Since it is God’s will for every Christian to be holy, He has given us the following gifts as necessary resources for holiness.
When you were saved you received Jesus as a gift (Jn. 1:12). In Him you were justified and made righteous—absolutely holy. “For He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew not sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Hence, His righteousness is credited to us. That means that positionally, we are eternally righteous and holy before God; we were made holy forever in Christ.
Now, though we are holy and sinless in our position or standing before God, practically we are not sinless and holy. In fact, though we have a new nature and desire not to sin, we still have our old sinful flesh; and so we find that we sin more than we really want to (Read Romans 7).
But Jesus is a gift for us in that area too. For when He came into us He came in to reign in us and to give us the power to be holy. Thus, when we received Christ as Lord, He, in fact, came into us and united us with Him, so that, in His resurrection we were raised up with Him in His new life and power. Hence, what this means is that we are now dead to the reign and rule of sin; it has no power over us to make us obey its wishes. It means also that we have a new power in Christ—we have the power to obey God and to be holy as we really want to be, or as He wants us to be (Read Romans 6).
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is that gift to us that does the work of holiness. From the start He is the one that leads us to God and works in us to desire His will and holiness (Phil. 2:13). He helps us to see how holy God is and how sinful we are. He works in us the spirit of repentance and surrender. Then, as we repent of our sins and submit to God’s will, He works in us mightily to cleanse our heart from sin, making it a fit dwelling for Christ (Eph. 3:16-17).
Also, as we continually submit to the Spirit’s control and follow His leading, He will give us the power to resist gratifying the desires of the sinful nature; therefore, we will not do the works of the flesh, such as these: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissentions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Gal. 5:19-21).
Instead, when we follow after the Spirit, He will produce in us the good fruit of His Spirit, which are these: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
The Bible, which is the Word of God, is a most valuable gift from God for our holiness. From it God speaks to us. For it is “living and powerful;” and it is like a “two-edged sword” that pierces into our soul and spirit and body. Through this living Word, God discerns our thoughts and intentions and exposes our sins (Heb. 4:12).
But He never leaves us bleeding. For the Word also is a healer of the heart, and it cleanses us from sin (Ps. 119:9).
When we meditate on it, and hide it in our heart to obey it, it causes us to delight in Him (Ps. 40:8), and it keeps us from sin against Him (Ps. 119:11).
The Word also trains us in holiness (or righteousness). How does it train us? Well, God’s part is to instruct us and teach us by His Word and through His Spirit; and He also reproves and corrects us along the way (2 Tim. 3:16). My part in the training is to consistently obey Him, pray, and learn what He is teaching me. The key to training is to learn what God is teaching me; and the process is by the discipline of developing godly habits. We may fail along the way, but that is part of the process of learning. Jerry Bridges has said, “The person who is disciplining himself toward holiness fails many times but he doesn’t quit. After each failure he gets up and continues the struggle.”
The conscience is a God-given inner sense of right and wrong. It is that inner part of us that judges our actions, words, thoughts, and motives, and then gives witness to that judgment. It will either accuse us or defend us.
Our conscience (that inner sense) was created in us by God (Rom. 2:15). And if it wasn’t affected by sin, it would be perfectly good, and one hundred per cent reliable. But every conscience is conditioned and developed by our teaching and culture. Thus, each of our consciences is different. Generally speaking, a good conscience has been conditioned by God’s Word and truth, and a bad conscience (a defiled and seared conscience) is one that has been misguided or callused by sin to the point where it does not know right and wrong (1 Cor. 8:7, Eph. 4:18, 19).
How does God’s gift of conscience (a good conscience—not yet defiled) help us to be holy? There are generally three points at which the conscience helps us to overcome temptation to sin:
1. Before a sinful action is started, when temptation begins, the conscience warns us that trouble is ahead. It puts up a warning sign in front of us in our mind that says, “Warning! What you are about to do is wrong!”
2. When sin has begun, the conscience is quieter, but it still warns us not to go further.
3. When sin is finished, that is when the conscience is the loudest and the most accusing. It tells us that we have really blown it! Hence, it moves us to repent.
The conscience also witnesses to us when we have not sinned. This is when the conscience is “clear” (Acts 24:16, Rom. 9:11, 2 Cor. 1:12). In this case the conscience is a great encouragement to us and keeps us going strong in the right direction. It puts up a sign in our mind that says to us, “Way to go!”
So the conscience is a great gift of God to us—to either warn us of sin, urge us to repent, or to encourage us for good behavior.
Even though your character is not what it should be, if you desire to be holy, and sincerely pray for it, God will definitely hear and answer that prayer. Why? Because it is a prayer of right motives (Ja. 4:3), and according to the will of God. E. M. Bounds has said, “The more we pray the better we are, the purer and better our lives…Prayer produces cleanness of heart and purity of life…It creates a distaste for sinning, and so works upon the heart.”
Prayer is necessary and fundamental at every point of your pursuit for holiness. Hence, in everything you do, if you want to remain pure, you must continue in prayer.