“… work toward complete holiness …” 2 Corinthians 7:1b (NLT)
We live between two poles – acceptance and striving. We don’t strive in order to be accepted. Our acceptance by God is on the basis of grace through faith. You can’t earn it and you don’t deserve it. In exchange for our sin, God offers His righteousness so that we may be accepted by God through His Son, Jesus Christ! That’s grace! Grace secures our position in Christ as right with God. Paul told the Philippian jailer the simple gospel, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. …” Acts 16:31 (NIV) There was nothing he needed to do but believe and receive!
Acceptance is not something you achieve. It is a gift you receive by believing. Our position in Christ is settled forever the moment we believe! Out of His acceptance we strive to please Him. Acceptance describes our position before God, while striving describes our condition. Acceptance involves belief. Striving involves behavior. What we believe quickly begins to affect how we behave. This is a lifetime process of working out what God has worked into our lives.
The challenge in today’s passage would be impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling believers. Out of our acceptance we “… work toward complete holiness …” A look at this passage in context gives us better understanding. “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT)
Whenever we turn to God, we turn away from sin. We make a clean break from our past and everything becomes brand new in Christ! This doesn’t mean we will be sinless but that we are growing and maturing in our faith. Our lives should reflect the message as we learn to be what we have become. Are you working toward complete holiness? When you know He has already accepted you just as you are, it takes the pressure off. Your desire will be to please Him in everything you do and say. Daily you will be working out what God has worked in you through His power and grace. This is holiness.