Have you ever wondered about the meaning of 1 Peter 1:16 and Leviticus 11:44-45 “be holy as I am holy?” Can a person be holy? Can you be holy? What does it mean in the Bible to be holy? How do you become holy? In today’s daily devotional, let’s examine the topic to answer these questions.
Living In The Darkness
I remember Valentine’s Day 2017. I was off work, even though it was a Tuesday. I was still Michel’s wife, and he just filed for his second divorce in our first eight months of marriage. I was in our marital residence in Cumming, GA: depressed, suicidal, trying to put my thoughts together about Michel, marriage, narcissistic abuse in our relationship, and my identity.
Four weeks prior to that, Michel served me with his second divorce summons. He first filed in September 2016, just four months after our wedding. A process server Jerry served me with those first divorce summons from Michel at a Christian conference Harvest in Duluth, GA.
Court documents are public records. You can access them by providing the following case numbers for the two divorces Michel filed in Forsyth County:
- Michel Szabo vs Anna Szabo 16CV-1802-2
- Michel Szabo vs Anna Szabo 17CV-0058-2
In November 2016, Michel asked me to reconcile and I said yes. In December, our divorce was dismissed. Five weeks later, in January of 2017, Michel filed for divorce again.
To say that Valentine’s Day 2017 was painful for me would be an understatement. I was devastated. I was confused. I was hurt. Michel chose an IronMan bicycle over our marriage.
READ: IronMan vs Marriage
Still living in our marital residence, I was open to yet another reconciliation. At the same time, I was bitter and resentful toward Michel. I couldn’t imagine forgiving him. I was also ashamed of having his last name “Szabo.”
I had such a painful inner conflict between Anna Stevens, who I was before we got married, and Anna Szabo, who I became after I married Michel. I felt that Michel didn’t deserve the honor of passing his last name to me. I felt like there were two women in my head, and they were different. I felt split and confused.
That Valentine’s Day, I was home working on the documents, which Michel’s attorney subpoenaed for his second divorce. I was downstairs in the living room, sitting on our orange-leather sectional, when Michel came down with his face covered with a mask and informed me that he had the flu and was going to the doctor.
Seeing the man I loved and condemned – all at the same time – sick with the flu, vomiting green mucus, and suffering, I experienced emotions that were diverse. I felt compassion. I felt anger. I felt love. I felt hatred. I wanted to take care of Michel but I also felt hurt and resentful. I was puzzled. There was a war on the inside: the flesh vs the spirit.
Being Purified by God
When Michel walked out of the house, I was sitting on the couch still, and the Holy Spirit got a hold of me. God spoke to me right then and there, and His voice didn’t need any examination because God’s voice was in compliance with His word.
READ: How To Hear God’s Voice
I heard clearly: “Go clean Michel’s room and change his bedsheets.” I was in shock! “Absolutely no! No way on earth would I do that! No!” Jesus said to me again: “Go take care of Michel. He is your brother in Christ.”
If God weren’t sovereign, I’d hide from Him somewhere. Since God is sovereign, He is everywhere all the time. So, I obeyed. Walking upstairs to the guest bedroom where Michel lived, I cringed and flinched.
I remember walking in and seeing his bedsheets brown-black dirty, Kleenex everywhere, dust measured in inches covering everything, and spiders in every corner. No reminders of our marriage were found anywhere but the reminders of his IronMan addiction were found everywhere.
I was irate. Michel traded me in for an IronMan bicycle.
Yet, I put my cleaning mask and gloves on and went to work. I vacuumed, dusted, changed his bedsheets, and did everything else I’d do for a sick brother. I also cooked for him and did five loads of his laundry.
Amazingly, along with the spiders and dust, gone were my anger and resentment. I felt humbled. I felt compassionate. I felt only love for Michel. I felt sorrow for our marriage. I felt a commitment to my husband. I felt genuine care toward my brother in Christ.
I had a heart of stone, filled with unforgiveness and harshness, that morning. God replaced it with a forgiving and gentle heart of flesh that same day by the afternoon. God purified me. He ran me through a filter of His word and as a result, I experienced a heart transformation.
Getting a Heart of Flesh
Being resentful and bitter, I was the one who took in all the poison. Experiencing a heart transformation and feeling love and compassion, I was the one relieved and blessed.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
That’s what Jesus did when He called me through the Holy Spirit to take care of sick Michel. Jesus called me to love with kindness and to be holy. He said “Be holy for I am holy” and He called me to walk in The Way of Holiness.
