“…. holiness without which no man shall see the LORD”. Heb 12:14
HYMN: NEARER, MY GOD, TO THEE
TEXT: 1 Peter 1:13-17
Holiness is one of the major themes of the Bible. It is in fact the very nature of God. He is completely and totally holy. His presence carries with it HIS holiness. HIS presence therefore in any life brings HIS holiness into that life. Thus, dwelling in HIS presence means beholding and reflecting HIS holiness. The individual who so dwells in His presence is commanded in scripture to be holy even as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
It is our walk-in holiness that reveals the presence of God in our lives to the world. Holiness can only come from God. It is not a process of reformation that comes with an individual making up his mind at the end of the year to live by some moral resolutions in the ensuing new year. Holiness is God’s nature imparted to man through the LORD JESUS CHRIST by
the working of the HOLY SPIRIT.
It is therefore of utmost importance and necessity that the believer in CHRIST must dwell in God’s holiness.
The objectives of this study are:
1.) To make us understand what holiness is and what it means to dwell in God’s holiness.
2.) To help us appreciate the fact that it is possible to live a holy life in today’s world.
3.) To examine the characteristics of the person who dwells is God’s holiness.
4.) To identify those factors that can help the believer live a holy life.
Q1A. WHAT DOES HOLINESS MEAN?
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. In Psalm 51:5 we also read “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”. It follows therefore that man was born with a sinful nature, making it impossible for the natural man to manifest or exhibit holiness.
When an individual genuinely repents of his sin (that is, turns away from his sin) and invites CHRIST into his life, he is given a new nature and declared righteous by God (that is, he is put in right standing with God). This new state of being in right standing with GOD is expressed in holy living, that is, doing things that are pleasing to God. As stated in Wycliff Bible dictionary, holiness is separation from sin (Isaiah 52:11; 2 Corin 6:17) and conformity to God’s standards (Lev. 20:7-8; Matt 5:48; 1 Peter 1 :15-16).
In very simple terms, someone once said that “holiness is loving what GOD loves and hating what GOD hates”. Holiness therefore describes a life lived for God, expressed daily in the manifestation of the fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT in a believer’s life (Gal. 5:22-23).
Q1B. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DWELL IN GOD’S HOLINESS?
It is written in scripture that our God “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” 2 Peter 1:3-4.
From the above, dwelling in God’s holiness implies relying absolutely on and cooperating with Him as He works out His nature in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has given promises in HIS Word which when appropriated will enable us partake of HIS divine nature including holiness. Such a lifestyle will keep us far from corruption by the world.
As we dwell in HIM, we will not have to struggle to please HIM because HIS grace will naturally sustain us in the path of holiness. The point to note is that we do not have any holiness of our own. It is HIS holiness which he has deposited in us, by HIS presence in us that we manifest for the world to behold. We are therefore not to be like Israel in Romans 10:3 “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God”.
It must however be stated too that it is hypocritical and complete absurdity for any believer to claim that he is dwelling in God’s holiness and continues to live in sin. We cannot claim to be believers; proclaiming that God has put His nature (holiness) in and upon us and continue to practice immorality, fraud, cheating, lying, backbiting or any other work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). Such an individual is being deluded by the enemy and he needs to cooperate with the HOLY SPIRIT fully, so that he can dwell in God’s holiness and enjoy the blessings of holy living.
Q2. IS IT POSSIBLE TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE IN TODAY’S WORLD?
We deceive ourselves when we suppose that our world today is remarkably different from the world of the scriptures in terms of human attitude and behavior. A major trick of the enemy today is to make people believe that the “complexity” of today’s society makes it impossible for men to live by the ideals of scripture. Any such thought remains a fallacy.
There is no sin being practiced in the world today that was not practiced in Biblical times. Immorality, murder, idolatry, 419 (deceit/fraud), occultism, robbery, backbiting etc. as seen in today’s world also manifested in the generation of people that lived in Bible days. The fact remains that just like there were people in the Bible days who, despite the rot in their society stood by their convictions and practiced holiness, so must there be in our generation. We need men, women, boys and girls who will stand by their convictions and practice holiness.
In Genesis 6:9-12, we read “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God…. The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” As seen in these verses of scripture, the world in Noah’s day was filled with corruption, a trait very prevalent in our own world. There was also violence which may have included robbery, assassination etc. These are also prevalent in today’s world. Noah chose to live a separate life aside from the rot of the environment. God gave him grace (Gen. 6:8). Similarly, space may not permit us to write about Lot’s generation (with its high degree of immorality Gen. 19:1-5, 2 Peter 2:6-8) and Daniel’s generation (with its high degree of idolatry, occultism and corrupt practices- Daniel chapters 3 and 6). It is also noteworthy that despite the rot around them, Lot, Daniel and the other three Hebrew children chose to live for God and practiced holiness.
Thus, despite the rot in today’s world, the believer can also choose to live for God and the LORD will give such a believer the grace to dwell in HIS holiness. Unlike our ancestors in faith (Noah, Abraham, Lot, Job, Daniel etc.) who did not have the HOLY SPIRIT residing in them, today’s believer has the HOLY SPIRIT living inside him. Therefore potentially, we are more empowered to live holy lives in today’s world if we will cooperate with the HOLY SPIRIT, who lives in us as HE gives us direction in the way we should go.
