The Holiness of Christ

“Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.” – R.C. Sproul: The Holiness of God

The word and concept of ‘holiness’ is a strange phenomenon for many. Some people immediately call up images of former so-called saints honoured in images and portraits with a halo of light around their heads. Others may think of pious, serious, eccentric figures and persons who existed outside of society.  

Jesus makes holiness attractive. Children and sinners love Him and want to listen to Him. His holiness is loving, compassionate, gentle and selfless.

We are most attractive when we are most holy!

Jan Oosthuizen

Most of us have experienced a majestic performance, a spectacle of the arts, whether a ballet, opera or symphony, where we dress smartly and are transported to another world for a few hours. These moments display the climax and heights of what man is capable of. In Christ, He works His holiness in us, and through His power and grace, it becomes possible to live naturally holy and blameless, without effort.

As we focus on His life, renounce ourselves, and rise in His righteousness, His holiness permeates through our lives. He works in and through us to live consecrated (set apart from the world) and “perfect” according to the form and image of the One we adore.

The Holy Servant of God

“And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

“”..saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”” (Mark. 1:24).

“For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 2:27).

“”For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together.”” (Acts 4:27).

“…by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:30).

“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:19).

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15–16).

Jesus’ Incarnation

The wonderful reality of Jesus’ incarnation is He became flesh but did not sin! By this He proved that it is possible to be merely human, but to also live a supernatural, holy life.

Some people have this idea that our humanity is harmed; permanently deformed into a sinful state and that there is no hope of restoration. Sin has indeed corrupted us, and is still trying to do so. But Christ broke through the proverbial sound barrier and became the “firstfruits of many brothers and sisters”! (Rom. 8:29).  Jesus exceeded the limitations that sin created in the soul of mankind. He created a whole new spiritual DNA and an eternal, internal restoration of human legacy that cancelled the effect and judgement of sin on our nature. He demonstrated how to be fully human but live righteously in a new covenant. By His indwelling Holy Spirit, we live transcendently from heaven to earth.

Jesus was holy, thereby fulfilling prophecy as the “Lamb without spot” (1 Peter. 1:19; Is. 53). He is holy, because He is God. Jesus embodies holiness. 

He comes to show us the essence of God’s heart and will.

“The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature—his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the mighty power of his spoken word. He accomplished for us the complete cleansing of sins, and then took his seat on the highest throne at the right hand of the majestic One.” (Heb. 1:3 TPT)

A Different Perspective on Our Humanity 

The Person, Jesus, not only came to save us from sin but also gives us His righteousness (the quality of being right in God’s eyes). When the Holy Spirit rebirths and awakens my heart and mind, my spiritual eyes are enlightened. I have sight, perspective, insight, and wisdom to live righteously through Him. When I see Him, as He really is, I see my fractured humanity differently. 

We struggle to let go of the sinful habits in our lives because it works for us. It fills a void in our lives. If we are honest, we must admit we enjoy it! The problem with sin, then, is not so much what we do, but who we are. Sin corrupts our identity and has therefore misdirected our God-given desires, passions and delight. Since God’s initial purpose in placing the first humans in Eden was delight (Eden means “delight”), sin has corrupted the true meaning of joy and enjoyment. Christ came to restore us back to the full and pure meaning of joy. He came to give us life “in abundance” (John 10:10) as opposed to the enemy coming to steal, kill and destroy ~ the corruptor of joy.

The word for sin is harmartia (Gr.) which means: to miss the mark or to err. The word “mark” relates to an outcome, an end. It also is related to an identity, blueprint, plan or seal.  As a marksman or an archer aims and envisions his weapon or arrow to reach the centre, a target or mark, freedom of sin through Christ brings us into the centre of God’s will. In a military sense, the marksman or archer under command has permission to reach an aim. He even has authority to take out (kill) an enemy under command. So as we submit to the command of Christ to love, we have been given authority to be in the centre of God’s will. Being under the command of love destroys the effect of our carnal, fleshly or impulsive nature and overcomes the enemy of our souls.

A mark could also imply a marketing concept in branding (visual identity). Which brand are we under or to which do we relate to? Which brand forms our identity? In other words, since the Holy Spirit is our Identity and our Enabler to live holy lives, we have no capacity to miss the mark or reaching a miscalculated or false identity, blueprint, plan or seal! 

Our true identity is in Jesus. We were created to be like Him in our: 
  • belonging as son or daughter of the Father (identity) 
  • blueprint of heaven (His Word and personal prophecy)
  • His plan (chosen and preordained) 
  • our seal or “brand” (the indwelling Holy Spirit). When we try to be anything else, we falsify the true image of what He has already placed in us.

