Is Holiness Worth It?

"Sin is just so much fun." My jaw hit the ground, did he just say that in front of 40 other people? My heart sunk; as wild as it seemed that he would answer that boldly, he was right. Why is it so hard to walk in holiness? Why does it look like other people, ones who don't walk with God, have it better off?

The heart behind this student's answer is shown throughout scripture, but one place it rings through clearly is Psalm 73. A Psalm where the writer is vulnerable, even to the point of opening up about his envy of those around him. For the first fourteen verses we see a man wrestling with whether or not holiness is even worth it. He looks around him and he sees men and women living however they want and life prospering for them. Then he looks at himself and all he sees is a man depressed and poor.

Holiness is not a call to lace up our bootstraps, to go try one more time to get it right. Holiness is not a call to being depressed about a boring life. Holiness is a call to realize we didn't get it right and couldn't, and because of that our savior came to die. This means mercy for me and to offer my body as a living sacrifice to God; and not being conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:1-2). God describes it as a running after Christ, who endured the cross for us, and laying aside every sin and weight that keeps us from him (Hebrews 12:1-2). Throughout Psalm 73, we see three truths about holiness that we can take away for our own walks with the Lord: Holiness is hard. Holiness is worth it. Holiness comes from Christ.

Holiness is Hard

Holiness is hard, not easy. I know that I am called to be holy because God is holy (Leviticus 11:44), but it is hard. Holiness comes about when we die to ourselves and live for God. This seems cliché and maybe too simple, but the process of dying is never simple, or easy. Not only would dying to our desires be hard if we were all by ourselves in a cave in the wilderness, but we have to live in a world where people only say yes to themselves.

We live in a lost and broken world and at times it looks as though the worldly way is the right way. The Psalmist described it as "they have no pangs until death" or "they are not in trouble as others," and "their hearts overflow with follies." Looking at the wicked and seeing their lives prosper, all the while struggling to live holy lives only adds to the difficulties. The call to live holy lives is hard.

Holiness is Worth It

Second, we see that holiness is worth it, not a waste. The first verse and second half of this Psalm talks about the ruin that is to come for the wicked. Their lives seem great now, but it is only a slippery slope to destruction because they have rejected God. They have rejected the creator of everything and chosen his creation and like it says in Romans 1, God has given them over to their lustful desires.

Not only does the writer say that it is worth it because he won't be sent to ruin, but also because in the now he gets God. He gets an abundant life that is promised from Jesus in John 10:10, not only now but for all of eternity. He gets God now as his guide and forever in God's glory.

Holiness is a call to the abundant life we crave but look for in all the wrong places. Holiness is a daily call to death that leads to life. Holiness is worship lived out.

Holiness Comes from Christ

Lastly, holiness comes from Christ, not us. It doesn't come from manufacturing a resolve to never drink this, or watch that anymore but it comes from worship. Asaph was at the place of almost falling off the cliff into reckless living or anxiously toiling to make himself better until he went to the sanctuary. Until he went and looked at God and worshipped him.

The same is true for us. We must go to God and we must go to the cross. There we see the only man who was pure in heart and we see what he took for us. We see the only truly holy man and we see what he endured so that we might have abundant life. We don't now live holy lives as a way to pay back or pay off our debts. Our debts have been paid at the cross. We are holy because Christ has made us holy (1 Corinthians 1:30) and we are called now to walk in that holiness.

Holiness is hard because it's counter-cultural. Holiness is worth it because we get God himself as our guide and Father in this life and forever. True Holiness comes from Christ first, and we are to receive what he has already done.

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