I wrote on this passage not too long ago, but my church’s reading plan brought me back to this, and as I read it this time around, something else struck me about Paul’s words to us about holiness.
I think it’s easy to look at the words of Paul sometimes, and think holiness is something we obtain through our own efforts and willpower.
After all, he says things like,
“For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions, like the Gentiles, who don’t know God.: (4:3-5)
“For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness. Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God.” (4:7-8)
But don’t miss two things in these two chapters.
First, Paul tells us at the end of 4:8 that God has given us his Holy Spirit.
The One who desires us to be holy has not left us alone. He has given the Spirit whose very nature is holiness into our hearts, to guide us and strengthen us each day to do his will.
More, Paul prays,
“May [the Lord] make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (3:13)
So when Jesus comes returns, it is he himself that makes sure we will be blameless in holiness before God the Father.
It was his work on the cross that purified us from our sins when we first put our trust in him. It is the work of his Spirit that purifies us each day. And it’s ultimately his work that will make us truly holy on the day he returns.
That’s our hope.
And that’s why Paul can say at the end of this letter,
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will do it.” (5:23-24)
So holding tightly to that hope, let us strive each day for holiness.