Differentiating Sinfulness and Sin

There is a difference between sinfulness and sin: Sinful is to miss your true identity in Christ. Sins are the wrong deeds that result from a misguided identity

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24).

“Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (John 8:34).

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1-4 NLV).

God is Holy

Can we be perfect? Yes it is possible, when we receive His righteousness.

Can we be perfect without sinning, as Christ was without sin?

This is exactly what Christ is calling us to. To be holy as He is holy. 

Why do we insist in doing something that He knows we cannot do? Can we be holy? Impeccable?

Yes we can! If we do not believe it, we can never be it.

Why is there opposition to holiness? 

For it is impossible for man to be holy out of his own flesh.

What is holiness?

“Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.” (Deut. 18:13 NLV).

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. (Gen. 17:1).

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a justman, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:8-9).

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places.” (Ps. 18:33).

“For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” (1 Kings 11:4).

“But the high places were not removed. Nevertheless Asa’s heart was loyal to the Lord all his days.”  (1 Kings. 15:14).

“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).

The above scriptures on holiness, or having an impeccably perfect heart before God, refer to someone who is: 

  • walking a narrow path with the Lord
  • obedient to the Lord 
  • blameless in his ways 
  • shunning/turning away from evil. 

Note that David was also such a man after God’s heart despite his many serious failures. He was perfect in God’s eyes, declaring with a perfect heart before the Lord: 

“I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8).

The Command of Holiness

In this study guide, it is precisely my purpose to quote the Word of God, as much as possible, in full. My words must not convince you; the Word of God must convince you!

So read this following list of Scripture passages carefully and prayerfully. Let the impact of the Word refresh and sanctify your spirit!

“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48 NLV).

“Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”” (Matt. 19:21).

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.””  (Matt. 16:24-25 NLT).

Jesus comes from the Father and says only what He hears Him say (John 5:19). As a faithful and perfect son, He relates this statement that we as believers should be perfect on earth just as our Father in heaven is perfect. To the human ear it does not sound right, but His invitation to think from the heart remains. 

Jesus prescribes by demonstration, for our experience, how it is possible to lead such a perfect life: 
  • Contemplate the story of the rich man (Matt. 19:21) how to be perfect and how to follow Him.
  • He also teaches us what it means to follow Him. We can only think like Him, speak like Him and believe like Him if we follow Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit. 
  • We are citizens of heaven, not of this world. We are in this world, but not of this world.

Paul’s Call to Sanctification

The purpose of living the Jesus’ life is twofold: the purpose of our creation and to be conformed to His holiness. 

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29 NKJV). 

“The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored”. (Rom. 8:29 MSG). 

It is important to note that the word “predestined” indicates that God made us destined to be like Jesus. He is the template, we are the print! Sin, disobedience, rebellion, hardness of heart are a direct step away from our purpose of being created! 

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col. 3:9-10).  

“And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18 AMP).

“For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.” (Rom. 6:7 AMP). 

“Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6:11 AMP).

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” (Col. 2:9-12 NLV).

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 

“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Eph. 4:11-16 NLT).

“So let all who are fully mature have this same passion, and if anyone is not yet gripped by these desires, God will reveal it to them.”  (Phil. 3:15) TPT.

Disciples’ Call to Sanctification


“So, we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 Joh. 1:69 NLT).


“Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” (2 Pet. 3:1114 NLV).

Outcome of Holiness

Perfect Peace:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (Joh. 14:27 NLT). 

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Is. 26:3 AOV).

“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7).

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all!” (2 Thess. 3:16).

Perfect Love:

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NKJ) 

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:17-18NKJ).

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:5 NKJ).

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (Col. 3:14 NKJ).

Perfect Joy:

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11 NLT).

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.” (John 17:13 NLT).

Perfect Unity:

“Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56 NLT).

“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:21–23 NLT).

Perfect Will of God:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2 NLV).

Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph. 4:24 NLV).

Complete Holiness

“Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. (1 Cor. 7:1).

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4).

“but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” (1 Pet. 1:15).

“because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy!”” (1 Pet. 1:16).

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you!” (2 Cor. 13:11).

Final Deductions

From the above verses we can deduce that sanctification is much more than mere religious piety. 

Holiness is to: 
  • Live the character values, and way of life of Christ and to act accordingly. 
  • Be full of God’s presence or full of His Spirit. The Spirit of God is therefore called the Holy Spirit, not the good Spirit, or meek Spirit. He is Holy. Where God’s Spirit is present, the atmosphere and outcome is holiness. Strange manifestations can sometimes occur during a meeting, but the litmus test is repentance and consequent holiness. People who are full of the Spirit are holy people. 

Be a conduit of Holy Spirit’s conviction about sin. Without a word you radiate a certain moral power. When holy people speak, the fear and awe of the Lord manifests. You experience God’s nearness.

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