I Am a Woman: Set Apart for Holiness
As a young girl, I loved standing out from the crowd.
A performer at heart, I would fashion an impromptu stage out of my mom’s Jane Fonda step, don my neon gymnastics leotard and put on a show a la “Beauty and the Beast” for my family. At age five, I insisted on wearing my pleather, bubblegum pink raincoat and matching umbrella to the grocery story. And in first grade, I was the girl bold enough to wear my authentic Swedish dress to school—red wooden clogs and everything.
Somewhere deep inside of me was planted a desire to be set apart for a purpose.
This desire comes to fruition in Christ. As a woman united to Jesus, I am set apart to be holy. And so are you!
The bad news: There is no holiness apart from the gospel. A person is merely groping around in the dark. It scares me to think about where I would be had Christ not shown me His grace (think about it!). Unfortunately for some women, the desire to be set apart for a purpose never surpasses worldly attempts at satisfaction. From body image to trendy clothing to relationships to work pursuits, the search for purpose never ends. And it leaves defeated women, reflecting the broken world they emulate: lost, discontent and morally damaged.
The good news: My sisters, through Christ we have already won the ultimate battle for our souls! Now, He fills us with the strength to live solely for His glory, which is a holy and blameless life, set apart for His purposes.
Holiness is the mark of our new identity in Christ. By biblical definition, to be holy means “in a moral sense, pure, sinless, and upright.” When God set us apart, He made us fully His possession (Titus 2:14). Our lives are no longer our own, but we exist to glorify Him. We glorify Him through living holy lives, spurred on by heartfelt gratitude for the magnificent grace and love of Christ ("set your hope fully on the grace...").
As women following Christ, we know wholeheartedly the battle we face to maintain holiness on a daily basis. Cross-messages invade our minds. Temptations ignite our flesh. And the enemy prowls around looking for someone to devour. Our broken world inundates us with ungodly perspectives, making it very clear that we have a battle to fight.
Read what Peter writes to the believers in Asia Minor:
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1)
Peter's language is anything but passive. Holiness must be cultivated by an active participation in, and surrender to, the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in our lives! "Be holy." What might this look like for us?
The passage above gives us three applications for living holy lives. I wrote them as declarations:
Be holy in mind: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded…” My thoughts have weight. Thoughts have the potential to lead me to truth or to falsehood. My mind can choose to think on whatever is true, commendable and praiseworthy—or it can dwell on anxious thoughts, all of which steal my peace. Because sin no longer has power over me, I can choose to prepare my mind for action. It is my responsibility to read Scripture daily, filling my mind with the living, breathing Word of God. By the sanctifying truth, I become sober-minded (uninfluenced by sin) and prepared to choose holiness without delay in a dark world. I will not fall prey to the lie that my emotions and feelings are to be trusted; I know that my heart is deceitful above all things. I will be holy in mind.
Be holy in body: “You also be holy in all your conduct.” Called to be pure and upright in all my conduct, I am an ambassador for Christ—meaning that people are watching me at all times. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in me as an assurance of my future in eternity with God. I am to treat it as such. Since the blood of Christ has made me clean, giving me a new identity, it is no longer of my nature to look like the world. I am now set apart in Christ, and I can no longer be conformed to the passions of my former ignorance. My calling is to be self-controlled, which includes being mindful of my brothers in Christ. I will be holy in body.
Be holy in spirit: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Becoming more like Christ Jesus is more important to me than all other pursuits. I will train myself in godliness more fervently than on the treadmill, for godliness lasts unto eternity. My true loveliness comes from the hidden person of my heart, with the imperishable beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. In God’s sight this is very precious. I will rely on God’s grace, and not my own efforts, trusting Him with every aspect of my life, knowing that I am fully His possession. I will be holy in spirit.
You are set apart to be holy. What an amazing truth! Let's walk by the Spirit's power to pursue holiness, keeping our sights on His immeasurable grace.
Holy Father, You are our example of holiness. Strengthen us to pursue godliness. In our weakness, You are strong! Thank you that grace is ours in Jesus. May the love of Christ motivate us be who we are in Him.
Contemplate this passage: "For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). How does God's grace motivate you to pursue holiness?
Written by Kristen Leigh Evensen