Is Personal Holiness Required

Is Personal Holiness Required

In our world today, the phrase “Yea, Hath God said”, still reverberates in the minds and lives of individuals, just as it has thru-out the portals of history.  We are continually challenged about whether Biblical Holiness is required for believers.

We see the question was present with Paul in his reply when he wrote to the Hebrews:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  Heb 12:14

Peter gave a similar answer to this question during the same time in history when he wrote his first letter.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.  I Pet 1:15-16

However, Peter was only repeating what Moses had already stated. 

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.    Lev 20:7-8

Though it’s unpopular, our study finds that Biblical Holiness IS Required.  The straight and narrow way is still the way that leads us to heaven.  “For without Holiness, no man shall see God.”

As we consider this question: Is Biblical Holiness required?, we cannot help but notice the importance of Biblical Holiness.  In simple terms, Biblical Holiness can be looked at from the following views:

  • An Important Biblical Truth
  • A Neglected Biblical Truth
  • A Defined Biblical Truth
  • An Attainable Biblical Truth

Individuals wanting to live their lives as they see fit is nothing new.  It’s been around since the beginning of the annals of time.  It starts with Eve in Genesis chapter three. It then continues throughout history. 

A Little Historical Background

Let’s look back in history to the 1500’s.  Johann Tetzel went through Germany in the years 1516 and 1517 representing the pope with the sale of indulgences. As a clergyman, Tetzel would mount the pulpit and say:

“Draw near and I will give you letters duly sealed by which even the sins you shall hereafter desire to commit, shall all be forgiven you.” 

(History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Switzerland, Etc, Volume 1)

This was a license to sin, and it encouraged living a life that was “loose”. We call it approval to live worldly. Even though Tetzel died in 1519, we still have clergymen today that are climbing behind pulpits and issuing licenses to sin.

Moving into the 1960’s, we see those in the church starting to proclaim “Situation Ethics”, stating that how we live should be “sensitive to circumstances, context, particularity, and cultural traditions.”  In this case,

“every moral decision is required to demonstrate respect for individuals and communities and the things that they regard as valuable.”


The “prophets” of worldliness (like the world) may not call their doctrines by the same name today, but the end result is still the same – sin and worldliness in the lives of believers.

Any teaching or doctrine that encourages a life that is worldly and “loose”, is just another form of Tetzel’s indulgences – a license to sin.

As you study the Word of God, this is shown to be false time and time again.  The more you study, the more you will realize that Holiness is one of the greatest and most glorious revelations found in the Bible.

 Holiness is an Important Biblical Truth

Throughout the scriptures, you only find teachings about living a life of holiness.

Using the e-sword, the word “Holy” is found 430 times in 375 verses of the Old Testament. It’s found 181 times in 169 verses in the New Testament.

The word “Holiness” is found 43 times in the bible, the word “Sanctification” is found five times, and the word “Sanctify” is found 70 times.

These are just a few of the words that are used when talking about “Holiness”. The frequency of the matter shows that there is an importance to the subject.

The Holiness Of God

The Holiness of God is declared throughout the scriptures.

One of the most important revelations of God is that God is Holy. Holy is not only an attribute of God, but it is His very nature.  More importantly, it is His very Name.

Isaiah gives us the most perfect description of God and His nature when he refers to God as “The Holy One” 27 different times in scripture. Everything about our God is Holy.

Notice what Isaiah says in Chapter 57:

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.  Is 57:15

God’s name is Holy. God’s dwelling place is Holy. God’s city is Holy. God’s associates are Holy. God’s angels are Holy. God’s book is the Holy Bible. The Lord is coming back for a Holy people.

Everything about our God is Holy.

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah received a glimpse of God and His throne. It included the angels that went about the throne. These angels cried out to each other “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts” (v3).

Born again believers should never be afraid of the word “Holy”, “Holiness”, or “Sanctification”. Holiness is an important Biblical truth.

Our God is altogether and absolutely Holy.

The Holiness Of God’s People

The entire Bible teaches a life of Holiness for all of God’s people. It’s not enough that God is Holy, God’s people must be Holy as well.

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.  I Pet 1:16

Nowhere in the Word of God will you find where anyone of God’s followers are allowed to live like the unbeliever and still be called a child of God. You will not find a single indulgence for sin in the Holy Scriptures.

Sorry – there are no loopholes for the worldly and the impure to enter heaven. There is no fine print where someone unclean can enter at the back door of heaven – especially as there is no back door to get into Heaven.

Jesus continually told those he ministered to that they were forgiven, and to “sin no more.”

If anyone enters heaven without a Holy life, it will be an exception not found in the Word of God.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Heb 12:14

Notice what some of the apostles wrote concerning God’s people being Holy.

Peter states:

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, II Pet 3:11

Paul makes these declarations and commands:

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness I Thess 4:7

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,   II Cor 6:17

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.  II Cor 7:1

Paul goes on and gives us this warning.

