Is it possible to walk in holiness?
I believe it’s not only possible but it’s imperative. This week I’m teaching a college level course in Doctrine of Holiness through the Peniel School of Ministry in Texas. I’m challenged by the scriptures that paint a picture of what it looks like to walk in holiness. There are many passages to choose from, but let’s examine Colossians chapter 3. Paul wrote, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). These verses describe a holiness lifestyle in several ways.
First, we all need raised up because we were dead in our sins and transgressions (see Eph. 2:1-6). At one time, prior to Christ’s intervention, we walked according to the course of this world. Our natures were corrupt and essentially we indulged the desires of the flesh. But even while we were in that condition Christ Jesus made us alive, raised us up, and seated us in the heavenly realms in Him. Holiness, then, becomes a position of intimacy seated in Christ Jesus “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph. 1:21). No wonder the God of peace crushes Satan under our feet (Rom. 16:20). Holiness becomes a lifestyle of prevailing over sin, Satan, and the works of darkness.
Secondly, because we’re seated in Christ we are to constantly seek the things above. We’re able to fulfill Jesus’ directive of seeking first “His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). This means that we are able to live without fear, worry, and anxiety. There’s no reason to be fear driven because everything that we need is supplied in Christ—the One who our eyes are fixed on (Heb. 12:2). Holiness becomes a lifestyle of seeking direction from the heavenly realm and not from earthly sources.
Third, our mind is set on things above and not on the things of this earth. We have a renewed mind that doesn’t get consumed and overwhelmed by the things around us. We don’t become distracted by the immediate because our minds are set on the ultimate. We are able to live in “perfect peace” because we have minds that are stayed on the Lord (Isa. 26:3). We don’t allow anything to rule our minds other than the peace of Christ (Col. 3:15). Holiness becomes a lifestyle of rest and peace because we don’t live in reaction to earthly circumstances.
Fourth, Paul indicated that we have died and our life is now hidden with Christ. The only way that we will ever walk in holiness is by dying to our sinfulness and selfishness; we have to die to ourselves. Christianity is not about us; it’s about Christ. We die and get out of the picture so that He lives through us and can be seen. Paul stated, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Holiness is dying to your life and letting Christ become your life.
Because we’ve died in Christ, we also die to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and greed (Col. 3:5). We put aside things like anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from our mouth (Col. 3:8). This means that the only things that comes out of our mouth is helpful, beneficial, and edifying toward others (Eph. 4:29). We would never gossip or malign others in what we write or say because our speech is filled with grace (Col. 4:6). We’re hidden in Christ so people shouldn’t hear us; they should hear Jesus through us when we talk; and like Jesus, our words are filled with life (John 6:63).
When we die to ourselves and become hidden with Christ, new characteristics start to manifest in our life such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col. 3:12). Because we’re dead to ourselves and hidden with Christ, we never hold a grudge or ignore someone that we’re irritated with. In fact, we’re quick to forgive other people the same way that Jesus forgave us (Col. 3:13). Most of all we walk in love (Col. 3:15). Love becomes the distinguishing characteristic of being Jesus’ follower (John 13:35).
Holiness is a lifestyle that replicates Jesus—the Holy One. Holiness is a lifestyle that’s pragmatic and transformational. It touches the marginalized, broken, and lost people of our world. Holiness is blessing an angry waitress an extraordinary cash tip. Holiness is praying for the sick at Walmart. Holiness is forgiving those you're angry with. Holiness is helping people open their heart to Jesus. Holiness transforms the atmosphere of the environment you might find yourself in. Holiness will transform a church, city, and region. Holiness is love in action personifying Christ every moment. It's attractive and far from religion and legalism. Holiness is Christ within, the hope of glory. It's a life possessed by the Holy Spirit, and not with lesser things. It's peace. It's rest. It's victory. It's intimacy. It's not merely being saved from something; namely sin, but for something, and that's Jesus. Holiness is what He does through me, not what I do for Him. It's a lifestyle for all because Jesus paid for it. So let’s cash in and become a people of holiness.
Jesus, you did everything possible to make us a holy people. We choose to die to ourselves and become hidden with Christ. Live your life through us. Touch a world and transform people through us in Jesus’ name, amen.