The Resurrection: Motivation for Holiness

Motivation is what moves us to do something.  For some, the reason for being at the gym is the ten or twenty pounds they need to lose. Some study for grades. Some study to get beyond the poverty in which they grew up.  Motivation is the thing that moves us.  So let me ask you a question.  What motivates you to holiness?  We might be tempted to say any number of things.  I hate my sin and so the desire to put it off motivates me to holiness, one person might argue.  Another might claim that the glory of God motivates their holiness.  And there is a sense in which each of these answers is right.  We ought to be moved by a hatred for sin and a desire to see God glorified. However, those are not the main movers.  So, what is?

The answer may surprise you. It is the spiritual power of the resurrection of Christ.  Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute!” you say, “As a believer the resurrection is a historical fact. It’s part of the historia salutis. In fact, it is the basis for the hope of my own resurrection.  It’s all of those things and more but motivation for holiness?  I’m not so sure.”  Okay, hear me out.

Remember what Paul said in Ephesians chapter one?  In verse 18 he prayed for the eyes of his readers to be enlightened.  Now, let me pause at this point.  Paul is not seeking the salvation of his hearers.  In verse 13 he told us that they had heard the gospel, believed it and were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.  Paul is writing to believers.  So, for what is Paul asking in verse 18 if not the regenerating power of the Spirit?  The answer is simple. He is asking that the Spirit of God would continue to grant them understanding now that their eyes are opened to gospel truth.  Any believer knows that once saved he must grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. What is more, that growth only comes by the Spirit’s ongoing revelatory work in us.  Paul is praying for that work.

What is more, we see what Paul is praying for in these verses.  His desire is for these believers to “know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19). What is more, all of these things are given by the Spirit. Put differently, they are the Spirit’s work in us and not our own doing. 

However, there is something else I want you to notice. This spiritual power at work in us is “according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:19-20a).  In other words, the spiritual power of the resurrection of Christ is at work in every believer. That same power of the Spirit works in us. It motivates us to become what we already are by grace.

So, the next time you marvel at the resurrection of Christ remember that the same Spirit who worked in Christ is at work in you bringing about in us what is pleasing in the sight of the Triune God.  Let the Spirit who is at work in us motivate us to do the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in.  May the resurrection power of the Spirit of Christ motivate you!

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA.  He is Professor-elect of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is also an online instructor for Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and has published academic articles and book reviews in various journals. Jeff is the Senior Editor of Place for Truth ( an online magazine for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. 


Jeffrey Stivason