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.  I Cor 3:17

Then, notice Paul’s exhortation to be Holy and without blame.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Eph 1:4

These are just a few of the many references that clearly teach us that Holiness is for every believer.

Holiness And Salvation

One popular teaching today is that Biblical Holiness is a matter of choice. You can take it or leave it according to your own personal preference. These teachers feel that the life you live has very little, if anything, to do with your salvation.

There is the popular belief that once you are saved, then you are always saved regardless of the way you live. Unfortunately, for those that believe this way, the Bible says differently.

Within the scriptures, it’s clearly taught that salvation and Holy living go together and can not be separated.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  II Cor 5:17

The expression “to be saved” simply means to be saved from a life of sin. It’s important to note that we are not saved “in sin”, but rather we are saved “from sin”.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  Matt. 1:21

Salvation is more than repentance. Salvation is more than making a decision for Christ. Salvation is a changed life. Someone who is saved is a new creature in Christ Jesus. It’s a life of Holiness.

John Wesley said it this way:

“By salvation, I mean not merely deliverance from hell, or going to heaven; …Holiness is not a condition of a present salvation, it is the thing itself.” (The Methodist Quarterly Review, Volume 32; Volume 54; Page 643)

We should all understand that no one but God is absolutely perfect. However, we also know that real salvation is the first step toward perfecting Holiness.

Holiness Is A Neglected Bible Truth

Considering the reference to Holiness in the Bible, one would think that there would be volumes of books and sermons written on the subject. 

While there are several books written on the subject, their number is not that high.  This applies to magazines and tracts as well. 

There’s no lack of material on subjects like Faith, Love, Mercy, the promises of God, etc.  How many messages do you even hear preached on the subject of “God Is Holy”?

Yet, in all of our daily activity, Holiness is one of the most important Biblical Truths.  Sadly, it’s also one of the most neglected bible truths.

Why is there a great silence on the subject of Biblical Holiness?

We know God is love, but God is love because God is Holy.

We know God is merciful, but God is merciful because God is Holy.

The Gospel of love, mercy, grace, and faith – without the proper balance of Holiness, has led many Christians, and sad to say, churches, down a long road of:

  • carnality
  • loose living
  • worldliness
  • compromise.

If we do not teach and preach purity in the pulpit, then it will never be lived in the pews.  It will never be lived in the pews because it will never reach the heart of the believer.

Individuals, families, and churches across this nation are plagued with the sins of worldliness.  Why?  Because they have not recognized the Holiness of the God we serve.

Sadly, we have been living on a Gospel of love and grace for generations. 

If people were as saturated with the truth of God’s Holiness as they are with the truth of God’s love, we would not be experiencing a tsunami of sin and worldliness across the world.

I’ve heard people proudly proclaim those fatal words – “We won’t do that”, yet the trend toward worldliness is evident in every denomination.  The Independent Holiness Churches are no exception. 


Christ is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing  according to verses such as Eph. 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

If Christ is going to find such a church on the face of the earth, we must have a Holiness revival and we must have it soon.

Holiness Is A Defined Bible Truth

I’ve been told that someone once said (anonymously) that Holiness is such a deep word that it defies definition.  Without question, we recognize that it has many aspects, yet the basic meaning is not hard to define..

Purity Of Heart and Life

Holiness, when referring to God, man, persons, or angels, means a separation that brings purity of the heart and life.

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.  II Cor 7:1 

This makes “Holiness” both an inward and outward work of grace. 

  • It is both negative and positive.
  • It is both do’s and don’ts. 
  • It is a purification of both the flesh and the spirit.

Holiness is sanctification of body, soul, and spirit.

Holiness is:

  • Being separated from sin.
  • Separated from the world.
  • Separated from everything that flavored with the sins of the world.

Holiness is:

  • Separation unto God
  • Separation unto righteousness

Holiness is righteousness of heart. 

Holiness is the righteousness of life.

Have you ever noticed the pure white lily grown in the muck and mire?  It never takes on the elements of the dirt around it that would spoil its whiteness.  Like this lily, we’re commanded to be in this world, but not of the world.

Holiness Is For The Whole Man

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I Thess. 5:23 

Holiness is for the whole man- inward and outward.  Paul tells us the spirit, soul, and body.

There are those that teach that it makes no difference about our outward appearance, our body, or how we look as long as our heart is right with God.  They forget that our heart cannot be right with God as long as our body defiles us. 

Holiness is not just inward; nor is it just outward.  Holiness is the sanctification of body, soul, and spirit – the whole man. 

You are not holy until you are “wholly” holy.

The sanctified spirit and soul is one that has been separated from every spirit that is evil and not of God.  It is one that has been cleansed from hatred, malice, envy, bitterness, evil thinking, discouragement, fears, and such like.

Our Spirit and Soul are made holy by a continual consecration unto the Lord.  We do this by laying it all on the altar; by giving over all of our longings, ambitions, motives, and our passions to Christ.  We permit the Holy Spirit to take over our life and to lead and direct us in all things.

