Week 39 – Holiness: Wholeness and Righteousness

Holiness is a great word that has received a lot of bad rap and bad images. Bottom line it means ‘set apart’ for God. Is there anything better?

Ron Lewis

Holiness: Wholeness and Righteousness


Please push aside Hollywood’s stereotypical negative or derogatory images of holiness. Jesus came to give us life, an abundant life, not to turn us into furrowed-brow, hypocritical, legalistic killjoys.

Unfortunately, we all know people who are controlled by legalism. In contrast, a truly holy person is full of joy, freedom and kindness. These people are whole. God designed us for whole, wholesome, and holy living.

“…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:24)

True righteousness is not a straitjacket, but rather joyous obedience to a faithful and loving God. Living by God’s standards rewards us in this life and the next. The life well lived offers a powerful witness and blessing to many.

True holiness makes every area of our life an act of worship and obedience to God’s ways. We let Jesus reign in our hearts and embrace His grace to live morally. As a result, His blessings follow (Matthew 6:33).

True disciples pursue pure and holy lives, “living in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11). Holiness is not external, not a dress code or abstaining from movies or drinking vices; holiness is a condition of the heart. When we yearn to be holy, set apart from sin and for God, our external life reflects our Lord Jesus. This longing for holiness usually begins as we relish the joy of prayer, worship and the Word of God.

What does holiness look like? The Bible tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Like all fruit, these develop over time and manifest as we consistently obey and live in communion with the Lord. Consider the contrast between the fruit of the Spirit (the characteristics of a holy life) with the fruit of the flesh (the characteristics of a life lived apart from God) (Galatians 5:16-26).

Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) Fruit of the Flesh (Galatians 5:16-21)
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control Hatred and discord, sexual immorality, dissensions and factions, fits of rage, selfish ambition, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, jealousy and envy, drunkenness

Most people, Christian or not, will condemn racism, discord, dissensions and envy. Sexual immorality, though, is another story. Few people today judge premarital sexual relations as wrong. It is only when we view this the way God does that we rue the choices we made in this area. Indeed, most of us have more experience in this than we care to remember. God’s grace is more than sufficient to cleanse and redeem us from all of our mistakes.

Here are a few biblical truths to cling to regarding sexual purity:

  • God has forgiven whatever you have done and you are a new creature in Him. Period. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • God has the power to break the “soul-ties” that bind you to past sins and people (1 Corinthians 6:16-19).
  • God has a new standard for you: purity and wholeness (1 Peter 1:15).

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is acceptable and perfect.”

God calls us to renew our mind in the area of physical purity.

World’s principles Kingdom principles
Impatience Patience
Instant gratification Delayed gratification (Ps. 31:15; Gal. 5:22)
“Shopping” mentality Seeks God’s guidance
Values-experience Values-purity (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

Embracing God’s plan for sexual morality doesn’t rule out bumps on the road, but it does mean that we live by different standards and a mindset of glorifying God whether single or married: “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

In our pursuit of righteousness and holiness, we walk in humility, along with the confidence that we are justified before God by Christ’s blood, not our works. Without the attitude of humility, others see only pride, fruitless religiosity and legalism, as we preen ourselves on our own accomplishments rather than on God’s grace.

Everything good in our lives comes through His grace – His saving us, His using us, His refining us so that we reflect His character. Consider the contrasts between the attitudes of humility and legalism:

Humility Legalism
Righteousness received by faith “Righteousness” achieved by Legalism
Faith focused on knowing God Faith focused on religious rituals
Grace received through humility Status achieved through personal effort
Results in freedom and joy Results in self-condemnation or pride
Embraces sinners Condemns sinners
Leads to the living God Leads to false, misconstrued god


  1. What is God’s design for our lives? What does holiness look like?
  2. Is our culture’s view of human sexuality a reflection of God’s best for us? Compare the world’s principles with Kingdom principles.