Q3. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MAN WHO DWELLS IN GOD’S HOLINESS?
The Bible declares “By their fruit, ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). Therefore, the man who dwells in GOD’S holiness can be identified by many characteristics some of which are discussed below.
When a man dwells in GOD’S holiness the fruit of the SPIRIT is evident in his life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” Gal. 5:22-23. These character traits are expected of the believer who chooses to walk in holiness. It is rather unfortunate that in the times we live in, there are many who profess Christianity and there is no evidence of the fruit of the SPIRIT in their lives. Although this is not a lesson specifically on the fruit of the SPIRIT, it will however do the Sunday School Class some good to meditate on the fruit of the SPIRIT and let every member of the class measure himself/herself by God’s standard of holiness and not man’s or denominational standards.
Also, the man who dwells in God’s holiness makes obedience to God his primary focus as he lives in this world (1 Sam. 15:22). Such an individual has put off the old man with its inclination to disobedience and evil and has put on the new man who is renewed after GOD’S image (Eph. 4:21-27). The believer’s delight therefore is to please GOD.
Furthermore, when we dwell in GOD’S holiness we will be heavenly focused. A believer who dwells in GOD’S holiness will seek (pursue) heavenly things and his desire will not be to conform to this world, as he pursues daily an inner transformation and renewal of his mind; this will reveal GOD’s presence in his life to the world (Col. 3:1-2, Rom. 12:1-2).
Moreover, the man who dwells in GOD’s holiness seeks to be perfect even as his heavenly FATHER is perfect (Matt. 5:48).
Q4. WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE FACTORS THAT CAN HELP THE BELIEVER LIVE A HOLY LIFE?
In our pursuit of the desire to walk with and work for GOD, there are certain attitudes/factors that will be of immense help to us. Some of these factors include:
Reading, meditating upon and obeying God’s word. In Psalm 119:9-11, the scripture declares “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word. With my whole heart, I have sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in my heat that I might not sin against Thee”. The place of God’s word in living a life of holiness is obvious and cannot be overemphasized. Any believer who desires to dwell in God’s holiness must devote himself to studying, meditating upon and obeying God’s word. God’s word when obeyed renews and transforms an individual’s life.
Prayer. We are admonished in scripture to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). As we spend more time in GOD’S presence (in prayer) we will receive and reflect HIS beauty. Those who see us will truly perceive HIS presence and glory in our lives.
Submission (James 4:7). Submission is also a key factor as we seek to dwell in God’s holiness. A life that is submissive to God understands the implication of putting God first in his life: and that is, he allows GOD decide where he goes, what he does, what he says, what he wears etc. A life submissive to GOD and governed by HIM will certainly dwell in GOD’s holiness.
Obedience (1 Sam. 15:22). A heart of obedience is very necessary if a believer is to dwell in GOD’s holiness. The Bible tells us that “… to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams” 1 Sam. 15:22, As good as paying tithes, giving offerings, involvement in the church activities, membership of activity groups etc. many be, they cannot be substitutes for obedience to GOD. Our daily mindset ought to be that we will obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). The hallmark of true discipleship is obedience to HIS commands (1 John 2:3- 5, 2 John 6).
Walking in love. “Jesus said unto him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Walking in love is another factor that will help us dwell in GOD’s holiness. When we love GOD, we will obey HIS commandment (John 14:15, 21) and when we love our neighbors we will not hurt them.
Regular attendance at Christian (Fellowship) meetings. It is good for a believer to attend Christian meetings regularly to share fellowship with other believers. Through such fellowships we learn more about the LORD and HIS ways (Prov. 27:17). In times of trials, the strength and encouragement to live a holy life can come from genuine fellowship with the brethren.
Keeping heaven (eternity) in view. We must never forget that we are pilgrims on earth. Our ultimate and real home is in heaven. Therefore, all we do on earth we must keep our eternity in view. When we have this in mindset, we will seek those things that are above by aligning our thoughts, words, and deeds with GOD’s standards as we live in this world. (Heb. 11:13- 16).
Apart from the above, other factors like witnessing, discipline in the use of our tongues, self-control etc. can be of great help to us as we seek constantly to dwell in God’s holiness.
The benefits enjoyed by the believer who dwells in God’s holiness begin in this world and continues in eternity. These include peace of mind, divine health, answers to prayers, crown of life, crown of righteousness and eternity with God.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
Believers are expected to dwell in God’s holiness. We must accept holy living as our personal lifestyle. When sincerely manifested by all believers, the character traits of holy living will make our families, churches and the society better. The secret of experiencing and seeing the LORD is in dwelling in HIS holiness. Let us depend on HIS grace and obey the HOLY SPIRIT and HE leads us daily in the path of righteousness.
1 Peter 1:16
“Be ye holy, for I am holy”.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
Monday: A Holy lifestyle.
Tuesday: Examples of Noah, and Lot.
Gen. 6:8-9; 2 Peter 2:5, 6-8
Wednesday: The fruit of the Spirit.
Thursday: Importance of the Word and Prayer.
1 Thess. 5:17, Psalm 119:9-11
Friday: Be not conformed to this world.
Rom. 12:1-2, 1 John 2:15-17
Saturday: Reward for holy living. John 14:27, 16:33
2 Tim. 4:8, Rev. 2:7-17, 26-28, 3:5-21