Can We Live A Life Of Holiness In The Work Place

When Peter wrote his letter to the gentile church, he retated the words spoken by Moses to the children of Isreal.

1 Pet 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;    14  As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Lev 11:44  For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Peter says in 1 Pet 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.   The reference to “conversation” here is our Behaviour.  In particular, I want to look at the question “Can We Live A Life Of  Holiness In The Work Place?”

Based upon the scriptures, my short answer is:  If we are a Christian, we must live a life of Holiness no matter where we are.  That includes the necessity to live a life of Holiness in the workplace.

To answer this question, I have asked a young preacher by the name of Josh Decker to answer this question.  Here is how he responded.

Can We Live A Life Of  Holiness In The Work Place?

As followers of Christ, we are commanded by scripture to live a life of holiness.

I Peter 1:16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are to strive to maintain personal holiness throughout all activities of life. We are to live holy at home, on the job, in the classroom, or anywhere else we find ourselves daily.  

This includes maintaining personal holiness in the workplace.

“If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Have you ever heard that phrase before? The demands and responsibilities presented by this natural life require us to work. The truth of the matter is that work is something we all must (or should) do.

I believe in the principle of work. Multiple studies have found that work creates a level of dignity and a sense of fulfillment.

But how can a born-again Christian face the challenges of working in a secular workforce? While some Christians have the privilege of being able to work in an environment where they are surrounded by other believers, many do not.

Many believers must work in a work environment where they are more likely to be surrounded by unbelievers and face ungodly influences.

I believe maintaining personal holiness in the workplace is vitally important and is mandated by scripture, but as important as it is, many feel this task to be especially difficult in a work environment where they are surrounded by unbelievers and carnal influence.

The truth is that the believer should strive to live out personal holiness while on the job. And the reality is that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, makes living a life of holiness in the workplace not only possible but desirable.

There are a few points to consider when it comes to maintaining personal holiness in the workplace.

We are A Christian First

Firstly, the believer must remember that being a Christian is a full-time profession. A life of holiness stems from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The desire to live a holy life should flow out of a heart that has been converted.

The first step in being able to live holy in the workplace is conversion. There must be a genuine conversion experience. The unconverted soul cannot live holy, because, without conversion, there is no desire to live holy.

But once the soul has been converted, there should be an overwhelming desire to grow in holiness. This a point that the writer of Hebrews expresses in Heb. 6:1: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

The point the writer is trying to make is this:

  • The fact of salvation should prompt us (the believer) to thrive to “go on to perfection,” or advance in spiritual maturity.
  • This desire to grow in holiness should dominate the life of the believer.

No matter what career path you have chosen, or where you find yourself vocationally, you must remember that as a Christ-follower, your first responsibility is to follow Christ and to live as we are taught by the Spirit of God.

Titus 2:12, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

I once heard Rev. Tommy Toliver preach a sermon that will forever be etched in the forefront of my memory bank. His sermon was entitled “Christian First.”

The message he was attempting to convey through his preaching was that in everything we must do in life, we must always remember that we are followers of Christ first.

Yes, you may be a doctor, nurse, teacher, construction worker, pastor, or some other profession, but as a Christian, your first profession is to Christ and a life of personal holiness.

We do not get to take a vacation from our Christian walk.

We are to strive to live consistently each day, without fail. It has been said that holiness is not what we do (or do not do), it is who we are.

Rev. Ryan Ralston once said that “Holiness is not a list of do’s and don’ts; it is an invitation to fellowship with God.”

Holiness is not simply a uniform that we put on and take off as we please. Conversion is not the result of holy living, but holy living is the result of conversion (for we are saved by grace, not works).

God’s nature is holy, He sits on a holy throne, and therefore his chosen people should be holy.

The good news is this; regardless of your work environment, you will be able to live a life of holiness because you have the nature of Christ.

God’s righteousness had been imputed to you and now you have the mind of Christ.

Phil 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

Because you have been converted, you will no longer desire the things you used to desire.  When temptation arises and ungodly influences surround you in the workplace, remember that you are a Christian first!  You have the mind of Christ, and through His Spirit, you can overcome.

Works Pressures And Temptations Can Be Overcome

A second point to consider is that pressures and temptation do arise in the workplace, but they can be overcome.

Being a Christian and living a life of personal holiness can be especially difficult if you are the only believer at the job and you are surrounded by carnal influences. There will be pressure. There will be pressure to perform, the pressure of life’s responsibilities, peer pressure, etc. There will also be moments of temptation. This is the reality of living in a fallen world. However, it must point out the fact there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the issue of temptation and sin. Temptation itself is not sin. Many feel that they have sinned because they have been tempted, and others feel as if they face temptations that no one else has ever had to face, but this is simply not the case. Oswald Chambers in his classic book, My Utmost for His Highest, had this to say concerning temptation:

The word temptation has come to mean something bad to us today, but we tend to use the word in the wrong way. Temptation itself is not sin; it is something we are bound to face simply by virtue of being human…beware of thinking that you are tempted as no one else-what you go through is the common inheritance of the human race, not something that no one has ever before endured.[1]

To be tempted it simply the result of living in an imperfect world. I can say assuredly that you will be tempted. It happens to us all.

However, the inevitability of tempted does not mean that we must give in to temptation.

