Did you know the Bible talks a lot about holiness?
• Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
• 1 Peter 1:15-16 adds, “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy.’”
• 1 Corinthians 1:30 states, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
• Romans 8:13 strongly warns, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
• And finally, Jesus plainly taught, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Any casual reading of the New Testament quickly gives an impression that the demands for holiness are vital.
The famous passage on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 contains several sober warnings. In describing the fruit of the flesh, verse 21 warns that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. The next chapter, in 6:8 states, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Hebrews 10:26-27 is rather plain when it states, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment.” Revelation 22:15, speaking of the Celestial City to come states, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
And if all this were not enough, we need only consider the abundance of “if…then” statements in the New Testament.
One example is Colossians 1:21-23: “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard….”
The overwhelming evidence from the New Testament is that perseverance in the faith and ongoing growth into holiness is the mark of a genuine believer. When this evidence does not exist, the New Testament holds out no hope for anyone’s eternal salvation. Holiness and saving faith always go hand in hand.
Over the first five weeks in January 2016, I am engaging in a lengthy study of Romans 5-8 on the radio broadcast series, “The Power of the Gospel.” These chapters not only emphasize the need for holiness, but also give key lessons in faith to instruct believers how to strive for holiness. None of this is at odds with justification by faith; indeed all of this is the fruit of justification by faith.
Furthermore, the vain hope that we will be fine if we have prayed the “sinner’s prayer” and yet live according to the flesh is easily put aside in this passage. If we do not put to death the misdeeds of our own bodies, we will eternally die. We are engaged in a great fight. But the good news of these chapters is the assurance that all who have truly believed will prevail through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Please join me and listen to this series on Back to the Bible Canada. It’s our hope that this teaching will help all believers grow in holiness. After all, it is essential.