Holy and Blameless

by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-5 NASB)

For what reason did the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ chose (elect) all in Christ before the foundation of world? It was that they would be holy (ἁγίους) and blameless (ἀμώμους) before him. The Puritans have always been accused of being legalistic and way too concerned about Christians living holy and blameless lives. I heard a Jeopardy clue not long ago that actually defined this aspect of them as being “harsh” and “stern.” Is it an unreasonable thing to command that believers conform their lives unto holy living and be separate from the world and its ways? 

Αγίους (hagious), an adjective meaning “holy, set apart, consecrated”, is the Accusative, Plural of ἅγιος (hagios). In Paul’s letters those who name Jesus as their Lord are called ἅγιοι (hagioi), which is translated as “saints.” However, this is not primarily an ethical expression but is parallel to being “called” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2), “chosen” (Roma. 8:33; Col. 3:12), and “faithful” (Col. 1:2). Being one among the ἅγιοι implies association with the Holy Spirit. Christ is the one in whom believers become holy to the true God (1 Cor. 6:11). This power comes from the risen Christ, who operates according to the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4). In these cases holiness refers to a relationship with God that is not mediated through ritual (ceremonial) observation but through the leading of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14). Spiritual worship is the offering of oneself as a living, holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1).

To help us define what “holy living” really means, let us take a closer look at ἀμώμους (amōmous), “without defect, unblemished, blameless, faultless.” The Greek adjective ἀμώμους is the Accusative, Plural of ἄμωμος (amōmos), which is derived from the root μῶμος (mōmos), “spot, blemish,” and the prefix ἄ, the “alpha-negative that means “without.” Therefore, ἄμωμος means that nothing is amiss in a sacrifice that would render it unworthy. It was also used in the Septuagint to show that sacrificial animal was to have no spot or blemish (e.g., Lev. 22:21). Therefore, this is how we are to live—pure in attitude and action. Christian lives must be above reproach. People should be able to examine our lives and find nothing unholy or ungodly there.

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NASB)

Peter quoted Leviticus 11:44-45 in v16 commanding us to be holy just as God is holy. Yes, we are positionally holy and blameless before God because of the finished work of Christ, but in our sanctification, we are called to actually become holy and blameless through the work of the Holy Spirit as we work our salvation with fear and trembling as living sacrifices.

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 thoughts on “Holy and Blameless

  1. Amen! That wonderful tension of striving to be holy while depending wholly on the Holy Spirit to make it so. Between legalism and antinomianism.

  2. Dear Mike,

    Did not realize what a hot potato this subject is:)

    Someone graciously explained the fear is if we dwell on self examination and growing in Christian virtue that it will either turn into perfectionism or moralism.

    I agree that could happen if you are not abiding in Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and you are really doing it for selfish reasons in the flesh. But all of Scripture is a pep talk, so to speak, telling us about salvation through our Savior and encouraging us forward in growing in Christ. 2 Peter 1-15 How do you dismiss that?

    Now, to be clear I think sanctification is wholly of God, but does that mean that I take a fatalistic attitude towards it? No, never works righteousness, but rather a love offering to our Redeemer as you quoted Mike, we should be living sacrifices.

    Gratefully, charisse

  3. It is interesting that, particularly in the “God speaks to me personally” crowd, a common refrain in modern times is often “God’s working on me”, or “He’s not finished with me”. However, rather than clearly being in the context of your passages and exposition, it is usually more of an excuse along the “He doesn’t expect me to be perfect”. Coupled with believing God has personal revelation, or alone, these attitudes or beliefs are not scriptural. He does indeed expect us to be perfect, and we have the full knowledge that on this side of the grass we will not be. The fear and trembling, in any shape, manner, form, or meaning is usually discarded and not even mentioned, like a relative or skeleton in the closet best left alone or unsaid. Thanks Mike.

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