The other day we began to study Paul encouragement to Timothy to be courageous in his faith. He first reminded Timothy to rekindle or “stir up” Timothy’s God-given gift: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6) Next he reminded Timothy of the God-given resources to combat fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
So with our God-given spiritual gifts stoked to a flame, we are prepared to dismiss fear with our God-given resources of His dynamic power, His perfect love that casts out all fear, and a sound mind, which is under the control of God’s Holy Spirit. We are “…not…ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…but [prepared to} share…in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8).
It is God’s power “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tim 1:9). For whatever purpose God calls each of us, it is always for His purpose and grace to shine through us, despite our ineptitude in works based on our own power. We are saved by grace through faith, and it is a gift from God, not our own doing (Eph 2:8).
Once we have been saved (born again), because of God’s grace (receiving what we did not deserve) we have a calling to be holy, which means set apart to God, for God is holy. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1) The very reason one gives their life to Christ is to turn from the god of this world (satan) to be set apart from him and his ways unto God, walking in the example of Jesus Christ who has liberated us from the world’s destructive ways.
Peter gives further instruction on what it means to be holy: “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’.” (1 Pet 1:13-16)
God’s holiness pervades His entire being and shapes all His attributes. His love is a holy love, His mercy is holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath are holy anger and holy wrath. These concepts are difficult for humans to grasp, just as God is difficult for us to understand in His entirety. As believers, we need to be “set apart” from the world unto the Lord. We need to be living by God’s standards, not the world’s. God isn’t calling us to be perfect, but to be distinct from the world. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2)
The key here is don’t focus on what you need to be set apart from, but instead Who you are being set apart to and who you now are in Christ Jesus, with His new nature on the inside. We aren’t to follow the world’s example, but look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). Then we can live a holy life set apart unto Him.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [a]made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:3-6)