The critical topic churches avoid today …

Why did Jesus suffer and die on the cross?

That seems to be such a simple question, for even the young child in Sunday school would likely offer a quick answer to that: “Jesus died to save us from our sins.”

That’s partly true.

Jesus did die to save us from our sins, but there’s a deeper reason for that which we speak little of today. That’s because it has to do with the issue of holiness, which for some reason is a concept avoided among pulpits like the Ebola virus these days.

But it’s the underlying issue as to why Jesus chose to suffer and die on a cross for us.

The issue with sin was that it destroyed our relationship with God because it made us unclean, we became unholy. In such a state, we were unable and uninterested in having a relationship with God as He had designed. To be able to be reconciled to God, we needed to be sanctified, to be made holy, and to accomplish that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for us …

“So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood,” Hebrews 13:12.

Jesus didn’t die just so we wouldn’t go to hell, or so we could be “happy.” He died “… to make his people holy”! Yet we hear little taught about God’s call for us to live holy lives. The result isn’t pretty.

In “unChristian,” David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, shares some disheartening research concerning the failure of Christians in our day to live holy lives …

“In virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born again Christians (talking about people who say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that they say is important and that they believe they will go to heaven at death because they have confessed their sin and accepted Christ as Savior, much more than people who just claim to be Christians) fail to display much attitudinal or behavior evidence of transformed lives. For instance, based on a study released in 2007, we found that most of the lifestyle activities of born again Christians were statistically equivalent to those of non born again people. When asked to identify their activities over the last 30 days, born again believers were just as likely to visit a pornographic website, to take something that did not belong to them, to consult a medium or psychic, to physically fight or abuse someone, to have consumed enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk, to have used an illegal non-prescription drug, to have said something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something he or she did, and to have said mean things behind another person’s back.”

That doesn’t sound like holy living, yet Christ died specifically “… to make his people holy …” You would think the Apostle Paul was writing in direct response to Kinnaman’s research in the following scripture passage …

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people — none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

While church pulpits may be remarkably quiet about God calling us to live holy lives, the Bible isn’t …

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect,” Romans 12:2.

“Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God,” 2 Corinthians 7:1.

“God’s will for you is to be holy …” 1 Thessalonians 4:3a.

“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say,” Titus 2:14-15.

“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy’,” 1 Peter 1:14-16.

Unlike pulpits today, the Bible is loud with the call to put to death the old man, to put on the new man, and live (through Christ) holy lives as obedient children of God.

Is living as a holy child of God important to you? Have you fully committed yourself to a holy life? Or is holiness a vague idea you don’t know much about?