"Be ye Holy..."
There is much confusion concerning holiness, righteousness, entire sanctification and victory over sin. The confusion stems from the fact that many professing Christians have been indoctrinated with false doctrines. They have been told lies about what God expects from His people and what God's power can do in the life of a true believer. Many of those who fill church-pews each week are presented with a self-defeating message since they are often told that they need to be more godly, but that achieving true godliness, holiness, righteousness or sanctification here on earth is an impossibility. People are told that Christ has made them a new creation, and yet they are told they will continue to sin until they die. However, according to the Scriptures true believers are empowered by God to live a life of true holiness, free of sin. Below, we will examine the Bible says about holiness, righteousness, and sanctification of a true believer.
Make no mistake, we are saved by grace through faith. Often, when the truth is preached about living a truly holy life free from all sin, the preacher is accused of "legalism" or a doctrine of "salvation by works." This is NOT what we believe. We believe the Bible when it says that we are saved by grace apart from our own works (Eph. 2:8-9), while at the same time, "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17) because true saving faith produces fruit of righteousness. If we are righteous it is not of our own power or godliness, but it is because Christ makes us a new creation. "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17). God makes us a new creature and ALL things are new.
God commands us to be holy as he is holy. It is written: "But as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy'" (I Peter 1:15-16). We are commanded in this passage by Peter to be holy AS GOD IS HOLY. Jesus tells us, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). How perfect and holy is God? We are COMMANDED to be perfect as He is perfect. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (I John 3:3). EVERY person who has hope in Christ purifies himself to the extent that Jesus is pure. How pure is he? That is how pure EVERY one who hopes in Christ needs to be! In fact, "Whoever claims to live in him MUST walk as Jesus did" (I John 2:6). We MUST walk as Jesus did. We MUST live like he lived. From the above Scriptures, it is evident that we are commanded to be like Jesus, who was holy, pure, and without sin. What if Jesus appeared in the flesh and told you what he told the man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:14? He said, "Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you" (John 5:14). What would your reply be? Would you say, "but Lord, I can't stop sinning because..."? His command has not changed. He wants his people to stop sinning: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin..." (I John 3:9). Paul wrote, "But among you there MUST not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of ANY KIND OF IMPURITY, or of greed, because the se are improper for God's holy people. ... For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph. 5:3,5). That is a strong command! There MUST not be ANY kind of impurity in us!
Now the question arises whether or not we CAN be like Jesus. Many people (preachers, pastors, teachers) tell the masses that it is impossible to be like Him until we get to heaven. But what does God's Word say? "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). Only through Christ can one find the ability to please God and live holy. Not by our own strength! We need the Lord. The grace that saves us tells us that we need to live godly and righteous lives NOW, not only when we get to heaven, but BEFORE we die: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, IN THIS PRESENT WORLD;" (Titus 2:11-13). Notice that it tells us that we need to live righteously now, in this present world. Philippians 1:10 tells us that we "may be pure and blameless UNTIL the day of Christ." Only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14). So, Christians are led by the Spirit and if we live by the Spirit, God promises us that we will NOT do things that please the flesh (Gal.5:16). Paul does not see how it is possible to go on sinning. He said, "We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Rom. 6:2).
Many people claim that it is impossible to live without sinning in holiness and righteousness because they have never seen anyone do it. First of all, not too many people today live without sin because they do not have the faith to believe God that He can keep them from sin (Jude 24). Without faith, no one can stop sinning, but to him who has faith and believes, all things are possible (Mark 9:23). We must believe God's Word, NOT what we see around us. "The just shall live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17) and NOT by sight! "We live by faith, not by sight" (I Cor. 5:7). Without faith, holiness is impossible. "...everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). We need to believe God and LIVE BY FAITH!
...without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
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