is, “Here’s the gift, but we’ve left out the power to actually make it work, you’ll have to turn somewhere else for that.”—Adapted from Steven Dow, Sermon Central
Many Christians have taken a similar approach to the priority of holiness. We know we have been given the gift of Christ’s holiness through faith (Rom. 3:21-23), and we know we have been called to pursue holiness as a way of life (1 Pet.1:16; Heb.12:14), but when it comes to the actual process of working it out, we act like the kid opening that gift who finds those dreaded words, batteries not included. Where is the power to actually do this, we ask.
One of the beautiful things about God is that when he gives a gift, it always comes with the necessary power to make it work. In his grace, God has given us the power for life and godliness, which comes to us as a result of the call of Christ on our lives and His promises in the gospel (2 Pet.1:3-4).
Have we ever considered that the grace of God not only makes our salvation possible (Eph. 2:8-9) but that it also secures our transformation into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30)? Grace is not a single use instrument but one that perpetually moves us toward the goal of Christlikeness. It is the power we need to overcome our own disobedience and move forward in faith toward the goal of becoming holy. For the Christian, we must see ourselves not as victims of our own sinful desires but as victors over the flesh and in the battle for holiness through the power of Jesus who dwells in us.
The pressing question that arises is: On what basis is this power granted and achieved? The Apostle Peter answered that question by saying that it was “through the knowledge of Christ who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3). In other words, when Jesus calls us into a saving relationship, he makes it so that we perceive His magnificent glory and His moral perfection. He becomes so attractive to us, that we trust God for salvation. It is not only attractional in the sense that we want to be in his presence, but that we want to actually become like him. The Apostle Paul wanted to know Christ so deeply that he prayed he might experience personally the sufferings and death of Christ (Phil. 3:8-10). It is the desire to know Him more fully that compels us to make holiness a priority in our lives.
In Christ, we have received all the promises of the gospel, which were given for a specific purpose: that we might be conformed to the image of Christ in perfect holiness. And the Bible makes it clear that when God begins this process in our lives, he is faithful to bring it to completion (Phil. 1:6). However, he calls us to partner with him in that process: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” ( 2 Cor. 7:1). As Christ empowers, and as we strive, holiness is accomplished in our lives.
Will God fail in what he purposes to do? God forbid. Christ called us, promised us, and provided for us that we should be like him in every way. There is our hope, there is our assurance, and there is our command. We must make holiness the priority of our lives.