Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

What is holiness in the Bible?

Have you ever asked, “What is holiness in the Bible?”

What is holiness

You may have even read a verse like,

You shall be holy, for I, Jehovah your God, am holy. (Lev. 19:2)

But what does that mean, and how is it even possible for us, who were fallen sinners, to be holy as God is holy?

First, we must believe that this is God’s word which expresses His desire for us. We must also believe that God would not say this without providing a way to fulfill it.

An encouraging hymn on holiness

In seeking an answer, I was comforted by the lines of a precious hymn on God’s holiness that says,

“Thou wilt make us even partakers of Thy very holiness.”

How wonderful is this promise! God will make us partakers of His holiness!

These words from the fifth stanza of the hymn, “Holy Father, we adore Thee” by Witness Lee, open a door into the revelation and experience of God’s holiness.

God does not expect us to “be holy” by our own effort. Rather, He has a marvelous plan, God’s economy, to make us the holy expression of the Holy God—to make us “partakers of His holiness.”

First, let’s consider God’s plan for holiness revealed in His word. Then we will apply this to our experience, and see how we can become “partakers of God’s holiness” (Heb. 12:10).

We need to see holiness in God’s plan – how God obtains a holy expression of Himself, the holy God

To help us see holiness in God’s eternal plan, we will follow the six stanzas of this profound hymn to give a panoramic view of God’s holiness.

First, holiness is God Himself—God’s person, indicated by His name – stanza 1 

The story of holiness starts with the “Holy Father,” God the Father Himself—the Source of holiness.

Stanza 1 of this precious hymn says,

Holy Father, we adore Thee,
Rev’rent song to Thee we raise;
Thou art holy, Thou art lofty,
“Holy is Thy Name,” we praise.

In His prayer in John 17, Jesus addressed God as, “Holy Father” (John 17:11). Since the name denotes the person, this name tells us that God in His very person is holy.

He is set apart from everything common. We can only say—”Holy is Thy Name,” we praise.

And because He is the Holy Father, His pleasure is to have holy children. So He chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be holy (Eph. 1:4).

Second, holiness is God’s nature – stanza 2 

Holiness is not a kind of outward behavior, in which a person dresses and deports themselves in a particularly pious fashion. Jesus was holy, but He looked quite ordinary. He was even called the “carpenter’s son” (Matt. 13:55).

Stanza 2 says,

Loving is Thy heart, dear Father,
Righteous ever are Thy ways;
But how holy is Thy nature,
Yet, to us Christ it conveys.

Holiness is God’s nature and Christ, as God’s embodiment, who is sanctification to us (1 Cor. 1:30), conveys this holy nature into us.

There are certain attributes of God we will never possess. For example, we will never be omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. These attributes belong only to God Himself. But how wonderful that holiness is an attribute of God that can be conveyed to us!

In fact, Peter said that through the great and precious promises of God’s word, we can become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). This is why it is so helpful to read God’s word with our praying spirit, to pray-read it (Eph. 6:17-18).

Simply tell the Lord,

“Lord Jesus, thank you for the precious promises of Your word. Through Your word, convey God’s holy nature to me for my experience.”

Third, we are made holy in our position through the blood of Christ and the truth which is God’s word – stanza 3  

With God, holiness is His nature, but with us, holiness is our sanctification, our being separated unto Him (Heb. 12:14).

Stanza 3 says,

Thou hast ever sanctified us
With the blood of Christ our Lord;
Thou hast separated sinners
Thru the truth which is Thy Word.

Hebrews 13:12 says that “Jesus, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” Christ’s blood sanctified us unto God the moment that we believed in Him.

Ephesians 1:13 says that when we heard the word of the truth, the gospel of our salvation, believing into Christ, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s sealing separated us, who were sinners, to be God’s inheritance. What a blessing!

In John 17:17 Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” God’s word works not only to separate us from the world and its usurpation positionally, but to saturate us dispositionally (Eph. 5:26).

Fourth, we also become holy in our disposition by the Spirit’s continuous sanctifying work – stanza 4  

Stanza 4 says,

Thou hast, by Thy Holy Spirit,
Made us holy unto Thee;
And our spirit, soul, and body
Wholly sanctified will be.

Sanctification is much more than a change in position from one that is common to one separated unto God (Matt. 23:17, 19). By His Holy Spirit, God makes us holy unto Himself in all three parts of our being—spirit, soul and body (1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thes. 5:23).

He does this beginning from the moment we believe into Christ and are born of the Spirit in our spirit (John 3:6). Then from beachhead in our spirit, the Spirit spreads into all our other parts until we are wholly sanctified.

It is a healthy practice to pray,

“Lord, sanctify me more today. Spread from my spirit into my soul and even to my body. Saturate me with Your Holy Spirit.”

Fifth, we possess the holy life of Jesus and become partakers of God’s holiness – stanza 5 

Stanza 5 says,

Oh! The holy life of Jesus
Thru Thy grace we now possess;
Thou wilt make us e’en partakers
Of Thy very holiness.

Through God’s grace we now possess the holy life of Jesus! His holy life is the element, the supply for us to live such a holy life as Jesus lived.

By enjoying His holy life through grace, God makes us partakers of His very holiness! That is, we partake of the quality of His nature, of what He is.

Sixth, in the holy city we’ll share God’s full holiness – stanza 6 

Such a process issues in our sharing God’s full holiness in the holy city for eternity!

Stanza 6 says,

When within that holy city,
Thy full holiness we’ll share,
To the uttermost forever,
“Thou art holy,” we’ll declare.

This is the destination of God’s story of holiness —the holy city, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 10). As the issue of all the foregoing points we’ll not only share God’s full holiness, but to the uttermost forever, we’ll declare—”Thou art holy!” This declaration is the expression of what we have become, a corporate expression of God’s holiness.

Becoming partakers of His holiness—Not a “how to,” but remaining in His dispensing

We’ve seen the wonderful steps God takes to gain an eternal expression of His holiness. As believers, we need to cooperate with God to become partakers of His holiness today.

We can partake of His holiness by staying in contact with the Lord by means of His holy Word and His sanctifying Spirit.

Practice to daily enjoy the Lord Jesus by feeding on Him in His word (John 6:57, 63), by pray-reading and musing on the Word. You will discover that the holy life of Jesus is supplying you, making you a partaker of God’s holiness (2 Pet. 1:4)!

Since He, as the life-giving Spirit dwells in your spirit, continue to set your mind on this spirit (Rom. 8:6) so His holy life can spread into your mind.

There is no need to try to be holy, just live and have your being in, and according to this spirit—His Spirit mingled with your spirit (v. 4).

If you have enjoyed something from this post please take a moment to share it in a brief comment.

References and Further Reading:

This post was inspired by my enjoyment of the hymn, “Holy Father, we adore Thee” by Witness Lee, You can also listen to the tune on hymnal.net.

I was also helped by reading the first section on “holiness” in message nine of The Conclusion of the New Testament, messages 1-20. You can read it online at ministrybooks.org  under books by Witness Lee..

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

2 Replies

  1. Great information – Thanks for sharing!

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for taking a moment to express your appreciation.

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