According to Scripture, the most significant characteristic of God is his holiness(Lev. 11:44–45). God’s holiness is the most mentioned attribute in both Testaments of Scripture. It is our sinfulness in light of his holiness that created the need for a mediator. God satisfied this need through sending Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t only save us from our sin; he saved us so that we might too, become holy.
Holiness is often associated with separation from sinfulness, which is true, but more importantly, our holiness is being set apart for God. In other words, it’s not about what we’re against, but who we’re for. When a person is living for God, their sinfulness acquires a stench which must be eradicated. Holiness is a lifelong process, as the Christian grows in faith, their holiness should become more evident.
Let’s look at a few ways we can work for holiness.
Pursue Jesus, Not Morality
As we become holy we grow in morality but morality is not the goal of holiness. The goal is Jesus, not a moral life. The pursuit of moralism is a pursuit of self-glory. It leads to legalism, something Jesus regularly condemned and mocked (Luke 11:37-41). Holiness does not equate to morality, it is far greater. Holiness is to be set apart for God and the only way to do that is through Jesus.
Do Not Ignore the Holy Spirit
Most Christians are confused by The Holy Spirit, but according to 1 Peter 1:2, it is the Spirit that sanctifies. The Spirit of God casts light on our sinfulness which leads to conviction and repentance. The Holy Spirit also allows us to understand Scripture, and it helps us to see Jesus for who he is. If we are to grow in holiness the Spirit of God cannot be overlooked.
Love Your Neighbor
Scripture is clear that love is a vital part of the Christian life. Jesus lists this as one of the two greatest commandments, people should matter to us because they matter to God. It’s easy to love people who are similar to ourselves, but we are called to love everyone, even our enemies. Jesus set an example of love throughout his ministry, most notably while he was hanging on the cross. Luke 23:34 records Jesus, facing those who tortured him saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His ministry is filled with examples of healing the sick or injured, feeding the hungry, and forgiving the condemned. He did this out of love, not obligation or contempt. If we refuse to love others as ourselves, we are recusing ourselves from the pursuit of holiness. Part of being holy is bringing the message of Jesus to others in a loving manner.
Too often Christians don’t consider holiness because we think it’s an impossible goal. This is absurd, it would be like a runner quitting a sport he loves because he has no chance of an Olympic gold. Our failures should remind us to rely on Christ and not on ourselves, to cling to him in faith. Like the runner who won’t stand on the podium, a life devoted to Christ, holiness, obedience, and love is a life well lived. Even better than Olympic gold is a faithful, loving life devoted to a holy God.