How to Become Holy


Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "
YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (NASB)


"Prepare your minds for action" means we should concentrate our minds on a thing and pay attention to it. "Keep sober in spirit" means we should be careful. "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Grace means one receives something without paying for it, or free. This sentence can be contrasted with what is following, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior." This sentence is emphasizing our works since it means we should work right to receive our salvation, while that sentence is emphasizing grace to receive our salvation. We are told to be holy ourselves in all our behavior, and we can think we should establish our salvation working our all behavior in holiness; but in the beginning of this passage we are told to fix our hope completely on His grace. How do we understand the two contradictory statements?


It means our works are not crucial enough so as to make God reward us with our salvation, however wholly we may devote our mind and body. God came so much as to become man, so that He might suffer punishment vicariously for us to render the remission of sins to us, do the works vicariously for us to clothe us with righteousness, become the peacemaker vicariously for us to reconcile us to God, and be resurrected vicariously for us to obtain eternal life of hope for God. These are the four merits of the vicarious redemption of life and death of Jesus Christ bestowed upon us. We can obtain as much grace as we believe in the merits. The grace on which we are told here to fix our hope completely is the vicarious redemption of life and death of Jesus.


It is not enough to read the Bible or pray to become faithful if we want to wholly believe in the vicarious redemption of life and death. To believe in the vicarious redemption of life and death means we come to believe in the remission of sin acquiring definite knowledge in sin, and the justification through conviction of our being righteous, and the reconciliation and the eternal life of hope; this faith is not easy to obtain even if we read the Bible and try to believe words we hear.


It is only when we actually do as God tells us to regarding sin, righteousness, reconciliation with God, and hope for God, that we become familiar with the vicarious redemption of life and death. We become sinless when we have not done what God forbids us to do, while we become sinful when we have done what God forbids us to do. We become unrighteous when we have not done what God commands us to do. We become at enmity with God when we, who are supposed to belong to God, have not moved as He or stopped as He. We become at peace with God when we have moved only with Him. These are what we can know only when we actually practice them. It was not out of hypocrisy or false self-abasement that Paul the apostle called himself untimely born and chief of sinners, but it was out of the Inspiration and it was not a lie.


Paul wrote what was revealed to him through the inspiration of Holy Spirit, and adulterating with nothing he acknowledged that he was too weak to overcome sin and to perform righteousness. Others would judge him to be a saint and his works those of a saint, but he actually realized and disclosed honestly to profess his own works as those of the one untimely born and the one chief of sinners, and to declare that his works contained no righteousness.


Holiness accommodates both infinitely filthy sin and infinitely pure righteousness; infinitely filthy sin on one side and no thread of sin on the other. It is not that sin and righteousness are adulterated together, but they are like the water and the ark of Noah; they contact with each other but sin cannot affect righteousness as the water could not harm the Noah's ark. Holiness had not been attributed to God until angel and man fell. At first God was perfect and by Himself, and He cast out the fallen angel that defiled the heaven, to make it pure and perfect again. The Satan driven out of the heaven came into the universe to entice the ancestors of humans, and our ancestors became fallen and corrupted entirely. When God contacted with this world filled with wickedness to manage, and to preserve and to rescue it with grace, the world itself was filled with wickedness up to heaven and God was of no trace of sin and was perfectly holy. Then we can attribute the term 'holy' to God.


Being holy means utmost purity contacting and existing together with extreme sin while the purity cannot be susceptible nor affected by the sin, nor mixed with the sin. It can be likened to jade buried in mud. The mud is in contact with the jade since it is inside it, and it cannot penetrate into the precious stone; the mud on jade's surface can be washed away and the two will be distinctly separated, jade by itself and mud by itself. While God and sin exist together, God cannot be affected nor compromised, nor adulterated with sin, maintaining the perfect God Himself and completely vile sin definitely separate. This distinct state occupied by both God and sin is referred to as holiness.


Being holy means having discerning, or differentiating character not to be imbued and mingled with wickedness, keeping the pure righteousness from all unrighteousness. For instance, Paul the apostle, after his conversion, wanted only Christ to be exalted in his body, whether by life or by death, and labored to be pleasing to Him, and he said he was conscious nothing against himself. He must have been righteous because he found nothing against on his conscience, still he professed he was sinful. His life for God was ended when he was martyred before Him. Paul the apostle could say that his martyrdom for the Lord's sake could make himself righteous, holy, and pure, but he would not have yet been as pure as he ought to be if he had judged his being martyred to be pure. What all the other people would conclude to be an incident of martyrdom and to be pure was what his own judgment would conclude to be what a man untimely born did, what was more deceitful than all else, and what a chief sinner did.


What made a martyred Paul sinful? He found through his own eyes that his deeds were lacking many things and offending the way of the Lord just like a filthy garment, even though his physical life was offered through martyrdom. His deed was praised as righteousness by other people but he saw it was indeed sordidly sinful. We cannot do unless we depend upon the remission the Lord vicariously established for us, unless we are clothed with the justification the Lord vicariously performed for us, unless we are clothed with the reconciliation to God which Jesus vicariously made for us, and unless we take hold of the hope the Lord vicariously set toward God for us; we conclude we cannot rest assured unless we make Jesus Christ everything of ours, and this is how we become holy.


We are told to do
this or that when we are younger, and grow mature, and some of us can reach a higher realm that they do a deed of highest value in human view, but the deed only screens Him, offends Him, and is defiled when judged by the Perfect One. We can see this when our eyes are brightened; we have no choice but to condemn ourselves and confess our sin as we realize our being disqualified to pass the public judgment of God, unless we secure the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus―the vicarious suffering of punishment, the vicarious deeds, the vicarious reconciliation, and the vicarious resurrection. Job professed he was like a filthy garment even though he had judged of himself to be righteous.


When we understand the judgment of God, we will find out that our human deeds are those of a man untimely born and of an impotent man of no integrity, that our works are all crooked, and that we are nothing but the chief of sinners. The judgment was legislated and is to be given by God the Omniscient One. We will come to light to be rightly condemned when we understand even a bit of the wisdom of the Omniscient One. Examined in view of the divine judgment, what we think to be righteousness must be condemned, and thus we cannot but be condemned and denied entry into the eternal life in the perfect world; then we are ready to be holy.


We will come to know we are powerless when we try to do according to God's commandments, and we will find our deeds to be guilty when we understand God's words and judge our works. God proclaimed the gospel in sixty-six books of written law of revelation, which is rather small in quantity, and this written revelation contains the inspirational revelation. We examine our works through the written revelation to find them without blemish and spot, so we are endorsed by our conscience as innocent, until we come to realize our deeds are all guilty when the Inspiration comes to us. John the apostle was confident that his deeds were perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, and he was exiled to the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus; he received a new Inspiration on the Lord's day from behind himself that was not like what he used to receive before, and the moment he turned to see the Inspiration, he saw seven golden lampstands and the One like the Son of Man in the middle of the lampstands. When John the apostle saw Him, he realized how filthy he was and fell at His feet like a dead man.


Then the Lord placed His right hand on him, saying, "Do not be afraid. I was dead, and I am alive. There is no difference between me that you knew when I was first alive and me that you see now alive. You need not be startled, for I, on whom you leaned at the supper, am the same me you see now. It is because your eyes are brightened that you have fallen like a dead man." He fell at His feet because his eyes were brightened.


Our eyes are opened when we ponder on the merits of the vicarious redemption of Jesus. We cannot help devoting our life to solving the problem of sin when we understand how He even died to solve the problem; we cannot but offer our life with all of our mind and strength for the righteousness and the going together with God―this is how we come to achieve acts that we think can make us powerful; but now we find we are weak; we do an act that we think to be perfect and this act has made our eyes brightened, and we find as much as our eyes are brightened that what others judge as a perfect act is incomplete and is a filthiest wickedness that offends God. Then we are left with nothing but to turn everything of ours to the vicarious redemption of Jesus to obtain righteousness from Him; this is the way for us to be holy.


We will come to realize how much we have disobeyed God's commandments when we try to abstain from doing what God forbids, and thus we strive to obey the word, but at the same time we will discover we have not obeyed as much as up to our approval. We have endeavored to obey offering our life until we think we can conclude an outcome of our efforts to be perfect, but we pause to find it is anything but perfect, and we can find it more incomplete than it was when we set out to evaluate it. We have been faithful to God offering our life, and consequently others recognize a deed of our efforts as that of a saint and clamor to raise a saint's monument for us, but at the same time our eyes are changed to notice we are now filthier than we used to be before we began to do this deed. Is this because we have become filthier, or because our eyes have become brightened? We appear filthier because our eyes have become brightened.


