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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

How To Be Holy

'You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.'

(Leviticus 11:45 NKJV)

To speak of sanctification is a difficult task; it is to put our finger on the sore spot of our responsibility as believers, who are increasingly inclined to a light and unpressured faith, when you want, how you want and with whom you want. Yet someone must find the courage to say how much is necessary, since more than anything else, God desires His children to be holy! In Scripture over six hundred quotations speak in some way about holiness, sanctification and sanctifying oneself. After being invited to speak on the topic by a Lazio community, I thought I could, albeit succinctly, bring the topic to general attention. It is peculiar how certain topics struggle to find space for reflection, despite echoing all the way to the last pages of the Bible, "but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:15-16). As in Moses' burning bush, the vision in Isaiah's temple (ch. 6) revolves around God's holiness, which is the absolute absence of all evil in Him. John said, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). If God is perfectly holy, then we can have confidence that His actions toward us will always be perfect and righteous. Being holy, His actions are holy. As one scholar said, holiness is the crown of God; it is the perfection of all His other attributes.

Once saved, the Spirit comes to dwell in our lives with the result that we will no longer be slaves to our failures and sins. The Spirit works in us, in our rescue, to transform us into holiness and make Christ real in our lives. He accomplishes this by producing in us the fruit of self-control. Not only that. The Spirit is responsible for showing every believer that there can be no fellowship between darkness and light, between what is evil and what is good, generating in him the desire to turn away from sin in order to live in a way that pleases God. Scripture speaks of a sanctification that we have in Christ before God, which is imparted when we go to the cross of Christ and lives stained by sin are cleansed, condemned lives are forgiven. Then there is a sanctification for which we have to strive. We are made holy through Christ in standing before God, and we are called to be holy in our daily lives. There is a sanctification to be nurtured and preserved: "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord..." (Hebrews 12:14). Procuring, that is, engaging in seeking, requires diligence and effort and refers to a lifelong task. It is a process that we will never fully achieve in this life: there is always room for improvement.

The Spirit through self-control, watches over the life of every believer. This is what the apostle Paul speaks of to the Romans, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Romans 8:8-10). Through temperance (or self-control, Galatians 5), the fruit of the Spirit, it is possible to counteract the works of the sinful nature. Nevertheless, throughout our journey, we need to exercise disciplined control over our natural desires and instincts. The "flesh" (the sinful nature in the Bible), will do anything to regain control of ourselves. If we yield such control to the Holy Spirit, He will not allow the "flesh" to have power over our lives. "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1). To be holy is to manifest the character of Christ. Temperance is the characteristic that makes it possible to depart from the world in order to remain close to God; it is the characteristic that makes holiness perfect in our lives. To be holy is to be temperate. To be temperate is to be controlled totally and completely by the Holy Spirit.


Weekly Bible Reading Plan #27

June 26, Job 5-7; Acts 8:1-25

June 27, Job 8-10; Acts 8:26-40

June 28, Job 11-13; Acts 9:1-21

June 29, Job 14-16; Acts 9:22-43

June 30, Job 17-19; Acts 10:1-23

July 01, Job 20-21; Acts 10:24-48

July 02, Job 22-24; Acts 11

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