“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
God has called us to live a life of holiness. Scripture clearly commands us to be holy. In order to live a life of holiness, first we must recognize that this is not self-righteousness, whereby we look down on others and lift ourselves up in pride. As the Scripture says in Isaiah 64:6, “and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” True holiness brings a recognition of our own wretchedness before God. (Romans 3:9-23) The word holy in 1 Peter 1:15-16 is from the Greek word hagios means (an awful thing), sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated).
Since God has called us to life a let set apart to Him, pure and morally blameless and since our own righteousness is as filthy rags we have to reconcile these two conflicting thoughts. God alone is HOLY, the perfection and ultimate of holiness. Because of sin, we are not holy and are far from perfection and far from morally blameless.
Thus, we conclude that the holiness God speaks of is not from our own works. Rather, it is the result of His work in us. In the Deuteronomy 10:16 God commanded that his children “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” However, they were unable to do so and therefore the dispensation of the law ended in failure. That is why God gave the promise of a new covenant. The main promise of the new covenant was given in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Ezekiel gives additional details to the new covenant.
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:25-27
In the book of Acts we find that the new covenant came in the form of the baptism of the Holy Ghost upon believers, bringing regeneration (or the new birth). So, the holiness that we are to live is a result of the work of God through the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This life of holiness is not merely given to us, but we are fully participating in its action in our own lives. Let’s reference a few Scriptures that clearly show this.
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
We are commanded by the apostle Paul to cleanse ourselves from wickedness that lies within us and in so doing we will perfect or fulfill further holiness in the fear of God. We participate in this process of holiness. A brother Branham states in the church ages book, “Character is a VICTORY, not a gift.”
“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
Again, Paul writes that we must put off our previous conduct in the old man (the pre-new birth man) and as a result be renewed in the spirit of our mind and then he further instructs us to put on the new man, which after God is created in holiness. So, God has done this work to give us a new heart, a new spirit and His Spirit, but we must put off the old wicked ways and put on the new ways of holiness. We must do it. It does not say that God will do it, but that he has already done a work and we must put off and put on.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Here again, we must present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. It is up to us to surrender our lives and hearts to God. And once again Paul commands us not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. These verses clearly show, God is there to do a mighty work within us by his Spirit, but we must yield to it, we must surrender to it and we must bring the conditions into our life that this holiness can be shaped with us. In the sermon the Ephesian Church age in December 1960 brother Branham stated, “The way of God is holiness. Let this be known to every member here of the Body of Christ: until you live a holy life, God refuses your sacrifice. The sacrifice must be offered with holy hands. That is…?… right. The high priest before he could even come in to offer the sacrifice, he had to be holy, and dedicated, and anointed, and perfumed, and everything, before he could even walk in the presence of God to offer the sacrifice. Is that right? Then how can you go out here and cheat, and steal, and fuss, and fight with your neighbors, and everything else, and carry on the way you do, and then come in and say, “O Lord God! Praise Jesus! Hallelujah!”? People say, “I see them speak in tongues.” That still don’t mean they got the Holy Ghost. “I hear them shout.” That still don’t mean they got the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the life.”
So, now the question comes, how can I live a life of holiness, how can I put off the old man and put on the new man? Let’s examine this closely. But before we do, let’s get to the root of the matter.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
This is the root of holiness, we have met a PERSON that can give us everything that we have need of, give us peace, joy, bring us, through his grace, to heaven and give us every good and perfect gift. Jesus Christ is so infinitely worthy of our worship and so infinitely worthy of our submission that all other worldly things are to be counted as dung. In fact, we are made holy, set apart for a PERSON, Jesus Christ. We are not pursuing holiness as an end in itself, but in fact we are pursuing a person. So, how do we pursue a life of holiness? Brother Branham says in the sermon Where I Think Pentecost Failed, “Now, if we had have went to seeking the Giver instead of the gifts, I believe the Church would’ve been farther up the road, don’t you think so? If we’d stayed close to God, and loved Him, and just kept living for Him, and not trying to push things over; just live for God, and live a pure, holy life, and live, and pray every day, keep yourself refreshed in His Presence. God will take care of the rest of it.”
First, we see that we are to seek the GIVER, not the gifts. Next, we see we are to stay close to God in a relationship of love. Third, we see that we are to keep living for Him. Fourth, we are to pray every day and as a result we will be refreshed in His Presence. Let’s look closely at Psalm 63:1-3.
“A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Psalms 63:1-3
The desire of David was such that he rose early in the morning to seek after God. How do we seek after God? By reading his word and praying. Then David characterizes his hunger for God by stating that he thirsts for God as a man in a desert thirsting for water. A man in the desert thirsting for water doesn’t have much time for trivial pursuits, he is obsessed with one key point, that is that he must find water in order to quench his thirst, otherwise he will die. This is first and foremost in the life of holiness, seek God as though your life depended on it. Regard his love as better than life. Praise Him with a life of holiness that starts in our closet. In the sermon Communion in 1963 brother Branham makes this point, “We—we—we want just holiness among us that no filthy communications be heard among us at all as we profess this great calling of God. We must walk worthy of this thing that God has brought us to. And we’re way down towards the end of the journey now, where we’re expecting the exceeding abundantly above all that we could do or think. And remember, we want to constantly be in prayer. And above all things, watch your life: if your life don’t tally up with God’s holiness, then go back and start praying again; there’s something wrong. See? We must live in that kind of a state that the fruits of the Spirit will make Itself known through us. That’s what we want to live.”
In conclusion I want to leave you with these five points.
- Holiness cannot be obtained by human will or effort
- Holiness is the image of God reflected in man
- Holiness is a result of the full process of the new birth by the baptism of the Holy Ghost
- First we are made holy by the blood of Christ, an act of his will determines we are holy
- Next we are being made holy through the washing of the water of the word (within this process of being made holy we need to have within us a true and continual hunger to be conformed unto his likeness to more clearly reflect the holiness of God within us)