As a born-again believer, we are followers of Christ, and that means we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, which consists of daily dying to self (letting go of our own desires) and choosing to live our life for Him! Although we have repented and received Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, this doesn’t automatically put us in the position of being holy. However, we are called to be holy.
1 Peter 1:15-16
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.”
When you have true repentance and are saved by His grace, your spirit becomes alive! Before you were saved, your spirit was dead, it was destined for an eternity of death and destruction, but when you gave your life to Jesus wholeheartedly, your spirit is now destined for an eternity of life! And this is what it means to be born-again. It’s not a natural birth of course, because as Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:6 – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” So being born-again is to be born of the spirit—your spirit is awakened by almighty God! And when this happens, the veil of deception is lifted off and your eyes are opened to the truth. You can now see and understand spiritual things which you had no idea existed before.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe...
As this Scripture states, the gospel is veiled to unbelievers. The god of this age (Satan) has blinded these people so they can’t see the truth—and this is why, when we come to the knowledge of the truth, which can only happen through Jesus, our eyes are then opened and we see everything for what it really is. And the more we read our Bibles, the better spiritual understanding we will have. However, if we’re not constantly reading the Word, we stunt our spiritual knowledge and tend to lean on our own understanding in regards to life’s daily issues, and herein is where we make our mistake.
In order for us to live holy lives, we need to first understand what the word ‘holy’ actually means and then learn how we are able to achieve it.
Whenever the word ‘holy’ is mentioned in Scripture, it is always referring to God.
1 Peter 1:16
“Be holy, for I am holy.”
The Bible tells us that our God is a holy God. He is the very definition of holy. So looking at Him will tell us something about the word ‘holy’.
Now we know that God is the creator of the universe ... however He has never been created—He has always been. Our God is a good and just God—absolutely perfect in every way. He has no flaws, no inconsistencies and everything He says and does is honest, upright and true.
So when we talk about the holiness of God, we’re referring to the fact that He is separate from evil and sin. He is the exact opposite to evil and hates wickedness. God is set apart from sin and this is why, when you have been born-again, that you too are now set apart from this world.
2 Corinthians 6:17
“Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
2 Timothy 2:21
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, (set apart) prepared for every good work.
Pursue peace with all people,and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
We have been made to be better than sin—and sin can no longer control us. However, we still have the choice as to whether we want to live holy lives or not. God has given us a free will and although we are born-again, this doesn’t automatically mean we are no longer going to sin.
Sin is always crouching at our door, trying to pull us under—and we use our own will to choose whether we give in to sin, or turn from it.
“...sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." – Genesis 4:7
As true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, sin should no longer be desirable to us, and with the Lord’s help, He gives us the strength to be able to abstain from it.
A disciple of Jesus should have no desire to sin – but an urge to run from it!
With this heart attitude (which is only present when one is born-again), we long to please the Lord and therefore put aside our selfish, fleshly desires and yearn to present our lives holy and pleasing to Him alone.
Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of . . . agreeing in God's judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God — he is the most holy man. ~ J.C. Ryle
If you find that you are not longing to live a holy life and sin seems more appealing than keeping yourself pure, then my friend, I would strongly urge you to examine yourself to see whether that light in you is not darkness—check your heart because each of us need to individually work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness. If your whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp does give you light.
As the above verse explains, when you have genuinely surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, your whole body will be full of light! What has changed your spirit from death to life, should continue to flow through to your soul (as you renew your mind in the Word (Romans 12:2)) and body so that holiness is shown physically in our actions and deeds.
Now that we have established how holiness should shine through, the following Scripture makes more sense.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Your faith in the one and only holy God will be evident in your works. Faith alone is not sufficient, and works alone is dead works. If there is faith, there will be works that follow, which will be the works that God has prepared ahead for you (Ephesians 2:10).
Holy living will flow from the inside out—the more you devote your life to Jesus, studying His Word and applying it in your everyday life, the more your life will reflect Christ—holiness through His righteousness.
Becoming a living sacrifice for Christ is something that will only happen when you allow it. God will not make you do it, but He wants you to give yourself to Him so He can use you mightily for His Kingdom.
As you begin to surrender your life over to Him piece by piece through hearing solid teaching, reading the Bible and being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer only (James 1:22), a change will develop and a life-transformation will take place. True sanctification.
We can liken this to a butterfly in its metamorphosis stage, which is precisely the way Paul explained it.
And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The word ‘transformed’ in this verse is actually derived from the word ‘metamorphous’. Paul didn’t connect new birth (being born-again) to a metamorphosis, but he connected it with renewing your mind (being transformed).
Why would he do that?
While we know that when a person repents and accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour is to be born-again, like marriage, the life that follows is where the work really commences. It is a change that takes place over time, and one that will only happen if we allow it to. Matthew 13:8
But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
It’s possible to produce little or large fruit as a Christian. Some people may be saved, however they stay there, just over the salvation line and don’t run the race, never striving to draw nearer to God. It’s a sad and strange concept to understand how anyone would want to be mediocre when God has given us so much more ... if only we’d take hold of it.
And yes, it takes effort on our part, and by effort I mean we need to diligently seek God, pressing in and dying to self daily so He can shine through.
Metamorphosis takes time and is hard work...
Where does a metamorphosis come from? From the inside of the caterpillar. How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? When he’s in the cocoon, does he hang from the tree and the birds come and bring him his new wings? Of course not. The wings were on the inside of him already the whole time. Why do we keep thinking there’s something out there we need? All you need is already in you, Christ in you, and to bring that out of you more, you read your Word, which is your cocoon, where you will be transformed and your mind renewed. When you hear truth, you recognise it - you may not fully understand it with your mind but it stirs you on the inside, that’s the Holy Spirit bearing witness to it. But it’s your choice as to whether you agree with it, whether you renew your mind and whether you accept the truth and grab a hold of it.
Before you renew your mind, your body/flesh is constricted to the natural. You have to renew your mind to be able to operate in the spirit world, which is where God’s Kingdom lies.
It's important to note that there's a difference between true holiness and false holiness - we need to be aware of and ensure we’re not living in the latter. You have to be taught. I have to be taught. Your new man has been made righteous and truly holy. Holiness is in your spirit, and as you renew your mind, you’re being transformed into true holiness because your mind then lines up with what is in your spirit. But unlike being born-again, renewing your mind is not a once off thing. It is a continual thing for the rest of your life and depending on how much you choose to renew your mind, will result in how much you grow in the Lord. It doesn’t matter what you think you already know, there’s always more to know where God’s concerned. We can never exhaust the Word of God and we can never stop growing in Him. None of us knows it all and has everything right.
If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off concerning the former way of life the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
In order to put off the old man and put on the new man, it’s all in one---renewing your mind. Your mind is so powerful and controls almost everything you do in your life. Every time we hear the truth of God’s Word it enters into our mind, being confirmed in our spirit, which in turn puts the old man off and the new on.
Let us run this race with enthusiasm, boldness and endurance, realising and appreciating why we’re on this earth and making the most of the short time we have to impact those around us by sharing the gospel with them—being a good example by reflecting Jesus in the way we conduct ourselves in how we live. Doing away with selfish ambitions and instead, living a holy life that is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.
..let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Blessed are those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness!
Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
May we always be striving for the things of God with our ultimate goal to draw nearer to Him more and more—because the more we become a living sacrifice for God, the more we decrease and He increases. This, my friends, is what it truly means to be holy!
--By Jen Ayling