By Nancy K. Grace
The pH level of all the body's cells has profound effects on all body chemistry. If left unchecked, an imbalanced pH will interrupt all cellular activities, from the beating of your heart to breathing and the functioning of your brain. While this is an important health concept of an unseen nature, it also becomes a spiritual concept when you consider the pH level as the personal holiness level in your life.
The bold command given in 1 Peter 1:15-16 is intimidating but definite: "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" Wow! Obeying this verse can seem downright impossible as we continually realize our fallen state of sinfulness. We are sinners living in a sinful world, yet are called to be holy. To be holy is to be set apart from sin and impurity and set apart to God in a right relationship with Him. If the eyes of God are too pure to look upon sin (Hab.1:13) how can we reach for the holiness of God, let alone have it developed in our lives?
God wouldn't give a command without providing the proper means for us to pursue it. An answer is found in Psalm 24:3. This verse poses the questions, "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?" If we stop at this verse, we can easily remain locked in self-condemnation for guilt over sin, feeling tension between the reality of living in a sinful world and the call to be holy.
But thankfully, the psalmist goes on to resolve his question in verse 4, and does identify someone who can stand in his holy place: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false." Let's look at what is required to stand in the holy place of God.
First, consider what it means to have "clean hands." Imagine this scenario: It's dinnertime and the family is called to the table. The kids have been outside playing in the sandbox, and are starved. They bolt into the house, sit down, and start to fill their plates to eat while mom is still getting things on the table. She notices they have not washed their hands, and sends them to go wash their hands before dinner. Begrudgingly they do, but return with grumpy attitudes because they managed to get in a fight while washing their hands.
Rewind. Take two. It's dinnertime, and the family is called to the table. The kids have been playing outside in the sandbox and are starved. They bolt into the house and remember to go wash their hands before sitting down at the table to wait for everyone. The meal begins and pleasant dinner conversation follows.
Which scenario can you identify with - the children ignoring their dirty hands and rushing to the table, or the children willingly washing their hands before a meal? It's better for us to approach our heavenly Father with the attitude of knowing we have dirty hands (sin in our heart) and seek His cleansing, than rushing into His holy presence without being clean. While the Lord lovingly accepts us as we are, our part is to continually seek His forgiveness.
Psalm 51:7 says "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Here cleanse literally means to "un-sin me." Humbly come before God and ask the Holy Spirit to dismantle the barriers of sin. By confessing specific sins your relationship with God will be restored and renewed. This opens the gateway to allow God full access to your heart and have deeper fellowship with Him.
Next, the psalmist explains the need to have a pure heart. Having traveled in several countries where the water is not pure, I am cautioned to drink only bottled water. Water is best when it is pure and filtered. To purify your thoughts and heart, apply Philippians 4:8 as a filter, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things." This verse challenges me to refocus self-centered thoughts back on to God's desires. Elisabeth Elliot teaches, "Selfishness is incompatible with holiness. While we cannot assess how holy we are, we should be able to see a certain measure of progress. Holiness is a hidden thing - hidden from the individual himself. And the holier we are, the less self-conscious we will be." While this may be hidden from us, we can know when we are lacking in personal holiness through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The evidence of personal holiness is seen in how we live our lives - how we respond when we are in a long checkout line, or cut off in heavy traffic, or frustrated with a fussy child or rebellious teenager. Oswald Chambers says, "Holiness means absolute purity of your walk before God, the words coming from your mouth, and every thought in your mind - placing every detail of your life under the scrutiny of God Himself. Holiness is not simply what God gives me, but what God has given me that is being exhibited in my life." When I respond with kindness instead of a natural response of wrath, or with peacefulness instead of fury, the godly response is not from my own strength, but from the power of God at work in me. A glimpse of His holiness shines through.
Though unseen, the hindrances of unconfessed sin and an impure heart lead to imbalanced pH in the Christian life. Remember, an imbalanced pH interferes with all life itself. If your personal holiness is out of balance, apply the curative solution found in Psalm 24 - cleansing from sin and purifying your heart. Then, through His grace, you can progressively pursue the holiness of God in your life and be set apart for Him.
"Tell me in light of the cross, isn't it a scandal that you and I live today as we do?" ~ Alan Redpath
"There is no shortcut to holiness; it must be the business of our whole lives." ~ Oswald Chambers
"It is not great talents or great learning or great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness." ~ E.M. Bounds
"Whatever weakens your reason, impairs your tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish for spiritual things then it is sin for you, however, innocent it may be in itself." ~ Suzanna Wesley
"Whatever call a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry." ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
"Many Christians have what we might call a 'cultural holiness.' They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God." ~ Jerry Bridges
"Every man is as holy as he really wants to be." ~ A. W. Tozer