2 Timothy 1:9
9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, (NIV)
Timothy reminds us that we have been called to holiness, but not for anything we have done. In other words, holiness is not a reward for the faithful, but the result of God’s purpose and grace.
Holiness is more than obedience. A lifestyle of obedience to God’s law will create moral and ethical behavior, but these do not equate to holiness. Holiness, however, is a change, a transformation. It is a miracle from God that diverts our perspective on life. We no longer crave what brings about the quickest, easiest, and sweetest flavors to our life. Holiness is God’s touch that changes what we hunger for.
To help us live a sanctified life of servanthood to Him, the Lord circumcises the heart so that our unholy cravings are cut away. We begin to crave what is sacred. The purity of this new appetite creates a lifestyle tethered to the Holy Spirit so that we might experience a continual infilling of His Presence. Communion with God intensifies our taste for the holy and empowers us to do the work of God.
Holiness is a ravenous appetite for the sacred.
We can see why Timothy might remind the church that our call to holiness is not a reward for what we have done. It might be inferred that our obedience puts God in debt to us so that He owes us holiness. Yet, this is contrary to the Word of God. God does not reward those who are obedient, but those who seek Him earnestly (Hebrews 11:6). Holiness comes to those who pursue holiness not for the sake of holiness, but as an essential instrument used to earnestly seek intimacy with God. This changes our mindset as we obey. We don’t simply obey because it is right. We obey in the spirit of worship to pursue greater nearness to God.
Obedience without the pursuit of intimacy with God will leave us in a sanctimonious posture pretending to be what we are not. Obedience for the sake of earnestly seeking communion with God will be rewarded with a new appetite for what is holy. In these new cravings, our life will be anointed with His love, peace, and wisdom. And we will benefit from these, but also, we will be equipped to serve Him according to His purpose and grace.
Prayer: Lord, remind me daily that obedience is not the end goal, but the instrument You have given us to enable our earnest pursuit of Your Presence. Amen