”Be he Holy for, I am Holy“. This commandment is repeated many times through out scripture, both in the Old Testament and also in the New. God demands that His people be righteous, holy, and set apart. It’s not a request, it’s a requirement, even setting the standard as high as His own holiness.
You might ask, “how can we be holy as He is holy? Nobodies perfect! Everyone has heard the verse quoted that says, “For all sin and fall short of the glory of God”. To which I would reply, “nobodies perfect?” Both Job (Job1:1) and Noah (Geneses 6:9) are called “perfect” in the bible. Furthermore, Jesus Himself said this:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
To further dismantle this common argument used to justify ongoing continual sin in the life of someone claiming to be a servant of God, I have to point out that the “all fall short” verse is not commonly quoted, it is commonly “misquoted”. It actually says:
” For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
“Have”, meaning past tense. Yes we are all born to sin but through the redemptive power of the blood of Christ we are not all bound to it! Once we receive Jesus as Lord and savior we are to put away the old and put on the new, leaving our sins behind us and following after Him.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24
Remember that Christ told the adulterous woman, once she was repentant, to “go and sin no more“. Though she was indeed born to sin, once saved, she was no longer bound to it.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1
Would God tell us not to sin if it was impossible? Of course not, so it is possible to turn our backs to sin and follow Christ with our whole hearts. Now, does that mean that we will always do everything right all the time? No, but it does mean that we can do what’s right most of the time and we can intentionally do what’s right all of the time, let me explain. The word perfect here in the original text was “teleios“, which translates to “complete” or “finished“. The verb form of the same word was used at the cross when Jesus said “It is finished“, then gave up the ghost. So when Jesus says to be perfect (teleios), He is saying to reflect the finished work of Christ and not return to your former state. When I clean my house and all the work required to do so is completed, I am finished. Now at that point I have two choices. I can work continually to keep it that way or I can choose to allow the filth back in and let it stay there until it is back to the way it was before. At this point it no longer reflects my finished work.
Our hearts are the same as our house. Christ cleans it and makes it perfect in His sight. As long as we continually work to keep it clean, He still sees us as perfect. If we accidentally knock over a vase but pick it right back up the house remains clean. However, when we choose to willingly let the filth back in, or even if we don’t intentionally let it in but we intentionally let it stay. Then we are no longer an example of the finished work of Christ and therefore no longer perfect in His eyes. It all comes down to willful, intentional sin. Yes we will slip up, yes there are things we don’t yet know not to do, yes we are all learning and growing, but there is no justification for sin when we know something is wrong and we do it anyway. Don’t believe the lie that the grace of God will cover willful sins, it will not. It requires repentance. The house must be cleaned again.
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” – Hebrews 10:26
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” – Romans 6:1-2
Now that I have addressed the commandment to be perfect vrs the excuses to sin, let’s go back to the command to be yet holy as God is holy. The word “holy” used here in the original Greek is “hagios“. Hagios defined is: to be physically pure, morally blameless, consecrated
Let’s look at each of those definitions.
- Can we be physically pure? Of course we can, it may not be easy but it is definitely possible. Further more it’s a requirement of salvation. You see we all know that physical impurity / sexual sin is wrong. Therefore, if we do it, it is willful sin. A strong temptation does not equate to an accident. It is knowingly sinning against God.
- Can we be morley blameless? If you commit no sin intentionally, then could anyone morally accuse your character and not become the one being immoral themselves? Even if you had done wrong accidentally and were remorseful and “repentant” (not continuing in that sin), the wrong would fall on “them” for holding unforgiveness.
- Can you be consecrated to God? Consecrated means to be set apart, or dedicate it to the service of God. If people can tell you are a Christian and your have committed to serving God with your whole heart then you are consecrated unto God. If people can’t tell you apart from the world then, I’m sorry but you are not.
So you see, though we will never be perfect in the eyes of man, we can be in the eyes of God. Isn’t that amazing and encouraging. If we simply put forth every effort to follow His commandments and abstain from all that we know to be sin He will call us Holy. Don’t make excuses, don’t call it a “struggle”, don’t give it residence anymore. If you know it’s wrong then repent and turn away from it. Make the decision to let God clean house, get it out of your heart, and don’t let it back in. Be it for Jesus or for sin, you are the only one that can open the door of your heart and let anything in. How can you expect to overcome temptation if you don’t truly believe that you can overcome sin? The very idea gives it residence. Put your foot down now and kick it out. When the devil tries to tell you that you can’t, tell him, “God said I can be Holy, so I can! End of story.”
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:7-8
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
“For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” – Leviticus 11:45