When we read the words in Hebrews, “without holiness no one will see the Lord”, we must not mistake this for thinking our salvation depends on our holiness. Goodness no! Isaiah 64:6 “We are all dirty with sin. Even our good works are not pure. They are like bloodstained rags. We are all like dead leaves. Our sins have carried us away like wind.” Holiness here is referring to our attitudes, words, and actions. How are we living like Jesus to others? God makes it clear in His word that no one can achieve salvation apart from Jesus. This is so that “no one can boast in themselves” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are made righteous through Jesus, Romans 5:19.
Hebrews 10:10 “Jesus Christ did the things God wanted him to do. And because of that, we are made holy through the sacrifice of Christ’s body. Christ made that sacrifice one time—enough for all time.”
So now we need to make a distinction between the two types of holiness: the one in which we are made holy through Jesus, the other which we are to work towards. We are made holy as we stand before God, and we are also called to live holy lives while we are here on earth. We are to “make every effort” to attain this holiness. How seriously are we with working towards living a holy life? How comfortable are we with sin? How conformed are we to the world’s standards verses conformed to the image of God? A mark of a maturing Christian is a desire to live a life wholly pleasing to God.
Let’s be sure we are understanding one point before we move on. Holiness is not required for salvation. All of our “works” are not good enough before a Holy God. But holiness is definitely a result of our growing faith and walk with Him. Titus 2:11-12 “That is the way we should live, because God’s grace has come. That grace can save everyone. It teaches us not to live against God and not to do the bad things the world wants to do. It teaches us to live on earth now in a wise and right way—a way that shows true devotion to God.”
Holiness is also a requirement for continued communication with God. Psalm 66:17 “If I had been hiding sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened to me.” We cannot fully pursue a relationship with God when we are holding onto sin in our lives. As we have previously learned, ALL sin is an offense to God, no matter how small.
When we are made aware of a sin in our lives, we need to quickly deal with that. Confession of this sin, apologies when necessary, and prayerfully seek to turn from that behavior. When we ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting on sin, we are sure to experience the discipline of God. Hebrews 12:6 “The Lord disciplines everyone he loves; he punishes everyone he accepts as a child.”
Holiness is also necessary for effective service in God’s kingdom. 2 Timothy 2:21 “The Lord wants to use you for special purposes, so make yourself clean from all evil. Then you will be holy, and the Master can use you. You will be ready for any good work.”
And lastly, holiness assures us of our salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new!” This brings us back to the verse in Hebrews which says “without holiness no one will see the Lord”. Without living a life changed by God, who will know we belong to Him?