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What does it mean to be holy?

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As believers, we are called to holiness in our Christian walk. “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thessalonians 4:7). “The church . . . [is] sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people” (1 Cor. 1:2).

What does it mean to be holy? There is considerable Scripture dedicated to imploring believers to live in purity and righteousness in their daily walk with Christ. Shamefully, this area of teaching is often overlooked by many local churches today. Yet, it is vital to stress to believers the importance of striving towards holiness by contending to live upright and godly lives.

The early church understood this and were reminded of it continually by Apostles’ letters to the churches, as recorded in New Testament Scripture. A few examples:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

“What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11).

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).

“All who have this hope in [Christ] purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

Regrettably, seeking holiness in our walk with Christ seems to be an area that isn’t emphasized enough in importance. Actually, many local congregations and even some denominations are discounting Scripture to accommodate today’s culture of social acceptance and political correctness. Yet, in doing so, churches are in reality discounting their people.

As a body of believers, we need to encourage one another in developing godly behaviors and growing in Christ.

To grow in Christ requires a willful commitment to live godly lives, guarding our thoughts and actions. That allows placing Christ in His rightful position of Lord of our life. It requires evaluating our lifestyles and aligning our thinking with the Word of God. This is an ongoing process.

In Christ, we are called to live for Him and submit to His Lordship. We are instructed to, “get rid of moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you” (James 1:21). And to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

For a believer, to be “holy” means we are set apart and consecrated to and for Him. It is because we belong to Him that we should willing to submit to His righteous standards for our lives, according to His Word.

It doesn’t mean that we are not still prone to sin. As long as we are clothed in this flesh, we will always carry an inner inclination for sin. However, in Christ, we having the indwelling Spirit of God who empowers us to resist our sinful nature and repent from our waywardness.

“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are to change from who we were apart from Christ (that is who we were before accepting Him as our Lord and Savior) and to press on into Christlikeness.

I’m not talking about simply preaching morality from the pulpit. It can be easy to get so caught up in preaching morality that the central of message of Christ can be overlooked. Instead, we need to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (2 Cor. 2:2). In preaching Christ, and what it means to live as a new man in Christ, we teach one another to strive for purity, holiness, and righteousness that come with submitting to Christ’s Lordship. Morality is simply a byproduct of knowing Christ and growing in our intimacy with Him.

Further, we need to remind fellow believers about the consequences that result from accepting or accommodating ungodly behaviors. Clearly, there will be a loss of intimacy with Christ (and with fellow believers). The believer’s joy and peace will diminish as they stray from obedience to Christ. And a believer’s witness will be discredited.

Therefore, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).

As a Christian, we bear His name and represent Him before the world. And, always remember, the world is watching.

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