Rules of Engagement - Prepared with Holiness
Sermon Summary
This message is the second in a series titled “Rules of Engagement.” Rule number one is to be prepared with the blessed hope of oursalvation. In other words, we can’t really engage our culture with the good news of Jesus Christ if we are not fully grounded in our belief and trust in our own salvation. Secondly, if we are to successfully engage our culture, the lives we live must reflect that salvation hope. We do this by living lives that reflect the holiness of God. Holiness means to be set apart, different. God is set apart and different and He wants His followers to be different from the world. He tells us to be Holy as He is Holy. Holiness is not being different in a weird way, or in a “I’m better than you kind of way!” Holiness is seeking to live our lives in a way that reflect Jesus’ attitudes and actions. Humble, serving, caring, loving, honest, having integrity, etc. We prepare to live holy lives by understanding the way of holiness, the reason for holiness, and the results of holiness. This message focuses on five ways of holiness found in 1 Peter 1:13-16 prepare your mind, control your mind, focus your mind, make up your mind, and purify your mind.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever had a hero you wanted to be like, and what made you want to be like him or her?

2. How would having Jesus as your greatest hero help you in your preparation to live a holy life? Paul gives us an idea in Philippians 3:7-9

Phil 3:7  But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Phil 3:8  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Phil 3:9  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

3. Two questions. What is the ultimate focus of your mind? This effects whether or not you will be able to effectively engage the culture and it effects your own peace of mind. If Jesus is rarely the focus of your thoughts, your hopes and your dreams for life, you will not effectively engage your world. Why?

Phil 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Phil 4:7  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:8  Finally, brothers, 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 about such things.

4. Living a life of true holiness is far from an attitude of “Holier than thou!” What would it look like if we prepared our minds for action, allowed the Holy Spirit to control our attitudes, focused our minds on Jesus, made up our minds to obey Christ instead of evil desires, and if we sought to purify our minds?

Eph 4:31  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Eph 4:32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Eph 5:1  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
Eph 5:2  and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Eph 5:3  But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
Eph 5:4  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Rules of Engagement - Prepared with Holiness

Prepare with Holiness

How many of you have ever had a hero? Did you want to be like that hero?
Did you wonder if it were even possible to be like that hero? Did you have it in you?
Was your hero someone you knew or was it someone you only wished you could know?
When I was a young teenager, I heard an old, old story, of a man who lived many years before I was even born. How He lived an amazing life loving and caring for people who were broken, hurting, deceived, disillusioned, sick and dying without any hope. I heard how He gave His life to save the lives of those people. He became my hero that night! He became my Savior! He became my best friend, and He became my goal in life.
I basically prayed the words of the song we just sang...

I give You my life
I give You my trust
My heart is Yours
I lay down my life
I take up my cross
All to Jesus I surrender
I just want to be with You

And if Christian Stanfill, the writer of that song wouldn't mind, I would add a line.
"I just wanna be more like You!"
That's my goal in life every day…to be a little more like Jesus. To follow Him, to live as He lived, to serve as He served, to become in my character more like Him! And what does this have to do with "Rules of Engagement?" If we are going to engage our culture with the message of Jesus, we must be prepared to do so with lives that point to Jesus, mirror Jesus, and honor Jesus. And how do we do that? We prepare with holiness! Let's pray and ask God to teach us what it means to be holy!

Father God, I know that without You I have no hope of holiness! But You've called us to a life of holiness. Help us to know that true holiness is never about an attitude of holier than thou, but rather a humble spirit of desiring to live lives that will honor the One who gave His life to make us holy! We owe You everything! Help us never forget that! Let Your Holy Spirit fill us with the wisdom to confront our culture with lives that are set apart, different, meaningful and filled with Your grand purpose!
Please use me as a vessel of Your message today and I will give You all the honor and glory! Love You, in Jesus Name I pray, Amen!

Our text for today is found in 1 Peter 1:13-25. If you have your Bible with you, you can follow along. If not, it's on the screen. Let's look at verse 13...

