Pursuing God’s Holiness in All of Life

God’s Holiness in the Epistles

3 min

Holiness is one of God’s communicable attributes, that is, a divine attribute that can, by the grace of God and the presence of Christ within us, be readily evident in the lives of believers. As children of a holy God, we are commanded to reflect His holiness in our daily lives. The Apostle Peter quoted Leviticus Chapter 11 in the first chapter of his epistle: “As he which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15–16).

The Greek word conversation is much broader than merely our speech. The word encompasses our thoughts, our deeds, the places we go, and the way that we occupy our time. Conversation truly embraces all of life! And in that aspect of conversation, we are to be holy in every aspect of our lives.

The New Testament deals very seriously with practical daily holiness. The writer of Hebrews exhorted believers: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Without holiness, no man will see God. This holiness is not a worked-up holiness produced by special effort or by attention to religious duties. Rather, holiness is an internal work of God’s Holy Spirit.

J. C. Ryle, in his classic work Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots, says this about the holiness that God expects of us:

There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people. Holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts, by the Spirit whom He puts within them . . . Holiness comes not of blood—parents cannot give it to their children; nor yet of the will of man—ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him. It is the fruit of being a living branch of the true vine.

—J. C. Ryle

Ryle goes on to give several marks of a Christian who is pursuing holiness. These traits are not exhaustive, nor are they fully developed in the life of every Christian. But every single one of us who is a blood-bought child of God should be pursuing practical holiness in daily life. The following list gives helpful, realistic marks of such a person.

A holy man of God . . . 

  • makes it a habit of being of one mind with God.
  • endeavors to shun every known sin.
  • strives to be like the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • follows after meekness.
  • labors to mortify the desires of his body.
  • follows after charity.
  • is merciful toward others.
  • seeks purity of heart.
  • fears God.
  •  cultivates a spirit of humility.
  •  is faithful in the duties of business and family relationships.
  •  is spiritually-minded.

These marks of a holy man are only helpful guides. The Bible itself is our only standard of holiness. We must always remember that Christ alone can grant holiness as we rely upon the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Scriptures in our daily lives. J. C. Ryle goes on to encourage us never to become dismayed by slowness or lack of progress:

Neither do I say that holiness comes to ripeness and perfection all at once, or that these graces I have touched on must be found in full bloom and vigor before you can call a man holy. No, far from it. Sanctification is always a progressive work . . . And sanctification in the very best is an imperfect work. The history of the brightest saints that ever lived will contain many a ‘but,’ and ‘howbeit’ and ‘notwithstanding,’ before you reach the end. The gold will never be without some dross, the light will never shine without some clouds, until we reach the heavenly Jerusalem.

—J. C. Ryle

May God give each of us the grace to pursue holiness in “all manner of conversation.” He is the Holy One Who has given us the great privilege of reflecting the light of His holiness in our daily lives. Take a few moments and prayerfully consider the above marks of a holy man. Ask the Lord for His conviction, grace, and enabling to obey His Word. Humble yourself before God and ask Him to cleanse your heart and enable you by His Spirit to obey His divine command to be holy as He is holy.

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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