In the area of lifestyle issues, we must teach our children – and understand ourselves – the important distinction between the sacred and the profane, between the holy and the carnal, between godliness and worldliness. By virtue of our relationship (children of God) and affinity (moral resemblance) to God, we now inhabit the world of the sacred, the holy, the godly. Not because we keep a certain list of do’s and dont’s, but because God has placed us there by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Look at these New Testament labels for believers. “As those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved…” (Col 3:12), or “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” (I Pet 2:9). Over and over, the apostle Paul calls believers “saints”, or literally, “holy ones.” The import of this for Christian living is the idea that godliness is not only our destiny; it is our capacity as well.
Think about the word “holy” for a minute. It is the ultimate attribute of God. Holy, one-of-a-kind, unique, off-the-charts, and unlike any other are all attempts to describe God’s unique character. And everywhere God dwells is holy. In His interaction with man in the Old Testament, God’s presence was largely geographic. He inhabited the Holy Mountain (Mt. Sinai), the Holy Land (Palestine), the Holy City (Jerusalem), and of course the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple.
But under the New Covenant, the veil has been torn and the physical temple destroyed, and God now lives in the heart of every believer by the Holy Spirit. The fact is we are made holy by the Holy Spirit living in us. This is not an exclamation of pride or perfection or self-righteousness; it is a simple fact of the New Covenant. We are living stones (I Pet 2:5) and our bodies are holy temples (I Cor 6:19).
Framing the discussion about lifestyle issues in terms of our bodies, God’s temple, takes the focus away from the Christian life as a legalistic set of rules to follow. It turns our attention to a lifestyle that reflects who we already are; a lifestyle that reflects our relationship with the Father. What this looks like in the specifics is a topic for next time.