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, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:9-10
I must confess that there was a time in my life when I would have cringed at the use of the word “holy” in a passage like this. Am I “holy”? Do I have my act together, my life all sorted out and squared away? Am I more righteous that my friends and associates?
I have a very long way to go before I am perfect!
How can I really answer God’s call to live a holy life if I’m not perfectly righteous? You see, if that’s what is meant here, then my life is just another train wreck, and I think that I would have quite a bit of company at that particular crash site.
Yet, that is not what it means to be called to a holy life.
This is an occasion where we find a great deal of confusion between the actual meaning of a word, and the way it is commonly used in contemporary American culture, and for all I know, it may be used the same way in British or Australian English- I’m sure some of you who know might want to let us know about that. Here in the US, the word “holy” is frequently used more as a pejorative as in “So what are you- holier than thou or something?” In that sense the person is saying they think that you are lording your righteousness over them, which of course, wouldn’t be all that righteous.
The word “holy” does not mean a self-righteous hypocrite, it means set apart, and in a New Testament context, it means set apart for God’s service.
When we accept God’s offer of grace through faith in Jesus Christ we receive salvation from sin and death, eternal life in Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and are set apart from this world to serve God’s purpose in building His Kingdom on this earth. This life has been there since the beginning of time, it was present in the Garden of Eden, yet it was forfeited through human rebellion. Yet Jesus came to the earth in the fullness of time and revealed it once again to humanity, and we have accepted it for our own lives through Him.
Another word for this is “gospel” or Good News.
My life is in better shape than it was 40 years ago, but I’m still a work in progress, just like everyone else. From where I’m sitting, this is very Good News indeed, for even though we may not have achieved perfection, we can still serve His purpose, imperfections and all.