Holiness is one of the most important attributes of God and is the very atmosphere of heaven. We read in the book of Revelations that “they (the angels) rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelations 4:8) Many of those who have had living encounters with God said that they were over-whelmed by the awareness of His holiness when they met with the Lord. Not only is God a holy God, but holiness is a very important for all of us who want to know God and walk in His ways. The Bible commands us to be holy; we read “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
The definition of holiness is simply: The beautiful life of Jesus manifested in us. To be holy, is to be like God. Holiness can also mean to be separated unto the Lord.
There are some important truths we need to know about holiness:
Firstly, when we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we received the gift of holiness. We read Hebrews 10:10. “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Christ, once and for all.” All our sins have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and the Father now sees us through the blood of Jesus, holy and pure. That is why we can freely enter into His presence. Furthermore, we have the holy life of Jesus living inside of us. In Galatians 2:20 it says “Christ lives in me.” and in 1 Corinthians 1:30, it says that “Christ has become for us … sanctification (or holiness).” Therefore, Jesus is not only my Lord, He is also my holiness. As we let the life of Jesus live through us, then we will manifest the fruit of holiness. Therefore, the manifestation of holiness is the fruit of our relationship with Jesus.
Secondly, holiness is also the positive force that lives in me, that changes my life and the lives of those around me. Under the Old covenant, God’s people had to withdraw from the world because they could be contaminated. For example, if they touched a leper they became unclean, for their surroundings would influence them. However, under the New Covenant we influence our surroundings. We are to go into the world (to where the non-Christians are) and contaminate it with the life of Jesus. Jesus told us to go into all the world and not withdraw from the world! For example, when Jesus touched a leper, the leper became clean. Therefore, we as the salt of the earth must influence the world for Jesus. 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Therefore, we do not have to fear the influence of the world (those who do not know Jesus) because the Greater One lives in us. Jesus did not withdraw from sinners, but sat with them and influenced them.
Thirdly, holiness is not a list of things that we cannot do: It is not, “I do not smoke, drink, rob banks, etc.” But it means to be separated unto God. Holiness is living a life that pleases God. It is a decision to love Him, obey Him and serve Him with all our hearts. It means that we do not want to do anything that grieves the Holy Spirit. We read that, “The Kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) Notice that it is not what we eat or drink, but the manifestation of righteousness, peace and joy! It is not a list of things that we must not do, but it is the life of Jesus, manifesting through us.
Fourthly, holiness manifests itself in purity, clean thoughts, clean motives and clean actions. It is the beautiful life of Jesus that is free from sexual lust, unclean appetites and desires. It begins with an inner desire to please God out of gratitude for who He is and what he has done for us. It is primarily a heart condition and therefore, it cannot be only measured by outward actions. God said to the prophet Samuel, “for the Lord does not see as man sees, man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Fifthly, holiness is a process or a journey. It is not the goal, but a path to take us to the goal. Our goal is to have a wonderful relationship with God and influence this world for Jesus. We should grow in holiness for the rest of our lives and will never reach a point where we are holy enough. Our experience of holiness will be complete one day when we see Jesus in eternity. We read, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
Why is holiness important?
First of all, holiness is the will of God for our lives. We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” We are commanded in1 Peter 1:14-15, “As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to your former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as he who has called you is holy, also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” If we want to find the will of God, then we must grow in holiness! The will of God is not only what we can do for God, but it is also to become like Jesus. In Romans 12:2 it says that “we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can know the good and acceptable will of God.” His will is revealed to a renewed mind. Many times, we ask God to show us His will. On the other hand, He may be telling us, to renew our minds and we will automatically know His will.
Secondly, holiness makes us fruitful and useful to God. God will use us more when we walk the path of holiness. We read in 2 Timothy 2:20-21: “If anyone cleanses himself from the latter (things that dishonor God) he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified (holy or separated to God) and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” As we cleanse our hearts, we become useful to God, for He uses holy vessels. A holy and pure lifestyle will enable us to flow and maintain in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, holiness affects our relationship with God. Matthew 5:8. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” The word, ‘see’ in the original Greek can also mean to ‘perceive’ God. In other words, God becomes real to those who have a pure heart. Unclean thoughts and actions will cause our hearts to be darkened lose the desire for the things of God. We have a very important warning in Hebrews 12:14: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which, no one will see the Lord:” Holiness will also affect our eternal destiny and our relationship with Jesus in heaven.
Fourthly, holiness makes us more effective in our prayers. In Psalms 66:18 it says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear.” In 1 John 3:22 we read, “And whatever we ask we receive because we obey His commands and do those things which are well pleasing in His sight.” When our lifestyle pleases God, we will be more effective in our prayers. However, we do not receive answers to prayer because we are holy, but because we believe. However, holiness therefore, makes it easier for us to believe.
