The pursuit of holiness should be the most exciting challenge that the Christian will face. The word HOLINESS suggests to modern man something pale, anemic, withdrawn, negative and passive. That shows how little modern man KNOWS about it! Holiness is, in fact, the most positive, potent and passionate quality of life that is ever seen.
HOLINESS is necessary for the abundant life, the deeper life, THE VICTORIOUS LIFE. How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing—it is irresistible.
The pursuit of holiness is incumbent upon every believer. The terms HOLY and HOLINESS occur (in one form or the other) 830 times in the OT and 234 times in the NT.
In Leviticus 19:2, God told Moses—
Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: `Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
In 1 Peter 1:15-16, Peter told the Church—
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Hebrews 12:14 clearly affirms that is imperative that every individual lives a holy life—
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
- Corinthians 1:2 proclaims that we have been called to be holy—
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ— their Lord and ours.
Sanctification and holiness cannot be separated in Biblical language; neither can they be separated in Christian life. It is helpful to think of sanctification and holiness as a divine or human act of setting apart. Genesis 17:1 records—
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
This is one of many instances in the OT where an individual was set apart for holy living. In the case of Abraham, it was God who set him apart. In Jeremiah 1:5, God told Jeremiah—
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
Samuel was set apart by his mother, Hannah, for service to God in the Temple before he was conceived. 1 Samuel 1:11—
And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
Samuel sanctified Jesse and his sons before beginning the process of selecting the future king of Israel from among them. 1 Samuel 16:13 relates—
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [David] in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
Both Samuel and God had set apart David to be king of Israel. Sanctification and holiness in the Bible carries the idea of one being set apart for God’s service and therefore, those who have been sanctified should avoid whatever displeases Him and be holy!
The first eleven chapters of Romans are a prelude to Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:1—
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
The NT speaks of SANCTIFICATION as being accomplished in three stages. It speaks of a completed work, a continuing process, and final perfection.
The final work of sanctification is perfection. Our physical death is necessary for perfection. Our soul and spirit must take off this mortal body and put on the glorified body. Then we will be like Christ. Glorification is the ultimate form of sanctification.
Romans 6:1-10 tells about the completed work of sanctification. God has baptized every believer into Christ’s death and resurrection. Legally and positionally, we died to sin in Christ and we rose to new life in Him. Therefore, we have been set apart by God to be holy.
The middle stage of sanctification is a continuing process, often called PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION. It is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the process by which the life of the believer is ever-increasing being conformed to Christ. Paul stated this as his goal in Philippians 3:10-11—
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Romans 6:1-10 explains our solidarity in Christ. Once we KNOW this truth, like Paul, we should desire to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection in our life.
With Romans 6:11, Paul continues to show us the way to the victorious life—
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We are born into Adam’s race with sin having reign in our life. Sin is a king, a ruler, a tyrant, a lord who has the desires of our mind and the members of our body under its control. Sin’s mastery is manifested in our thoughts, words and deeds. To end sin’s reign in our life, we must certain actions. The first action is to COUNT.
The verb COUNT or RECKON is an imperative in the Greek. We are to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to to God in Christ Jesus—by the virtue of our being united with Him in His death and resurrection. Colossians 3:3 puts it this way—
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Point of fact—believers are partakers of the death and life of Christ; since we died with Him, and live with Him, then we should so regard ourselves—BORN CRUCIFIED. We should receive this truth, with all its upraising and sanctifying power, into our hearts, and manifest it in our lives.
Regardless of our feelings, we are to COUNT on this great fact. God’s way of victory is through CRUCIFIXION—deliverance is only through DEATH. There is a vast difference between counting myself DEAD TO SIN and counting SIN DEAD TO ME.
Every attempt to make SIN DEAD TO ME, through self-effort, or struggle, or blessing, or make-believe, is not following the Scriptural pattern. God says, “I am to count myself DEAD TO SIN.” If I am willing to be rid of sin, I must let my faith fasten to the fact that I am DEATH TO SIN through my actual life- union with Christ. I am IN CHRIST. And to be in Him is to be dead to sin. Oh, to believe it! Never mind the feelings.
Each time I come up against some particular sin, let me there say, “I died to that in Christ.” I am dead to my selfish pride and conceit and haughtiness.
Let us be like the couple who replied to an invitation to go to an “R” rated movie. “We are very sorry, but it will be impossible for us to attend. We died last week. We are Christians.” The couple had declared their testimony in baptism the previous week, as dead, buried and risen in Christ. Evidence that we are partakers of the benefits of the death and life of Christ, is our dying to sin, and living to God.
