1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
It is really possible for us to be holy in this present life? It is commonly taught that as sinners saved by grace, we will remain irreparably imperfect in this life until we are taken home to glory. In this life we are assured that when we do sin—which we surely will—we will be forgiven if we confess our sins.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
But then the very next verse in 1 John 2 says:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
Therefore we must interpret verse 10 above—that if we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar—as our condition before we came to know Jesus Christ. John wrote the above words so that we will not sin, meaning it is possible for us not to sin.
I have witnessed this in my own life.
Before I came to know our Lord Jesus Christ, I was typical sinner. As a young man I had the usual predilection for pornography, with stacks of pornographic magazines hidden under my bed or in my closet. Going to a strip joint was a breathtaking turn-on. I had several women in my life…at one time I was dating four women. People would at times mistake me for legendary actor and martial arts master Bruce Lee.
I was the spoiled (and only) son of my parents who already six daughters before me. And so I had no direction or pressing ambition in life. I was simply going with the flow of wherever life would happen to take me in the land of the American Dream. And so after graduating from college not knowing what else to do, I headed for graduate school.
But our Lord Jesus Christ came into my life and changed everything at a Billy Graham Crusade in 1976. At that time I was a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of California with about a year or so to get my Ph.D. I was about to commit adultery with one of my students. But when Jesus came into my life, I was able to say “no” to the temptation. I remained faithful to my wife.
The following year in 1977 I was filled with the Holy Spirit according to Acts 1:8. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself to me intimately, and I was baptized in his unfathomable love. All else in my life faded away. For the very first time in my life, an enthralling purpose gripped hold of me. All I wanted to do was to tell others about our Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for us through His death and resurrection. For a while I was preaching the gospel on the streets and other public places. Then in 1978 I took my wife to Indonesia where we preached the gospel and made disciples over nearly nine years. After that we served the Lord as pastors, as evangelists, and now as teachers. As of 2020, we have served the Lord full-time for forty-two years.
In the late 1990s we had to go through a very dry desert in our ministry, just as the Israelites did before entering the Promised Land. But the Lord graciously remembered us as we wandered in the wilderness, and He led us into the Promised Land of Canaan. As a minister of the gospel I have encountered temptations, but with the help of the Holy Spirit I have been able to resist them.
As of 2020, my wife and I have been married for 46 years, and I have been faithful to her. I have learned to love her as Christ loved the church.
I can witness that it is possible to learn to be holy in all that we do. The One who sanctifies us lives in us and over time sanctifies and makes us holy just as He is holy. This holiness is not only imputed through faith in Christ, but is lived out practically in our day-to-day lives on earth.
The scriptures which teach on personal holiness have proven to be valid in my life.
2 Corinthians 13:11 “Aim for perfection…”
Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
1 Thessalonians 3:13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
1 Thessalonians 4: 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.