Holiness Is Integrity
What is Holiness?
[Reading time: 6 minutes] Holiness is a major theme in the Bible, yet few of us can describe it with confidence. It refers to someone or something dedicated to God, set apart specifically for his use or for service to him, that also adheres to his standard and so is blameless or morally pure. Therefore, holiness is being set apart from sin and its influence, and being devoted to God and morally pure. Sanctification or consecration is the process that produces holiness.
Calling someone “holy” means they’re dedicated to God’s intended purpose, so any deviation from that purpose violates their holiness. In that sense, holiness is a matter of integrity.
Holiness is one of God’s characteristics. God the Father is holy, according to Jesus (John 17:11), who also said Father’s name is hallowed (Matt. 6:9), which means it’s sanctified or made holy because of who he is. The disciples acknowledged Jesus was holy (John 6:69; Acts 3:14). Jesus said he sanctified himself for us (John 17:19). And clearly, Holy Spirit is holy (Matt. 28:19). So holiness is an essential quality of God’s nature, which means all of his characteristics, intents and actions conform to his standard.
God never deviates from his own standard. Even when he relents, he changes his mind about what he was planning due to people’s responses, yet he continues to uphold his standard and his nature (Exod. 32:14; Jer. 18:8). He is the supreme example of integrity; an inconceivably perfect adherence to an incomprehensibly high standard of excellence. That is the essence of God’s nature and character, which can only be described as “holy.”
The angels who remained true to God after Satan’s rebellion are holy (Mark 8:38). They remain fully dedicated to him and everything he does, so they also have integrity.
God’s Holy People – Us
Like all godly attributes, we receive holiness (possibly in embryonic form) and develop it more fully as we mature spiritually. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we became holy through his death on the cross for all the sin that originally defined us as unholy (Heb 10:10). God now strengthens us so we’ll be blameless and holy in his presence (1 Thess. 3:13). Therefore, we became holy when we were born again, and our holiness grows as we become increasingly like Jesus, which is God’s intent (Rom. 8:29). Our holiness is both a completed fact and a continuing process.
God’s Part in Our Sanctification
Before he created the world, God chose us to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). He called us to be saints, that is, his holy people or holy ones (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2), and to live holy lives (1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Tim. 1:9). Then, when we responded to his offer of salvation, he began sanctifying us completely, in every way (1 Thess. 5:23), strengthening us so we’ll be blameless and holy (1 Thess. 3:13). He clearly is actively involved in our sanctification.
He disciplines us for our good, so we’ll share in his holiness (Heb 12:10). The biblical word translated “discipline” mainly relates to raising children to conform to acceptable thinking, beliefs and behavior, so it’s relevant to us as we grow up spiritually. He disciplines us by instructing, training and correcting us when necessary so we’ll adhere to his standards.
We acknowledge Jesus as our Savior, but we may fail to realize that by dying for our sin, he made us holy and complete or perfect (Col. 1:22; Heb. 10:10, 14). Stated another way, we were sanctified in him (1 Cor. 1:2). Before he paid the price for our sin, he sanctified himself so he could be a perfect sacrifice to sanctify us (John 17:19).
The Holy Spirit is an essential agent in our salvation and sanctification. He caused people to tell us the good news about Jesus’ death for our sin (1 Pet. 1:12). He convicted us of sin (John 16:8) and revealed the truth about what Jesus did for us (John 15:26; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:12). When we accepted Jesus as Savior, Holy Spirit came to live in us (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19; Gal 4:6), to seal or identify us as belonging to God (Eph 1:13) and to guarantee our salvation (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). Now that we belong to God, Holy Spirit is actively sanctifying us – freeing us from slavery to sin and setting us apart to greater dedication to God – as we cooperate with him.
Our Part in Our Sanctification
God works cooperatively with us because he honors the free will he gave us. So it’s not surprising that we also have an essential role in our sanctification, just as we must choose to accept his offer of salvation before he saves us. He doesn’t do his part if we choose not to do ours. Our part in sanctification is to develop integrity based on his nature and ways.
Holiness involves setting ourselves apart from sin and its influence, and devoting ourselves to God and his standards. This means we must repent, change the way we think, by shifting our focus from satisfying our sinful desires to satisfying his holy ones. Holiness teaching that emphasizes behavior or appearance is overlooking an important point: improving these without repenting is legalistic, frustrating and ineffective. Holiness is impossible without repentance, conforming our thinking to God’s standard, which then governs our behavior.
God chose for us to be saved through Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work and through belief in the truth, which we discover in his Word and Jesus (2 Thess. 2:13; John 17:17; 14:6). Consistently reading his Word, the Bible, purifies our minds, identifies our sin, motivates us to confess, renews our relationship with God, and develops godly integrity in us. As a result, this will motivate us to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:3-6), resulting in a state of righteousness. This is only possible if we make the right choices, which means our active involvement is essential to our sanctification. Scripture says we’re to make every effort to be holy (Heb 12:14), and put on our new nature, which is holy like God (Eph 4:24). Holy Spirit will do the work in us if we choose to engage in the process.
Our normal (worldly) thinking will object to denying ourselves (Matt. 16:24), becoming slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:19), and being more concerned about God’s kingdom than anything else (Matt. 6:33). However, we’ll discover that developing godly integrity, or holiness, allows him to bless us and work through us in ways we couldn’t imagine, because we’ve dedicated ourselves to him.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9, NIV).
- What impact does the concept of godly integrity or holiness have on the following?
- What you do with your time.
- What you think about in your spare time.
- How you make decisions.
- Your choice of entertainment.
- How you view your occupation.
- Your attitudes regarding your marriage and family.
- Your attitudes about proper diet, rest and exercise.Your choice of clothing.
- How can you identify attitudes, thoughts or motivations that violate your holiness?
- What specific steps can you use to develop greater integrity?
- How do the Bible and Holy Spirit reveal your level of integrity
Holiness is being set apart from sin and its influence, and being devoted to God and his standards. Deviating from the standard God set for us or his intended purpose violates our holiness; therefore, holiness is a matter of integrity.