"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14
"That opinion that personal holiness is unnecessary to final glorification, is in direct opposition to every dictate of reason; and to every declaration of Scripture." Augustus Toplady
By our fall in Adam we not only lost the favor of God—but also the purity of our nature, and therefore we need to be both reconciled to God and renewed in our inner man, for without personal holiness "no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). "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 Pet. 1:15, 16). God's nature is such that unless we are sanctified, there can be no communion between Him and us.
But can people be sinful and holy at one and the same time? Genuine Christians discover so much carnality, filth, and vileness in themselves, that they find it almost impossible to be assured they are holy. Nor is this difficulty solved, as in justification, by recognizing that though completely unholy in ourselves—we are holy in Christ; for Scripture teaches that those who are sanctified by God are holy in themselves, though the evil nature has not been removed from them.
None but "the pure in heart" will ever "see God" (Matthew 5:8). There must be that renovation of soul whereby our minds, affections and wills are brought into harmony with God. There must be that impartial compliance with the revealed will of God, and abstinence from evil—which issues from faith and love. There must be that directing of all our actions to the glory of God, by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel. There must be a spirit of holiness working within the believer's heart—so as to sanctify his outward actions—if they are to be acceptable unto Him in whom "there is no darkness".
True, there is perfect holiness in Christ for the believer—but there must also be a holy nature received from Him. There are some who appear to delight in the imputed obedience of Christ—who make little or no concern about personal holiness. They have much to say about being arrayed in "the garments of salvation and covered with the robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10), who give no evidence that they are "clothed with humility" (1 Pet. 5:5) or that they have any interest in obeying this command of God, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:12 & 13).
How many there are today who suppose that if they have trusted in Christ, all is sure to be well with them at the last—even though they are not personally holy. Under the pretense of honoring faith, Satan as an angel of light, has deceived and is now deceiving multitudes of souls! When their "faith" is examined and tested, what is it worth? Nothing at all—so far as insuring an entrance into heaven is concerned: it is a powerless, lifeless, fruitless thing. The faith of God's elect, is unto "the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness" (Titus 1:1). It is a faith which purifies the heart (Acts 15:9), and it grieves over all impurity. It is a faith which produces an unquestioning obedience (Hebrews 11:8). They therefore do but delude themselves, who suppose they are daily drawing nearer to heaven—while they are following those courses which lead only to hell. He who thinks to come to the enjoyment of God without being personally holy, makes Him out to be an unholy God, and puts the highest indignity upon Him. The genuineness of saving faith is only proved as it bears the blossoms of experimental godliness and the fruits of true piety.
In Christ, God has set before His people that standard of moral excellence—which He requires them to aim and strive after. In His life—we behold a glorious representation in our own nature, of the walk of obedience which He demands of us. Christ conformed Himself to us by His abasing incarnation; how reasonable therefore it is that we should conform ourselves to Him in the way of obedience and sanctification. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). He came as near to us as was possible for Him to do; how reasonable then is it that we should endeavor to come as near as it is possible for us to do. "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me" (Matthew 11:29). If "even Christ pleased not Himself" (Romans 15:3), how reasonable is it, that we should be required to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), for without so doing we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27). If we are to be conformed to Christ in glory, how necessary that we first be conformed to Him in holiness: "He who says he abides in Him—ought himself so to walk even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19). Let him either put on the life of Christ—or drop the name of Christ!