It is said that Emperor William refused a request for an audience prepared by a German-American. “I know Americans; I know Germans; but German-Americans I do not know.” William would not recognize dual citizenship.
Even so, I was once bound in Adam, I am now freed in Christ. The Cross cut me off, killed me outright to my old citizenship and life. I am no Adam-Christ believer. Such a position will get me no audience with my King, or bring me deliverance from bondage of the old man. Let me cease at once any such unholy duplicity. Let me declare that I am Christ’s and His alone.
We must be either DEAD IN SINS or DEAD TO SIN. If we are lost in Adam, we are DEAD IN SINS. If we are saved through union with Christ, WE ARE DEAD TO SIN. Let’s count on this great truth. COUNTING flows to REJECTING. Verse 12—
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
Our COUNTING ourselves dead to sin is doomed to failure unless we renounce and reject the reign of our old self along with its evil desires in our bodies. On the basis of Calvary and of our oneness in Christ, we must reject the lordship of our old nature. Sin reigned in our life until we were born again—then sin lost its power to reign. Now Christ is our Lord.
Our old self is a hideous monster—packed with evil desires—and it seeks to dominate us. We must reject it! CONFESSION is the primary way to REJECT sin. 1 John 1:9 declares—
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Sin’s powers of desire, guilt and shame are broken only as we come into harmony with the Cross by confessing our sin. God forgives and the guilt and shame are broken. Then God purifies us and the evil desires are conquered.
God is good and He is a jealous lover. He wants every believer delivered from sin. He will not shrink from reducing us to guilt, shame and despair in order to drive us back to the glorious power of the Cross.
The Cross contradicts our will—Christ said, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” The Cross contradicts our affections—Galatians 5:24 says—
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
The Cross contradicts our pride—Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . . He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
The Cross contradicts our old self. 2 Corinthians 5:15—
And [Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
The Cross contradicts our Adamic nature at every point. The Cross reveals our utter bankruptcy, and pronounces a death sentence on Adam’s race. It is God’s master-stroke to undo and drain away our natural life, that the Spirit-filled life may take its place.
Christ came not to straighten us out, but to CROSS us out—not to trim us back, but to cut us off—not to get us doing, but to bring us to an undoing.
Christ came not to put new wine into old skins. He came not to put new cloth on an old garment, but to put off in total the old man with his “duds.”
Therefore, Christ’s announcement, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” can be nothing short of an undoing and termination of our whole sinful self inherited from Adam.
God delivers you from your old self; and if you again become subject to it, it will be the effect of your own choice or negligence. Verse 13—
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
DO NOT OFFER. In other words, YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION! It is no sin to be tempted, the sin lies in yielding. While the sin exists in the world, the flesh and the devil’s solicitations, it does not become ours until we yield—then we enter into temptation.
The Bible is clear! Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Count the old self dead and it is powerless. You cannot be forced to sin until you offer over your body to it.
If you want to have power over temptation, let God have your will—OFFER YOURSELF TO HIM— keep your will ever on His side. Satan cannot force the will, and God will not. Indeed it would cease to be will were it forced by either: it is essential to its being that it be free. THE VICTORIOUS LIFE is a choice. You’re free to enjoy it or reject it.
Let heart, mind, soul and body be employed in the service of your Maker; let Him have your heart; and with it, your head, your hands, your feet. Think and devise what is pure; speak what is true, and what is edifying; work that which is just and good; and walk steadily in the way that leads to everlasting life. Be holy within and holy without!
It is one thing to have eternal life by faith; it is quite another thing to have victorious life by faith. It is one thing to become the righteousness of God in Christ; it is another thing to realize His righteousness in our life. It is one thing to live in Christ; it is another thing for Christ to live His life through us.
As believers we have a choice. We may offer ourselves to God by yielding to His righteousness and enjoy the victorious life, or we may yield to sin and endure a defeated life.
If we yield ourselves entirely to the Holy Spirit, sin shall not have dominion over us. Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set us free from the law of sin and death according to Romans 8:2.
THE VICTORIOUS LIFE blossoms when we offer ourselves to God as Master, allowing Him to live His life through us. Let me illustrate this truth with the PARABLE OF THE RED CONVERTIBLE.
One day a father gave his son a shinny, brand new red convertible, called SALVATION. The son was so happy and trilled when he received his father’s gift. He showed his shinny, brand new red convertible parked in the drive way to everyone who passed by his house. He took pictures of it and sent them to friends. He telephoned others and described his father’s wonderful gift in great detail.
Then one day the son was observed out on the highway pushing his new red convertible—SALVATION. He was exerting great effort but unable to push SALVATION up the steep hill. The scene would have been funny if it was not so pathetic.
