As Christ followers, we are called to be holy. “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) So what is true holiness? The Greek word is hagios. Thayer’s Greek– English Lexicon of the New Testament lists one definition as “set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively his.”
There are millions of Christians who are under the rulership of Jesus Christ. He is their professed King. He protects, provides for, and loves them and answers their requests. However, the question is, do they see Him? In other words, do they experience His presence? According to Scripture, we all should be experiencing it. “…All of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT)
Jesus also identifies those who will see or experience His presence. His exact words at the Last Supper were, “Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)
Without beholding Him, we cannot be changed or transformed into His likeness. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV). Transformation is crucial in the life of a believer.
Paul prophesied that our days will be difficult. Interestingly, he wrote that these stressful times will not result from persecution for our faith, as in his day, but from professing Christians who don’t keep the words of Jesus. They will still behave just like those who have no relationship with God. They will still love themselves and their money, disobey their parents, communicate in a crude manner, refuse to forgive, seek fame and reputation, betray their friends, love pleasure more than they love God— the list goes on. Paul clearly stated, “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” (2 Timothy 3:5). The power they will reject is grace’s ability to transform us, a core reality of true Christianity. The Amplified Bible states, “Their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession.” These professing believers are deceived, for they will be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
Only those who walk in holiness can see God— can enter His presence. Jesus couldn’t have made it any clearer when He said, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (John 14:21) Jesus stated that only those who keep His commandments are the ones He will make Himself apparent to. They will be the ones who see Him, who enter His presence and thereby come to know Him intimately. This privilege is not promised to all believers, only to those who pursue obeying His Word— those who pursue holiness.
“Come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. (2 Corinthians 6: 17 NLT) We find the purpose of pursuing authentic holiness is the honor of being welcomed into God’s manifest presence. “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” (2 Cor. 7:1)
To be changed, we need His presence! To have God’s presence, we must pursue holiness, which is to be “set apart for God, to be exclusively his.” “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them..” (2 Cor. 5:15)
The world is driven by selfishness, and so is the believer who is unholy. He or she is not fully devoted to God but is self-centered in conduct. The citizens of this world are bound to such behavior because they are ruled by fleshly (selfish) appetites and desires. The believer has been liberated from this slavery (see Romans 6: 11–14). The Son has truly made us free!
As new creations, we now have a new nature. We are alive inside, recreated in the image of Jesus with the inward ability to live the truly good life. Look at Paul’s words: “With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” (Eph. 4:17-19)
He further says, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph. 4:21-24) The believer has been given a new inward nature. We are instructed to submit to it, to live a holy life.
Source: “Good or God? Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough” by John Bevere