1 Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

This aspect of the Christian life, called holiness, is a mystery to most. To some, the subject of holiness has been abused by relegating holiness only to those who are of the clergy or those of the laity who have been sainted.

By in large, most think of those who are holy, as people who walk slow, shuffle their feet and have a mindless stare off into space. However, that is more a description of us senior citizens as we demonstrate greater and greater senility. None of those actions have much to do with holiness! I know, because I'm experiencing most of them.

The simplest definition of holy would be sacred. But then what does sacred mean? Well sacred means holy. We may smile at this dilemma of definitions, but it's right on. Holy does mean sacred, and vice a versa.

The Greek word holy and its many derivatives is one of the most frequently used words in the New Testament. The word holy and it derivatives are used in excess of 300 times in the New Testament. That number could be increased many times over, depending how deeply we dig into the make-up of the Greek words.

In the Old Testament, the usage of the words for holiness is virtually uncountable. Because the root of holy is used in many words, those word counts are anything but accurate. In reality, the entire Bible is speaking of holiness and its counter part unholiness.

In the New Testament alone, the English words used by the translators to bring out the meaning of the original are numerous. Some of those English words are: godliness, sanctification, devoted, sanctuary, holiest, sanctified, hallowed, saints and the list goes on.

Back to the dilemma of definitions, where we say that holy means sacred, and sacred means holy. Our friend Mr. Webster in his English dictionary has a good grasp of both words. I think these English definitions will be of help in our understudying the subject of holiness. Knowing what holiness is will help in the process of being holy in our conduct.

holy (Webster)
set apart and dedicated to the service and/or worship of God; perfect in righteousness and divine love; spiritually whole, sound or perfect; venerated because of association with someone or something holy
sacred (Webster)
consecrated; dedicated or set apart; devoted exclusively to the service or use of a particular person; holy or hallowed by association with the divine

These English definitions are real close to the Biblical declarations. The Holy Spirit, in the Bible, is not as interested in defining the terms holy and holiness, as He is in declaring that God is holy. God does not do things to be holy, God is holy.

All that God is and does is holy. God does not have to strive to accomplish holy actions. By the very fact that they are God's actions, those actions are holy. Holiness is the very essence of God.

The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, also declares that anything that is not of God is unholy. That does not mean those things and actions are morally wrong from a human perspective, or are even wrong socially. However, any action, thought or attitude that is not of God is unholy.

Proverbs 21:4 A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.

God is not telling us, in this proverb, that the wicked farmer should not make a decent living. Instead, the point is, anything that is not of God is less than holy, which is sin. We like our lists of sins much better than the Biblical declaration of sins. I like that list of sins which contains everything that I don't do, and declares those things as sin.

The fact, that anything that is not of God is sin, is true of the unsaved as well as the saved. A Believer living by their own strength is committing sin, even if what they are doing is very religious and extremely good deeds.

Anything that is not of God is Godless! It falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, it is ungodly or sin. Paul, writing to Believers in that great chapter of Romans 8, said...

Romans 8:5-8 For those [Believers] who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

I believe we would be more than safe in making the assumption that if a Believer was not pleasing God, that Believer would not be living in holiness. No, the Holy Spirit is not interested in defining holiness. Instead, the Word of God declares that God is holy, and anything that is not of God is unholy.

The Word of God is also very clear in the fact that any unholy person can receive God's holiness through accepting Christ as Savior. Most of the New Testament is dedicated to explaining how any Believer can live in holiness. Paul summarizes the process of living a holy conduct in:

Galatians 2:20-3:3 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun [salvation] in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect [into the image of Christ] by the flesh?

We've looked often at the first three verses in this passage, and we could spend many more hours without exhausting their riches. As we look more intently at this process of being changed from one degree of glory to another, I want to call your attention to the last two verses in the passage before us.

Paul asks a rhetorical question of, "How did you receive your salvation?" The obvious answer is by faith alone! Any person, who knows even a little bit about the doctrine of salvation, knows that no amount of human effort can come close to producing salvation from one sin, to say nothing of the sin of Adam, and all our personal sins.

Paul goes on to basically say, "Ok! That is how you began your life in Christ. Why do you think you can bring that life in Christ to fulfillment by any effort of your flesh." Your answer to that question will determine whether you will ever know holiness in your conduct in this earthly life.

