Walking in Holiness

Walking in Holiness

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

I’m so glad that is not the only thing God ever said to us. If it was, I would be doomed, for I know I am not holy. I have tried to be holy and quickly failed.

This is why we need to read our Bible. We need to know the reason for the word “because”, for God is not like a parent who only explains by saying, “Because I said so.” Taken in context, God’s Word is saying something very encouraging. Let’s look at this command in its context in today’s English.

1 Peter 1:13-19 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on Him as Father, who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

These verses remind us of who we are. Our hope for being holy rests fully on God’s grace given to us through faith in Jesus Christ. However, while we live in this world (our exile from Heaven), we are responsible for our thinking and our conduct. We are to remember that we are ransomed—purchased—by the blood of Jesus and given a new life. Therefore, we have a new identity as a child of God. We are citizens of His Kingdom. So, we are to live according to the Holy Spirit instead of our fleshly passions like we did before we gave our life to Jesus.

Since we are called to be holy, we need to know what it is to be holy and how to walk in holiness.

Holy literally means “separate”. When describing God as holy, we are saying He is completely separate from sin.  God is perfect in character and He is distinct. His ways and His thoughts are high above ours; separate from our vision of things.

Jesus, who is God in the flesh, demonstrated for us what holiness looks like and how to walk in holiness. For Jesus, holiness was a continual lifestyle, not an intermittent religious experience.  His anger was holy, but so was His joy. He was just as committed to the Father 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 Christ is the example of God’s standards for holiness. Therefore, God’s will for us is to walk in the very holiness Jesus exhibited. But how do we accomplish this?

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

Jesus did not come to save men out of pity: He came to save men because He loves us and created us to be holy. The Atonement on the Cross means that God reconciled us back into a holy union with Himself, through the Death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are to identify with Jesus and consider ourselves crucified with Christ. We no longer live for ourselves, but the life we now live in the flesh, we live separated from the world and sin for the glory of Jesus Christ.

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.

Never allow yourself any practice that is not like Jesus. Holiness means every detail of our life is separated unto Him. Holiness is not only what God gives us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but also that we exhibit what God has given us. To follow Jesus, we do what Jesus did. Then by the grace of God, as we obey, we are gradually conformed to His image and become the righteousness of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Notice holiness requires an effort from us. However, we cannot make ourselves holy in the same way that we cannot remove the air from inside a glass unless it filled with something else. Something must replace our sinful nature. Jesus says if we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we shall be filled (Matthew 5:6). Jesus makes us holy by filling us with the Holy Spirit if we desire it, repent, and ask Him to fill us.

Although holiness is separation from worldly lusts and sins, we are not to be physically separated from others. We are to be engaged in our culture and live in peace with all men. Our lives are to testify to the holiness of Christ so others can see His love and righteousness.

In the ways God is separate, the Holy Spirit moves us to be separate. Our call is to be holy, or set apart, for His service so that Jesus will be lifted up and draw men unto Himself. In other words, unless we make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy, other people will not see the Lord in us. We are to seek holiness, which will demonstrate God’s love and character to a broken, unholy world. We are Christ’s representatives.

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 therefore, we want above all other things to please Him and be like Him. When obedience comes from a love and devotion for God, it becomes reverence and worship.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship.

Christians are saved and set apart to honor God wherever we are and whatever we do. Anything that could defile us—physically or spiritually—must be laid aside in our effort to be holy or separated unto God. It doesn’t matter how common, appealing, or culturally acceptable the thing is.  If it can harm us physically or spiritually, we need to eliminate it. 

There is no limit to the things that contaminate our spirits: pride, jealousy, lust, anger, envy, deceit, laziness, and selfishness are just a few.  And there are things that contaminate our bodies, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Smoking, abusing drugs or alcohol, and gluttony come to mind. We need to avoid these things, but holiness is not a list of do’s and don’ts. Holiness is a characteristic of God that He develops in us over time as we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus instead of the world and our passions.

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.

The holiness God demands is impossible unless we are re-made from within, and that is what Jesus Christ provides through the Atonement. 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, which is, He came to make us what He teaches we should be; that is the difference. Consequently, as we follow Jesus, we are aware of our continual need for repentance and unaware of the holiness He produces in us. However, others will see the fruit of holiness that the Holy Spirit produces in our mortal flesh.

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 be something; we have to produce the fruit. We do not and we cannot. 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. Love is never self-conscious but always conscious of the One it loves. Then the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of Jesus in us.

The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) is the character of Christ. Without the Spirit, we do not belong to Christ. When we crucify our fleshly desires and totally abandon ourselves to Christ, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit and makes us holy like Jesus, giving us power over sin, our flesh, and the devil.

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.”

Holiness is a life-long process that affects everything in our life. For example, holiness forces us to take issues of sexual purity seriously. Our bodies belong to Jesus because they were purchased with His blood. Therefore, we do not allow sexual immorality to defile our body.

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.

Furthermore, when we walk in holiness, we become better stewards of our resources. Since everything we have was given to us by our loving Savior, we will manage it according to His standards and His will. We will be content and thankful for what He has given us.

Recognizing that God has made us holy—set us apart for a purpose, we will spend our time on this earth accomplishing His purpose. Our goal will be to do as much as we can for Him in the limited time we’ve been given, and prepare ourselves to be His spotless Bride.

Our love for our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, will also lead us to love those created in His image.

Matthew 22:37-40 And he 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 practiced these two commands, we would be the holiest people on earth. Holiness, generated by the Holy Spirit, 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.

Let me remind you once again, apart from Jesus we can do nothing. The secret of being holy is not our righteousness, but Jesus.

 Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Sanctification is the process of making something holy. In the Old Covenant, blood was used to purify and make things holy, separated for God’s purpose. Therefore, the blood Atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross makes us holy, separated from sin and the world, to be God’s people—His ambassadors, for the purpose of urging others to be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, Jesus is the Way to become holy, separate, set apart for God. We need Him to empty us of sin and fill us with His Spirit. Then we obediently follow Him. Holiness is the road Jesus is on, and as long as we follow Him, we remain holy.

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.

The devil will continue tempting us to wander from the Way of Holiness. However, we have the power of the Holy Spirit over the devil and his temptations. We have the authority to rebuke Satan in the Name of Jesus and keep walking in holiness.

Furthermore, Jesus is praying for our sanctification. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father and interceding for us. He prayed in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

Jesus sanctified us with His Blood and the process of sanctification continues to make us holy as we walk on that narrow highway, following Jesus, obeying His Word—which is the Truth.

In summary, Jesus is the Way of Holiness. The first requirement for us to become holy is to enter into a covenant relationship—a marriage—with Jesus through faith and repentance. Today, you can become holy, separated unto the Lord, by believing in Jesus. How do we do that? We believe His Word; we believe in His atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sin, and we believe in His resurrection proving He is God.

If you believe these in these things, then act on your faith by repenting of your sin, and giving your life to Jesus through baptism. In exchange, He will give you the Holy Spirit, who will continue to conform you to the image of Jesus—the image of holiness.