Trying to be holy without standing on a base of hope is like….well, it’s like running through a dark wilderness with a broken compass, wearing worn-out moccasins while carrying an angry and sharp-beaked octopus on your back. During an ice storm.
OK, the analogy is imperfect, but you get the point. If you seek holiness without a firm anchor in hope, you simply become a guilt-ridden Pharisee.
Trust me – I know from experience.
We see the God-honoring way of becoming holy in I John 3:1-3:
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
First, we embrace God in a love relationship. We become, and then ARE, His children (a fact, a fixed identity. Done deal.)
Then, we embrace the fact that our ultimate destiny – our future identity, secured by an all-powerful God – is total conformity to Christ. We WILL be holy. A done deal that is getting done now.
Finally, we then are able to take on whatever efforts to actively purify ourselves. Practical holiness becomes practical only when we embrace our identity, our beloved-ness, our destiny.
Holiness is hope-fueled. Guilt, fear, and moral pride only lead to an external straitjacket of attempted behavior-modification. Orthodoxy and effort without humble and grace-filled hope only lead to defeat.
The Christian has to unlearn Pharisee-righteousness by resting in faith first. THAT will lead to sincere striving for sanctification. Fueled by strong hope.