A Study on the Pursuit of Holiness
The good news is that it is entirely possible for believers to be holy as He is holy. Holiness is more than a feeling, it is BEING. It is walking in the truth of God and following His commands. It is also realizing that holiness is not a choice. It is much more than that.
We have been studying on the pursuit of holiness and how we should respond. In Part 1, Why You NEED to Desire More of God, David, the Psalmist, shared his heart with us when he wrote Psalm 63:1 and expressed his yearning for God. This should be our desire too, to seek more of Him for we can never have enough.
We looked at The Ultimate Revelation of the Holiness of God in Part 2 and came to the place where we need to acknowledge the holiness of God. This is more than just saying, ‘yeah, He’s holy,’ it is deeply knowing within us the holiness of God and that there is a barrier between us that we need to deal with.
In this study, we are going to take a closer look at why holiness is not a choice.
The Deadly Barrier Between Us and God
Before we do that, we need to discuss the barrier that separates believers from God. Actually, all of mankind is separated by this one thing but for believers, it is something that we need to deal with daily.
Sin and holiness are like light and darkness. They do not mix.
A question to ask ourselves is, how seriously do we take our sin? Do we think we have sins that are more tolerable than others? Or does the size of sin matter? How about the colour of sin? In other words, we’ve often used the phrase ‘little white lie.’ Is that true? Does sin have a colour or a size?
Here’s another question to think over, we live under grace, correct? Does that give us license to willfully sin knowing that when we go to the Father for forgiveness that He will forgive us? Does grace allow for continual sin in our lives?
Sin is sin. Let’s call it for what it is.
To answer those questions, let’s ask God how He sees sin.
Before we turn the pages of the Word, let me say that sin is the opposite of holiness. It stains us, defiles us and puts a barrier between us and God.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:1-2 that we shouldn’t continue in sin. This chapter is speaking of the forgiveness of sins at our spiritual birth. It also speaks of not allowing sin to have dominion over us (Rom 6:13-16). This is a great chapter and worthy of reading over again to remind ourselves what we have been set free from and how we ought to conduct ourselves on a daily basis.
God does not make allowance for sin as we saw in the Bible account of Uzzah the Kohathite priest. 1 Chronicles 13:3-4, 7-11; Numbers 4:4, 15, 17-20 explains in detail when Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant when it began to slip on the oxcart and it cost him his life.
Is God cruel? Absolutely not! He is holy, just, merciful and righteous! He has a standard of judgment and righteousness that He adheres to. More on that in this post, What does the Plumbline have to do with me? No allowances are made for anyone. Why not? If He made allowances, then could we trust Him to be fair and just when He corrects us?
This is Not a Mix and Match Game
Here’s one example from the Old Testament that illustrates how righteousness and unrighteousness do not mix.
2 Chronicles 20:35-37, two verses that are simple, profound and direct when you read the context of this passage. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, was a righteous king who served God and sought Him for direction. Earlier in this chapter, Jehoshaphat and his people won a battle against their enemies and it took three days to gather up the spoils of war. God blessed them tremendously.
But here’s where he went wrong. He made an arrangement for a partnership between himself and the King of Israel, Ahaziah, who was a wicked king. This partnership was to build ships to sail to Tarshish. Sounds like a good deal but the problem is you cannot go into a business arrangement with an unbeliever. God did not bless this union. In fact, He destroyed the ships.
Scripture is quite plain when it speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 6:17, to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, …”
Righteousness and unrighteousness do not belong together. Therefore, sin and holiness are not a match, either.
Holiness is Not a Choice
I want to back up a bit, as I want to talk about the choice we have regarding holiness.
Bombshell. There is no choice. Holiness is not a choice.
In my research, I have seen it stated that believers have the choice to be holy or not. I beg to differ on this statement.
We do not get to choose whether we should live a holy life or not. It is not optional.
We know that 1 Peter 1:15-16 is not a yes/no statement. God demands that we be holy as He is.
Do you see it this way too? When reading of the attributes of God and His standard of righteousness, would you say this is a demand rather than giving us a choice? Part 2, The Ultimate Revelation on the Holiness of God goes into some detail concerning this truth.
Believers are to strive for holiness as Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 4:7. We have been made holy by Christ and we are called to be holy in our everyday lives as Paul taught the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1:2.
God desires to have fellowship with us. He desires that we walk in truth, following His ways, 1 John 1:5-7. Our fellowship with Him will bring us the fullness of joy, as you read in 1 John 1:3-4.
Dealing with the Sin Factor
So, since God demands that we be holy, making this a requirement for believers, then what do we do about sin?
How serious are we concerning our sin? Do we grieve over what breaks the heart of God? Holy Spirit grieves over our sin, do we?
Now, I’m not saying that you’re a bad person if you sin willfully because Paul has given us the answers in Romans 6. Hey, I have the sin issue to deal with, too. We all do!
However, we are to put aside our desire for sin and let the Spirit of God have dominion over us, not sin, Rom 6:12-13. Will this be easy? No, it won’t be.
We need to get a grip on the things that want to control us. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and He will help us to win the victory over our daily sins. But, we must be willing to ask Him for help.
This could mean much time in prayer to win the victory. This could mean becoming acutely aware of the pitfalls we stumble in. This could mean … so many things and yet there will be times when we succumb to the power of sin.
But get up again. Repent, continue on. Don’t give up in the pursuit of holiness!
Moving Forward in our Pursuit of Holiness
Okay, so what do we know?
- We know that God demands us to be holy as He is holy.
- … that our holiness is not a choice but a demand.
- … that we are to walk in truth and light as He is in the light.
- … that sin wants to reign in our bodies.
- … that we are to deny ourselves the pleasure of sin.
- … we have the Holy Spirit within us.
- … that the Holy Spirit has given us the power to live holy.
Moving forward, let’s sum up how we become holy:
- by being renewed in our mind and not conformed to the lust of the world
- in our conduct and speech
- by imitating God through spending time in His presence
- by obeying God’s Word, reading it, studying it, doing it
One step at a time.
That’s a Wrap
Well, that has been an interesting study. When I first read that holiness is not a choice but a demand, it didn’t take long to see that truth when reading the Word in context. God has clearly stated throughout His Word His position on holiness.
And now it is our position to pursue more of God and to be holy as He is holy.
Please leave me a note as I look forward to your comments. Would love to hear from you!