God didn’t say “Be omnipotent, for I am all powerful,” or “Be omniscient, for I am all wise.” He said, “Be holy for I am holy.” God doesn’t expect us to attain to His divine attributes, He expects us to live holy lives by His grace and power.
Personal holiness is simply loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. But, loving anyone or anything more than God is sin (see Exodus 20:3). Human nature demands a master. Personal holiness is giving our heart wholly to God, and allowing Him to be the Master of our lives.
Repentance and Forgiveness
Before we begin to live holy lives, we must repent of our sins and receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV). When we repent of our sins, we become new in Christ Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). This spiritual transformation, the new birth, frees us from the guilt of past sinful living.
Need and Surrender
The next step is to make a complete surrender of our heart and will to God. At some point following conversion, the believer will sense the need of a deeper cleansing of the heart from its sinful condition. This experience, called entire sanctification, is different from the new birth:
- The new birth deals with guilt caused by the acts of sin committed in the past.
- Entire sanctification deals with the sinful condition of the heart, which is the cause of rebellion against the Spirit until the heart is purified.
Assurance and Victory
How do we know we are entirely sanctified? The Holy Spirit always bears witness to His work. Spiritual fruit produced by His presence is as natural as fruit on a tree. We are partakers of His divine nature. The presence of a holy God produces holiness of character and action. As we walk in the light of His truth, we grow in likeness to Him.
We will still be vulnerable to temptation and the possibility of sinning, but we live by the promise: “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Ro. 6:14). Our part is to willingly (and continually) acknowledge the lordship of Christ. God’s part is to cleanse us from sin, and to fill us with the Holy Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV).
When our heart has been cleansed from all sin, and our wills totally surrendered to God, we can live victoriously through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Thomas Hermiz
Churches of Christ in Christian Union