Let's reestablish the end or ultimate purpose of this new life in Christ. If the ultimate purpose of the new life in Christ is to:

then some personal effort, on the part of the Believer, might be needed to complete the purpose of this new life in Christ. But those things are not the purpose of the life in Christ. In your life in Christ during your stay on this earth, you may accomplish some or all of those things listed above, but none, or any combination of those things are the purpose of the new life in Christ.

I call to your memory our brief study on the beginnings of mankind. Mankind was made in the image of God. If we had no other information than that fact, it should be enough to establish God's purpose for mankind.

God's purpose in the creation of mankind was that all humans would live in and demonstrate the image of God. If that was not the purpose, God would not have created mankind in such a state. Now let me tell you, you'll need a Ph.D. in theology to see that Biblical truth, right?

The image of God was lost through disobedience in the Garden. Mankind died spiritually, and their image was at best, human, and at worst, demonic. The brief history of mankind in the first eleven chapters of the Bible establishes this fact.

After the sin by Adam and Eve, God immediately promised redemption of mankind through the "seed of the woman". Comparing this truth with other Scriptures shows that this seed was God Himself through the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ was the fullness of the Godhead bodily, because He had taken the form of mankind, but did not cease being God, totally God, in His person.

The redemptive program of God is designed, by God, to bring mankind back to God. The provisions for redemption to spiritual life in God had to be provided entirely by God, because mankind was dead spiritually, and could not respond to spiritual things let alone produce spiritual actions and plans.

Salvation or the new birth is just the first step in the redemptive program, as we see from Galatians 3:3 and elsewhere. Paul calls this first step, "having begun in the Spirit" v.3, but he continues with, "now being made perfect (complete)". The reception of God's Redemption through Salvation brings to the recipient the holiness of God. This holiness, or essence of God comes to the Believer by virtue of the life of God being placed within the Believer's life because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

From the time of salvation, this holiness or essence of God is within the life of the Believer. We might refer to this internal holiness as static holiness. Static is not a good word for the holiness of God, but I searched high and low and could not find another English word that would convey the thought any better.

God's holiness is never static, but as to the conduct of a Believer, this holiness is static or non functioning within the Believer's life until it is demonstrated through the Believer's earthen vessel. Like any power in a static state, with the proper conditions that static power become very active.

The purpose of God in Redemption was not just to bring a person back to God and place God within that person's life. The ultimate purpose of God in Redemption was to restore a person to the image of God, and a lot more.

John 14:12 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

God's purpose is that Believers have more than just the image of God in their lives. We are children of God, and God wants us to live like children of God. We are not to live and act like just any child of God, but like the Only Begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Believer will ultimately be like Christ after the rapture.

1 John 3:1-2 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are ["begun in the Spirit" Ephesians 3:3] children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Between the time we will be like Christ, 1 John 3:2, at His coming, and "having begun in the Spirit" at salvation (Galatians 3:3), we should be in the process of "being made perfect or complete" (Galatians 3:3).

For our study, we have chosen to call this process discipleship. Much of the process involved in discipleship is not joyous at the time, but afterwards will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness, but only to those who are trained by that process.

Hebrews 12:10-11 For they [our parents] indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

In this day and age of feel good religions, it is almost impossible to sell the process of discipleship to Believers. Most Believers would like to have the afterwards, but they do not want the process of "being made perfect". If you really want holiness in your conduct, there will be times of uncomfortableness, to say the least. Suffering comes when events or actions are not normal or are unusual.

Let me tell you, a transformation of a depraved sinner to one demonstrating the holiness of God in their conduct, is about as unusual and non-normal as can be. That transformation will bring stress within, ridicule from without, plus a lot of other humanly unpleasant things. But afterwards it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. To go contrary or to be in opposition to the Old Sin Nature within, the customs and philosophies of the world without and the fiery darts of Satan will bring greater stress than any normal function of life.

Hebrews 12:1-4 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
bloodshed (Greek)
used in this case figuratively, as squeezing the juice out of the grape

Yes, there are things, hard things, we must do as Believers if we are to know the blessing of discipleship. Doing these things will not of themselves produce holiness. However, the process of discipleship in developing a holy conduct will require these hard things. To change from an unholy conduct to a holy conduct will require applying pressure to things within our lives in a similar manner as squeezing grapes.

