Holiness in Christianity

By Clovis E. Miller

(Revised June 2012)


We, as Christians, are commanded to be holy, for God says, "...be ye holy, for I am holy." (I Pet. 1:16). Again, Scripture states that without holiness, "...no one shall see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14). This is also what the Lord was speaking of when He said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

Holiness is not an option for Christians, it's a requirement. God's command to "...be ye holy...", requires that we submit to the process which results in our becoming partakers of His Holiness; whereby we become acceptable unto Him. It's the only way by which any of us will ever see Him, or have the privilege of dwelling in His presence. He does not command us, to go about seeking to establish our own holiness, which before Him, would be as "filthy rags". It is therefore, imperative that we understand what holiness is, and what role it should play in our lives.

What exactly is this holiness which the Lord commands us to possess? One thing which it is not; is a huge platter of good works which we have done and would like to present to Him; although the holiness He calls us to, will produce such works. The good works themselves are not the measure of this holiness.

Holiness is an attribute of God. It is an attribute which He is willing to share with us, just as He does with that of eternal life. God only is holy; and God only has eternal life. When we turn our hearts to Him, He is willing and able to share both His holiness and His eternal life with us. Through salvation, we are given access to both of these attributes of God. We should not be deceived or confused about this issue: We, as human beings, don't possess holiness of ourselves, but are deemed to be holy, only when the holiness of God resides within us. Holiness, unlike faith, is not given by measure. Either we are regarded by God as holy, or we are regarded as lacking holiness. While the Holy Spirit may dwell with a "carnal Christian", He cannot dwell within such a person. As such, the holiness of God cannot be manifested through that person's life. We also, do not possess eternal life of ourselves. It is His holiness within us which makes us holy; and His life within us which makes our life eternal. There is absolutely nothing we can do, of ourselves, to produce either one of these attributes. It's all a matter of submission to Him and His will.

What then, is the process to which we must submit in order for the holiness of God to reside within us, as He has commanded. First of all, we must believe that there is, in fact, a God who resides in heaven. For most people, Christian or not, this is not an insurmountable hurdle to clear. Secondly, we must believe in our heart that Jesus Christ, is the only begotten son of God (now the hurdles become increasingly higher!). Thirdly, we must believe that Jesus came into the world from God in heaven, lived a perfectly sinless life, and died as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Fourthly, we must confess that we are a sinner, and ask for forgiveness. Lastly, we must be willing to repent not only of our past sins, but refrain from the intentional practice of any sin in the future. All of the previous items in this process will be to no avail, if we do not followed through on the last point. When we follow through on the last point, then we are in a state whereby we can receive the holiness of God.

The holiness to which the Lord calls us, is manifested by an attitude. It's an attitude which we must willfully and unconditionally embrace.

It's an attitude which says, "I will love, and do, that which good and right; and I will hate, and shun, that which is evil and wrong." In other words, the state of holiness requires: that we love what God loves, and we hate what God hates. This must be reflected not only in our thinking, but in our actions as well. In that sense, we come into alignment with His will, making it possible for His holiness to dwell within us as believers. When we are in alignment with His way of thinking, then we are transformed into His image or likeness, and therefore conform to His command to "...be ye holy, for I am holy.". God loves people, but He hates the sin which they commit. Sin destroys the lives of people which God has created, and God will never approve of it. The attitude of one, loving what God loves and hating what God hates, is a good indicator that the holiness of God is residing and working in the life of such an individual.

Job was a perfect example of one who posessed this type of attitude, for it was written of him, " Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (Job 1:8). Job's life was not one of "lip service". He lived what he believed, even though Satan accused him of serving God, for what he could get out of their relationship. That is the very attitude we should never be found guilty of having. We should serve God because we love Him, not because of what benefits we might receive by doing so.

Given the constant struggle we all have with sin, is it possible for us to walk daily in our lives with this attitude of holiness? If the Lord requires something of us, He will also make provision for that requirement to be achieved.

The provision which He has made for us is: to send the Holy Spirit into our lives. If we are indeed willing to turn away from sin and to open our hearts to invite Him to come in; then the power will be there to bring about the changes necessary, for us to be the vessels of holiness which the Lord has called us to be.

Just as we can have a personal relationship with God the Father, to whom we pray; and with the Lord Jesus, by whom we are saved: we can also have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, through whom we can receive the holiness which God commands to have.

