Is It Possible to Be Holy?

Is It Possible to Be Holy?

Have you ever known someone you would do anything for—someone you wanted to receive your very best because he or she had given you their very best?

If you are married, I hope the person that comes to your mind is your spouse. Marriage is about becoming one with another—one in spirit, one in soul, one in body, one in home, and one in hope. That is the heart of intimacy. Marriage is a covenant, the complete giving of self in an exclusive, lifelong relationship.

In a sense, that is what a relationship with Jesus Christ is like. Christians are in a marriage-like covenant with Him. Jesus has given us everything and our lives ought to be fully devoted to Him. We ought to have an intimate relationship with Him and be willing to do anything for Him because we love Him. One thing we are to do is be holy.

1 Peter 1:14-16 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

My first reaction when I read this is one of despair. I have a hope of obeying Christ, but is seems impossible that I could ever be holy. However, the Lord doesn’t command us to do something without supplying the grace to do it. Therefore, the command to be holy must be possible. So, we need to know the meaning of holy and how to be holy.

Holy literally means “separate”. When describing God as holy, we are saying He is completely separate from sin. God is distinctly perfect in character. His ways and His thoughts are high above ours; different from our vision of things. There is none like Him.

Jesus, who is God in the flesh, demonstrated for us what holiness looks like. His life defines holiness as a continual lifestyle, not an intermittent religious experience. He was as holy on a fishing boat as He was in the temple. He was the same person at a party with tax collectors and prostitutes as He was when He dined at a Pharisee’s house. His heart was pure when He talked alone with a woman and when He camped out with a group of men.

Jesus did not come to save us out of pity. He came to save us because He loves us and created us to be holy. His Blood Atonement on the Cross means that Jesus put us back into a holy relationship with the Father. By His Resurrection, He conquered death and sent the Holy Spirit to disciple us and teach us to live holy lives, separated unto God.

According to God’s standards, Jesus Christ is the normal man, and God commands all His children to be holy as He is holy. In other words, He wants us to be separated from sin and the ways of the world, and to live intimately related to Him, as in a marriage.

Romans 6:11-14 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

This is what it means to be separate or holy. We conform to Jesus Christ and not to our evil desires. Never allow yourself any practice that is not in keeping with our holy Lord. Holiness means unsullied walking with the feet, unsullied talking with the tongue, unsullied thinking with the mind—every detail of our life under the scrutiny of God and separated unto Him. Holiness is not only what God gives us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but that we display to the world the holiness of Jesus Christ. Unless we live holy, separated lives, people will not see Jesus.

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

When we are born again of the Holy Spirit, a desire to be like Jesus is birthed in us. We begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and this changes the way we live. In the ways God is separate, the Holy Spirit moves us to separate ourselves.

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

This is not to say we are to be physically disconnected from others, but rather engaged in our culture, while at the same time, separated from worldly lusts and sins. Our call to be holy, or set apart, for God’s service means we will demonstrate Christ’s love and character to a broken, unholy world. Therefore, we make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy so they will see Jesus in us.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

We pursue holiness primarily because we revere God; we fear Him, we love Him, and we want to please Him. Anything that could defile us—physically or spiritually—must be laid aside in our pursuit of Christ. It doesn’t matter how common, appealing, or culturally acceptable the thing is. If it can harm us physically or spiritually, we need to separate ourselves from it. If it is not something Jesus would do, we also should not be doing it.

However, holiness is not a list of do’s and don’ts. We are saved and set apart to honor God wherever we are and whatever we do. Holiness is the character of God that He develops in us over time as we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus.

Romans 6:19 Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

Therefore, holiness comes from a full commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. That dedication is impossible unless we are born again with a spirit that loves Jesus Christ. Jesus made it possible for us to be born again and made us holy by His blood Atonement on the cross.

In the Old Covenant, blood was used to ratify covenants and to purify and make things holy, separated for God’s purpose. Likewise, the Blood of Jesus Christ ratifies our covenant with Him, and purifies us and makes us holy, separated from sin and the world for God’s purpose.

Jesus Christ did not come to tell men they ought to be holy. He came to put us in the place where we can be holy. In other words, He came to atone for our sin and give us a new life, born of the Holy Spirit, so He can transform us into what He teaches we should be. That is how we are made holy—by His Blood and His Spirit.

Our part in this covenant is to believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who atoned for our sin. If we truly believe this, we will repent and obey His commands. His initial command is to be baptized, which is putting to death our old life of sin. As we come out of the watery grave, we are born again of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspires us to love and obey Jesus. As we follow Jesus, we are always aware of our need for repentance and mostly unaware of the holiness He produces in us.

Jesus said in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

We have the notion that we have to produce the fruit. We do not. The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—Gal. 5:22-23) is supernaturally produced in our life when we remain in Jesus and He remains in us. We have to be so absolutely abandoned to Jesus Christ, so one with Him, so in love with Him, that we never think of ourselves apart from Him.

We are one with Jesus Christ only in the manner and measure we have allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way with us. The fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of a totally new disposition, the disposition of Christ. He produces the fruit and makes us holy, giving us power over sin, our flesh, and the evil one.

Romans 6:22, But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

Humbling ourselves as a slave to God leads to holiness and results in eternal life. Here are a few examples of how holiness changes our lives.

  • Holiness compels us to take the issues of sexual purity seriously. After all, our bodies belong to God because they were purchased with the Blood of Jesus. Our bodies are to be temples of the Holy Spirit and should not be defiled.

1Thessalonians 4:3-8 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

  • Holiness makes us better stewards of our resources. Since everything we have was given to us by Jesus Christ, we manage it according to His standards and His will.
  • Recognizing that God has set us apart for a purpose, holiness causes us to spend our time on this earth accomplishing that purpose. Our goal will be to do as much as we can for Christ in the limited time we have and to prepare ourselves to be His spotless Bride.
  • Holiness affects our relationship with God and with other people. Truly loving God will lead us to love those created in His image.

Matthew 22:37-40 And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

If we just obeyed these two commands, we would be holy as He is holy.

  • Holiness will cause us to show mercy and kindness towards those who are unkind to us, to bless those who curse us, to do good to our enemies.
  • Holiness will also reveal itself in the media we watch and listen to. Much of what the world offers for entertainment will become repulsive to us. In addition, we won’t let hobbies, sports, and recreation pull us away from our first love, Jesus Christ.

Let me remind you once again, apart from Jesus we can do nothing. We cannot make ourselves holy. It is the work of Jesus on the Cross, and the work of God, the Holy Spirit, in our lives.

Hebrews 10:10 says, We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Initially, the Atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross makes us holy. His Blood purifies us from sin, makes us righteous, and restores our relationship with the Father.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As we follow Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, obeying His Word and the Holy Spirit, God makes us holy by separating us from the world and conforming us to the image of Christ. This process is called sanctification.

Isaiah 35:8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.

Sanctification occurs throughout our life as we follow Jesus on that narrow highway, obeying His Word. As we do this, our character is transformed into Christ’s character. We become holy as He is holy.

Today, you can become holy unto the Lord by repenting of your sin, giving your life to Jesus through baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit. Jesus says “Come unto Me.” He is the Way of Holiness.

If the Holy Spirit is showing that you have wandered from the Way, now is the time to repent and return to the Lord Jesus, to follow Him again. His invitation to “come” is for you, too.