The Bible tells us to be holy because God is holy, but how’s that possible?
1. The Word
The Apostle Peter wrote, “Just as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1st Pet 1:15-16). Just like the vessels and objects used in the Temple had to be sanctified before use, the priests could not perform any kind of ministry unto the Lord unless they had first sanctified themselves. No one could enter the Temple unless they had been ceremonially cleansed. Today, we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God and can enter His temple court through prayer. Now that we’ve received His righteousness, we can stand before God (2nd Cor 5:21), but we need the Word of God to convict us and help us lead a holier life (Heb 4:12-13). Jesus once prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17), but in the Greek, “Sanctify them” is “set them apart,” so we are to be set apart for a holy use or purpose for God, but the truth found in His Word, can wash us, or as Paul wrote of the church, “having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph 5:26). This is so that Christ “might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27). God has declared that “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”(1st Pet 2:9). Now we need to live like it.
2. The Spirit
If we are going to live a life of obedience, we’re going to have to yield to the Holy Spirit when we sense He is convicting us of something. The Helper is there for us. He can help us glorify Christ and “come out of her my people,” (Rev 18:4, also 2nd Cor 6:17), meaning the ways of the world. This doesn’t mean a living as a monk in isolation, or living a life of perfection (which is impossible). None of us will be sinless until we enter the kingdom, but we will sin less over time. It’s harder to notice day by day, but look back at your life about 5 or 10 years ago and see if you’re doing all of the same things that you used to do. Have you stopped doing some of things that you used to do? Have you seen growth in the last few years of your life? If so, we know “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13), so you can be as sure as the Apostle Paul was in saying. “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). Yielding to the Spirit will bear fruits of kindness, gentleness, love, courtesy, and words that edify and encourage.
3. By Prayer
When Jesus prayed, He prayed! One night, He went up onto a mountain and prayed all night. That’s right, He prayed all night long (Luke 6:12). Why? He was choosing twelve from among the many disciples there. This was such an important decision that Jesus spent the entire night in prayer. Maybe you’ve spent a few sleepless nights in prayer, but we don’t exactly know what Jesus prayed about that night, but we do know He prayed all night long. After this,“when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12). One way to pursue holiness is to be constant in prayer. The Bible says, “pray always,” but of course, this means, pray when you can, as often as you can, and for as many people as you can. I believe if you pray for strength to resist temptation, you’ll fall into sins fewer times. Falling on our knees keeps us from falling even further. Speed dial 911. Pray to God to resist sinful pleasures. Don’t you think He’ll answer that, considering the fact that we know it’s His will we avoid sin?
4. The Cross
I have seen The Passion of the Christ. It brings me to tears each and every time. And when I think of the cross, it makes me think of my sin. I believe if we think of the cross more often, it might keep us from sinning. If we are in the Word of God, and yield to the Spirit of God, and be in prayer to God, we should think of the cross of Christ. That makes my sin even worse as it feels like I drove those nails (spikes) in His hands and in His feet. It was my sin that caused Him to suffer and die so that we might be ransomed by God (Mark 10:45). Blessed Jesus “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4a), and He “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed”(Isaiah 53:5). Just like you and me, we “have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”(Isaiah 53:6). Good thing the Good Shepherd knows how to find lost sheep (John 10).
If we stay in the Word of God, the Word of God will stay in us. If we yield to the Spirit, the Spirit will have His way with us. If we stay in prayer, we can seek and find the will God, and if we dwell on the wonders of the cross, we can avoid those sins which so easily entangle us, and slow down our Christian walk (Heb 12:1). These things can help us lead a life that is pleasing to God, and pursuing holiness is always pleasing to God. I pray it is pleasing to us too.