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

The very first word is "Therefore." I once had a professor say, "If you see the word "therefore" it's there for a reason! It points back to what was just written or spoken. So it could be, "because or since." The verses that proceed our text for today are the verses Andrew preached on last week and they are the therefore of our text.  So let's review...
Andrew shared with us the first rule of engagement when we seek to draw our culture into a conversation about Jesus Christ and that rule is to be prepared with hope! And our hope is not an empty hope. It is a "Present hope!" It's for today, here and now, and it's relevant for life! And our hope is not only present, it is Permanent!" In other words, it is for now and it is for eternity! Our Hope is also quite persistent! It never gives up no matter how it is attacked, belittled, or minimized by the world. And we must never forget the thing that makes our hope present, permanent and persistent is that it is a hope promised by The God who has never broken a promise and never will!

Now that we understand the "therefore," let's read that verse again and continue reading through verse fifteen...

1 Peter1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

There's something very important in Peter's instructions. Did you catch it? He gives us five things to do and only one thing not to do! Why? Because if we got busy doing the do's we wouldn't have time to do the don'ts! Peter major's on the positives and not the negatives, but being reminded of the don'ts doesn't hurt!

He said prepare your minds for action!
He said be self-controlled!
He said set your hope on the grace of Jesus!
He said be obedient children of God!
He said do not conform to old evil desires!
He said be holy as God is holy!

Why is it so important to be Holy? If we are going to engage our culture with the message of Jesus Christ, we must be genuine carriers of the DNA of Jesus! We can't be fake, false, pretenders, hypocrites, or posers! The world may have a hard time seeing truth, but they can spot false a mile away, and they despise it! You might say, "But they're no better than me and they're every bit as fake and false as me!" Maybe so, but they aren't claiming to be Christian, Christ-like, good, righteous, holy and set apart. In fact, many of them make no pretense about being anything but bad. Remember Michael Jackson's song, "Bad?"

"Because I'm bad, I'm bad - come on
(Bad bad - really, really bad)
You know I'm bad, I'm bad - you know it"

So the world knows they're bad, and because they are bad they know bad! And let me say this: People in the world don't expect Christian people to be perfect. They don't expect followers of Christ to never make a mistake, but if your holiness and goodness is a prideful, I'm better than you, kind of holiness then they will call your bluff! If, on the other hand, they see you as a humble, sincere, truly caring, forgiving, and genuinely loving person, they will respect you even though you aren't perfect and even if they refuse to say it out loud! You see, the world is looking for real! They're searching for genuine! They want so bad to believe, but they need a reason to believe and you may just be that reason!

This is one of the reasons we must be prepared with holiness! Because the way you live your life matters. The why and motive behind the way you live your life matters and what results from living a holy life matters! So as we prepare to engage our culture, let's look at these three things. The way of holiness, the why of holiness, and the what of holiness. We'll focus on the way of holiness!

The Way of Holiness

1 Pet 1:13  Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

The Way of Holiness
1. Prepare Your Mind

Prepare your mind for action! Why does the Bible say this? Precisely because what you are in your mind is what you are in action. If we are going to live in the way of holiness we must prepare our minds to live this way. What I'm about to tell you is a truth we all must get! We must accept! We must comprehend! Here it is...

“Holiness is not what you do, it's who you are and who you are determines what you do!” ltm

Living a life of holiness begins with what you think: your attitudes, your beliefs, your convictions, your dreams, your desires, your passions, your motivation, your vision and many other things found in the realm of the mind. And many times the Bible uses mind and heart interchangeably, because the mind speaks from the heart. If there's good stuff in your spiritual heart, good comes out. If it's filled with bad stuff, bad comes out. And when Peter says prepare your mind, what does he mean. Well, for one thing, you must guard what goes into your mind because, as the old saying says, "Garbage in, garbage out!" In fact the Bible tells us this in proverbs...

Prov 4:23  Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Prov 4:24  Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Prov 4:25  Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Prov 4:26  Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
Prov 4:27  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

So your heart, your mind, the center of who you are,must be protected with great tenacity! The enemy of your soul is always going to look for ways to trip you and make you stumble, so you must be on your guard. The newer NIV translation puts it this way...

