Introduction to Holiness

Holiness is a part of our daily walk with God. It is just as essential as knowing who our God is and how to be saved.

Hebrews 12:14  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

We are to be holy because God is holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

What is holiness? Holiness is a separation from sin and a dedication to God (Bernard, p. 32).

Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Corinthians 6:17 – 7:1  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We are to abstain from everything that appears evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.

This includes three major areas of sin: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

1 John 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

We are in the world, but we are not to be of the world.

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

James 4:4  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Holiness is inward and outward. We are to make our bodies a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

2 Corinthians 7:1  Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Holiness affects all aspects of our lives including:

  • Spiritual stewardship
  • Attitudes
  • Thoughts
  • Actions
  • Physical stewardship
  • Appearance

This list includes both Inward and outward holiness. We must have both (Bernard, p. 213).

Holiness is a continual striving toward perfection. No one is perfect, but we must continue to strive toward perfection. God expects us to grow and mature. We are to grow in grace and knowledge, bearing the Fruit of the Spirit.

2 Peter 3:18  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 

John 15:1-8  I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

God doesn’t want us to live in sin. We are to be over-comers. Through His power and strength we can overcome sin. If we do sin, we must quickly repent.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

We don’t live holy lives because we think we’re better than anybody else. Also, we don’t live holy lives by our own strength. We don’t even live holy lives because we have to. We do have to live holy, but we live holy out of a desire to please God. We live holy out of a desire to obey God’s Word. This is not legalism (Bernard, p. 55). If we truly love God, we will obey His commandments.

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

1 John 2:3-6  3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.  6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

The Holy Ghost gives us a holy nature (Bernard, p. 79). The Spirit gives guidance and power, giving us the strength to overcome sin and live righteously.

Romans 8:2-4   2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

God teaches us holiness through:

  • His Word
  • Anointed preachers and teachers
  • Convictions that agree with God’s Word

We are not automatically holy. Holiness requires effort and desire on our part. We must allow God to do a work within our hearts.

Romans 6:11-14  11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Philippians 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

2 Peter 3:14  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

It is clear from scripture that God wants His people to be a holy people; a separated people; without blemish; without spot or wrinkle. God has sent a call to holiness. We must answer this call. Holiness involves many aspects of our lives and includes many principles. These principles are the specifics of holiness living. We will cover these principles in our next study.


Bernard, David K. (1983) Practical holiness, a second look

            Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press

David K. Bernard Practical Holiness


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