God tells His People to become holy because He is holy

All are born as sinners but a few become holy by the Grace of God. God tells his people to become holy. If we are his people, it will be possible for us to live a holy life. What is holiness for us? It is that we live in obedience to God. To become holy is to obey him.

God is holy and righteous.  He is impartial towards Jews and Gentiles or Christians and Non-Christians.  As a human being we are all born as sinners.  But God wants to promote us as sons/daughters and to be joint heirs with Jesus Christ so that we inherit the kingdom of heaven.  "Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ..."  Most Christians think this status is free if we ask. But the pre-requisite is to obey God and become his children who are his heirs.

1. Biblical Background 

Isaiah 6:3 tells of the seraphims in worship: "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."  The same is told in "Rev 4:8: … they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty..."  It seems that even though God has unique power attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience he has more regard for his character attribute of holiness, which every person can have.  Nobody can attain his power attributes.  So, instead of demanding a power attribute, God requires us to be holy as he is holy.

2. Holy People in the Bible

Our Lord God asks us to be holy.  Most of us think that it is impossible for humans to live a holy life.  Some of us challenge the idea of a man becoming holy without even realizing that God is the one asking us to be holy.  Critics even say that nobody was shown to have lived a holy life in the Bible.  With the understanding that everyone was born a sinner, with the exception of Jesus Christ, the following references demonstrate that people have lived and are now living holy lives.

God has brought the scriptures through holy men. They were ordinary men lived a holy life and were used of God. "Acts 3:21 ---, God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets ....  2 Pet 1:21 --- holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."           

The apostles are holy. Ordinary fishermen, a tax collector etc, became disciples and were promoted as apostles. They became holy.  "Eph 3:5 … it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  Rev 18:20 …, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her."               

Apostle Paul and workers were living a holy life.  "1Thes 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:"

Jesus Christ is coming again to receive those that are holy (both dead and alive). If the second coming of Jesus Christ is certain, it can also be certain there are holy people on earth waiting for his coming.  Rev 20:6 says, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection:"

A. If they could Live Holy

If these people have lived a holy life and some of us are living a holy life now, it is possible that the rest of us also can live a holy life.  Every society has an acceptable standard for living, also known as moral standards or laws.  How an individual lives within the confines of the standards becomes his character.  God’s standard for everyone is to have holiness for character.  God is neither male nor female. He is Spirit. God has created man and woman in his image. However, the physical body of man or woman is not the image of God, but it is the soul and the spirit.  If our physical body dominates the soul and the spirit, we cannot live a holy life.  However, if our spirit and soul dominate our life, it is possible that we live a holy life and we can have character similar to God.

3.  God calls Us for Holiness

A.  Call to Holiness

God is calling his people to be holy as he is holy. "Lev 11:45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy(Additional reference Lev 19:2)  With human nature, it is impossible for us to be holy.  But it is possible with the grace of God.  So, let us receive grace of God and let us become holy. 1Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."  Grace of God is granted to us through the revelation of Jesus Christ to enable us to be holy.  Most Christians think that Jesus of Nazareth is God and Jesus Christ is a man.  Seldom Christians know when and how the begotten Son was born.  If we receive grace by the revelation of Jesus Christ, if we cannot live holy life without grace, we better study the word of God humbly and prayerfully in order to receive the revelation of Jesus Christ.

B.  Call for Separation

Holy life starts as we detach ourselves from the source of sin. Then we shall become the children of God and holiness shall become a way of life.  "2 Cor 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

C.  Call to follow the Word

Churches contain both good seed and tares.  Godly people are wheat and worldly people are tares.  This is told through a parable in Matt 13:24-30, 36-43.  Godly people will strive for holiness, but others will not.  Wheat Christians will continue in the Word of God, become disciples, know the truth and be converted into new persons, who follow Jesus Christ.  John 8:31 says, Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free The freedom Jesus refers to here is the freedom from sin, which is also the freedom to live a holy life. "James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

D.  Call to follow His Example

"1Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…"  Jesus Christ has lived a holy life in order to leave a sample life for us so that we follow his foot steps and become holy.  He died for us so that we, being dead to sins, live unto righteousness, which is a holy life.

4. Start to Live Holy

We are all born as sinners. However, we must be holy in order to meet Jesus Christ at his second coming.  Becoming holy is a process and the duration depends on our commitment, determination and dedication.  False Christians (Tare) believe in some ceremony for instant holiness, which is counterfeit.  But, true Christians (Wheat) join the process to become holy.  They will grow in God as they will become holy.  Let us see how this process works in the light of the Word of God.

