Q: Can you explain "Holiness Living?"
A: Holiness living is a state of total devotion and obedience to God in all aspects of life. We believe that followers of Christ need and can receive the fullness of God's Holy Spirit. When believers allow God's Holy Spirit to purify and fill their hearts they are enabled by the Spirit of God, which dwells in them, to live holy lives in obedience to God (Romans 8:5). We do not have the capacity to make ourselves holy. Only God can make us holy.
Recently, I visited with some people who are involved in doing acts of compassion in their community. They are making a huge difference in the lives of many people. When discussing holiness with them, I learned that several do acts of compassion because they believe that the more they give to the poor the more they will acquire holiness.
The mistake these and many other people make is to think that they can acquire holiness by doing a list of things and following a list of rules.
While acts of compassion are an expression of love to neighbors, they do not make a person holy.
To understand and embrace holiness living, it is critical to cease thinking of the work we can do to acquire holiness and embrace the simple truth that it is a gift from God to all who believe. The state of becoming holy is made possible by the work of God in us.
Holiness is derived from God: it is His will for all believers to be sanctified. "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16).
Because all humans are born with an inclination toward evil desires, human nature craves for and follows the desires and thoughts of the sinful nature (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God, full of love and grace, reached out to the world through Jesus Christ His Son to reconcile the world to himself. "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:10).
Therefore, we can abstain from sinful desires (1 Peter 2:11), clothe ourselves with Christ, and walk in the Spirit, not thinking about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Romans 13:14 and Galatians 5:16). One cannot claim to be living a holy life when one continues to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Inward holiness expresses itself in an outward lifestyle that glorifies God, hence the charge, "so be holy in all you do" (1 Peter 1:15-16).
God is holy. He calls us to be holy and He enables each of us to live a holy life. The indwelling of God's power in us enables us to walk (live) not according to the flesh, "sinful nature," but according to the Spirit. When we are made holy our lives are orientated to live in accordance with the Spirit of God. Walking in the Spirit is a matter of our being in the Spirit.
Holy living is a lifestyle that originates in God and is modeled by the disciples of Jesus Christ.
The holiness of God not only deals with the root cause of sinful behavior but also results in a desire to mature in our relationship with God as a result of growth in grace.
Fili Chambo is director of the Africa Region for the Church of the Nazarene.*
Holiness Today, May/June 2012
*Please note: this Q&A was originally published in 2012. At the 2017 General Assembly, Fili Chambo was elected to the office of General Superintendent.