“Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Why does a believer desire to be more holy? Well, first of all, it is an instinct that is built into him at the time of his conversion. He receives a new hatred of sin and a new love of purity. The indwelling Holy Spirit yearns within to reproduce a sanctified character. The new nature manifests itself in a craving for victory in the personal life.
But in addition to that, there are very strong practical reasons why a Christian should pursue holiness: why he should resist the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Here are ten of them.
1. Sin brings dishonor to the name of the Lord Jesus. The outside world is justified in associating the disciple with his Master. If the disciple sins, people reproach the Master and drag His name in the mud (2 Samuel 12:14).
2. Remembering what our sins cost the Savior. No thinking believer would want to continue in that which nailed the Son of God to the cross (1 Peter 2:24). If the shedding of His blood was necessary to pay sin’s penalty, how can His followers ever tolerate or condone iniquity?
3. Christ’s love for us should constrain us to live in purity. He demonstrated His love by paying an enormous price to redeem us. He has provided everything necessary for a life of godliness. He couldn’t love us more than He does. It is a miserable response to such love to go back over the bridge to our former way of life (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
4. Sin breaks God’s heart. Sin not only breaks His law, but His heart as well, whereas holiness delights Him. He said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
5. When we sin, it stumbles other believers. It hurts people who have trusted us, whether in the family or the church. A young believer especially feels betrayed and shattered when the one who led him to the Lord brings disgrace on himself.
6. The life of holiness is the best life. Holiness is good for the spirit, soul, and body. It saves us from remorse, guilt, shame, and many forms of disease. It leads to fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore (John 10:10; 1 John 1:4).
7. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Never lose the sense of amazement that one of the members of the Godhead is our permanent indweller and constant companion. This realization will motivate us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
8. Sin destroys our testimony. Holiness gives liberty in serving the Lord, but sin shuts it down. The guilt and sense of unfitness that accompany unconfessed sin paralyze a person’s outreach. His witness is temporarily destroyed, and his credibility is called into question.
9. Holiness gives confidence in prayer. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:21-22). The flip side of this is that if we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us (Psalm 66:18). Sin disconnects the prayer line.
10. Godliness is the best preparation for eternity. Some day, perhaps soon, we are going to see the Lord Jesus. We are going to stand before His Judgment Seat. That means that we should be living now in the light of that awe-inspiring event (1 Timothy 4:8; 1 John 3:3).
These then are some of the reasons why we should never relax in the pursuit of holiness and why we should be highly motivated to grow in likeness to our blessed Redeemer.
—Adapted from Be Holy: The Forgotten Command by William MacDonald