God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. 1 Thessalonians 4:7
Holy, an adjective, meaning consecrated; dedicated or devoted to the service of GOD.
For the longest time in my life I never really thought out holiness and how it affected my life. The only time I thought about holiness was in relation to God. I totally understood the concept that God is holy; therefore, He is "set apart" from us.
A few years ago a good friend spoke at our church and he used this scripture as his reference. He spoke about how God has called us to live holy lives. This was something that I had never considered before. I had bought into the bumper sticker theology that said "I'm not perfect, I'm forgiven." While this is true, it isn't the whole truth. I am more than "just" forgiven. My forgiveness cost Jesus EVERYTHING.
The idea that well we all mess up and then God dishes out forgiveness from His big bag of goodies leaves a huge question unanswered. What about personal holiness? What is my personal response to God's forgiveness?
For many years I lived a life that bought into this theology. I would go along and be "OK" for a while and then sin would creep into my life. Oh and sometimes it didn't creep, I ran out the door down the side walk looking for it and inviting it in. After that I would feel guilt and shame. Guilt is a healthy response to sin. It is what drives us to make things right with God and with others. Shame on the other hand is what drives us to bury our sin and hide from others. Guilt calls us to make restitution and to repent. Shame drives us to shove everything in a closet and lock the door. As Beth Moore says "Shame is the Devil's calling card." I would then spend time praying and begging God to forgive me. Missing an important element...He already has. Christ's death on the cross covered all my sins. Forgiveness was readily available, I needed to accept it. The problem with systematic sin is that forgiveness doesn't seem to stretch to cover it because we haven't really turned away from it.
It is really hard to pray "Oh God, forgive my sin of gluttony." while rummaging through the cabinets in search of more food. It is hard to pray "Oh God, forgive my unfaithfulness." while chatting with someone on the Internet. It is hard to pray "Oh God, forgive my lying." while...well I think you get the idea. Even when we try to live a "double" life our heart will find us out. It will whisper to us that it isn't true.
The good news of this story is this that when we truly repent; when we turn our face, heart, mind and body away from that sin...forgiveness washes over our soul. Personal holiness is possible. It isn't easy. Daily it is a struggle to lay down my life. Daily it is a struggle to fight the temptation to believe the lies Satan whispers. Daily it is making the choice to turn away from any thing that draws me away from God. Daily it is making the CHOICE to live a holy life.