Many believers really struggle with the issue of holiness. When they face the question of their own personal holiness, they immediately look at all of their personal faults and failures, and immediately respond, “No, I am not holy. I have failed God too many times.”
The reason we often fail to walk in true holiness is because our entire focus is on ourselves – what WE have done! Instead we need to focus on what God has done for us in Christ. Holiness is not based on what we have done as much as it is based on what He has done for us!
Let me ask you a question: Were you saved by works? Your answer would be, no, of course not. We are saved by faith, and faith alone. If you have been a believer for any length of time, your mind might immediately go to the words of the Apostle Paul, who wrote:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).
If you haven’t memorized this Scripture before, I highly recommend you do it today, and memorize the reference as well. The reason this passage is so important is that it not only relates to your salvation, but to everything else you receive from God, as well. It is true: everything you receive from God is by grace through faith, including holiness. God is the one who makes you holy. He is also the One who made you righteous.
Do you believe that you were made righteous by works? If you understand your Bible, you would know that we are justified, or made righteous, by faith. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 NKJV).
Now some theologians might argue that justification simply means to have righteousness imputed to you, but the result is still the same – you are made righteous! The Apostle Paul put it his way:
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV).
Do you see what Paul is saying here? Jesus became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. God took all of your sin and poured it into Christ on the cross, then He took all the righteousness of Christ and poured it into you. When you joined yourself to Christ, you became the righteousness of God in Christ. That is who you are!
Now just as you were saved by faith, and justified by faith, you were also sanctified by faith. To be sanctified means to be set apart or to be made holy. Thia means that, if you are sanctified, you are holy. On the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, and spoke these words:
“I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as the from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin and an inheritance among THOSE WHO ARE SANCTIFIED BY FAITH IN ME” (Acts 26:17-18 NKJV, emphasis in italics mine).
This simply means that, when you were saved, you were also sanctified by faith. In years past there has been a great emphasis on progressive sanctification. On the other hand, there were also those who taught sanctification as a second work of grace, and many sought to be also sanctified after they were saved. This perplexed me greatly, and I went to the Holy Spirit about it, as He is our Teacher, and He taught me that, if you are in Christ, you are sanctified. The Apostle Paul put it this way in his opening salutation to the Church at Corinth:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2 NKJV).
Paul not only referred to those believers who were at Corinth, but “all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” This means that if you are in Christ, you are sanctified, and now you are called one of God’s saints. A saint is someone who is holy. That should make you jump for joy!
The word “holy” means “to be set apart.” When you were saved, the Holy Spirit set you apart from the world, and set you apart for God. He set you apart for God, so that you might live for God, serve God and worship God. Now you are no longer of the world, but now you are of God. The Apostle Paul put it his way, when he wrote:
“But of Him (of God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30 NKJV, words in parenthesis mine).
The moment you were saved, Christ became your wisdom and righteousness and sanctification, which is holiness, and redemption. Now, if we have already been made holy in Christ, then what else do we need to do? The Apostle Paul gave us the answer, when he wrote:
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV).
God has done His part, He has made us holy, now we have to do our part, we have to shake off any sins that might defile our flesh or our spirit, and perfect the holiness of God in your life. We do this by being quick to repent of any sin in our lives and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. You don’t have to do this alone, the Holy Spirit will help you. Isn’t that good to know?
You are holy, dear saint!
[All Scripture quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]