Practical Keys To Living Holy
As true believers in Christ, we all desire to live lives that glorify God. But how do we practically live a holy life?
Jesus is the only one of us who lived undamaged by sin. He walked among the wreckage of fallen humanity as a beacon of wholeness and health.
Jesus knew no sin yet the writer of Hebrews tells us he “learned obedience” and was “made perfect” (Heb. 5:8–9). That sounds like a contradiction, as though Jesus started out as a disobedient sinner but came good in the end. Perhaps he signed up for one of those sanctification courses and sweated his way to sinlessness.
No, that didn’t happen.
What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that the full beauty and purpose of Jesus’ ministry was not realized until the cross. Before he died, Christ’s ministry was incomplete or imperfect. But on the cross everything that needed to be done to save and sanctify you was accomplished:
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” … When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28,30)
Look at the words used in that passage to describe the climax of Jesus’ ministry; completed, fulfilled, finished. If Christ is your life, this is the sort of language you should use to describe your own pursuit of holiness: completed, fulfilled, finished. You don’t have to work to become holy; you have been made holy through Jesus’ completed, fulfilled, and finished work on the cross:
For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14, KJV)
Jesus did an astonishing thing for you. Through an act of his will and by the sacrifice of his body you have been sanctified for all time. This was the purpose of his ministry. He was numbered among the transgressors so that you might be numbered among the holy.
In all history only one person ever succeeded in sanctifying himself, and he did it on your behalf. Jesus said “I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:19).
Grace produces holiness
There seem to be 2 opposing camps today: GRACE vs. HOLINESS.
But nothing could be further from the truth. There is no animosity between grace and holiness. Grace is the root; holiness is the fruit.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” Hebrews 12:14 NKJV
Sometimes, preachers use this verse to tell people they’ll lose their salvation unless their behavior is holy. But this cannot be—it’s impossible for us to lose our salvation (see John 5:24).
When we are sure of our salvation because of Jesus’ finished work, we are under grace. And this grace produces holiness.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”” I Peter 1:13-16 NKJV
Was Jesus-as-high-priest made perfect on the cross? Yes! Then you are well and truly sanctified. In Christ, you are 100% holy. You will never be more holy than the day you met Jesus. Believe it.
You are like the newlywed who wakes up on the first day of the honeymoon and says, “I don’t feel married—this is all new to me—but because of what happened yesterday I am well and truly married.”
This is not a gradual process requiring many years of slow laborious self-improvement. Just as you are either married or unmarried, you are either holy or unholy. The moment you said “I do” to the Holy One you entered into union with him and became just as holy as he is.
“Really? I’m not sure I can believe that.”
Well the good news for you is that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the other.
“But I don’t feel holy; in fact, I feel most unholy.”
Stop living on the basis of your feelings and align your thinking with God’s word. Go to language school if you must and acquaint yourself with the new vocabulary of holiness. You are not a sorry sinner in need of sanctification; you are a holy saint and the holy temple of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine the Holy Spirit living in an unholy dump? Of course not. Yet he lives in you. You must be holy.
“You have said holiness means completeness or wholeness. But I come from a broken family and a broken marriage. I feel incomplete.”
A husband or wife won’t complete you and neither will raising children. We put unholy pressure on others when we expect them to do what only God can do. “You are complete in him” (Col. 2:10, NKJV). Jesus completes you.
You were broken, but in him you are whole. You were in lack, but he who has Christ lacks no good thing. Your life was a sinful mess, but he gave you beauty for ashes. You don’t need to be made perfect because in Christ you are perfect forever.
Being holy is not trying to attain what you have already received, nor is it trying to do what Christ has already done.
When you listen to a Jesus-centred sermon, the revelation of Jesus is being brought to you. Grace is being brought to you.
Grace = God is giving to you. God is working for you, in you, through you. God is supplying what you need. God is dispensing His blessings in your life.
Law = It’s all about you giving, you doing, you producing.
It is only when grace is being brought to you that you can be obedient and holy:
“rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct…” I Peter 1:13-16 NKJV
What does holiness really mean? What does it look like in real life?
The opposite of holiness is not sin. It is commonness. The Hebrew word for holy is the word Kadosh, which means to be “set apart.”
To be holy is to be uncommon.
Uncommon from the world.
Holiness = uncommonness
When the world is depressed, you have the peace of God.
When marriages are breaking down, yours is filled with the love of God.
When people use profanities, your words are filled with praise and thanksgiving.
When we preach the gospel of grace in its fullness, people’s lives are entirely transformed. They begin to live uncommon lives for the glory of God.
Let us have grace!
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