When we accept Jesus as our lord and savior, we are in Christ. And the Holy Spirit is in us. If we choose to walk in the Spirit, the result is the Fruit of the Spirit, including love, patience, gentleness, and self-control.
I love Jesus. I follow Him with all my heart. I don’t question His authority over my life. I trust Him and His leadership. So, I did what He called me to do that Valentine’s day.
I believe that the Bible is God-breathed word.
You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.1 Corinthians 6:11
Through Jesus, we get transformed from guilty to justified and from sinful to sanctified. We are washed by the blood of Jesus. We are purified through the event of justification.
We get a new heart of flesh when we intentionally choose to walk in the Spirit instead of submitting to our old ways of stone-like heart and being a slave to sin in the flesh.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24
It dawned on me that day: in the attitudes of my mind, I can be holy through Christ. I am holy because I am in Christ who is holy. I can be like Christ and demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit. I can do it by following the direction of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. I can walk in The Way of Holiness where Jesus is calling me daily.
Be Holy as I Am Holy
God calls us to be holy. He tells us exactly why and how we should go about it. I want to examine some scriptures about this to clarify the technicalities and the logistics of walking in The Way of Holiness, which is a narrow path, only visible to those who seek and pursue righteousness.
The Highway of Holiness is a path guided by the Holy Spirit. When walking the right way, we will hear the voice of God directing us: this is the way.
The Way of Holiness is entered through a narrow gate. It is not visible to those who choose to walk in the flesh and submit to their temptations, compulsions, obsessions, or worldly desires.
Let’s examine exactly how to get to The Way of Holiness, how to walk there, how to become such a person who can see the narrow gate, and how to stay on track and remain tuned in to the voice of God who is the guide.
1 Peter 1:16
The message of holiness comes from scriptures. Many Bible verses reveal to us God’s calling for us to be like Jesus and show the Fruit of the Spirit in our behavior by having the mind of Christ, which is love-based and pure.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16
Because God is holy and we are His children, we can also be holy through our steadfast and unshakable faith. We can choose to die to the flesh and walk in the Spirit. We can choose to be alive in Christ. God gave us free will. He wants us to choose and pursue His will. God wants us to choose to live in Christ and be like Christ. We can choose to be holy like Jesus.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9
What’s the reason for us to be holy?
To glorify God!
How can we be holy?
By choosing to die in the flesh and walk in the Spirit.
Christ empowers us to be holy so that God can receive all the glory. On Valentine’s Day of 2017, I learned this truth: I can be holy by following the Holy Spirit who leads me out of darkness into the light in order to glorify God.
I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy because I am holy.Leviticus 11:44-45
Can we be holy?
Yes, otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t ask us to do so.
What is the outcome of our holiness?
The outcome of holiness is the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
The breakthrough I experienced on Valentine’s Day 2017 transformed my life forever. I began choosing the Holy Spirit instead of my flesh. I started seeking God through daily conversations with Him, and my collection of 100+ poems called “Poems From God” was born as a result, just a few days after that divine breakthrough.
That was the year when I founded Online Discipleship For Women – this Christian ministry dedicated to helping alleviate suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Since then, I’ve helped thousands of people by making the Gospel practical and applicable to everyday life.
If you want to support this work, donate now.
“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
Bless Online Discipleship For Women
The Way of Holiness
Now that we talked about why choose to be holy and how to be holy, let’s discuss The Way of Holiness, aka The Highway of Holiness, which is mentioned in the Bible many times as it relates to God’s calling to a new way of life for each of His chosen children.
As believers, we have God’s Spirit in us. Through the Holy Spirit, God speaks to us. So, God has us on direct-dial at all times, which I explained in my article on How To Hear God’s Voice. We must be alert and of sober mind to be able to hear the voice of God through His Spirit in us.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”Isaiah 30:21
We also have free will, so we are able to choose to ignore God’s voice and walk our own way, as Jonah did, which led him to end up in the belly of a fish. I also ended up in the belly of a fish so to speak when I chose resentment and bitterness instead of forgiveness, grace, and love toward Michel.
