Perfectly Holy in Jesus Christ
This post is by Daniel Davis (Content Editor for The Gospel Project). To see the entire series click here. You can preview a full month of The Gospel Project here. Or click on these links if you would like to purchase the Atonement Thread for adults or students.
Christ Stimulates a Life of Holiness
When it comes to holiness, I’ve got it, and I’ve got a lock on humility too…
Well, perhaps I better come clean—I struggle to be humble. There, I said it. Thanks for hearing me out; feels good to get that off my chest. At least I’ve still got holiness. Seriously. Just look at the Corinthian Christians. They were messed up (and so am I)! If Paul could call them “sanctified,” or set apart, and “saints,” or holy ones, then I think it’s fair to say I’m holy, for I too have called on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:2).
Now, truth be told, I have no claim on holiness as a description of my conduct. I’m holy only in the sense that God the Father has set me apart from the world in Christ through the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2), but this one sense matters immensely. Let me explain…
Holiness is an attribute of our great God that we acknowledge, honor, and even sing about—“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!” And we aren’t alone in this song—“Holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8) is the never-ceasing shout of praise from the creatures that surround God’s throne. God is holy in that He, by His very nature, is without sin and set apart from sin (1 John 1:5). And it is this singular truth that makes God’s command all the more striking—“Be holy because I, Yahweh your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2).
No way. Can’t be done. Not only am I a sinner by choice, but I’m a sinner by nature. My very nature is at odds with My Creator. God hates sin and I’m guilty of loving it. How can I possibly be holy as He is holy?
No way, but for the atoning work of Christ my Savior. Through His death on the cross—for me and for you—by the shedding of His blood for my sin, I have been washed clean (1 Cor. 6:11), I have been made new (2 Cor. 5:17), I have been given a new nature (Eph. 4:24), I have been set apart from the evil of this world (1 Pet. 2:9). So, in Christ, I am holy.
And because I am holy in Christ, I can now be holy as Yahweh my God is holy. But this amazing work of God does not stop there. I’m not just left on my own to be holy from this point forward. No, through my faith in Christ and turning from sin, Jesus has declared me holy and has set out through the Holy Spirit to make me holy—and what God starts, He will finish (Phil. 1:6).
With such grace—to pour out His wonderful holiness upon me, a wretched sinner—how can I not be stimulated to live a life of holiness in the power of God’s Spirit? To be separate from the evil of this world and to live a life of grateful obedience in it?
A Life of Holiness
Again, I have no claim on holiness as a description of my conduct, but I am most certainly called to be holy in my conduct (1 Pet. 1:15). For that, I must always be about knowing my God more through His Word, especially through the clarity of the Son of God (Heb. 1:2-3)—Jesus is, after all, the definition of a life of holiness in this world.
Furthermore, I am to pursue holiness in this world, which will take the shape of “peace with everyone” (Heb. 12:14). Everyone…family, friends, church members, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, strangers, enemies. We have peace with God through Jesus (Rom. 5:1); therefore, we should live as peacemakers as well (Matt. 5:9).
Finally, holiness requires that I avoid sin in all its forms. I am holy in order to be holy, but even then I fail. Though I struggle with humility, here it shines through the clearest. The apostle John wrote his first letter so we may not sin, “but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation [atonement] for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
Thankfully, even now my salvation is not contingent on my being holy in conduct but on the perfect holiness to be found in Jesus Christ, my Savior and my God. I always need Jesus, and so does the whole world.