Pursuing Holiness

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

The apostle Paul is essentially starting a new section of Romans here in chapter 12. In chapters 1-11, Paul presents to us man’s condition, his fallen nature, his need of Christ, faith and his relationship to God both before and after salvation. Now, he is pointing to the reality of the Christian life.

What does it look like, what should your life look like after you have been washed by the blood of Jesus. Paul starts chapter 12 talking about a sacrificial life because we still sin and we often forget who we are in Christ. We forget the mercies of God, the love that God has for us, the cost of our salvation at the expense of God’s Son. And so Paul starts with I appeal to you therefore, brothers.

Paul has authority to correct, exhort, point a person back to where they need to be because he is an apostle. Paul is appealing to Christians in Rome to remember who they are and remember the mercies of God in Christ. Paul says to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Christians are holy because Christ is holy and made a holy sacrifice for them. Holiness is a characteristic of a Christian, but should also be the pursuit of a Christian. 

I remember when I played high school football and we would get ready for practice and above the door going out of the locker room there was a sign that read, “Life, Liberty and the happiness of pursuit.” What that was meant for was a reminder that as defensive players we need to pursue the ball carrier.

In this way, I can compare the experience of playing football to the Christian life. Paul explains in chapters 1-11 what it takes to be a Christian, now in chapter 12 he is explaining what the Christian life is. So, when I played football and was pursuing quarterbacks and running backs as a defensive end, I wasn’t thinking about whether I was on the team or not. I had the helmet, jersey and approval of my coach to be on the field. I was on the team and on the field in the game.

If you are a Christian, you have already been bought with the blood of Christ, you have been elected before the foundation of the world to be saved in him, you have been given all the privileges of a child of God that are yours in Christ. That is who you are. There is no chance of you being thrown of the team if you will by your performance. As a football player and particularly as a defensive end, my job was to pursue the ball carrier, no matter if I had a blocker in front of me, or how fast the running back was, it was my job, my duty to get to the football. 

It is the Christian’s duty to pursue holiness. No matter what stands in the way, whether is your own sin, temptation from the world or any circumstance that Satan might use to bring you down. A Christian is already holy, because of their union with Christ. They don’t need to prove that they have been saved, but they need to remember who they are and live in the light of their salvation by pursuing holiness. Holiness should be pursued, but can only be pursued because we are saved.