Perhaps one of the greatest biblical examples of maintaining personal holiness in the workplace is found in the life of Joseph. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in the land of Egypt.

But Joseph was a wise and godly man, and his faithfulness would grant him a high position in Egypt. Joseph became the servant of Potiphar, an officer to Pharaoh.

Joseph’s high position and level of faithfulness to God did not shield him from the hour of temptation. One day as joseph was performing his daily duties, Potiphar’s wife began to tempt Joseph to sin by demanding that he “lie” with her.

 Gen 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

Joseph refused to fall into the trap of temptation, and as she persisted, Joseph resisted.

One day Joseph found himself alone in a room with Potiphar’s wife, She confronted Joseph yet again with temptation and even physically took hold of him.

His response to temptation should be the response of every believer in the hour of temptation; he ran, he got out of there. He ran with such ferocity that he left his garments with the tempter.

One man said that “Joseph lost his coat, but he did not lose character.” When the hour of temptation comes, the best advice that can be given is this; “Flee! Get out! Run!

Obviously, in most cases, you are not going to physically run away from temptation, but in any case, do whatever you have to do to remove yourself from temptation.

If this means leaving the room when your coworkers are telling dirty jokes, or removing an ungodly thought from your mind, whatever you must do, run from it!

Living out personal holiness in the workplace requires you to flee from temptation, even if it costs you greatly.

It cost Joseph.

The loss of his coat was the least of his worries, he was stripped of his position and thrown into prison. Nevertheless, in the end, God rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness and willingness to live a holy life, and he was once again exalted to a position of power.

We must always remember that if the hour of temptation arises, and we resist its urges, no matter the cost, God will have the final say, and if we remain faithful to him He is a rewarder.

The believer who desires to live a life of personal holiness in the workplace must also be willing to live a counter-cultural life.

This means that as a believer, we should resist the urge to follow-the-leader when it comes to the culture of this world system.

As new creatures in Christ, we are not to walk after the carnal and worldly things, for we “are bought with a price,” (the blood of Christ that purchased our redemption), and we are not our own.

I Cor. 6:19-20  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Our citizenship; our inheritance, is in heaven.

Phil 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Therefore, we are not to walk in the likeness of this world.

As we have spoken much about inward Holiness, there is also an outward Holiness that reflects our inward holiness.

True holiness begins in the heart.  It then extends to the hands, to how we dress, and to our behavior.

It matters how you behave on the job.  It matters how you dress at work.  It matters what music you listen to.  It matters what you look at.

When outward standards and distinctives begin to fade, it is a good indication that inward holiness is starting to fade.  Backsliding has already begun in the heart.

I know a man who was a great friend to me. I admired him and his walk with God. But he has unfortunately walked away from God and is now backslidden. I remember on one occasion, just before he walked away from the church and from God, I noticed that an outward standard that he always upheld, he no longer upheld.

While this may not have been a blatant outside expression of sin, it did indicate that something was going on in his heart that caused that outward standard to no longer be important to him.

Outward appearance and behavior are always the results of inward holiness.

II Cor. 6:17-18 tells us that we are to “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 8  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We Are Supposed To Stand Out.

It is ok if unbelievers perceive us as weird. We are not called to look like or act like everyone else.  Titus states we are “peculiar”, that is being beyond usual.

Tit 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Culture says you must live this way or that way, but I ask you, what does the Bible say?

While I disagree with much of his politics, I do agree with a statement made by Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States. He said this:

“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”

The principles of holiness and righteous living found in scripture are unchanging.  If we abide by these unchanging principles, we can live a life of holiness that reflects the life of Christ within us.

A Thriving Testimony in the Workplace

We have already seen that through the power of the Spirit of God, we can overcome the challenges and temptation associated with working in a secular work environment, but it is also important to point out the fact that the Christain cannot only survive but thrive in a secular work environment.

One man once said that the Christain worker “should win employee of the month, every month.” While this may not accurately reflect reality, his point is very clear; as a Christian, you should desire to work as diligently as possible. You should strive to be the best employee on the job.

Your boss, your co-workers, and others you come in contact with daily on the job will see the difference in your life. And you can become a living testimony of a Christ-like life.

II COR 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men

As a young child I will always remember my grandmother’s prayer. She prayed; “Lord, let there be something in my life, they desire in theirs. She understood the importance of being a living testimony.

Remember, As a Christian working in a secular workplace, you can not only survive, but you can Thrive, and your life will be a witness before unbelievers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we must remember that the call to personal holiness is not a man-made calling.  The principles of holiness are not man-made principles.  The calling and the principles are God-given, and these cannot be changed.

The Christian’s first responsibility is to God.   

We as believers can be confident that we can indeed maintain personal holiness, overcome temptation, and become a living testimony in the workplace. It can only be accomplished through God and the power of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer.


[1] Oswald Chambers (as cited by David Jerimiah) Turning Toward Integrity. Victor Books/SP Publications, Inc. (1993).

Brother Scott

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior in march of 1984. I was in the Navy at this time. It became my greatest desire to draw closer to God. Since that day I have been led by God's Spirit and the scriptures to live a life of Holiness. Holiness is not a bunch of rules, but rather it is the conviction and desire that I am pleasing to God in my life. These convictions are then what set the boundaries of my conduct and actions in life.

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