Holiness. The very word gives many Christians a shudder. To others, it causes them to question whether they are a Christian. Even more, some Christians avoid this word entirely because they think you are calling them to a life of rules and regulations that no longer applies to them. Some Christians further believe they can live however they want. So, what it is? Are either of these camps right? Should we just live however we want, or by rules and regulations, as Christians? The amazing thing is the Bible is not silent on this subject. When the Bible speaks, as it’s been said, God speaks; and He speaks clear as day on this subject.
In Southern California, we have beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I love to go for a walk during those times of day. You can clearly see the beauty of the creation in both the sunrises and the sunsets. The holiness of God is the same way as sunrises and sunsets. Theologians call the holiness of God the controlling attribute of God. That is not to say that the other attributes of God are unimportant, nor critical because they are. With that said, for example, when reading Leviticus, a book all about holiness laws, God is showing Himself to be holy and calling His people to be holy.
Now, why is that so important? Well, consider the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah saw a vision of the glory of God and was undone in Isaiah 6. Today, Christians have the fullness of the glory of God incarnate in the person and work of Jesus Christ, recorded in the full and final revelation via the Bible. Holiness is not an option for the Christian; it is the expectation and standard.
Some people will think, “Great, now you’ve proven me right—that Christianity is about being required to do things and following a bunch of rules and regulations!” But those people would be wrong. Christianity is not first and foremost about what one does. We do not merit heaven by our efforts or ability, but only by the grace of God in Christ. Holiness is not impossible; rather, because of Christ and His holiness, it is possible. That’s what so amazing about what Christ has done. The Christian is no longer enslaved to sin, but now has a new identity in Christ. They have been made holy, are continuing in that sanctification daily, and eventually will be made fully holy on the day they stand before Jesus. Holiness is not another thing we do—it is all what Christ has already done. We are declared holy in Christ, not because of our own goodness, merits, behavior, or ability. We do not become holy either in the Christian life because of our effort but only through life long repentance and a recognition of the grace of God in Christ.
Additionally, we become holy only to the degree we are humbled by Christ, and awestruck by a vision of His greatness and glory like Isaiah. The more we are humbled by a vision of greater knowledge and understanding of Christ, the more we grow to be like Christ. We can only see ourselves rightly as we see ourselves in light of the revealed character of God through His Word. The more we see ourselves in light of the Word, the lower we will esteem ourselves, the humbler we will be, and the more magnified God will be through our lives.
1st Peter 1:13-15 tells us that Christians are to be holy because the Lord is holy. And because of the grace of God, you, dear Christian, have a new identity in Christ. So now, you can grow in grace and honor God in all of life. Holiness is not impossible for you; it is possible, the expectation, and the standard for your life now in Christ.
In this issue of Theology for Life, we are going to look at holiness from a variety of angles to help you understand how essential this is for both a growing Christian life, and a healthy Christian ministry. Wherever you are at in your Christian walk, you need to understand this topic to grow in grace and godly behavior. So, I encourage you now to flip the page and learn about holiness in the Christian life from respected men of God who have thought long and hard on this subject.
In Christ Alone,
Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine