The Christian life is a daily walk of faith (Romans 1:17). No one is saved by individual predestination; all are saved as they respond in faith to God’s universal grace (John 3:16; Titus 2:11-12). The Bible does not teach unconditional security; each person lives by obedient faith in Christ (Romans 11:17-23; Hebrews 2:1-4; 10:35-39). If Christians remain in Him, they have assurance of eternal life, for no external force can take away their salvation (Romans 8:35-39; Hebrews 6:11; 10:22).
Several basic disciplines are integral parts of Christian living.
1. Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15; Ephesians 6:18; I Thessalonians 5:17; Jude 20-21). Prayer enables a Christian to receive God’s promises as well as spiritual direction and power. God promises to answer his prayers, supply his needs, deliver him from temptation, and work all things for his good (Matthew 6:33; 7:7; 17:20; 21:22; John 14:14; Romans 8:28; I Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:6, 19). To receive these promises, he must ask in faith, from a repentant heart, in God’s will and not from carnal desires (Psalm 66:18; James 1:5-8; 4:2-3; 5:16; I John 3:20-22; 5:14-15).
2. Bible study (Psalm 119:11, 16, 105; II Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17). To know truth, perform God’s will, and overcome temptation, a Christian must read, study, meditate on, and learn God’s Word.
3. Faithful church attendance and submission to godly leadership (Psalm 122:1; Hebrews 10:25; 13:17). Christians all need the instruction, fellowship, group worship, and evangelistic outreach that a local church and pastor provide.
4. Giving of tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1-4; Luke 6:38; 16:10-12; I Corinthians 9:7-14; II Corinthians 9:6-7). Tithing began before the law of Moses and continues after it. Abraham and Jacob paid tithes. Tithes are ten percent of “increase” (income) and are used to support the church. Offerings are any additional freewill gifts.
5. Worship (Psalm 100:1-5; 111:1; John 4:24; I Corinthians 14:26-33, 40; II Corinthians 3:17). Christians must worship in spirit and in truth. Scriptural expressions of worship include private devotions, group worship, praising with loud noise, singing, playing musical instruments, praying aloud, raising hands, clapping hands, weeping, and dancing before the Lord (Psalm 33:2-3; 47:1; 141:2; 149:3-5; 150:1-6; Acts 4:24-31; I Timothy 2:8; Ephesians 5:19).
6. Fasting (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14-15; 17:21). Fasting does not earn favors from God, nor is it meant to punish the body. Rather, it helps a person to discipline self, focus on priorities, and draw closer to the spiritual realm.
7. Holiness of life. Pursuing holiness is as important as the new birth. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). God commands His people to be holy in all conduct because He is holy (I Peter 1:15-16). They are to obey this command in order to (1) please God, for they belong to Him, (2) communicate Christ to others, and (3) benefit themselves, both now and for eternity.
For God’s people, holiness means conformity to God’s character—thinking as He thinks, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, and acting as Christ would act. Specifically, holiness is (1) separation from sin and the world system and (2) dedication to God (Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 6:17-7:1). Christians must not love this ungodly world system, identify with it, become attached to the things in it, or participate in its sinful pleasures and activities (James 1:27; 4:4; I John 2:15). They must avoid three major areas of sin: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:16). They must discipline themselves, and they must abstain from all appearance of evil (I Corinthians 9:24-27; I Thessalonians 5:22).
Holiness is both inward and outward (I Corinthians 6:19-20; II Corinthians 7:1; I Thessalonians 5:23). It includes attitudes, thoughts, and spiritual stewardship, but also actions, appearance, and physical stewardship. Both aspects are essential. The life of holiness is a continual striving for perfection (Matthew 5:48; II Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 3:12-16). No one is absolutely perfect, but everyone can be relatively perfect and mature. God expects continual growth in grace and knowledge and increasing production of spiritual fruit (John 15:1-8; II Peter 3:18). The Christian’s daily goal is to overcome sin (John 5:14; 8:11). He is not to sin; if he does, he can receive forgiveness by repentance and confession (I John 1:9; 2:1).
Holiness is not a means of earning salvation but a result of salvation. It comes by (1) faith, (2) love, and (3) walking after the Spirit. All aspects of salvation, including the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work, come by faith (Ephesians 2:8). If someone truly believes God, he will obey God’s Word. Moreover, if someone truly loves God, he will obey God’s commandments (John 14:15, 23; I John 2:3-6). Love is far stricter and more demanding than law or duty. The Holy Spirit imparts a holy nature. Through the Spirit’s guidance and power, the believer can overcome sin and live righteously (Romans 8:2-4; Galatians 5:16; I Thessalonians 4:7-8).
The Holy Spirit teaches holiness by (1) the inspired Word of God, (2) anointed preachers and teachers who proclaim and apply the Word, and (3) internal promptings and convictions (which do not deviate from the Word). Following holiness requires personal effort; it is not automatic. The Christian must yield to the working of God’s Spirit and actively implement spiritual principles (Romans 6:11-14; Philippians 2:12; II Peter 3:14). The Christian life is one of liberty, not legalism. Legalism means basing salvation on works or law or imposing nonbiblical rules. All true holiness standards are either specific biblical statements or valid applications of biblical principles to contemporary situations.
Christians have freedom from sin, freedom from the law, and freedom to act as they will in nonmoral matters. Christian liberty does not negate the responsibility to follow moral law and scriptural teaching (Romans 6:15; Galatians 5:13). Moreover, the Bible presents several guidelines for the proper exercise of Christian liberty even in nonmoral matters: (1) Do all to God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). (2) Avoid anything unbeneficial, detrimental or a “weight” (I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; Hebrews 12:1). (3) Avoid anything that will gain dominance (I Corinthians 6:12). (4) Avoid harm to others (Romans 14:13-21; I Corinthians 8:9-13; 10:32-33).
Here are important areas in which biblical, and therefore universal and unchanging, principles of holiness apply:
1. Attitudes (Galatians 5:19-23; Ephesians 4:23-32). Christians must put away evil attitudes, including hatred, malice, wrath, envy, jealousy, covetousness, bitterness, pride, prejudice, vengeance, strife, and discord. The essence of holiness is to bear the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Christians must forgive, be obedient to authority, be thankful, not let anything offend them, and not be busybodies in others’ lives.
2. Thoughts (Matthew 15:18-20; II Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8). A person is what he thinks, and he becomes what he allows his mind to dwell upon. Christians are to think on true, honest, just, pure, lovely, reputable, virtuous, and praiseworthy things. They must cast out evil thoughts, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
3. The tongue (James 1:26; 3:1-2; 4:11; 5:12). Christians must avoid talebearing, backbiting, slander, sowing discord, swearing by oath, using the Lord’s name in vain, pronouncing curses, reviling, lying, idle words, and suggestive, indecent, or obscene speech.
4. The eye (Psalm 101:2-3; 119:37; Matthew 6:22-23). The eye is the gate of the soul and the primary source of input for the mind. Christians should not read sensual or vulgar materials. They should not watch television and movies, because violence, illicit sex, sinfulness, and vanity dominate those media.
5.Appearance (adornment, dress, and hair) (Deuteronomy 22:5; I Corinthians 11:1-16; I Timothy 2:8-10;
I Peter 3:1-5). The appearance reflects the inner self, both to God and to others. Ungodly appearance promotes lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life, molding wearer and society in ungodly ways. Biblical principles here are (a) modesty, (b) rejection of ornamentation, (c) moderation in cost, (d) distinction between male and female, and (e) separation from worldly connotations. Thus Christians should abstain from immodest clothing, extravagant ornamental jewelry, very expensive, extravagant or gaudy attire, and fashions with carnal associations.
6. Stewardship of the body (I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:12, 19-20). The body is the temple of the Spirit, so Christians should not use things that harm or defile the body, cause intoxication, or cause addiction. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and illegal drugs violate this principle.
7. Sanctity of marriage (I Corinthians 6:9-10; Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 13:4). The Bible condemns all sexual relations outside of lifelong marriage of a man and a woman. It opposes lustful thoughts and actions.
8. Sanctity of human life (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 5:39, 44). Christians should not participate in violence or taking of human life, including warfare, abortion, and suicide.
9. Honesty (Mark 10:19). The Bible rejects all dishonesty, including lying, theft, fraud, refusal to pay debts, extortion, bribery, and cheating.
10.Fellowship (Matthew 18:15-18; I Corinthians 5:9-6:8; 15:33; II Corinthians 6:14). Christians must not be identified with sinful attitudes or lifestyles. They should not fellowship so-called believers who continually indulge in sinful activities. They are not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers, such as by marriage. They must resolve internal disputes according to the procedure given by Christ, not by suits in civil court.
11.Worldly activities (I Thessalonians 5:22; Titus 3:3; I John 2:15). Christians must maturely regulate amusements, music, sports, and games, avoiding worldly atmospheres and appearances. Some amusements are inherently worldly, such as gambling, dancing, hard rock music, and the occult.
In sum, holiness means to imitate Christ, to be Christ-like. The holy person will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature, but will put on the personality and mind of Christ (Romans 13:14; Galatians 4:19). He will judge every decision and action by asking, What would Jesus do?
Holiness is an integral part of the salvation of the whole man from sin’s power and effects. It is a joyful privilege; a part of abundant life; a blessing from God’s grace; a glorious life of freedom and power. The life of holiness fulfills God’s original intention and design for humanity. For the Spirit-filled believer who truly loves God, holiness is the normal— indeed the only—way to live. Holiness is the essence of the Christian life.
From ‘Doctrines of the Bible’ by David K Bernard