God waited for Jonah to repent, and He waited for me to repent. I did, because I chose to hear God’s voice and obey. We must obey that voice that guides us, we must choose to follow Christ, and He will lead us toward The Way of Holiness.
If we listen, recognize, discern, and obey the voice of God, we will be able to walk that way, toward The Highway of Holiness. It will be a journey, not a destination. Walking toward it and on it requires a payment: the choice to die to our flesh and walk in God’s Spirit.
And a highway will be there;Isaiah 35:8
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
If we can’t see the Way of Holiness and wonder why so, the answer to that is in the Bible verse above: the las two lines is where to look for the answer.
The Way of Holiness is also called The Highway of the Upright. To walk there, we must guard our ways. Which ways? The ways of living life that’s compliant with the teachings of Christ. Whom should we guard our ways from? The world, culture, temptations, fools, and Satan.
The highway of the upright avoids evil;Proverbs 16:17
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
If we don’t guard our ways, if we submit to the pattern of the world, if we follow our temptations instead of Jesus and His Spirit in us, we won’t be able to travel on the Highway of Holiness.
So, if we choose to hear and listen to the voice of God, if we obey what He says and we follow Christ where He is leading us, if we do not conform to the pattern of the world but guard our ways of living life like Christ, we will have the Fruit of the Spirit and we will be able to see, recognize, and travel The Way of Holiness. Where are we traveling?
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.Matthew 7:13
We are traveling the hidden road toward the narrow gate of heaven where we can spend our eternity with Jesus Christ who is preparing a feast for us there. This is explained in detail in my article on justification, sanctification, glorification, and salvation.
About The Highway of Holiness
- Becoming Pure and Holy (Justification)
- Becoming Christ-Like (Sanctification)
- Living a Guilt-Free Life for God’s Glory (Glorification)
I’ve shared a lot with you in this daily devotional for women! Now, let me answer some of the frequently asked questions related to this topic. I want to help you understand that you can be holy in Christ, that you have the power to choose to be holy, and if you do choose to be holy and follow Christ, He will lead you toward the Highway of Holiness, which will take you to the narrow gate of heaven.
You are saved by faith, not works. You are saved by the actions of Jesus, not your actions. But faith without works is dead, and you must work out your salvation once you give your life to Christ. That’s why understanding The Way of Holiness and the narrow gate is so important.
About Justification by Faith and Works
I hope the resources I’m sharing are helpful.
Let’s get to the questions now!
You can live a holy life by abiding in Christ instead of walking in your own power, by choosing to die in the flesh and instead walk in the Spirit, by listening to God’s voice and following where He leads you instead of playing deaf or stupid, and by guarding your ways of life in Christ instead of submitting to the pattern of the world.
Being holy means living in the Spirit instead of in the flesh. It means being Christ-like, honor God, and demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit by showing love, patience, self-control, etc.
The true meaning of holiness is living a lifestyle of someone who has faith in God, someone who honors God, someone who lives like Christ through Christ, and someone who is working out her salvation while on the journey of sanctification after accepting justification from Jesus Christ. Read Justification Sanctification Glorification.
The benefits of holiness are the Fruit of the Spirit, the ability to see and travel The Highway of Holiness, and the arrival at the narrow gate, which leads to an eternity with God in heaven.
Can you relate to my story of an identity and behavior transformation? I was choosing my worldly flesh and was angry and bitter but Jesus called me to be loving, compassionate, and forgiving.
Do you recall any dark times when you had a heart of stone and were walking in the flesh, aka sin? How did God turn things around for you? Did God soften your heart? Did He call you out of darkness into His light and give you a heart of flesh instead of the heart of stone? Did God bless you with a new identity in Christ?
Let me know in the comments below.
I want to hear about your journey.
Remember: if you gave your life to Christ, because He is holy, you are holy. Choose to follow the Holy Spirit and you’ll bear much fruit. Memorize my Biblical affirmation below and repeat it every time your heart needs to be realigned with God’s truth.
I Am Holy
"I Am Holy" #52Devotionals I've been called by God out of darkness. He made me new, my old self He purified. With a new heart He replaced my heart of hardness. In God's likeness, I am holy and sanctified. Click to Tweet
I’d love to pray for your acceptance of God’s truth about who you are in Christ. Leave me a prayer request below in the comments. If this devotional was helpful, download all #52Devotionals now.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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