Holiness is a distinctiveness of God. It is what makes Him distinct from anything else. That is the very definition of God. He is holy. So how are we to be holy?
Jesus said to us, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat. 5:48) What did He mean by this? In fact, all the people of God was supposed to be holy, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” (Lev. 19:2) Holiness is a distinctiveness only of God. Yet we are reminded by Peter, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16) What does this mean? How are we to be holy?
Realize human beings can never be holy by themselves. No matter how hard we try, no matter how righteous we are, no matter how perfect we think we are, as human beings, we can never be holy, as it is a distinctiveness of God. The only way to be holy then is to let God express Himself through us. That is why God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16) To be holy is a passive term. We do not make ourselves holy; we become holy for He is holy. The holiness of Christ having taken residence in us, dwelling within man, living within His believers, makes us holy.
This holiness dwelling in us needs to be expressed so God lives out of us. The only way to do this is to die to ourselves so Christ could live out of us. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) When we no longer live to ourselves, when we no longer cherish our soul-lives (Rev. 12:11), Christ can live out of us so we express His holiness. That is why those who find their lives will lose it, those who lose their lives will find it (Mat. 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33). This concept is repeated five times in the Bible for emphasis. When we lose our soul-life, we will gain the divine life of Christ. Realize Christ will become our person and be expressed through our humanity. The love that is of God will be expressed in us to our brothers. That is how we love our neighbours as ourselves.
That is why Christ was incarnated to be a man, so He could experience what we experience in our humanity, and bring that back to God during His resurrection and ascension. Realize He brought humanity back to divinity. When Jesus resurrected, a new creation was formed. When He was born of Mary, He was the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16); when He resurrected, He became the firstborn Son of God (Col. 1:15; Rom. 8:29). As the firstborn Son of God, He had a humanity that has already been tested. So when He released the life-giving Spirit to us (1 Cor. 15:45), the Spirit has all the aspects of human living in Him. It had experienced all our temptations, all our needs and limitations of the flesh, all our desires to do things according to ourselves, and was victorious over all things, subjecting all things under His feet (Eph. 1:17). Realize this is the Christ that we have now received. It is victorious in all aspects of our humanity. In fact, the love we have for each other, the joy we share, the peace between men, the patience we show each other, the kindness we express, the goodness towards each other, the faithfulness we keep, the gentleness of our hearts, and the self-control we express, becomes a display of the fruit of the Spirit, of Christ Himself, lived out of us (Gal. 5:22-23). The two natures, Christ’s divinity and Christ’s humanity, has become one now expressed through His body, us. That is why whatever we bind on this earth will be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on this earth will be loosed in heaven (Mat. 16:19; 18:18). That is why “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat. 6:10; Luke 11:2)
Where do we get the power to do this? Realize it is only in the power of the Holy Spirit. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:9) After the disciples received Christ and received the Holy Spirit as life to them, they were born again with an eternal life. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22) They were born of the Holy Spirit, but not filled with the fullness of the Spirit. They had the divine life, but had not recognized the divine power of this life that was in them. They still needed to be filled with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. That is why, in His resurrection, Christ appeared to His disciples for forty days (Acts 1:3). This forty days was to remind us of the forty years the children of Israel spent in the wilderness. Having crossed the Red Sea, the children of Israel were all baptized and received the Holy Spirit as life to them. Yet all those that came out of Egypt had to die in the wilderness so the world (Egypt) could be left behind. They had to lose their life to gain it. Those that were born in the wilderness depended only on manna as their source of energy. They depended on the heavenly things, the manna, as their bread of life. “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.’” (John 6:32-33) “I am the bread of life…” (John 6:35) When humans derive their energy purely on Christ as their bread of life and live this way, they don’t need to cut off their flesh. That is why the children of Israel that were born in the wilderness were not circumcised until they reached the good land and the manna stopped. “For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised.” (Jos. 5:5) As we cross the Jordan to live with the inhabitants of this world, feeding on the produce of this land and eating flesh again, we need to be circumcised. When we gain our strength from this world, we need to cut off our flesh. “Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation…” (Jos. 5:9) “On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna…” (Jos. 5:11-12) Realize the source of our power to live this divine life must be a source that is divine. It must be of the Holy Spirit, the bread of life. That is why in crossing the Jordan, God’s people had a second baptism. To cross into the good land and function in this world to win over its inhabitants, as God’s people, His ambassadors in chains (Eph. 6:20) must be immersed in the Holy Spirit. We must be inwardly baptized in the Holy Spirit. “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5) In this baptism of the Holy Spirit, we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. Today it is simply realizing the power of the Spirit that is living within us to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Php. 1:21) We have died to our soul-life so we live Christ.
When we realize the power of the Spirit living within, we become witnesses of the Spirit that is living within us. We become witnesses of the Spirit today that is operating within us as Christians. When Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus, He said to Saul, “But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;” (Acts 26:16) Realize the Spirit living in us not only gives us utterance so we speak the words of God as a minister who teaches, but we are appointed a witness of the Spirit living within us. A witness is one who provides testimony—testimony of the reality of the Spirit that is living within. The Spirit not only makes real to Paul the things which he had seen, it makes real to him things in the future that are about to come, when the Spirit will appear to Paul in “the things in which I will appear to you.” (Acts 26:16) Today as we live this life, the Spirit is appearing to us moment by moment in all things, bringing us into a heavenly way of living and behaving that is of the Spirit, of the Christ that is living within us. We live and walk by the Spirit. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25) As Christians, we become witnesses of this reality. That is why, “And they overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their [soul]-life even when faced with death.” (Rev. 12:11) As witnesses of the Spirit, the word of our testimony is Christ’s reality lived out of us. That overcomes Satan. As Christ lives out of us, the reality of the fruit of the Spirit is expressed in us. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” (Gal. 5:22-23) all the reality of the fruit of the Spirit, Christ Himself, is expressed from us. We “belong to Christ Jesus [and] have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:24) We did not love our soul-life even when faced with death (Rev. 12:11) and have presented ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20) “If we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:23)
This is how the body of Christ is built in one accord. We no longer separate ourselves according to what we hold as somehow “more righteous” in the church. There is no longer groups of Christians, but just one body of Christ. When we let the Spirit lead us, we are all one body. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.” (Eph. 4:4) We no longer hold up ideas that separate, but we simply let the Spirit lead, just as the ark of the covenant led the children of Israel as they crossed the Jordon and as they defeated Jericho where the walls were shaken and came tumbling down. “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them…” (Acts 4:31-34) Realize the apostles in Acts defeated Jericho, shaking it to its foundations. When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were led by Christ living within them. They did not speak from their soul-life, but spoke only the word of God with boldness. They were witnesses of the Spirit, giving a testimony of what they saw of the resurrected Christ. They were now in one accord as a people, doing whatever the Spirit wanted and going wherever the Spirit led them. “They answered Joshua, saying, ‘All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.’” (Jos. 1:16) The congregation of believers formed the one body of Christ—they were of one heart and soul. They did not claim that anything belonged to themselves personally, but all things were common. Realize this implies that they had given up their soul-lives in this world. They had entered into the land flowing with milk and honey so “abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them…” (Acts 4:33-34) This is the reality of the one Spirit and one body of Christ.
May the Lord open our inner spiritual eyes to see this reality today so we would be overcomers in His church.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.” (Eph. 4:4)