Can We Be Holy? The Process of Sanctification
Stephen ponders the question, can we be holy? He concludes that this is only possible through God’s power and the process of sanctification.
God is Holy, Can We Be Holy?
1 Peter 1:16 tells us that we should be holy, because God is holy. Habakkuk 1:13 tells us God’s eyes are too pure, or holy, to look upon evil or wrong. So a question that follows from this could be; can we be holy enough for a perfectly holy God? This is where the idea of sanctification comes in.
Separated For God
We’ve spent a lot of time in this series looking at how the Bible calls out our sinful nature. How our sin separates usfrom God. Holiness on the other hand, where we are concerned, means to be separated for God, or to God for His purpose. So, knowing that we are sinful people, how can we become holy in God’s eyes? The natural response to us, would simply be to say, we have to be good, and that should be enough, right?
Remember though, that our sin is a great offense to God. Therefore the idea of, “Well, I’ll just do good things to cover up the bad things I’ve done”, is a lot more complicated. Imagine a person causes great harm or offense to you or your family, enough that you would consider them to be your enemy. Would you really be perfectly ok with them after the offense took place because they washed your car, or brought you a meal? Even if they made substantial retribution, they would never be able to remove or take back the hurt they have caused. That’s why God says in Isaiah 64:6 that
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness deeds are like a polluted garment.”
I can put a clean shirt on, but if I’m covered in filth the shirt won’t make me clean, it will work the other way around, I’ll make the shirt dirty. What God is saying through Isaiah, is that until the problem of our sin is dealt with, anything “good” that we do is tainted by our sinful nature. So how then can we be holy? How can we be sanctified?
Sanctification is a Process
Sanctification is a process. The first step comes when we put our trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Putting our faith in Christ means that we agree that he has paid the penalty for our sin, and therefore we are no longer subject to that penalty. Romans 6:22 says
“But now that you have been set free from sin, and have becomes slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. “
John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Therefore, when we put our faith in Jesus, the sin that kept us spiritually dead, separated from God, is removed and we become dead to sin, separated from sin to God. This positional holiness is required for salvation, or eternal life, and is only attainable by putting our trust in Christ. But holiness doesn’t stop there.
Be Holy For I Am Holy
The verse we started with in 1 Peter, “Be Holy for I am Holy” refers both to our position before God, separated to him, but also our life in Him. This is where good deeds and living a life pleasing to God comes in. As believers, we continue to live our lives and the Holy Spirit, which is given to all Christians, helps us to become more like Christ, so that when we resist sin, and live like we are separated to God, Jesus is glorified in us, this is being sanctified in our lives, and it is what God wants for us. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Before we believe, our good works are polluted because of our sin, once our sin has been taken away, our good works, if done in faith, are used to make Christ known in us. Will we still sin? Absolutely, we are still human, still flawed.
This is why Peter reminds us that because He who called us is holy, we also are to be holy in all our conduct. Our positional holiness that we get through a saving faith in Christ cannot be taken away, but our continuing, living holiness can sadly be hidden by our wrong actions. If we try to do this by ourselves we tend to fail, but if we continually rely on Jesus to help make us holy, he will, Philippians 1:6 says
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
It is by living a sanctified life after we’re saved that we will reflect God’s love and glory. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to
“strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord”
The Final Stage of Sanctification
The final stage of our sanctification process comes when Jesus returns. 1 John 3:2 promises that
“we know that when he appears, we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is.”
When we finally get to heaven we will be completely sanctified. To be like Jesus means to be without the capacity to sin, to be perfect in holiness. Through faith in Jesus, any person can move from being a sinner separated from God, all the way to a point where we are completely and forever separated from our sin for God.
If you would like to no more about how God can sanctify you through His Son, please contact us. You can do so by email to [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-567-1218.
Stephen March is the President of FBH International and HopeStreamRadio. He graduated from the Broadcasting Program at Niagara College in 2001, and has previously worked in television production and post-production. Stephen lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, with his wife Corinne and their four children. He serves as an elder at Scottlea Gospel Chapel.
Read and hear more from Stephen Marchon his contributor’s page.
Stephen currently has 3 Programs on HopeStreamRadio:
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