“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” 2 Peter 1:15-16
“How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:3
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13
Holiness is simple. As we live through the Spirit, God gives us the desire and power to do what pleases him and avoid what doesn’t. We’re the ones who tend to complicate it – adding a bunch of rules and bylaws, lowering the bar, or finding ways to exempt ourselves from it altogether.
But holiness is also a process. God doesn’t “possess” our bodies, making us sinless zombie puppets. He gives us an enormous amount of free will and hopes that we’ll leverage it for the sake of his kingdom as we partner with him around his agenda each day.
To do that, we need to learn how to act our way into our true identity as God’s holy people. This means continually welcoming and submitting to the Spirit’s work in our lives, staying dependent on God as the source of our life and fruitfulness, throwing off old sinful thoughts and behaviors, living as new creations, resisting the enemy, saying “no” to temptation, choosing godly responses to trials and persecution, loving our enemies, and more.
There’s so much that goes into the working out of holiness. We have an ongoing part to play – not just in saying “yes” to the Spirit, but in doing “yes” as well.
We don’t make ourselves holy; God does. But only if we let him.