If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.Romans 8:13
Your holiness matters.
In the Old Testament, the word “holy” doesn’t always refer to a moral state; often, it refers to a relationship. Cities are described as holy cities, vessels as holy vessels, and buildings as holy places. This means that they stood in a special relationship to God. And so it is in redemption: we have been placed in a special relationship to God. We have been set apart for a holy use.
If you are married, perhaps you had other relationships before the one you enjoy with your spouse. I was married in the summer of 1975. That day, whatever romantic relationships I had had in my past were all over and done with—finished—because I was united to my wife. I was made new. I came to our wedding as an individual; I left married. My wife and I were set apart for one another through the vows, the covenant commitment, that we made to one another.
We cannot make vows to the Lord Jesus Christ and then just treat Him anyway we want. We simply cannot fool around with holiness. Why not? Because without holiness “no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The apostle Paul goes so far as to say that we must “put to death the deeds of the body.” The Puritans called this “the mortification of the flesh.” And this mortification doesn’t happen automatically. It doesn’t happen unconsciously. It’s not a process of osmosis. Rather, what we need is the painstaking, day-by-day working out of our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). We need the Spirit’s prompting and enabling to remind us that we have to weep deliberately and consciously over our own sins, repent of them, turn from them, and seek to obey our Lord—and not only with those sins that are clear and obvious but also with inward sins such as envy, pride, malice, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. It’s a wonderful day when God shows us the ugliness of a sin that has been indwelling us and prompts us to tackle it. Here’s the way to deal with sin: ruthlessly, immediately, consistently.
When true holiness begins to take root in our lives, it does not make us judgmental or unbending. That is legalism, where we set ourselves apart for rule-keeping pride; it is not holiness, where we are set apart for pleasing God. Instead, holiness manifests itself in graciousness, pleasantness, and goodness. So holiness is attractive. When we see it in others, whether or not we call it holiness, we warm to it and long for it. And holiness is possible, because the Lord Jesus died for the failings of our flesh and sent His Spirit to dwell in us so that we can fight sin and walk toward eternal life.
The pathway to that holiness emerges from thinking upon the wonder of all that Jesus has done for us. Ponder that path. Ask Jesus to make it real to you in a way that it’s never been before. And as you walk, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).