How can I be holy? This is actually a question that I’ve asked on numerous times. I’ve asked people. I’ve asked pastors. I’ve even asked Jesus in my prayer time. How can I be holy? Today the Lord gave me an answer. He said to me, “You can’t.”
I’ll be honest this concept was a little bit of a shock to me. For so long, I’ve been trying to attain this thing called holiness. (okay some days more than others) But overall, my far reaching goal has been to attempt to be holy. And to then find out that I can’t do it. It was something serious for me.
He didn’t say to me you won’t. Jesus told me, “You can’t be holy.” Seriously God? It’s not possible? Whenever I feel like I get spiritual reveals like this from Christ I tend to dig deeper and deeper. Especially when He tells me there is something that I can’t do or become. Even as a child, I was always the “why” kid. Stefan you can’t do this. “Why?” Stefan you need to do that. “Why?” You know how that goes.
You may already know where this post is going. And to be honest with you, God wasn’t sharing something with me that I didn’t already know. But as I always say to my friends and family, there is a difference between knowing in your head, and receiving it in your heart. For so many years, I’ve been the, “know it in your head” kind of guy. I’ve always known LOTS of things. But few of them have I ever really accepted. There is a big difference between knowing the truth and accepting the truth in your heart. The more I’ve grown over the past year and specifically the past few months, the more truth I’ve accepted into my heart. This was a, truth in the heart moment for me, and is the reason I decided to write about it.
Back to my conversation with God.
So the question in my brain then becomes, “why can’t I be holy?”
I mean God instructs us to be holy in His (holy) scripture. Doesn’t He? In Leviticus we have the old-testament declaration that we are to be holy where Leviticus 11:44 says, “After all, I, the Lord am your God. You must be holy because I am holy…”(NLT) That verse goes on to talk about not defiling yourselves with unclean animals. But the statement is right there in black and white! You must be holy because I am holy.
In the new-testament Peter re-emphasizes this statement from Leviticus. In fact he quotes it verbatim. I Peter 1:15 says we must be “…holy in everything we do” just as God is holy. He goes on in verse 16: “For He Himself has said, You must be holy because I am holy.”
Here we have three definitive instances where the bible tells us to be holy. So then how could God then tell me, I can’t be holy? Is it something about me God?
So I pressed Him a little further, and a little further, and even a little more. And finally, He spoke into my heart, the truth that I had been holding in my mind.
Wikipedia declares holiness to be: being clean or pure, to be holy is to be like a god. We won’t go into the blasphemous “like a god” portion of that statement. But what does stick out to me is the being clean a pure part. Clean and pure. Could I ever be that? Could I ever be clean and pure. No actually, I can’t. Not with some of the things I’ve done in my life. Now with some of the thoughts I have everyday. Not with some of the unforgiveness in my heart, pride in my life, the lust of my eyes, the expressions of my flesh. With all of that, there is no way I could be clean and pure. The only way I could ever be clean and pure is through Jesus.
We all know that, don’t we? We all know, the only way any of us can truly be clean and pure is through Jesus. We all know since we were “born into sin” we can’t truly be clean and pure. It’s like a puzzle piece that won’t fit. The only way we can be cleaned and purified is through Jesus. We all know that right? But, have we all accepted it as truth?
And that’s the truth behind the answer Christ gave me. “You can’t.” I can’t be holy. But He is holy on my behalf. He lives in me, making me holy in the sight of God, although I’ve done nothing to deserve this designation of holiness.
It’s like getting a job you’re completely not qualified for. Then keeping the job for the rest of your life, just because someone at the company saw something special in you. And even though you’re not qualified, and you don’t deserve the position, they keep you, because they still see something special in you and they believe in your ability to improve in that position day after day.
That’s what Jesus does with us. When He comes to live inside of us, we begin to exhibit His holiness, not our own. Remember, we can’t be holy. (at least I can’t) And although this whole holiness thing might start out rough and rocky, we improve day after day. We improve our relationship with Christ day after day. The more we improve, the more His holiness is displayed on our behalf.
Take another look at the scripture in I Peter 1:16. It reads, “For He Himself said, ‘You must be holy because I am holy’”. Does that resonate differently with you now? He’s not saying we have to try our best to be holy on our own. If you will allow me, I will expand context of that scripture for a moment. To me, this scripture is actually saying, you can’t help but be holy (must be holy) because I am holy.
See, after I’ve accepted Jesus into my heart, and He starts to do His work in me, He’s going to finish it. As long as I seek a relationship with Him, He’s going to see me through. As long as I desire to get closer to Him, He’s going to improve my life and my walk. So as He does all of that, I have no choice but to become holy. Why? Because, it’s not me doing it. It’s Him. He’s the holy one and I’m allowing Him to take over my life, and I’m allowing Him to rule my life, and I’m allowing Him to guide my life, and I’m allowing Him to protect my life, and I’m allowing Him to save my life… And He is always holy. The more of my life, my desires, my wants, my weaknesses, my struggles, I hand over to Him, the more I become holy. Why? Because He is holy.
Since He is holy, when my life is given to Him and He takes it, it becomes His life. And His life will always be a life of holiness. Even when I sin, when I fall, when I truly SCREW IT ALL UP, He is still holy. And when I take the step to confess my sins and ask for forgiveness, I once again give more of my life to Him. The more my life becomes His, the more holy I become. Why? Because He is holy. It’s like the sunshine clearing away dark clouds and turning it into a beautiful day. The sun always shines. No matter how many clouds are in the sky the sun still shines, you just can’t see it.
I started this post, talking about how I can’t be holy. But the truth really is, as long as I have Him, I can’t help BUT be holy. Of course I have to do my part. I can’t go on a sin-spree and just live in drunkenness, lust, hate, unforgiveness, and debauchery. But even if I do, if I confess my sin, ask for forgiveness, seek His face, and repent (turn from my wicked ways) then I am returned to my status of holy in Him alone. I might not feel holy, I might not think I’m holy, but He still sees me as holy whenever I come to Him with my weakness.
So my friends let me encourage you today. As long as you know Jesus and live your life in relationship with Him, you can’t be holy… AND you can’t help BUT be holy.