We’re already practicing holiness, to one degree or another. People might say you’re “all in” when it comes to letting God’s holiness drive your habits. Others might say you’re one of those who keeps God’s holiness and your habits in separate categories.
But what does God say? Does He leave it up to us to decide how holy we want to be, practically speaking? Or does He gives us any kind of a picture to show us how holiness looks in the everyday life of His followers?
The first part of Ephesians spells out our identity in Christ; the second illustrates how that identity matters. As we change who we were, contrast who we are, and imitate who the Father will always be, our new holiness in Jesus changes everything.
Holy habits due to change
Do you describe your dietary choices with words like “vegan, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, or sugar free?” A lifestyle change impacts how we spend, what we talk about, what decisions we make, and how we think. A lifestyle change is no small choice … if it’s authentic.
True followers seek “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
No one follows Christ without making a genuine change. Ephesians 4:22-32 shows us how a life of loving the Holy One requires putting off our old self and putting on the new. Old habits like lying, sinful anger, stealing, corrupt talk, and unforgiveness have to be put away. Like cleaning out Twinkies when we choose to go sugar free, past routines fall away as we take on holy habits in their place. True followers of Christ Jesus change.
Holy habits due to contrast
Sports seasons inspire fans to bring out team flags, wear jerseys, do cheers, and follow players. Devotees don’t follow every team; just their own. They may be aware of others, but they don’t buy into others. Real followers want their loyalty to be known. It’s the same for real Christ followers, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8)
Instead of continuing to let darkness reign in our practical life, new life in Christ means the light of the Lord shines into every area of our personal everyday. The fruit of the Spirit within us comes out in how we talk to customers, discipline of our children, respond to hardships, solve financial problems, react to our mate, view our computer screen, deal with family relationships, see our culture, choose reading material, conduct our sexual life, participate in our local church, and get dressed daily. God’s light where darkness once reigned shines into every crack of our lifestyles.
The contrast brought by Christ can’t help but create holy habits where darkness once reigned.
Holy habits due to imitation
Reflection reveals the authenticity of our admiration. After all, isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery? A child’s mimicry on Fathers Day shows how much they watch, idolize, and strive to follow dad … or not. God’s unchanging holiness only requires a change in those who call Him “Abba,” Father. Our imitation brings Him praise.
For the children of God, holiness in practical living is the only believable response to the Father. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Our growth in practicing holy living reveals the genuine nature of our adoption as sons of God.
Before we joined God’s family through Christ’s holy sacrifice, we were “sons of disobedience.“ When our father was the Devil, we imitated him. Once we’re adopted into God’s holy family, covered in a righteousness not our own, our Father is God, and we imitate Him through obedience. Like a child who grows older, revealing more and more of their father’s nature in the way they look, talk, walk, smile, laugh, and do life, so a child of God imitates the heavenly Father in holiness more and more.
A child of God has changed, lives in contrast to the world, and imitates the Father through holy habits in practical ways in everyday life.
Would you be willing to pray this prayer?
Father, You are my Father. I want to imitate You, like a genuine child who reflects Your nature. Would you make me alert to practical areas of my life where I need to mimic You more? Help me see where I’m acting more like the old me than the new me. Show me how to apply holiness in all of my life habits.