Then HELPER was observed coming alongside of him and asking if He may help. “No, I am doing just fine on my own,” the son replies. The harder the son attempted to push salvation without making any progress, the more Helper asked, “May I help you!” Finally frustrated and desperate, the son yielded and accepted Helper’s offer to help. Together they climbed into the shinny, brand new red convertible, Helper took the steering wheel, turned the key and the two sped up the hill in SALVATION.
How many Christians are like this son who receive the gift of SALVATION, yet try to push it in their own power and strength and get nowhere. Jesus identified HELPER as the HOLY SPIRIT. He is just like Christ and He comes alongside to help us in our salvation.
However, we must offer the parts of our body to Him if we are to live the victorious life. We must offer the steering wheel of our life to God and yield to Him as Master. Otherwise, sin is our master. And that’s unacceptable for the born again believer according to Romans 6:14—
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
The idea of the surrendered or yielded life to God seems colorless to so many believers. For some strange reason, they find yielding themselves to their old master more attractive. At least, until they get into trouble!
One of the reasons for the LAW is to control the old nature we inherited from Adam. But the Law is powerless! As a believer, you are not under LAW, but under GRACE which is far superior. God does a number things in our life when He gives us the gift of GRACE. He spells out many details of His GRACE in Ezekiel 36:25-27—
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
The LAW is like an old, dirty red convertible without the driver—it is powerless to get us to our destinations of abundant life and eternal life. GRACE, however, is a shining, new red convertible with the driver. Our primary responsibility is to yield to the Driver who moves us to follow God’s decrees. When we offer our bodies to Him, we speed up those difficult hills of life in our SALVATION.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
The form of Paul’s question is different than back in verse one of this chapter. The immediate answer is the same—BY NO MEANS! The apostle has demonstrated in the past fourteen verses that God’s method of sanctification is on the same basis of justification—solidarity and imputation that comes by faith.
Faith that God can do it. You and I cannot do it! When we learn that we cannot live the Christian life, we have learned a great lesson. Then we are prepared to let God live it through us.
Here Paul’s question is whether there should be an assist given to grace to accomplish its high and holy end. In other words, the natural man thinks there ought to be some laws, rules and regulations given.
From the early centuries of Christianity until today, there are a number of groups who put down certain rules for the believers. Some of our fundamental people have made, not ten commandments, but twenty new commandments. If the believer does certain things and refrains from doing certain other things, he is living the Christian life.
If you want to make life depressing, live under rules and regulations that God has not laid down in the Scriptures. The Christian life is being obedient to Christ. In the Great Commission, Jesus said—
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
We dare not add to God’s commands and His teaching! My friend, do you love Jesus? That’s the important thing! Jesus told His disciples in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Remember that BAPTISM is IDENTIFICATION. Identification with Christ is positional sanctification. That is basic. But OBEDIENCE to Christ is the experience of sanctification, and that is practical sanctification. It is just that simple.
It is not how you walk, but where you walk. Are you walking in the Light, walking in fellowship with Christ, is the Holy Spirit driving? Are you traveling the road of righteousness? It is obedience that leads to righteousness.
There is a subtle poison that penetrates into the heart even of the best Christian. It is the temptation to say, “Let us sin, not that grace abound, but because it abounds.” You see, there are many Christians today who who say, “I am saved, and I can do as I please.” My friend, if you have been saved by grace, you cannot do as you please, as we shall see in Chapter 8 of Romans. In Christ, you have died to sin and been made alive unto to God.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he makes it clear that there are three ways in which we can live:
- You can live by Law
- You can live by license
- You can live by liberty
To live by law, everyone puts down some principle. Some say that this whole life was given to sex— that’s their law; they live by that. Regardless of who you are, if you are living by law, you are living by the old nature. Then, the other extreme which Paul is guarding against is license. If you are a child of God, you can’t do as you please; you have to do as the Lord pleases. You must be obedient to God. You are to present your bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. This is practical, a great more practical than you may realize.
Paul want us TO KNOW regardless of who you are, whomever you obey, whatever you obey, that is your master. You are obeying something or someone. Sin is service to Satan; righteousness is service to Christ. If we sin, we are the servants of Satan, and not the servants of God.
The key of THE VICTORIOUS LIFE is given in Romans 5:5—“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” God’s Spirit awakens all holy affections and the primary affection is love. The motive for our obedience to God is no longer is LAW, but LOVE! If you let Him, the Holy Spirit will take the wheel of your SALVATION, turn the key of LOVE, and drive you on the road of righteousness.