1 Pet 1:13  Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

With minds that are alert and fully sober! Wow, that's says so much. Are you alert to the schemes of Satan? You know I get picked on a lot because of some of my standards. What I will not watch when it comes to movies. The words I choose not to use even though they are not considered by most to be curse words and the strict standards I follow and encourage my staff to follow in their dealings with the opposite sex. These standards are not legalistic laws I have to follow, but are personal decisions I've made in order to help me stay on the right path and not stray from God's holy standards.

Play with sin and you will get bitten! Trust me! I know! And Peter said be fully sober you might think that doesn't apply to you because you don't drink alcohol! How many people are intoxicated with other things in this world? Fame, fortune, success, power, sex, material things! Not that these things are evil when used, practiced, or obtained in a Godly way, but when we become intoxicated with the things of this world, we begin making terrible decisions that hurt us and sometimes destroy those around us!

And the King James version put it this way...

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober,
King James Version

What does gird up your loins mean? Back in Biblical days, both men and women wore tunics, a robe. If the men were going to be doing hard work, running, or fighting a battle, they had a way of tucking the hem of their garment in their belt which would basically form a pair of shorts. A more recent  saying would be, "roll up your sleeves." In other words get ready for some hard work or for a fight. And so it is with a life of holiness. It's so worth the work and the fight, but it's not always easy, and it's something you have to decide to do! Holiness begins with a decision of your mind. If you are not a follower of Christ, then it begins with the decision to accept His salvation. And once that decision is made, it becomes a daily decision whether or not to live out that salvation. We don't work for our salvation, but we do work out our salvation by living out our salvation. Paul put it this way in Philippians...

Phil 2:12  Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
Phil 2:13  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

So the way of holiness starts with preparing our minds. But we also must control our minds...

The Way of Holiness
2. Control Your Mind

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled;

How in the world so we learn self control? Is it even possible? Well, yes and no. There are people in this world, rare individuals, who have by human will power, meditation techniques, and harsh disciplined training have learned to exercise some pretty fascinating forms of self-control. Not a bad thing, but here's the problem. This usually takes massive amounts of time, energy, and mental discipline. And not only that, I believe a person's background circumstances when they were a child effect their ability to handle self-control. I also believe a person's mental and emotional disposition at birth effect this as well. And this is were I have some very good news for everyone.

Mental self-control, which in turn is responsible for physical and emotional self-control, can be achieved by any person no matter their heredity or difficult experiences growing up or present circumstances if they will allow the Holy Spirit of God to control them with His amazing power!

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  
who have been called according to his purpose.

Did you hear that? The Spirit of Almighty God helps us in our weakness. And when we don't even know what we ought to pray, the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express! Why? Because He wants so badly for us to be all God created us to be. He wants so much for us to overcome the enemy of our soul! He searches our heart and knows what we are in the core of our soul and He intercedes or speaks to God the Father on our behalf, but always in accordance with God's will because God's will is always perfect, good, right, and pure holy! God is always working for the good of those who love Him and have accepted the purpose of His call! I'm not talking about a legalistic bunch of do's and don'ts! Holiness comes not from the letter of the law, but from the Spirit within. Holiness can be mandated by the law but not accomplished by the law! Holiness comes from who you are inside, who you've become in Jesus Christ and who you are becoming by the power of His Holy Spirit!

The Way of Holiness
3. Focus Your Mind

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

What is the ultimate focus of your mind? This truly effects whether or not you will be able to effectively engage the culture. If you have no hope, how in the world do you think you can give hope to a hopeless world? And why does it say set your hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus Christ is revealed? I think it means this. If you've asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to come live inside your heart and life by way of His Holy Spirit, then your hope for forgiveness is already a reality and the strength and power of God for daily living is already a reality, but this world is still not easy! Especially when it throws an unexpected tragedy at you!

When you loose a loved one or your health is in jeopardy, or your job security is questionable, or a relationship has gone terribly wrong, whatever it is, do you have a future hope? If you follow Jesus, you should and that future hope gives you a peace and presence of mind that inspires and may help others glimpse the reality of our hope! Even those who refuse to believe are confronted with the truth of Jesus every time they see us place our future hope in the full salvation that will be granted to us when we see Jesus face to face!