Fifthly, holiness gives us victory over the devil. We read in Romans 16:19-20: “… be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil and the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet.” Holiness therefore is a form of protection against the devil and the powers of darkness. Paul says in Romans 13:12 that we should put on “the armor of light. The armor of light is a lifestyle where we walk in holiness and purity. Jesus said of Himself, that the devil comes to Him and finds nothing in Him. The devil had no handle on Jesus, because of His holiness and purity. Holiness therefore removes the devil’s legal right to influence our lives.
How can we be Holy – what is the process?
We must realize that Jesus is our holiness, and when His life is manifested through us, it is the fruit of holiness. So, when we speak about holiness, we are talking about the manifestation of holiness in our lives.
We must believe what the Bible says about us: We read in Hebrews 10:10. “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Christ, once and for all.” As we begin to see ourselves through the eyes of the word of God, we will experience what the word of God says about us. The Bible also says in Hebrews 13:12 that we are “sanctified by the Blood of Jesus.” So, when we received Jesus, we were made holy by the Blood of Jesus. In Romans 1:7 it says “we are called to be saints.” We are not sinners saved by grace, but saints that used to be sinners, desiring to live like saints by the grace of God! Therefore, in order to manifest the fruit of holiness, we need to be free from a sinner complex!
2. Regular repentance produces the fruit of holiness: Deep, sincere repentance releases God’s grace and ability for us to live holy lives. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Notice, He does not only forgive us, but He cleanses us. Every time we repent from our hearts, the grace of God is released to enable us to live holy lives. This is confirmed in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation … What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves.” Godly sorrow leading to repentance, releases the grace to be holy!
3. When we read and meditate on God’s word, our lives begin to change: We read in Hebrews 4:12 “The word of God is living and powerful …” The word “powerful” comes from the Greek word “energes” from which we get the word energy. When we read the word of God, spiritual energy flows into our lives and God’s holy longings and desires are imparted to us. Not only does this energy flow into us, but the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and lead us to repentance when we read the Bible.
4. Prayer and spending time in God’s presence: Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 26:41 “Pray lest you fall into temptation.” Prayer and spending times in God’s presence will impart God’s presence to us and enable us to have the victory over temptation and sinful desires. The more we pray, the more the fruits of holiness will manifest in our lives and the easier it will be to live a holy life.
5. Fellowship with other Christians: God has put other believers around us to protect us and inspire us. The life of the Holy Spirit often flows to us through other believers. In Hebrews 3:13 it says, “Exhort one another daily … lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Commitment to, and fellowship with other believers is essential if we want to live holy lives. As we worship, pray and have fellowship together with other Christians, the life of the Spirit imparts the fruit of holiness to our lives. Also in fellowship with others, we receive correction and help to follow Jesus and to live holy lives.
6. Being involved in our calling: Flowing in our calling and purpose will motivate us to live a holy lifestyle. We have the example of King David, whose calling was to lead the army of Israel and destroy the enemies of Israel. However, one day, he took a break from his calling and decided to stay at home. It was then that he was tempted and fell into adultery. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. If he had been in the army, he would have not fallen into compromise. (2 Samuel 11:1) Focusing on what God has called us to do it will therefore, protect us from being distracted by the things of the flesh.
Finally, we must beware of legalistic holiness. There has been a lot of misunderstanding with regards to the subject of holiness. Many Christian groups started out with a genuine desire to please God through a holy lifestyle. God then blessed them with His presence and with revival. However, they tried to maintain the move of the Holy Spirit through legalistic rules and what was once a blessing became dead legalism. A genuine desire to please God can develop into legalism! This in turn caused them to lose their joy and brought them into heaviness and bondage. The problem is that they took their eyes of Jesus, the source of holiness and put them on outward rules and regulations.
The highway of holiness: Isaiah 35:8-10: “A highway shall be there, it shall be called a Highway of Holiness – whoever walks on the road, although a fool, shall But the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads … and sorrow and sadness will flee away.”
From this passage of scripture we find some amazing blessings that come our ways when we pursue a life of holiness. First of all, it is called a “highway of holiness.” A highway is usually a broad and fast road to travel on. Therefore, holiness gives us easy and quick access into God’s presence and blessings. Secondly we read that they “shall not go astray.” The pursuit of holiness will give us purpose and direction in life. Thirdly, it says that, “no lion or ravenous beast shall go on it.” This speaks about protection from the devil and his demons. Fourthly, it speaks about “everlasting joy will be on their heads.” The pursuit of holiness will bring great joy into our lives, free from sorrow and sadness.
Finally: Holiness is the beautiful life of Jesus, manifested through us. This is God’s will for our lives for Romans 8:29 says that “we have been called to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Let us pursue the purposes of God in our lives as we walk on this beautiful highway of holiness into God’s presence and blessing. Amen