A. Acknowledge our Sin

Let us first accept the fact that we are born with an instinct to sin and we commit sin.  We must decide never to justify our sin.  This is the beginning of the process.  Now, God’s plan for us is to redeem us from the bondage of this sinning instinct.  "1John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not."

B. Repent and Confess Past Sins

If we repent and confess our sins to God with broken heart and contrite spirit God will forgive all our sins that were committed in the past "Rom 3:25 ... for the remission of sins that are past Psa 34:18 The  LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Further he will clean us from all unrighteousness, which is the unjust aptitudes, so that we will not sin again. However, after when we are delivered from the bondage of sin, we should not forget that we were sinners in the past.  This does not mean that we will continue to sin "1John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  But those who continue to sin are of the devil.  1John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil."

C.  Obey God’s Commandments

True believers love God and obey his commandments.  But, Christians who do not obey God also say that they love God.  Some of them boastfully say that they know him.  But God says they are liars. "John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:… 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings 1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."  Those who love God are in him, which means they abide in him.  "1John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."  Many Christians have learned to say flowery words without living a godly life.  But, if we say we abide in God we must prove it through our holy life.  

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5.  God gives Gifts to help Us

A.  God Gives Ministers

God gives ministers to the Church so that they may lead the saints (wheat) in holiness that is similar to that of Jesus Christ.  "Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." However, God gives caution about false workers.  They will teach that Jesus Christ will deposit his holiness into your account since you cannot live holy.  Worldly Christians (tares) follow them.

B.  God Gives Gifts of the Spirit

God gives gifts of the Holy Spirit to believers of the Church for their spiritual profit.  "1Cor 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."  However, manifestations of gifts are not proof for godliness since God gives these gifts even to rebellious (disobedient) people. "Psalm 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. Eph 4:8 … When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."  Rebellious men use the gifts and the name of God for their own profit and glory. They are false preachers.

C.  God Gives Grace for Salvation

Grace never takes a sinning person to heaven. But grace will convert a person from sinning to holy living, which is saving from sin. "Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" These people are saved from sinning and living holy lives by the grace of God.

6.  God Works on Us

"Eph 2:10... we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in themEph 4:24 …ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holinessEph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame…"  We are God’s workmanship created in righteousness and holiness without blame so that we should live holy life.  For this purpose God has chosen us in Christ Jesus even before the foundation of the world.

A.  God gives the Spirit of Man

We are born in the body of flesh.  God tells us that we must be born of the spirit.  "John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."  When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, that is when we accept to obey his commandments, God gives us the spirit of man so that we are born of the spirit.  "John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, … 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

B.  Spirit mortifies Our deeds

Now, the spirit that we just received desires the things against the flesh.  We should put the flesh down and lift up the spirit.  It is hard work.  "Romans 8:1… no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit...  4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.… 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."  But, it is easier said than done. We stagger in spite of the help of the spirit of man and the Holy Spirit.

C.  God gives Himself to Abide

Our perfect obedience will lead us to the abiding of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son.  "John 14:17 the Spirit of truth… for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you 23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."  

D.  Calls the Labor and Heavy Laden

We find it very hard to obey his commandments.  But God seems to think it is easy.  "1John 5:3 … his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh…" The key is that if we love him enough to follow him or rather come to him, then Jesus will do the rest.  "Matt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Jesus Christ will teach us how to obey if we are willing to learn of him.  He says it is easy.  Believe him.  Trust him.  He will guide us.

E.  Christ Wash Us Holy

Eph 5:25 says, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."  Here, washing of the water by the word means that God will purify his saints by his word. That is, Jesus reveals his word to them and they follow and become holy without blame.

F.  Christ Lives Our Life

We can live holy through Jesus Christ.  "Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: … 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: …"  Here, the abiding of Christ in the believer is the grace of God.  However, this abiding should be verified.  "1John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him…. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."  If Jesus Christ lives in us then he is living our lives. If he lives our lives, then we will not sin because he will not sin.  Thus, we will live a holy life.

7.  We shall see God only with Holiness

Most of us believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ. But, without holiness we cannot see him. "Heb 12:14 … holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Those who believe in his coming should strive to be pure as Jesus is pure in order to receive his glory. "1 John 3:2… when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Then we will become holy and inherit God’s kingdom. "Rev 21:9 Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife…11 Having the glory of God." God’s mercy joins us and his grace ordains us in the school of holiness.

Note: If any point needs explanation, OR, if you find an error according to scripture,
Please write to me in the '
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I will reply soon. Thanks.

God Bless You

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I am a retired pastor of the Church of God (Tennessee).
My name is Isaac Livingston. I am from Neyyoor India.

If we love God with reverential fear, we will obey God and We will stop sinning.