However righteous our deeds may be, the deeds will inevitably make our eyes brightened and we will surely come to see ourselves as we are, and we will comprehend we could not, were it not for the vicarious redemption of life and death of the Lord, obtain the eternal life, come to the kingdom of heaven, become children of God, and act as mediator of all beings. How much holy should we be to know this fact? We will have our eyes brightened to make ourselves change and understand as much as we have become holy.


Even non-believers say, "Only can a saint acknowledge another." A saint will find another saint when having lived out a saint's life. Non-Christian saints have the same eyes of conscience that are not wicked nor impartial, and they would deny to be called a saint. They know they are not pure as much as they should be, and they blame themselves for deceiving others in that they are not regarded as they are but they are received more than they deserve. They practice themselves to become clean but they will not raise their heads since they find themselves not clean enough, which others interpret it is out of deep humility like grain hanging down when ripe. They hang their heads not because they are forced but because they find themselves not qualified to raise their heads. This is the same logic in which holiness is involved.


"Because it is written, '
YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.'" We should have complete holiness that has no relationship with the sin even though we are in contact with an unutterable sin. How do we know if we are in contact with sin? We know we are in contact with sin when we try to overcome sin. As we try to overcome sin the more, we will discover in the end we are chief of sinners and we are powerless like a man untimely born; we have no alternative to choose but to resort to the vicarious redemption of life and death of Jesus, and then we will have been wholly holy.


"If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth." 'Father' means that we are from Him. We should become perfect as we are from the Perfect One; we should strive to do perfect deeds as we strive to become perfect; we acquire eye salve to anoint our eyes as we strive to do perfect deeds; then our eyes are brightened to find ourselves to be sinful; we need Jesus' vicarious redemption of life and death now that we are sinful. We must lead a repentant life to our death as much as possible, only to identify ourselves as sinful, and we must further realize we need the vicarious redemption of life and death of Jesus and we must believe His vicarious redemption of life and death as our merits; this is the way to perfection.


We can be a perfect one. How can we become perfect? First we must admit we are sinners and we must believe in the merits of Jesus Christ. One who is most sinful under heaven will be the one who needs most the vicarious redemption of life and death, to be strengthened and to become holiest among men. We are the ones to call Him our Father and to live serving Him eternally.


"The One who impartially judges." God does not judge us according to the values good only in the world. He does not employ in the kingdom of heaven the criteria of honor and dishonor established in this world; a most wretched person in the world may be richest in the kingdom of heaven, and a most notorious sinner in the world may be most righteous in the kingdom of heaven. God judges everyone of us employing His laws "according to each one's work." He rewards for our deeds; it is our rewards that first we are sanctified and then given commodities of the world.


"Conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth." We are travelers, and this world is not where we are to live in but to stay temporarily as we check in at an inn; we must leave next morning after we stay a night. Let us list what we should call to our mind in order to live "in fear" in this world. First, we should fear lest we should live forgetting, even for a moment, we are travelers going our own journey. We are wayfarers and passers-by, which we forget, and we live absent-mindedly. Again, we are now wayfarers and we are soon to move to our eternal home. There are many attending this service who have forgotten they are wayfarers and passers-by, and have adopted this world as their permanent place to live in, which has been instituted inside them too long to be admonished of the ephemerality of this world.


Second, we should fear lest we should forget we must leave immediately, even today, if God commands us. We should not forget this imminent and absolute fact preparing everything in this world as if we were to live a thousand years in it. We must depart even today if God commands us. Recently we saw an airplane crash in which Koreans to work in foreign lands perished. It is nothing but predestinated; those who do not know this would suggest as a cause of the accident a pilot's error or maintenance faults, but it is all according to God's will which is His order. We must leave once we are ordered. Do you suppose we will not have to leave? If then we have to leave, should we leave as those in the disaster did?


Third, in fear we should prepare for living in the place we are to go to. In other words, we have our permanent residence somewhere else. We should beware lest we should forget we do not know if we have to leave even today, preparing nothing for the place to go to live eternally but preparing everything for the place we will leave behind sooner or later. There are some who search and prepare the things needed in our permanent residence, but most of us have forgotten it, busy preparing the things needed to live in the place we do not even know when to depart―what if it should be today?


