For many Christians, holiness is the prohibitions against drinking, dancing, smoking, going to clubs, having sex before marriage, etc. The funny thing is that some non-Christians live by the same principles as well. So that does not make them any holier than those non-Christians. Jesus calls us to an internal holy life instead of an external one. In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law and Pharisees because they pretended to be externally holy in the eyes of everybody but internally they were full of greed and self-indulgence. And He suggested them to “clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.”
The Hebrew word for holy is “quodesh”, which means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness”. So, a holy life is a life apart from sin, in other words, it’s a life without sin. Is it possible to achieve a completely holy life without any sin during our lifetime after salvation? The answer is no. It’s impossible for men to live without sins. Psalms 51:5 says “Indeed, in iniquity I was brought forth; in sin my mother conceived me.” And John 1:8 says “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Why then does God expects us to be holy as He is holy knowing that we were conceived in sin?
Our God is a good and just God and I believe that He cannot ask us to do the impossible. If He expects us to be holy then there must exist a way that He has provided for us to achieve that holiness. It is through the Holy Spirit.
There is no way on earth that men can live a life without sins on their own because our flesh is always susceptible to temptation. Knowing this, God sent us the the Holy Spirit, the Helper. His purpose is to enable us to do what we can’t do on our own and do what Jesus did. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh in order to teach us how to live a holy life. Jesus’ ministry and life on earth were so successful because He was led by the Holy Spirit. He committed no sin because He was filled with the Spirit. This is an advantage that we, believers of the New Covenant, have over believers of the Old Covenant. Believers in the Old Covenant couldn’t achieve a holy life because the Holy Spirit couldn’t dwell in them. That’s why believers like David, a man after God’s heart, could commit adultery. And Elijah, one of the most famous prophets, went into depression and wanted to die… There’s therefore no excuses for us to live a sinless life for we have a Helper to help us overcome sins.
Now, how do we let the Holy Spirit work in us? Remember, God is a good God. He loves us so much that He not only sent Jesus to save us from our sins but also to teach us how to live a sinless life with the help of the Holy Spirit. When we look at Jesus’ holiness, we shouldn’t take it as Christ being God but rather as Christ being a human being who “had to be made in every respect like us, tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning” (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15). Therefore as we look at Jesus’ holiness, we should look at His sinless life as a human being for He was the living example. Here are a couple of highlights of Jesus holy life on earth:
Jesus lived a prayer life
Why did Jesus pray? After all Jesus is God, so why the need to pray? When Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took upon Himself the form of man, He also took on the form of a servant. His prayer need showed His dependence upon His Father and ultimate submission to His Father’s will. Jesus prayed for others (Matthew 19:13). He prayed with others (Luke 9:28). He prayed regularly and alone (Luke 5:16).
Jesus did His Father’s Will
Sin is born every time we do our own will but if we can deny our will and do God’s just as Jesus did, we will have victory over sin. Jesus said in John 5:30, 6:38 and Matthew 26:39 “I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me… I have come not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me… Not as I will but as Thou Wilt”. We are all here on this earth to do God’s Will not ours. When we are intrigued to do things our own way, it’s probable that we might fall into sin. Keeping our eyes on God and focusing on His will will save us from trespassing. As Zac Poonen said in his book, Living As Jesus Lived, “wherever there is obedience to God, there is perfection and beauty. And wherever there is disobedience to God, there is chaos and ugliness”.
Jesus overcame temptation
Jesus overcame every temptation that was thrown at Him. He did not rely on His power but on the Holy Spirit’s to conquer sin. Every time He was tempted, He denied Himself and mortified the desires of the flesh that tempted Him to sin. Thus He consistently suffered in the flesh (1 Peter 4:1, 2).
The sinless life of Jesus on earth is a demonstration that it’s possible for us to have total victory over sin through the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s therefore possible to “walk even as Jesus walked” 1 John 2:2. If we want to rid ourselves from sin, we must take care of our inner life. And only the Holy Spirit can clean us inwardly. It’s sad that we have so many Pharisees among believers today. Many churches are raising tones of Pharisees every single day and that’s why so many Christians still do not have victory over sin. The absence of going to clubs, drinking, smoking, and so on will never make us holy or overcome sin. Wemust first clean our inside and then the outside will become clean as well. Hence, pray God to help you live like Jesus lived. With your flesh, it seems unimaginable, however, it’s not by might nor by power (Zechariah 4:6). Make it a prayer to ask the Father to fill you daily with the Holy Spirit so that you might do His will and not yield to the desires of the flesh.