This is rather a strange question. We rarely think of people as being holy. We use other words to describe the qualities of a mature Christian person we might know. Yet the bible has a surprising amount to say about holiness, both God’s holiness and ours. In the Old Testament, the people of God were told by God to be holy because He was holy (Lev 11, 19 and 20). So God is holy and it is important that the people who bear his Name are also holy so as not to bring that Name into disrepute.
New Testament Christians are also to be holy for the same reason (1 Peter 1:15-16; Eph 1:4 and 4:24; 2 Tim 1:9). Yet we can’t talk about holiness without talking about Jesus. Jesus is the Holy One of God (Acts 3:14; 4:27; Heb 7:26). Christians are united to Jesus by faith, and this unites us to His holiness. Jesus could not unite Himself with anything or anyone that was not holy. Hence in Him we are holy. Here is the fulfilment of the Old Testament command to be holy.
But that is not all the New Testament has to say about Christian holiness. Now that we have been made holy, we need to be holy. We need to live and speak and relate with holiness and righteousness so as to not to bring the Name of Jesus, which we bear, into disrepute. This is impossible to do this without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always actively at work to grow and advance our holiness, our sanctification. God began this good work in us from the moment of our regeneration and He has promised to bring this good work to completion (Phil 1:3-6). And what will this completed work look like? It will look nothing other than Jesus Himself (1 John 3:2-3). Here is our incentive for holy and pure living.
However, our experience of our growing sanctification is never straightforward. We struggle with sin and temptation and are sometimes left wondering if our holiness is in reverse, or stuck in park. While we experience our Christian life as up and down, it is nevertheless growing under God’s hand and on the day we see Jesus it will be completed in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:51-52).
We need to keep the Cross of Christ central to our understanding of our personal holiness. A life characterised by repentance and faith keeps us at the Cross, where we are constantly turning away from our sin (repentance) and trusting Christ daily for our forgiveness (faith). Progress in the Christian life begins again and again at the Cross.
A life of ongoing faith and repentance will enable us to produce more and more the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). There is no law against any of these attributes because they are making us more and more like Jesus, who is the fulfilment of the law. This fruit of the Spirit is what our growth in holiness will look like.
Each of these holy fruits will be seen seen in our relationship with God and with others. That is why these qualities are included in the list of qualifications for elders and deacons. How are you doing in displaying the fruit of the Spirit? This is a question about personal holiness and personal relationships. The answer to this question can often be found from receiving feedback from those closest to us in our daily lives. The nature of sin is deceptive and so we are easily deceived as to our own sin and failures to exhibit these fruits. Here is where we need to hear what others have to say about us if we are to know our sin and be brought to the comfort of the Cross for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Have you seen a holy person recently? Have you met anyone recently who is exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, the life of Jesus? Here is where personal holiness is to be seen. Perhaps you could be that holy person who is seen and known by others.
This article was contributed by Peter Reynolds, a retired Pastor in the denomination.