When we understand the character of God, His holiness does not terrify us, but we are actually awed by it. For many believers, the idea of holiness seems difficult or out of reach. They often treat it more as a duty than a privilege.

15 but as (God) who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16

Holiness is, after all, a child who wants to be like his father. When we see how gracious and righteous God is and how loving are His ways towards us, we want to imitate our Father’s nature and do everything in line with His character and values. If we understand this truth, then what the Apostle Peter is asking us to do is right and essential. Being holy is not trying to attain some impossible spiritual ideal—it is practical righteousness, that is, you are living out the truth of who you already are in Christ.

If we lack an intimate friendship and relationship with God, we will come up with a concept of holiness that is contrary to what Jesus taught about God. We can see this in the Pharisees. They encourage a fear-based holiness that breeds self-righteousness and a judgemental spirit. They rely more heavily on using rule keeping as the determining factor of whether or not they are holy than focusing on God who can make them holy.

Legalism can never grow holiness.

Holiness is not a result of anything we do.

We must be fully dependent upon God’s perfect provision to make us holy. We are made holy by Christ who is living in us. The Apostle Paul tells us: “You are God’s children. He sent Christ Jesus to save us and to make us wise, acceptable, and holy.” (1 Corinthians 1:30, Contemporary English Version) In other words, holiness does not start with your behaviour, but with your position in Christ.

Holiness is the fruit of grace.

“We are holy” because God in Christ is living in us. “We become holy”, that is, possessing the ability to think and live right, because Christ is freely and graciously giving us all things in Him (Romans 8:32). And “we are holiest” when we fully rest in Christ’s work in us to produce the life and fruits He desires for us.

© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.