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Why Christians need to live a holy life

HOLINESS is a word that many Christians find it uncomfortable to mention, much less to talk about.

Even preachers nowadays hardly preach on holiness. They prefer to expound on the other attributes of God, such as love, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience. This is understandable because these divine attributes endear God to men.

We somehow feel safe and secure whenever we talk about the power, love, wisdom and compassion of God. We also feel comforted and reassured whenever speakers remind us that our God is a loving Father, a caring Shepherd, and a strong Protector.

On the other hand, the mere mention of God’s holiness makes us feel ill at ease. Why? Because holiness has something to do with our inner-most self — our thoughts, desires, motives, passions.

What is holiness? What does it mean to live a holy life? Holiness is not merely attending church regularly, reading the Bible regularly, tithing regularly, praying without ceasing or even fasting regularly. In other words, holiness is not doing religious things, neither is it behaving in a religious fashion.

Look at the self-righteous Pharisee praying at the street corner. He boasted to God: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” (Lk 18:11-12 NKJV).

Now, that is not holiness! That is blatant hypocrisy!

Why must we Christians be so concerned about living a holy life?

One reason is that holiness is God’s character. For God is holiness. The theme of God’s holiness runs through the whole Bible like a red thread. After having witnessed the Lord’s destruction of the pursuing Eyptians at the Red Sea, Moses and the Israelites praised the Lord: “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders.” (Exo 15:11 NRSV). Where God is, there is holiness.

Another reason why we believers must live a holy life is that God has commanded us to be holy. It is God’s purpose and will that we should be holy as He is holy: “You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” (Lev 20:26).

How do we go about living a holy life?

First, we must read, study and meditate upon the Word of God. And obey it.

The Word of God is given “by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Word of God has sanctifying power. In His high-priestly prayer, Jesus interceded with God: “Sanctify them — purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy — by the Truth. Your Word is Truth.” (John 17:17 Amp). That is, God’s Word can sanctify us because it is Truth.

Second, to live a holy life we must have a clean heart. The human heart is the seat of evil thoughts and wicked designs. The Bible tells us about the wickedness of the heart in no uncertain terms: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (Jer 17:9 NIV).

What makes a man unclean? The evil in his heart. As Jesus said: “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’.” (Matt 15:18 NIV). What are those evil things lodged in the heart? Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander: these things defile a man (Matt 15:19-20 NIV).

Third, to live a holy life we must have a renewed mind — the mind of Christ.

God and Satan are locked in a mortal battle for the mind of man. Satan knows that once he has captured our minds, he would have us in his pocket. And that is why he is hell-bent on sowing lustful, evil and unholy thoughts in our minds.

To counter Satan’s evil strategy to pollute our minds, Paul has admonished us: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2 NIV).

Without knowing God’s perfect will for our lives, we cannnot conform fully to the mind of Christ. And without comforming to the mind of Christ, we cannot live a holy life. How do we renew our minds? The renewing of our minds is essentially the work of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. Nevertheless, we must do our part to keep our minds clean, pure and undefiled. The power of thoughts must not be under-estimated.

That is why the Bible says: “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJ). And that is
the tremendous power of thoughts.

The importance of holiness in the life of a believer cannot be overemphasised. Without holinesss, no Christians can please God. And neither can they effectively serve Him.

Ng Kwee Choo is a Local Preacher at Wesley Methodist Church.



‘Holiness is God’s character and God has commanded us to be holy … We must read, study and meditate upon the Word of God and obey it … We must have a clean heart … We must have a renewed mind — the mind of Christ.’