The first thing we must understand and establish about holiness is that it is the nature of God. God identifies Himself so much with it all through Scripture – from the Old to the New Covenant. Therefore, if holiness is this important to our Father God, then it becomes necessary for us to properly understand it in order to function in it. There is so much noise today as to what holiness is or is not. I believe the devil labours so hard day and night to see that there is a misconception of it in order to cause believers to live short of the divine nature we received at the new birth. Thank God we are not ignorant of the devices of the enemy. In order to define what holiness is, it is important to first of all state what it is not in order to get a better picture of what it is. Holiness is not just an act; it is actions streaming from a nature. It is not an outward show; it is rather an outward manifestation of what is already in the heart (spirit). It is not trying to show our superiority over others, it is rather showing the superiority of the ways and standard of God above the ways and standards of this world.
What then is holiness? The word ‘holy’ is translated from the Greek word ‘hagios’ which means to consecrate or set apart. It is two-dimensional. First, it means to be set apart unto God. Secondly, it means to be set apart from the world (the world system). At the New Birth, a man is set apart unto God and then he becomes a New Creation, his spirit is now holy – this is automatic. Remember that man is a spirit being, he possesses a soul and lives in a body. However, the second aspect that deals with his separation from the world is going to involve him personally because this aspect deals with his unregenerate soul and body. This is why we are told what to do with the soul and body after the New Birth. We see that in Romans 12:1,2. It says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind [your mind is the same as your soul – the seat of your will, intellect and emotion], that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Holiness and sanctification mean the same thing. They both mean to be separate or set apart. Holiness is two-fold. First, the presence of the Holy Spirit in a man’s life is what makes him holy. You can never be holy without the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life no matter how right you live. Understand that you can never impress God with your good works. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier (1Cor 6:11); He makes us and our spiritual and physical services acceptable to God. Even the Lord Jesus Christ had to offer Himself to the Father through the Holy Spirit (See Heb. 9:13-14). We receive the Holy Spirit at the New Birth. In Exodus 2 we read of Moses on Mount Sinai before the burning bush. When the Lord spoke to Moses, He asked him to remove his shoes because where he was standing was holy ground. What made the ground holy? What did the ground do to become holy? It was actually the manifest presence of the Lord on that ground that made it holy. So it is also with our lives. Praise God! Secondly, practically living according to the Word of God – doing the Word. This second part is progressive and as long as we live on earth we will still be under this operation, we are only perfected when we meet with the Lord. This is just like righteousness. First, we are made righteous by the finished work of Christ but it doesn’t stop there, we must then take advantage of our righteous nature to produce good works in righteousness – not in self righteousness as sinners do. That is actually what the breast plate of righteousness signifies.
So then, we must not be confused when we see words like “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1Peter 1:16. The Lord is simply asking us to walk in the holy nature we have received because if we don’t it is only going to lie dormant inside us while the devil takes advantage of our unregenerate soul and body to lure us into living in sin as though we are still sinners. Every believer in Christ has been empowered to live right. The Righteousness of God that was imparted into our spirit at New Birth is actually an empowerment to live right. So we don’t live right to become righteous but rather we have been empowered by righteousness to live right. Praise God! It is therefore, not natural for a Christian to sin! Sin is not the problem of the New Creation in Christ because the nature of sin has been replaced by the nature of Righteousness. God has dealt with the sin problem in Christ so that we can walk in liberty – free from sin and its effect! It is now a choice to sin and that is why we are going to be held accountable for our actions on earth.
In summary, walking in holiness is walking in love. Walking in love is walking in God because God is love. Holiness is all about the love walk. If we love God and people we would live right and treat people right. The more loving you become, the holier you become in the sense that you manifest more of the nature of God in your life and then, your fellowship and dealings with the Lord deepens. God is love and we, His children, are sons and daughters of love. A practical way to walk in love is to live a life totally dominated by the Word of God. If we do the Word we are actively walking in the love of God and it will affect every area of our lives. So wherever you are in you walk with God never give up. Keep pressing on because the Father believes in you. Never listen to the voice of condemnation. The moment you notice you’ve erred, go before the Lord in genuine repentance and receive His forgiveness. 1 Peter 3:15 says “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts...” that means give Him the centre stage, His rightful place. That’s where it all begins. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Thess. 5:23. Amen!