Are We Missing Something?
Jesus said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:7). This imperative appears only once in the entire Bible. We have given great importance to this verse and rightly so, as it is the only the way into the kingdom of God. What we have failed to see though is what it really means to be born again.
Peter tells us in his first epistle. “But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living” (1 Peter 1:15). The same way we are commanded to be born again, so also are we commanded to be holy. God calls us with divine purpose. Only as we are experientially holy (“in all your conduct”) are we qualified to fulfill His divine purpose as the body of Christ. He reveals this purpose to us: “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). He stresses the fact that it is God’s purpose to form us into a corporate body of holy priests who minister to God through Jesus Christ.
When we really understand the redemptive work of Christ, we will realize that you cannot be truly born again without being made holy in a real and practical way. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The same way that we are “to be born again,” we are also commanded “to be holy.” Both are requirements of God with dire consequences if not fulfilled. Although we warn others with great urgency that they must be born again or be forever separated from God, we have failed to fully appreciate the ramifications of our failure to be holy – “without which no one will see the Lord.” When was the last time you were warned that you must be holy? When was the last time you were told of the consequences of not being holy? And let me stress here, that the scriptures make it very clear that it is a practical holiness of being that is referred to and not a spiritual position in Christ. Jesus Himself stressed this point in His sermon on the mount. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8).
As I said above, throughout all of the scriptures we are told one time that we must be born again. And I don’t want to detract from the importance of it. But look at what the scriptures say about being holy both in the Old and New Testaments. And bear in mind that these are only the scriptures that directly command us to be holy. There are numerous others that infer the same thought.
“For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44a).
“For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45).
“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’” (Leviticus 19:2).
“Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 20:7).
“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine” (Leviticus 20:26).
“They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy” (Leviticus 21:6).
“And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God” (Numbers 15:39,40).
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
“That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
“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).
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11).
The word holy is found 637 times in the NKJ version of the Bible. We need to ask ourselves, if God puts this much stress on being holy, don't you think this means it is rather important? And yet we have relegated being holy to the least of our concerns. We have stressed everything else to the detriment of what is truly important to God. We have esteemed prosperity, healing, blessing, self-help, happiness, and everything else that speaks to the desires of man but we refuse to deal seriously with the issue of holiness. “And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God’” (Luke 16:15). Most of what the church majors on God considers an abomination. Charles Finney in his Holiness Essential to Salvation, speaks directly to the modern day church:
“Many are really seeking to be justified in sin. They ask God to pardon them, but they refuse to be sanctified; they seek Christ as their justification only. They cleave to their sins, they are living in their sins, and they seek to be justified rather than sanctified – indeed, they refuse to be sanctified at all.”
“Whenever the doctrine of justification comes to be more prominent in the church than sanctification, there is something wrong, there is a radical error crept into the church.”
Ezekiel lamented the same sentiment regarding the refusal of the people to embrace the cleansing work of God. “In your filthiness is abomination; [and therefore] because I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed, you shall not be cleansed from your filthiness any more until I have satisfied My wrath against and upon you” (Ezekiel 24:13 Amplified).
Holiness is not an option. It is a command and a necessity. Everything in the kingdom of God is based on holiness. Love, righteousness, and the fruits of the Spirit are all rooted in holiness. All prayer, spiritual warfare, and worship are rooted in holiness. Fellowship, intimacy, abiding, favor, blessing, power, anointing, and every other facet of the kingdom of God are rooted in holiness. All of the will and purpose of God for us is rooted in holiness. All ministry to God is based on holiness. All end time doctrines concerning the coming of the Lord are based on holiness. The very supreme purpose of the cross is holiness.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5).
Without holiness no one shall stand in His presence and see the Lord. We are sadly deceived if we believe that we shall possess the kingdom of God apart from being holy even as He is holy. It is time to embrace and walk in the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of man that is so prevalent in the church today. God created us to be first and foremost holy. “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:17,18).