HOLINESS IS AN ESSENTIAL distinguishing characteristic of God’s nature. His holiness informs every other divine at¬tribute. As the people of God, we are called out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We are filled with His Holy Spirit and commanded to emulate and reflect His holiness.
The term “holiness” tends to evoke certain emotions based on a preconception of what it means or how it is to be applied in the life of a believer. So let’s make sure we are on the same page when it comes to our understanding of this term. Holiness is a biblical concept. The supreme source of our understanding related to holiness is the inspired Word of God. Through Holy Spirit illumination, His Word reveals to us everything that pertains to life and godliness. There is explicit instruction or commandments (e.g., don’t murder) and there is implicit instruction or principles that must be applied (e.g., be separate from the world). Holiness is not irrelevant for the twenty-first-century church. In fact, it is more relevant today than ever before because carnality, sensuality, perversion, and secular humanistic philosophies are more prevalent, militant, and invasive than ever before. (See Romans 12:1-2.) Therefore, we must have a biblically informed understanding of what it means to be holy. We will consider our call to holiness in three specific areas: covenant relationship, lifestyle witness, and personal wholeness.
Covenant Relationship. The term “holiness” is syn¬onymous with the concept of sanctification. Sanctification is initiated through the new birth, which includes the Bible standard of full salvation: repentance, baptism by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.
Sanctification is the continuing process of becoming holy, which is to be set apart for God’s special purpose through a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. It is separation from sin and dedication unto God. It is both immediate in position (right standing with God) and progressive in application (spiritual maturity and growing in grace in the knowledge of Jesus Christ). Through this covenant relationship we become partakers of the holiness of God, for we cannot manufacture our own holiness by our works. Therefore, holiness is not a means of earning salvation but the result of salvation. Sanc¬tification must be motivated by love (see John 14:15) and is produced in the life of a believer because of a desire to do that which is pleasing to God. Love is the antidote for legalism.
Lifestyle Witness. We are called to be different not for the sake of being different but for the sake of making a dif¬ference. Our lifestyle should testify to those around us that sanctification is actively at work within us. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, NKJV). Through the work of sanctification we conform to the character and will of God. We begin to think like He thinks, love what He loves, and hate what He hates. We will have the mind of Christ, and it will produce the fruit of the Spirit in us. A lifestyle of holiness communicates Christ to others and creates an attraction to Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Personal Wholeness. Holiness produces wholeness. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blame¬less unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:23). Wholeness is a practical benefit of the ongoing work of sanctification in our lives. We will be whole mentally,
emotionally, spiritually, and physically when we submit to the Spirit of God and obey the Word of God. Consider these five areas that are related to our personal wholeness:
1. Influence. Our thoughts, attitude, speech, and actions are the result of the voices we allow to influ¬ence our thoughts. Two primary sources of influence are media and friends. When it comes to the media we are watching, listening to, and engaging, we must consider two elements—content and consumption. Ask yourself these questions: “Is it godly?” and “How much time am I spending?” When it comes to your friendships with those who are not saved, ask yourself this question: “Who is influencing whom?” These two elements are critical when it comes to personal wholeness in your thought life.
2. Thoughts. The apostle Paul gave us the standard for managing our thought life. “Finally, brethren, what¬ever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV). Right thoughts will ultimately produce right attitudes, words, and actions. (See Romans 12:1-2.)
3. Attitude. Our attitude will determine our altitude. Attitude is the lens through which we view life, which produces perspective. Perspective is a powerful thing. Two people can look at the same thing but have a very differ¬ent experience or opinion because of perspective. A right attitude is key to being whole mentally and emotionally.
4. Speech. The words we speak have consequences. The writer of Proverbs declared, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV). A good prayer to start off each day is, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NKJV). The words we speak to ourselves will greatly impact our wholeness.
5. Actions. Our actions are the sum total of our influ¬ences, thoughts, attitude, and speech. The combination of these elements produces consequences that will either promote or hinder the work of sanctification and our goal of personal wholeness. Every behavior has a goal, and we must ensure that our actions are in line with our personal vision. Our actions are a visible representation of our value system.
Holiness begins with internal transformation and produces external demonstration—Jesus on the inside working on the outside. It is a matter of the heart and possible only through the work of the Holy Spirit. Ho¬liness will produce a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, a lifestyle that witnesses to others, and personal wholeness. It is the highway of holiness and the only path that leads to eternal life.