God Wills for His People to be Holy

by Mike Ratliff

4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:4-6 (NASB) 

“Holiness is the demonstration of faith working by love. It is wholly supernatural in the sense of being God’s gracious achievement within us and wholly natural in the sense of being our own true humanness, lost through sin, misconceived through ignorance and through listening too hard to current culture-but now in process of restoration through the redirecting and reintegrating energy of new creation in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers called holiness “our brilliant heritage.” The phrase was well chosen. Brilliant-bright, shining, precious, glorious-is the word that fits.” From Rediscovering Holiness, p32 by J.I. Packer

I know that many may be suddenly struck by a sense of guilt or inadequacy when they read or hear that it is God’s will that His people be Holy, however, that does not change the fact that genuine Christians will be both saved eternally and are changed temporally by the working of the Holy Spirit in them. God regenerated them at salvation so they are new creations. Are they automatically in sinless perfection then? No! That is why we should not become discouraged from this walk simply because we struggle with sin. All Christians sin. That is why God gave us 1 John 1:5-10.

5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10 (NASB) 

How does this Holiness grow in us then? First, God commands that we be holy.

1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NASB) 

Since God has commanded that we be Holy, and He knows we cannot be Holy outside of His grace, He gives His Holy Spirit to us. Holiness is commanded and willed by God. Christ requires it and all the Scriptures call for it. Our sanctification is what accomplishes this. That is why it is imperative that we do not flee from our Lord’s discipline. Holiness is the goal of our redemption. It is the object of our new creation. We are still in this life in this body of flesh so that we may grow up into Christlikeness. Holiness is genuinely necessary for our final salvation. Why? It is a sign and expression of the reality of our faith and repentance. It is also the fruit of our acceptance of God’s ultimate purpose. Notice, that the one who is on this narrow way lines up their purpose with His. They do not try to conform God to themselves, but conform to Him and His purposes.

Holiness is the substance or core from which our true happiness comes. If we are conformed to our culture, we will pursue happiness within the mores of our society, however we miss genuine happiness if we do this. On the other hand, if we pursue holiness through the grace of Christ, happiness of spirit comes in such a way that we cannot adequately describe. Holiness has to do with our Hearts.

46 I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.
47 I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love. Psalms 119:46-47 (NASB) 

111 I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart. Psalms 119:111 (NASB)

Holiness starts inside a Christian when he or she has the right purpose that seeks to express itself in right performance. Notice, it does not come from right performance, but from our Heart’s desire. It is not just about our obedience, but it is also about our motives that prompt us to be obedient to our Sovereign Lord. That is why we should be mortified if we don’t deeply desire to be Holy.

The Christian who is on the narrow way which leads to life has a motivating aim, passion, desire, longing, aspiration, goal, and drive to please God. How? They seek to please Him both by what they do and what they avoid doing. Their good works replace evil ones. If they spend themselves on seeking God’s will and doing it they will not be spending any effort or time seeking the opposite. How do we do this? How does it begin? How is it maintained? It all begins with praise, worship, and honoring and exalting God as the substance of our entire being. Evil will creep in when we neglect this. This will result in coolness with regard to them. Therefore, we must dedicate our whole waking life to keep our hearts actively responsive to God.

Holiness that is actively growing in depth and breadth in the heart of a Christian will express itself through their life in Christlikeness that Paul defined as the fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 (NASB) 

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming back. We don’t know the day or hour of His coming. We also know that we are not to be of this world. We are not to take on the world’s character or be conformed to it in any way, but we are to be Holy, set apart, and Christlike. Therefore, since we do not know when He is coming back, let us prepare for His return by committing ourselves to becoming the Holy Christians God Wills for us to be.

Soli Deo Gloria!

3 thoughts on “God Wills for His People to be Holy

  1. Magnificent. A timely message at a time when I have seen too many of us forgetting that our God is a Holy God. I was just commenting to another brother about RC Sproul’s Holiness teaching series in the 80s. I was noting that I feel as if we need to keep re-teaching that since the church seems to keep forgetting the attributes of God.



  2. John,

    Yes, all of God’s attributes have their source in His Holiness. Since we are made in the image of God we are Christlike only when we become holy. Yes, we have forgotten this. Let us proclaim this from the rooftops! Our Lord deserves nothing less than a Holy Church.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  3. Mike,
    Excellent post. Where is the fear of the Lord today?! God is love, and He is also just and holy and abhors sin. Many in the various churchs today act as if God just winks and laughs at their sin and says, “hey don’t worry your forgiven big fella” Where is the preaching calling us to repentance and to trust and obey our Lord. My opinion on why the emerging church and all these relevant churches are so popular is as follows, there is no wisdom in these people. Where do we get wisdom, only from God, How do we get it, well for starters Fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding, second in God’s word. Some don’t fear the Lord, they act like He’s a drinking buddy, and they’ll read every book by every hip new emerging thinker but are they spending time in God’s word?! It’s just really really sad. All we can do is pray that the Lord wakes them up. I know before January, I was living in the pleasures of sin with no regard for my Lord and Saviour, but praise God he woke me up from my deadly slumber and I know He can wake anyone else up too. All glory, all honor, all praise, all thanksgiving, all adoration, all worship be given to God the father through Jesus Christ our Lord!!!!

    In Christ,


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