In Colossians 3:1 it is said, "If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above." We must figure out those we will be missing in the permanent residence beyond our death if we neglect to prepare them in the present world, and we must pour our mind and strength to equip ourselves with them. We have only today to prepare the things needed in the permanent residence, and we will miss the chance for good if we let the time called today pass by. We should be careful not to forget to prepare for the living in the permanent place.


Fourth, we should remember in fear that we shall stand before the judgment of the Omniscient One. The Satan who will accuse us at the judgment is collecting in this world one by one diligently what to charge us with. Only today and here can we settle what we may be charged with at the judgment. Let us not miss, raging only for the things in this world foolishly, the opportunity to solve a potential charge to us at the judgment.


How do we settle today what the Satan may accuse us with? First we should bear in mind that it is only on today that we can clear what Satan will blame us for, and we should bring the potential problem to the Lord. We should entrust our sin to the Lord, saying, "Lord, You suffered for me to remit my sins. Settle this sin of mine for me." It is said in 1 John 1, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We should bring our sin to the Lord, saying "Lord, I have committed this sin. Bear this sin for my sake," and it will be settled. If we leave the sin problem unsettled, we will stand before the judgment of God to be charged with what we do not settle in this world today, and the related functions, or skills, should be subject to judgment scrutiny, to be sent to the eternal punishment in the hell.


It is said, "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell." Where will the functions, or skills, of our mind and body be sent that are involved in our committing sin? Functions of an elect committing a sin will be sent to the lake of fire and brimstone. For instance, a hand used by an elect committing sin will go to the kingdom of heaven but its function, or skill, involved in the very committing sin is to go to the hell; this statement is Biblically right. People would pay no attention to this while they are easily stirred by judiciary decisions sentencing, say, a year or ten years in prison in this world. We will live somewhere else eternally. We are being told to avoid in fear minding irrelevant things absurdly and forgetting this essential problem to settle.


Fifth, in fear we should not forget to set aside time to spend in dealing with God and creation; we are too busy. The U.S. is regarded as a country happy to live in, but is turning into a country anything but happy to live in. It is the country where materialism is prevalent in the best cultural environment in the world. The people there have no time but to prepare themselves with things that fit in their standard of living. They would never find it difficult to believe Jesus even though they lack those things; still they spend their time on no other things than equipping themselves with those sophisticated modern commodities. I was told that in America husband and wife both have to work to support so much as two children. We know in Korea a couple can raise several children, but in the U.S. they have to spend all of their time and energy to provide themselves with household items to keep pace with the general standard of living. They are said to have to work day and night, and that with no perspective of ending soon. It takes us indefinite time to keep up with the material world; then we should do it to a certain extent, and no more.


Rather as we have time available to us now, we should settle our relationship to God, to men, to affairs, and to materials. At the judgment all beings will have freedom to speak and sue. Even a plant can sue us.


We should bring our sin problems to the vicarious redemption of the Lord. When we neglect this and come to the judgment of God later, we will be sued by a plant
here, by an animal there, and by a man elsewhere, in thousand or ten thousand cases, or more; how will we bear such burden? How will we endure at the judgment of God when we are accused of wrongful relationships we made in the present world with God, with men, with affairs, and with materials? This is why Jesus is precious for us. First we should find out our sins to appeal to His vicarious suffering of our punishments, and we will have our sins settled. First we should realize what we have not obeyed God to appeal to His vicarious doing, and we will have our disobedience erased. First we should know we are alienated from God to appeal to His vicarious reconciling, and we will have our enmity with God dissolved. First we should acknowledge we have not lived looking to God and His kingdom but looking to the things of the world only, and we will have our sins of living not hoping for God forgiven. We are busy people; we should be busy preparing the things eternal, not corruptible we see now.


Of course today we are first of all in need of money or bread, but the Bible says, "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing? For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."


We need not fear death; everything is settled early when we leave early. Neither need we fear hunger. We should fear lest we should be unclothed of the vicarious redemption of Jesus; we should fear lest we should be transgressing, lest we should be lacking righteousness, lest we should be distancing ourselves from God, and lest we should be hoping for anything but God; other than these we need to fear nothing.