I have a close friend who has seemingly rejected the gospel. And when I mention anything about Jesus, they have a comeback and it is many times cynical and cutting. It hurts, but I don't lash out at them. Sometimes I just write out my feelings and it helps me. So I didn't say this to them, I just wrote it down for me.

"Don't hate on me for having hope. Why would you take that away from me? If I lose my hope I have nothing left? Why would you want me to loose that? Would it really make you feel better if I gave up my hope? You say it's only empty belief. I say hope void of belief would be empty, so I'm gonna hold on to my faith!"

You might say, "Well Pastor Larry you should tell them!" Maybe, but not now! My job is to love them, and to live out my salvation, and my hope, in holiness before them. And when they ask questions, to lovingly share what answers I have and if I don't know to honestly tell them, "I don't know the answer to that!" When you think about engaging our culture, there will be questions. Hard questions. Don't shut down their questions. Listen to them. All of us have had questions in the past, tough questions. And if you haven't you will! I don't care how strong your faith, there will be times you will ask questions. It's okay. Focus your mind on this.

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know
that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

The Way of Holiness
4. Make Up Your Mind

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

Make up your mind to obey the good will and voice of God and not the evil desires of ignorance. Holiness will not be found in disobedience. We must make up our minds to trust that God only wants what's best for us and that obedience to Him is going to lead us to the find ultimate life, meaningful life, purposeful life, effective life, good life! The best way to stay away from evil desires is to be obedient to the leadership of The Holy Spirit and let Him prepare our minds, control our minds, focus our minds, and help us make up our minds to do His will in every aspect of our lives. Listen to the way Paul put it in Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

And what is God's perfect will?
We find it in the next verse of our text!

The Way of Holiness
5. Purify Your Mind

1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Now that's a tall order! I keep talking about holy and holiness. What is that? Holman Bible Dictionary gives us four things about holiness. Let me read it to you.

“Holy has four distinct meanings. First is ‘to be set apart.’ This applies to places where God is present, like the Temple and the tabernacle, and to things and persons related to those holy places or to God Himself. Next, it means to be ‘perfect, transcendent, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence.’ This applies primarily to God, but secondarily to saints or godly people. Next, it means something or someone who evokes ‘veneration or awe, being frightening beyond belief.’ This is clearly the application to God and is the primary meaning of ‘holy.’ It is continued in the last definition, ‘filled with superhuman and potential fatal power.’  This speaks of God, but also of places or things or persons which have been set apart by God's presence. A saint is a holy person. To be sanctified is to be made holy.” Holman Bible Dictionary

Preparing to confront our culture with  holiness means we are to live set-apart, spiritually pure, awe inspiring, Holy Spirit empowered lives that draw the world to our Savior Jesus Christ. This is the way of Holiness! But how do we do that? How can we? I know your thinking, you could never be all of that! Why that's a description of God Himself, and I'm not God! No you're not, and you'll never be God, but God's will is for you to be more like His Son Jesus every day you live! The key is found in Philippians 2:1-8

Philippians 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Did you catch it? Did you see it? Did you get it? We are united with Christ, we are comforted from His love, we have fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God, we can be tender and compassionate like Christ! How? If we are like-minded with Jesus, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. But we have to stop living out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. In humility we must consider others better than ourselves. We must not only look out for our own interest but also to the interest of others. Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. And what was that attitude?

Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became
obedient to death —even death on a cross!

And that by the way is the why of holiness. Look at our text...

The Why of Holiness

1 Peter 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially,
live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him,  
and so your faith and hope are in God.

Why do I want to be holy? Jesus poured out His life blood to cleanse me of my sin and to make me holy and acceptable to God. We're never going to be perfect this side of heaven, but we can live holy, set apart, spiritually pure, awe-inspiring and Holy Spirit filled lives because of what Jesus did to make us Holy! And what are we supposed to do with this? What does living a life of holiness accomplish?
It's simple really! Look at the last few verses of our text in 1 Peter...

The What of Holiness

1 Peter 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

The Word of the Lord stands forever and since Jesus was the Word become flesh, His broken body and shed blood have made the way for you and me to engage this culture with holy lives that are set apart, spiritually pure, awe-inspiring and Holy Spirit empowered to transform lives to God's Glory! Let's pray!