Be Holy For I Am Holy - Definition of Holiness Sermon

1Peter 1:16 “Be holy for I am holy.”

God does not demand “Be holy you sinner!” He entreats, “Be holy (hand extended) and here is my Holy Spirit to help you.” His words “be holy” empower us to be holy, and His Holy Spirit resident within us is the source of that holiness.

Sanctification Part 4 – Be holy for I am holy

To be sanctified means to be set apart. When two people get engaged they set themselves apart for each other and their “sanctification” is sealed with a ring. God’s Holy Spirit living inside us is God’s seal of sanctification, this is His seal of holiness that sets us apart for Him.

Definition of Holiness

HOLY - The word holy (hagios) is the same word that is often translated “sanctified” – in other words “to be set apart” for the purpose for which you were created.

BE - The word “be” (ginomai) means “to cause to be, to become (come into being)” The word has the meaning of actually creating the desired effect or object.

The Word of God is powerful. When God speaks holiness over us by saying, “Be holy,” He is not only commanding us to live righteously but He is imparting to us His holiness in the same way He said, “Let there be light.”

The O.T word Hayah (to cause to become) is often compared to the N.T word “ginomai” which has the same meaning.

In the book of Genesis when God said, “Light be” (hayah) there was light. In the N.T God says, “Be holy” and there is holiness. Every word of God has the power to perform what it commands. And in that sense God’s command to be holy is not without power or grace to impart what He demands.

God does not demand “Be holy you sinner!” He entreats, “Be holy (hand extended) and here is my Holy Spirit to help you.” His words “be holy” empower us to be holy, and His Holy Spirit resident within us is the source of that holiness.

FOR - The Greek word “for” (hoti) means “causatively because.”

The NASB version puts it this way, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” You shall be, for I am. [emphasis mine] “You shall practice holiness, for I embody holiness” (NASB in E Prime)

God embodies holiness. He exists as holiness, that is who He is. And who He is (living on the inside of us) is who we are also, because He has become one spirit with us. You shall be holy, for I am, and I am living inside you.

Hebrews 2:11 says, “Both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one.”

While there is no doubt from this verse that God expects behaviour from us that displays the fruit of His spirit in our lives, we must not exclude the expectation that His grace is going to empower it. Yes we should live moral and righteous lives because this is what God expects of us now that we are His. But we are already set apart BY Him for this purpose, and He Himself will continue to set us apart for this purpose, because we are His workmanship, and because He Himself - the “set apart” one - has taken up residence within us to perform this work. And because He IS holy, and because He has made Himself one with us, we ARE holy and shall BE “caused to be” holy by the working of the Holy Spirit Himself.

The whole point of the OT is to show that man by Himself cannot do this. The book of Ezekiel says, “I will give them a new heart, and give them a heart of flesh, and write my laws in their heart”.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit living inside us, making us more and more like Christ every day as we mature in His image. You are loved, and God’s plans for you are good! That plan, my friend, is Christ in you. Christ in you is the hope of glory, honour and victory! (Col. 1:27)


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"God's words “be holy” empower us to be holy, and His Holy Spirit in us is the source of holiness."

Coping with failure

The Bible says we all fail in many ways, so we should not condemn ourselves when we miss the mark. The Bible says a righteous man falls 6 times, but he rises 7 times. In other words, he gets up one more time than he falls down! So we are in a process of being renewed, but we cannot fix ourselves, for we are broken and broken people cannot fix their own brokenness. How do you cope with failure in general when the failure is YOU? How do you try and fix failure when all attempts at self-improvement are doomed to fail because a broken you cannot fix YOU? You are helpless. That is when you realise that Christ in you is the hope, the expectation, the confidence.
Paul said he placed no confidence in the flesh. He looked to Christ within Him the hope of glory.

Snake on a pole

In the OT, in the wilderness, when they were bitten by serpents, Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole, and when they looked upon it they received their healing. Today you can see examples of this symbolism used for people who have a medical condition - they wear bracelets bearing the emblem of a snake wrapped around a pole to indicate that they have a medical condition that needs attention.

The snake was an OT type of sin. In our quest for the healing of the dysfunctionality in our lives caused by sin, we look to Christ - we look at the snake (our weak human nature crippled by the effects of sin) crucified with Christ on that pole.

God has provided a remedy, for the penalty of sin, the punishment AND for the healing of the effects of sin, and the crippling of the human personality as a result of sin. But if we try and live our Christian lives in our own strength, we cannot make it. There is no strength in the tail of a snake, it cannot stand upright.

Gen. 3:14 “On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust.” The snake used to be an upright creature, but after God cursed the snake it was made to crawl on the ground. God made man upright, but he too sinned, and then he shared the same fate as the serpent and had to crawl on his belly begging for an existence.

Man is now a weakened creature, but God has provided a solution for us in Christ, and what we cannot do in our own strength, God did for us. Rom. 8:3 “for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin.

God has made man upright again through Christ. But like the snake wrapped around the pole, the only uprightness you have in you is in the cross. Unless your flesh nature is wrapped around the pole of Christ, you will fail every time.

When we rely on our own strength, we fail. God gave us His own spirit to strengthen us. Our human flesh is like the snake – it has no strength to stand up, but if you wrap it around the pole, it has strength.

Failure is part of the human condition. James said, “we all fail in many ways.” You never lose weakness, you just grow in dependence.

Stop thinking it’s all about you. It’s not. God provided a solution. Look to the cross. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Jesus is bringing wonderful changes to your life. He is the author.

Those who are lead about by the Spirit of God they are the Sons of God.

The ones who rely on the Holy Spirit within them to lead them, guide them, strengthen them, overcome temptation, make holiness a reality in their lives... those are the mature ones. Not good and bad Christians, mature and immature.

Mature believers are the ones who have matured in the process of moral sanctification, through the power of Christ in them, their hope of glory - the person of the Holy Spirit resident within them. So, wrap your weak flesh around Christ this morning, and rely totally on the HS inside you, to do His ongoing work of moral sanctification. His grace, is going to see you through.

You shall be holy, for I am, and I am living in you. Christ in you, the hope.

Salvation is a Gift (All the big words are free)
Sanctification – Part 1 – Definition & Vocational Sanctification
Sanctification – Part 2 – Becoming a Servant Leader
Sanctification – Part 3 – Moral Sanctification
Sanctification – Part 4 – You shall be Holy

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