Therefore, the question: Do you want the afterwards enough to take the non-joyfully squeezing by the discipline needed to produce the "peaceable fruit of righteousness"?

If you are not willing to endure those things that do not "seem to be joyful for the present" (Hebrews 12:11), then this part of the series is not for you. You're welcome to listen in, but you will never know the afterwards of the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

There are many components in this discipleship process. We will be directing our attention to one of those components in this study. However, no one of these components is complete without the others.

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He [Christ] Himself gave (to the church) some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Before we dive into this subject of being changed from one degree of glory to another, I want us to take a quick glance at the whole, so we do not get over balanced or unbalanced in our perspective. As we have seen in many passages dealing with the subject of holiness, the standard we are to measure our conduct by is the "stature of the fullness of Christ". Anything less will not "cut it"!

As was sung in the opening of our service, it is not the mansions of heaven or our loved ones who have gone on ahead. No, it not even the great men and women of the Bible that should occupy our thinking in this life or in heaven. It is Christ alone! When our thinking is in and on Christ alone, then we will see all these other things through the mind of Christ. These other things will not be forgotten, but we will be seeing them through the mind of Christ. We will see them in holiness.

Titus 1:15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

Anything less then than Christ will not "cut it"! That is why the writer of the song, after his mind swept over all the great things of heaven, cried out, "I want to see Jesus!" Folks, we need to redirect our thinking, our hopes and what we are striving for. It must be Jesus alone. Then all else will be in proper perspective.

Throughout the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit presents several components that work together to give us this mind of Christ.

2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

One of those components is the Word of God and the promises given in the Word. Through the use of those promises, we partake or assimilate His divine nature into the very fabric of our living. This is not referring to salvation, but living that salvation out through our lives, by means of our conduct.

As we have the divine nature operative in our living, then we find the escaped from the corruption of the world brought about by our own lust. By the way, you don't escape the corruption of the world by isolating yourself from the world. No matter how well you isolate yourself from the world, you take your lusts with you. It is those internal lusts that are the cause of the corruption in your life and the life of your children. Don't blame the world for what you have within. What's within your life is your responsibility, not the fault of the world!

Some time ago, in our study we saw that in the spiritual activity of the Believer's life, every attitude and action is to be a response to God for what he has done, and a reflection of God as to who He is.

This component, in the process of holy living, is the object of our present study.

2 Corinthians 3:17-4:2 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
liberty (Greek)
manumitted; freedom; unrestrained as a citizen, not a slave.

The Holy Spirit uses a Greek custom with which those at Corinth would be familiar, so they could have some understanding of the spiritual truth of this passage. This custom is one of giving a slave liberty or freedom. Not just any freedom. Not a freedom to do as they pleased, but a freedom of greater significance and value. I'm told that the phraseology here and other places, in the use of the word liberty, is that of manumission from slavery. The definition also bears out this truth. Manumission was a special form of freedom for Greek slaves.

The Greeks effected this freedom or manumission through a legal fiction. Within our legal system, there is a lot of fiction. However, this Greek fiction did not refer to an untruth, or a story that did not really happen. Instead, it was a transaction carried out by a human acting in the stead of one of the Greek gods. The fiction part was that the god was not really making the transaction. However, from the Greek government's perspective, it was a legal transaction. This legal fiction stated that the manumitted slave was purchased by the god named in the legal fiction. Obviously the slave could not pay the price of manumission. Therefore, the master paid the price to the temple treasury in the presence of the slave. Once a slave was manumitted in this manner, that slave could never go back into slavery. That slave was now the property of the god named in the legal fiction. A slave with this freedom had privileges that few others possessed. The freed slave had access to the holiest places of that god. It is amazing how close some religious forms and practices come to the truth of God's Word, but yet still deny the power of God. The Holy Spirit used an illustration known by those at Corinth, to teach a spiritual lesson far beyond the illustration or the understanding of the human mind.

As a redeemed slave from sin, every Believer has been given, by God through the Holy Spirit, liberty to access not only the holiest places of our God, but to stand in the very presence of God's glory in His sanctuary. As we will see in detail in future studies, Moses was given the liberty to enter the presence of God.

2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones [the Mosaic Law], was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
When you think of spiritual quality or glory, what do you think of:  
Or do you think of being like Christ? 
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998