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 ‘holiness’ is a strange phenomenon for many. Some people will immediately call up images of former so-called saints who are now honored in images and portraits with a halo of light around their heads. Others may think of pious, serious, eccentric figures and persons who existed on the fringes 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.
Most of us have experienced a majestic performance, a spectacle of the arts, whether a ballet, opera or symphony performance, where we dress smartly and are lifted 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 it becomes possible to live naturally-supernatural lives, without effort, through His power and grace, holy and blameless.
As we focus on His life, renounce ourselves, and rise in His righteousness, we become more and more holy, consecrated, perfect according to the form and image of the One who we admire.
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).
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. (Heb 4:14-15)
The wonderful reality of Jesus’ incarnation is: He became flesh and did not sin! By this He proved that it is possible to be merely human, but not to sin. Some people have this idea that our humanity is harmed; permanently deformed into a sinful being. Sin has indeed deformed 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 to be fully human and no longer sin.
He was holy, thereby being to us the Lamb without spot.
He is holy, because this is who He is: He is holy, He is God. Jesus embodies holiness. He comes to show us the essence of God’s heart and will (see Heb. 1: 3).
The Person, Jesus, not only came to save us from sin, but also gives us His righteousness. It is when I see Him, as He really is, that I look at my sin 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. The word for sin is harmartia which means: to miss the mark. Which brand? The word “mark” means identity, blueprint, plan, seal. In other words: a miscalculated or false identity. Our true identity is in Jesus. We were created to be like Him. When we try to be anything else, we falsify the true image of what He has already placed in us.
There is a difference between sin and sin: Sin 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.
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 4:14) 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 would He command us to do 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. Holiness is hence a gift, a grace, a divine ability that He works in us. (Phil 2:13; 1 Thes 5:23) Not being holy as He requires us to be, is a faith problem, not a works problem. We can never achieve holiness, for by default we are carnal, sinful, fleshly, alienated from God. It is by faith in the complete work and righteousness of Christ alone, that He give us the gift of union with God.
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Pet 1:3-4) Simplified: People who stand in thankful and awestruck wonder at the reality of His person, cannot but be sanctified completely at that moment!
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)
Throughout the Bible we see people losing sight of the things of this world, as they fixate their gaze upon the Glory of our Lord! From time to time, it is necessary that we close our eyes to the physical world, so that our senses can be awakened to the eternal reality of the spiritual realm. Our continual gazing, meditation, contemplation and heart-directed concentration on the glory and ever-increasing revelation of the glory of God – changes us! Transforms us! Sanctify us!
God is Holy
“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 just man, 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 perfection or having an impeccably perfect heart before God refer to someone who is walking a narrow path with the Lord. Someone who is obedient to the Lord, with blameless ways and who turns 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 face, 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). These scriptures also reveal the two-fold foundations of intimacy: Duty and romance. Any meaningful relationship is a journey, where two are continuing together on the same path. Much of the daily togetherness is duty, work, shores, and reciprocal partnership towards a common purpose. What makes the relationship blossom off-course is the deep moments of meaningful connection, hearing and understanding, empathy and grace! Both these ingredients is necessary for relational growth, towards maturity in Christ.
Jesus’ Command to Us to Be Holy
“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. He indeed makes this statement: 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 we must think like Christ. And He will prescribe to us how it is possible to lead such a perfect life. One night I gather courage to be truthful to a spiritual mentor concerning a personal secret sin. When I told him my struggle, he simply said: “Just stop!” That is it! You know it is sin, stop making excuses, stop rebelling… just stop and be Holy!! I was taken back. I expected a lesson, a certain ritual and methodology, maybe some wise instruction. But the answer was: “Just stop and be holy!”
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!
Paul’s Call to Sanctification
Jesus’ life is our purpose of creation, also 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). “The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored”. (The Message).
It is important to note here that the word “predestined” clearly indicates that God made us destined before HE 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 creation!
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.
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
“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.
What does John say: “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. 1:6, 9). NLT.
What does Peter say: “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. 3:11, 14). NLV
“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).
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) NKJV
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 4:17-18)
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)
by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:5) NKJV
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (Col. 3:14) NKJV
Perfect Peace & 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.
But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
“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.
The Perfect Will of God
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2)
“Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph. 4:24) NLV.
“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).
From all 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 act accordingly. Holiness is therefore to 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. When you come into their presence, you suddenly feel guilty about your sin, it is as if without a word they radiate a certain moral power. When holy people speak, you feel the fear and awe of the Lord. You experience God is near.