The Body Is A Vital Part Of Biblical Holiness

When someone claims to be sanctified because they’re living a good inward life, while their outward life is questionable, I think of this little example:

There was a man with an old ford pick-up truck.  He spent weeks “rebuilding” this truck.  He installed a Chevy engine and transmission.  When he was done, he told everyone to come see his new “Chevy” pick-up.  However, he didn’t have a Chevy Pick-up, he had a Ford Pick-up.  He couldn’t have one until he had a Chevy body and drivetrain.   The inside and outside didn’t match.

One of the great errors of our generation is the depreciation of the “Sanctity Of The Body”.  God honors the body, declaring we must keep it holy and undefiled.

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.  Rom 12:1

Every part of the body needs to be kept clean unto the Lord.  Our appetites must be controlled.  Any appetite that leads to excessive eating, sleeping, comforts, pleasures, or any other thing or activity, is a sinful appetite.  The worst type of sin falls into this category – immorality, the lust of the flesh.

Our hands need to be sanctified.  Dishonest deeds, craftiness, and laziness are a few of the sins commonly committed with the hands.

Our feet must be sanctified, so they do not take us to places of worldly influence.

Our body must be sanctified, so we care for it properly with rest, good food, and cleanliness.   We must dress it with modest apparel.

Our ears must be kept Holy unto God and set apart from filthy stories, vain and non-edifying conversations, slander, gossip, ungodly music or conversations.

Our eyes must be kept Holy as they are the gate of the soul.  We must keep them pure.  The psalmist declared:

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.  Ps 101:3

We must be careful with our tongue as it is an unruly member.  We must take special care to ensure that it is kept from things such as: lying, gossiping, arguing, sowing discord, etc.

We must set our entire body apart from sin and unrighteousness. 

Our bodies must be set apart unto God for His service.  We must have the indwelling of God’s Spirit so as to bring glory to His name. This is Holiness within and without.

Holiness simply means to be Christ-like in all things.

Holiness Is An Attainable Biblical Truth

The great need in the church today is the need for a revival of Holiness.  There are literally thousands of professing Christians today that are living lives that are:

  • Defeated
  • Confused
  • Sinful
  • Worldly
  • Out of Victory
  • Up and Down

This kind of life is not consistent with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Holiness Is For You

The church is plagued with sins of believers.  All of this is unnecessary.  By the help of God, we can practice Holiness.  We can live a Holy life

  • by the blood,
  • by the Word,
  • By the Holy Ghost.

Don’t ever be content if you do not have victory over known sin in your life. 

Don’t be satisfied living a defeated, frustrated worldly life.

There is victory for you.  You can be an overcomer.

How Can I Attain Unto Holiness

Some have said “I cannot live it”, but they were wrong.  God has never asked us to do something that’s not possible for us to do.  God will provide the means and ability to accomplish His purpose for those following in His will.

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.  I Thess. 5:24

This is how we attain unto Holiness.

Not all aspects of Holiness happen automatically, nor is it achieved in a moment’s time. 

Holiness comes as we cooperate with the Lord and as we yield ourselves to Him.  We can live a Holy Life by permitting God’s Spirit to work in us and as we consecrate ourselves to Him.

If we are to live a Holy Life, then we must set our heart to do so.  We must make the continual effort that depends on the Lord’s help and power.

It is said that in the forests of northern Europe there lives a little animal called the ermine.  He is known for his white fur, which is highly valued in the fur markets of the world. 

In some countries the state robes of Judges are lined with this fur.  The white is symbolic of purity and honor.

The ermine has a particular pride in his white fur coat.  At all hazards, he protects it against anything that would spoil it.  Unfortunately, some fur hunters take cruel advantage of the ermine’s care to keep his coat clean. 

Instead of setting a snare for the ermine, they seek out his den in the cleft of a rock or decaying tree.  They then daub the entrance and interior with filth.  Then, they set dogs on the ermine.

The ermine flees to his home for refuge only to find that it is covered with filth.  Rather than going into safety, he faces the yelping dogs and preserves the purity of his fur at the price of his life.

It’s better to be stained by blood than spoiled with uncleanness.

The ermine is right.  Purity should also be dearer than life to us.  We should hold high the banner that states:

Holiness unto the Lord Now and Forever!

The only rewarding life is a Righteous Life. 

The only powerful Christian life is a Pure Life. 

The only satisfying life is a Sanctified Life.

The only happy life is a Holy life.

It is still the straight and narrow way that leads home – “For without Holiness, no man shall see God.”

*** Please note that the thoughts and comments in this article are from my personal study notes. Some comments may belong to someone else, and the original author is unknown to me.  SAA

Brother Scott

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior in march of 1984. I was in the Navy at this time. It became my greatest desire to draw closer to God. Since that day I have been led by God's Spirit and the scriptures to live a life of Holiness. Holiness is not a bunch of rules, but rather it is the conviction and desire that I am pleasing to God in my life. These convictions are then what set the boundaries of my conduct and actions in life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content