“You are holy! You are holy! You are holy!”
Declaring the holiness of God was a turning point in my journey to live a holy life. I received a revelation of this when I read about the vision of Isaiah, who saw the seraph cry out, “Holy, holy, holy,” before the throne of God (see Isaiah 5:1-3). I discovered that believers lived a more holy life when they focused on the holiness of God. It causes them to be transformed into His image!
My journey, like most believers’, began with an innate desire to live a holy life. I struggled to achieve it. I then read the works of John Wesley who claimed that a believer could have an experience he called “sanctification.” During his ministry, many thousands of believers sought the Lord for this experience and seemed to have received it. I was not one of those people. I had no sense that I had somehow been sanctified. I was seeking to know in my heart that I was truly sanctified – someone who was holy in God’s sight.
William Booth was a penitent seekers who sought the experience of sanctification, with his wife kneeling beside him. Night after night they spent many long hours on their knees asking God to sanctify them. Nothing seemed to happen. One day he was reading the Gospel of Matthew, when he came across these words of Jesus:
“For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?” (Matthew 23:19 NKJV)
That was the answer he was looking for! Excitedly he shared with his wife, “As long as we lay our lives on God’s altar we are sanctified!” Both of them rejoiced as they consecrated their lives to God on the altar and went on to develop a very fruitful ministry that has spanned the globe. That understanding seemed to satisfy William Booth, who became known as General William Booth of the Salvation Army. However, it did not satisfy me. I wanted to know from God what the secret sanctification was. I wanted to know that I was holy!
For years I had known that I was the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I knew that I was righteous because I was in Christ. He was my righteousness!
“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)
In the same way, I felt that I must also be holy because I was in Christ, yet I could not see that anywhere in the Scriptures. When I asked the Holy Spirit to teach me about holiness, He took me to the letter of Paul to the believers in Philippi:
“Paul, and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” (Philippians 1:1 NKJV)
When I read those words, I felt a quickening in my spirit. The Holy Spirit showed me that because these believers were in Christ, they were saints – God’s holy people! That was the secret I had been looking for. I now had Scripture to support the fact that I was holy because I was in Christ. Finally, I knew I was holy because I was in Christ – He was my holiness! (See also 1 Corinthians 1:2 and Philippians 4:21)
When I got this revelation, I treasured it in my heart. Years later, the Holy Spirit began moving me to teach a series of messages on holiness based on this revelation. As was praying about starting this series, I visited another church and received a prophecy from someone who knew nothing about me. The Lord said through her, that He was going to teach me about holiness and I was going to teach others how to walk in it. That confirmed the very thing that was on my heart!
For almost a year I taught that series, as the Holy Spirit taught me. I shared the revelations with my congregation. The greatest truth that the Lord had shown me was that we don’t live a holy life in order to become holy. We live a holy life because we are holy. Nothing we do can make us holy. God has made us holy, and now we need to shake off everything that keeps us from living a holy life. This is why the Apostle Paul 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 &:1 NKJV)
We were made holy when we were placed in Christ. Our responsibility is to perfect that holiness by shaking off any sin and distraction that would keep us from living a holy life.
Today I have the joy of sharing with the Body of Christ that we don’t need to struggle to become holy, because we are holy. The same grace that made us holy, now helps us live free from sin, so that we are no longer in bondage to it. Sin shall not have dominion over us, for we have dominion over sin.
You are holy, dear saint!
Has the discovery that you are holy in Christ transformed your life? Let me know in the comments below!
[All Scripture quotations have been taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]