As the Lord Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith; the Holy Spirit is, likewise, the author and finisher of our holiness. For without faith it is impossible to please God; and without holiness no one shall see Him. These two go hand in hand, and we cannot be complete in the Lord without both working in our lives. In a life that is filled with so many pitfalls and challenges, even the best of us sometimes wander astray from the faith we profess. So we need to continuously rely upon the Holy Spirit to direct us to the correct path, upon which we should walk.

Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit imputes, or transfers, God's holiness to us. This can be achieved only when we submit ourselves to His leadership. The Scriptures so state, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." (Rom.8:14).

When we invite the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts, let us invite Him, not as a guest; but as One to whom we are willing to yield control of our hearts and lives. Holiness requires that we change our attitude towards sin. Evil that we may have allowed in our lives in the past, cannot be tolerated in the present, or the future. Psalm 66:18 declares, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." For sure, a true christian cannot practice sin. If we receive forgiveness of our sins, through the work of Jesus; how can we willingly practice the very thing, which caused Him to be put to death in the first place? Without repentance, there is no atonement for our sins (Luke 13:3). This was true in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, and it's true today. If however, we repent (that is to say: cease to practice a sin or sins) then God is both merciful and just, through Jesus, to forgive us and not charge it against us when stand before Him in judgment.

Faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus, along with repentance, gives us access to the grace of God. If we fail, or refuse to repent, we will continue to bear our sin and will be judged by the very laws which we have broken. This applies not only to unbelievers, but believers as well. That's why Scripture states, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal.6:7). While God is merciful, He is also righteous. No mixture of willful sin and righteousness is acceptable unto Him. Remorse (feeling sorrowful for the sins we have committed); and the confession, that we are guilty of those things, are both good. However, it will be to no avail unless there is a commitment made and honored, to cease from the commission of the sins of which we know we are guilty. Sadly to say, there are many professing Christians, who believe that their sins are forgiven, even though they continue on in the practice of them. The work of Jesus is, to them, a "safety net" which will catch them and keep them safe, from the effects and consequences of the sins which they are commiting. If our spirit follows the leading of the flesh; then the flesh will destroy our spirit. If our spirit follows the Spirit of God; then the Spirit of God will give eternal life to it (Gal.6:8).

In my own personal experience, I have asked the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and continuosly make me aware of my need for holiness. Because I understand that the Lord commands me to be holy, I asked Him to monitor and correct me in my walk in this life, that the holiness of God may be imputed to me.

The sum total of my problems can be grouped into three areas: my thinking, my speaking and my actions; so I asked the Holy Spirit to monitor and guide me in each of these areas. Having done that, I have found, with increasing frequency, that when I begin to dwell on something and think the wrong way, the Holy Spirit is quick to speak to my spirit saying, "Don't think that". Then too, when I begin to murmur to myself about something; or start to say something which is not right, He again quickens me with, "Don't say that". The same happens when I impulsively start to do something which is not right. He again injects into my thinking, "Don't do that". Paying heed to these nine simple words, effectively stops me in my tracks, and pull my attention back to the Lord.

I thank the Holy Spirit for this, because I know it is necessary for every thought, word and action to be brought into submission to the will of God. The process of ceasing to think wrong, speak wrong and do wrong, is an ongoing process which deals with the hating and shunning of aspects of holiness. The other half of that is, loving and doing what is good and right. While the conscience which God has given to each of us will generally point us to do what is right, the specifics of what that guidance is based on, are to be found only in the Word of God.

We should also be mindful of the fact, that the choices we make in our lives will ultimately confirm the truth that God has always known about us. Did He always know that we would enter heaven; or did He always know that we would never see it? The very choices we make in our daily lives will shout loudly in that day: "This is what God always knew about you!" Each one of us is building a wall with the choices we make in our lives. That wall will ultimately seperate us from sin; or it will seperate us from God. Let us therefore, be on the right side of the wall we are building, using good choices as our building material. Walking in the holiness to which we are called will insure that.

If we commit ourselves to walking in the holiness to which God has called us, then studying the Word of God should be at the top of our list, because in it is written everything we need to know about this issue, including both what He loves, and what He hates.

As we read the Scriptures, let us be diligent to apply what we have learned to our daily lives, that we may fulfill the mission which God has, not only for each us, but for the Church as a whole.

See also "Seperation From God Will Punishment For The Wicked Be Eternal?" Click Here


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