Speaking of God, 1 Peter 1:16 says, “I am Holy”. Who will deny that God is Holy? The second part of the verse says “Be ye Holy”. Now, who will be brave enough to say “I am holy”? What does it even mean to be holy? We need to be holy, but we will never be holy if we do not understand what that means.
The simplest definition of holiness is "set apart". Holy things are in a special place. In John 15:19 Jesus says that his disciples are not “of the world”. God’s holy people are “set apart” from the rest of the world. In John 17:17 Jesus says that this is done by the truth.
Holiness also carries the idea of sacredness. As much as people nowadays want to say things like “Jesus without religion”. You can not have holiness without religion. A religion is a set of acts, teachings, and objects that are sacred/holy. People who would want to remove religion out of Christianity declare war with a God who desires holiness. You can’t be holy outside of the religion that God has ordained. God has declared who the Sacred Object is, what the acts of holy service are, and has given the holy teachings in his holy word (John 4:23-24, 17:17).
Finally, holiness also has a deep sense of purity. God’s moral purity is infinite. Habakkuk tells us that God can not look at sin. James 1:14 says that God can’t even be tempted by it.
Taking these three ideas, we learn in the first few chapters of the Bible that God had a desire for us to be holy. He created us good, He separated us from the animals, He gave us a sacred standard to live by. In that holy state, God and man were able to be in fellowship with one another. But in Genesis chapter 3 mankind sinned. Because of that impurity, mankind was separated from God (Isaiah 59:2) and will face death because of it.
All people are infected with the physical consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve, which is the certainty of death (Rom 6:23, Heb 9:27). But we are not all infected with the guilt of their sins. I will not stand at judgement and be found guilty of eating of the tree of good and evil. Ezekiel 18:20 proclaims, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Sin is a transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). The notion that an innocent child will go to hell if it dies because of Adams sin contradicts the very definition of what sin is. But when each one of us does reach a point of maturity and sin, we are separated from God and destined for “the second death” of Hell (Rev 20:14). We have all sinned (Rom 3:23).
At the separation of Adam and Eve from God’s presence and holiness, God first gives a promise (Gen 3:15). While it is just a small glimpse into God’s plan, the rest of the Bible unfolds the story of how God will cleanse us from those sins allowing us to be holy again. This is done through a process called sanctification.
Sanctification is the process by which something that is common, or profaned, can be made holy again. The book of Leviticus is filled with instructions and rituals that the Israelites were supposed to do in various sanctification processes. These rituals involved washings and the blood of bulls and goats because “Without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins” (Lev 17:11).
All of these teachings in the Old Testament were designed to prepare and lead the world to Jesus Christ (Gal 3:24). Before Christ, there were continual sacrifices of bulls and goats but Jesus died once and for all (Heb 10:1-12). The blood that He shed went backwards to the beginning and continues forward to the end to purify all those who would allow it to sanctify them.
Here is the bottom line on the matter. All of us need to be sanctified by the blood of Christ. God has given us instructions in his word of how that is possible.
In John 17:17 Jesus says that we are sanctified by God’s word.
In Acts 26:18 it says that we are sanctified by faith.
In 1 Corinthians 6:11 It says that we are sanctified by the washing and in Acts 22:16 Paul is told to be baptized in water to “wash away your sins”.
In 1 Corinthians 1:2 it says that all those who are “in Christ” are sanctified. Romans 6:3-4 and Galatians 3:27 says that baptism is how one gets into Christ. “In Christ” is the “set apart” place that we should all desire to be.
One’s sins are not washed away until they are washed by the blood of Christ in baptism and one has not been made holy if they are not “in Christ”.
For the faithful baptized believer, that blood continues to cleanses and keeps us holy as we walk the Christian way (1 Jn 1:7).
Revelation 22:14-15 says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (15) Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
No one will be in heaven with a dirty robe. Has yours been sanctified by the blood of Christ?