Dr. Tim Morrison
Different Values in an Unholy Culture
We are in part two of a message series in the book of 1 Peter. Peter is writing to persecuted Christians in Rome trying to give them hope and he gave them the idea again and again that this world is not your home; you're just passing through, you're foreigners. Peter said God is calling you to be different.
If you're a follower of Jesus, you're called to be different. You'll have different values, different passions, different use of your time, different use of your resources. You'll be different as a parent, you'll be different as a spouse, you'll be different in the way that you work. God is calling us to be different.
Let’s start with 1 Peter 1:13-17
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 1 Peter 1:13-17
In other words this world is not your home, you have a different home, you have a higher calling, God is calling you to be different.
The problem for so many people in our culture today is this, the biggest obstacle to you fully following Christ is the desire to fit in, to belong to this world, to fit in. But I hope you'll understand, Jesus followers, God did not to call you to fit in, but He called you to stand out. He never said that we are to blend in to the things of this world. We're told not to conform to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Peter said, "Do not conform to the evil desires you had "when you lived in ignorance; now you've been transformed." As Jesus followers we are called by God to stand out, to be set apart, to be different in the way that we live.
Why do we want to be normal anyway? Have you looked around to see what normal is? Normal is broke. Normal is in bondage. Normal is fear. Normal is divorce. Normal is tension. Normal is sleepless nights. Normal is anxiety. Normal is not liking the job, that's what normal is. I don't want anything to do with normal. I want off the normal road.
Jesus said there is a normal road. He said there is a path that is broad and wide and many people are on it, but He said there is a different road and this one is much more narrow and the gate is smaller. He said only a few people are on this road, for broad is the road and wide is the path that leads toward destruction, but narrow is the one that leads to life and only a few people find it.
It's my prayer that we would be amongst those few and because of the passion of those few that there would be more and more that would find the path that leads to life. It is not the normal path on which most travel. God is calling us to be set apart, to be different.
I wanna look again today at the words of Peter speaking to a group of very hurting Christians, and perhaps, today, the Spirit of God might speak to some of you in a way that would stir you, prompt you, move you, lead you to be set apart because God has not called us to blend in, but He's called us to be different from this world, and I wanna look and see what He teaches us in his Word. In 1 Peter chapter one, we'll go ahead and look again at verse 14. This is what Peter said. He said, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
What I hope you'll notice is what this text does not say, which is what so many people want to believe that it says and how they want to live. It does not say be happy in all you do and because I am happy you're called to be happy. Do you notice that? Because for so many people today, especially in the Western version of Christianity, so many people believe that God's highest calling and purpose for us is our happiness. The problem is happiness is based on happenings, and happenings don't always make us happy. Sometimes happenings may be unhappy and there is something greater that is a joy that can come from a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. But I hope you'll understand this: Your happiness is not your highest calling, God's holiness for you is a higher priority than your happiness. Let me say it again. You need to hear this and feel this. God's highest calling for Jesus followers is not their happiness. His highest calling is their holiness.
The problem with the Theology of Happiness is it empowers what I call Personal Justification. We think well, if God wants me happy and I'm not happy in my marriage, then by all means I can walk out the door even though we're in a covenant because I am no longer happy. If I'm not happy because I don't have this thing, then I can get this thing, if I have to beg, borrow, steal, or to go massively in debt because I want this thing and I believe this thing will make me happy. I'm dating someone and I know that I should wait until I'm married before we engage in God's gift of sex, reserved for marriage. But, I'm man, I got my need, you know. And it's gonna make me happy. And, after all, we're in love, we're engaged in our hearts, we're married in our hearts. So that's gonna make me happy. So what it does is it empowers you to personally justify something that otherwise would be wrong or unwise in the eyes of God.
When we believe above all else that God wants us happy, suddenly discomfort, delay, risk, and inconvenience couldn't possibly be God's will. And suddenly, without even knowing it we begin to worship the false gods of comfort, money, pleasure, and things. God is supposed to get me what I want. God is supposed to make me happy.
We need to understand God does not exist to serve us. We exist to serve Him, and He calls us to be set apart, He calls us to be holy. What does the word holy mean? If you look in your notes, it comes from the Greek word hagios. The word hagios, it's translated as holy. It means different or it means set apart. It means pure. God is calling us to be different. Do not conform to the patterns of this world. He's calling us to be set apart, He's calling us to be different. So if you're ever different in the way that you live, you might be following Christ. Let me say this: If you're not any different from the rest of the world, I promise you you are not following Christ. God calls us to be different and set apart.
In fact, Peter goes on to say this, I wanna look at it in a different version. I love the way the New Living translates it. He says this, he says, "So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways to satisfy your own desires."
I like that, don't slip back. Don't fall into trouble, don't backslide. Because how many of you know you can slip into trouble but you never slip into righteousness? I've heard people say I fell in to sin. I've never heard it said I fell into holiness, I didn't mean to. I'm just holy. How'd that happen? I didn't mean to. Behold, I'm just so holy. I'm just right, I didn't mean to. I just got up and I was trying to sin, but holiness caught up with me and now I'm perfect. Doesn't happen that way.
But we have an enemy who will cause you to slip up, to trip and to fall. You need to understand your enemy is subtle, he's sneaky. He didn't come up to you, "Hey, hey, hey. "Why don't you be a devil worshiper? "Why don't you sacrifice chickens in your garage?" He never does that, does he? Doesn't do that. What he does is the very same thing he did all the way back in the first book of the Bible in the garden of Eden when he said to Adam and Eve, "Did God really say, 'Don't eat of the fruit of that tree?' "Did God really say..." And this is how he's going to attack, and this is one of the greatest, deceiving questions that's taking people off of the standards of holiness today, even in the church of Jesus Christ, and it can come across in any different way, "Did God really say," fill in the blanks. You're supposed to wait until you're married. Did God really say not to listen to the music with those kind of bad lyrics? I mean, you know, it doesn't bother me. Whatever it is. And this is what makes this message challenging is I don't wanna get hung up on one or two things. Did God really say whatever it is? Do you understand this? A lot of people are not the standard. We are not called to a standard of the many, we are called to a standard of one and that is the standard of Jesus Christ.
Let me try to close it out with some scripture and hopefully you'll see why it matters. 1 Peter chapter one, verses 18 through 21, Peter goes on to say this, For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21
It's through Christ, it's through Christ. We need to understand that living holy is not the path to knowing Christ. Living holy, we can't be good enough on our own to please Him. Living holy is not the path to knowing Christ. Knowing Christ is the pathway to holiness. And this is so important. Suddenly, when we know Christ, it's not that I have to do that and I don't get to do that and I wish I could do that wild thing that's kinda fun, but our heart, on the inside, starts to change. Instead of oh, I don't want, I wish I could. Instead, it's like I don't want to do anything displeasing to God. It's not that I'm trying to be holy. What it is is there are fruits of the Spirit coming out of me because my roots are deep in Christ, because I'm dwelling in his Word, because daily I'm seeking Him and his presence. And I'm not trying not to do those things, but from the inside He's making me more like Christ. And because I'm becoming more like Christ, not naturally, but supernaturally, supernaturally by his power I'm starting to live a life worthy of the calling that He set apart for me. It's my prayer that the Spirit of God would do what I cannot do, and that is show you any area of your life that would be displeasing to God. And not out of obligation I gotta try harder, but out of inward spiritual transformation. We would be changed from the inside, toward the out, and recognizing living holy is not the pathway to knowing Christ, but knowing Christ is the pathway to living holy. And so with everything in us, we seek Him and ask Him to change our hearts.