“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45
“Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16
In this post, we will explore the Holiness of Yeshua.
The Holiness of Yeshua
Sha’ul wrote to the Kehilah in Corinth about the holiness of Yeshua in this way: “God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
Before we begin the pursuit of holiness in ourselves, it is well that we consider the holiness of Yeshua. We need to be firmly grounded in our security in Yeshua. As we study more fully the implications of “Be holy because I am holy,” we will see more of our own sinfulness. We will see the wickedness and deceitfulness of our hearts, and how far we miss the mark of God’s perfect holiness. As this happens, the Believer will flee to Yeshua for refuge. It is vital that we understand the righteousness of Yeshua and the fact that His righteousness is credited to us.
The Bible testifies that Yeshua lived a perfectly holy life during His time on earth. He is described as “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 HCSB); as One who “committed no sin” (I Kefa 2:22); and as “this sinless man” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The apostle Yochanan stated, “There is no sin in Him.” (I Yochanan 3:5) The Tanakh describes Him prophetically as “my righteous servant” (Isaiah 53:11), and as “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” (Psalm 45:7). Six different writers of Scripture show that the sinlessness of Yeshua is the universal teaching of the Bible.
Even more compelling, however, is Yeshua’s own testimony concerning Himself. On one occasion He looked the P’rushim squarely in the eye and asked, “Which one of you can show me where I’m wrong?” (Yochanan 8:46). As someone has observed, it was not their failure to answer His question that is so significant, but the fact He dared to ask it. Here was Yeshua in direct confrontation with people who hated Him. He had just told them they were of their father the devil, and that they wanted to carry out his desires. Surely if any people had a reason to point out to Him some careless act of His or some flaw of His character, they would. Furthermore, Yeshua asked this question in the presence of His talmidim, who lived with Him and had ample opportunity to observe Him. Yet Yeshua dared to ask the question because He knew there was only one answer. He was without sin.
But the holiness of Yeshua was more than simply the absence of actual sin. It was also a perfect conformity to the will of His Father. He stated, “For I have come down from heaven to do not my own will but the will of the One who sent me.” (Yochanan 6:38) On another occasion, He said, “My food is to do what the One who sent me wants and to bring His work to completion.” (Yochanan 4:34) Perhaps His highest testimony to His positive holiness was His statement, “The One who sent me is still with me; He did not leave me to myself, because I always do what pleases Him.” (Yochanan 8:29)
Such a positive declaration must include not only His actions but also His attitudes and motives. It is possible for us to do the right action from a wrong motive, but this does not please God. Holiness has to do with more than mere acts. Our motives must be holy; arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God. Our thoughts should be holy, since they are known to God even before they are formed in our minds. Now that can be a really scary thought. He knows what we think even before we form the thought in our mind. Yeshua perfectly met these standards of holiness and He did it for us. He was born into this world subject to the law of God that He might fulfill it. (See Galatians 4:4-5)
In my own journey to becoming more like Yeshua, I have discovered that I have let my own pride and self-reliance hinder and stifle the realization of what a wretched person I can be at times. Essentially, because I was a very spoiled and only child, I have developed a very self-centered attitude on life. But thanks to my study of God’s Word and the help of my accountability partners, I’m starting to realize that I am not as nice as I need to be, let alone holy. Whenever I seriously contemplate the holiness of God, my natural reaction should be to say with Isaiah, “Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5 HCSB emphasis added) A serious view of the holiness of God – His own moral perfection and infinite hatred of sin – should leave us, as it did Isaiah, seeing with utter dismay our own lack of holiness. His moral purity serves to magnify our impurity.
Therefore, it is important that we receive the same assurance that Isaiah received: “Now…your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7) It is not only at the initial point of salvation that we need this assurance. In fact, the more we grow in holiness, the more we need assurance that the perfect righteousness of Yeshua is credited to us. This is true because a part of growing in holiness is the Ruach making us aware of our need for holiness. As we see this need, it is well for us to always keep in mind the righteousness of Yeshua on our behalf as indicated by Sha’ul in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
The truth of our acceptance by God through the righteousness of Yeshua may seem so elementary that you wonder why I emphasize it. It is because we need to dwell on it to thwart the attacks of HaSatan (The Adversary). The Ruach makes us more aware of our lack of holiness to stimulate us to deeper yearning and striving for holiness. But, HaSatan will attempt to use the Ruach’s work to discourage us.
One of HaSatan’s attacks is to try to convince you that you are not a genuine Believer at all. He will say something like, “A true Believer wouldn’t think the evil thoughts you’ve been thinking today.” Now it may be that previously HaSatan would not have come to you with such a suggestion because you were not troubled about your thoughts. But now that the Ruach has begun to reveal how sinful your thoughts of lust, resentment, pride or whatever your issues really are, you may begin to have doubts about your salvation.
If we diligently pursue holiness, we must also flee to the Rock of your salvation. We flee there, not to be saved again, but to confirm in our heart that we are saved through His righteousness alone. We begin to identify with Sha’ul when he said, “So here is a statement you can trust, one that fully deserves to be accepted: the Messiah came into the world to save sinners, and I’m the number one sinner!” (I Timothy 1:15) It is at this point that Yeshua’s holy life lived on our behalf becomes so important to us.
The second reason that we need to consider the holiness of Yeshua is because His life is meant to be an example of holiness for us. Kefa told us that Yeshua left an example for us to follow in His steps (I Kefa 2:21). Kefa spoke particularly of Yeshua’s suffering without retaliation, but in the following verse he said also that Yeshua committed no sin. Sha’ul urged us to be imitators of God (see Ephesians 5:1), and also said “imitate me, even as I myself try to imitate the Messiah.” (I Corinthians 11:1).
It is clear that the sinless, holy life of Yeshua is meant to be an example for us. Consider then His statement, “I always do what pleases Him.” (Yochanan 8:29) Do we dare take that as our personal goal in life? Are we truly willing to scrutinize all our activities, all our goals and plans, and all of our impulsive actions in the light of this statement: “I am doing this to please God”?
If we ask that question honestly, we will begin to squirm a bit. We know we do some things, good things in themselves, to gain admiration for ourselves rather than glory for God. We do other things strictly for our own pleasure, without any regard for the glory of God.
How do we view those who do not show love for us? Do we see them as persons for who Yeshua died or as persons who make our lives difficult? Have you ever had an encounter with a difficult person who you later learn is now a Believer? We are commanded to pray for our enemies. (See Matthew 5:44) We need to learn to follow the example of Yeshua, who was moved with compassion for sinners and who could pray for them even as they nailed Him to the execution stake on Calvary.
When Yeshua came into the world, He said, “I have come to do your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:7 HCSB) This is the example we are to follow. In all of our thoughts, all of our actions, in every part of our character, the ruling principle that motivates and guides us should be the desire to follow Yeshua in doing the will of the Father. This is the high road we must follow in the pursuit of holiness.
In my next post I want us to start looking at the provisions God has made for us to lead a holy life.