To God’s elect … who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge
of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.
1 PETER 1:1–2
Holiness can be a scary word. I remember as a young Christian the word holiness stirred up pictures of long dresses, women’s hair in buns, and mean preachers with a list of rules. I have to laugh because I see holiness from a whole different perspective today. Our God is holy and only holy beings can approach Him. Now I have come to know that holiness is the work of a Holy God. Only the Holy Spirit can make us holy. Paul taught about practical holiness in Rom. 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. Look carefully at Paul’s words, we can put to death those sinful tendencies in our lives by the Spirit. It is in yielding to the work of the Spirit that holiness is realized in our lives. It is not by human effort but by faith in God and yielding to the Spirit that we become holy. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray about holiness.
“Christ made Himself holy for us, that we can be made holy through Him. The important work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify God within ourselves so that we can become more like Him. Has this truth ever struck you that the most important task of the Holy Spirit is to sanctify you, so that you are able to become obedient to Jesus Christ, and to grow more and more like Him? If you do not understand this truth, the Holy Spirit cannot carry out His purifying work. If all you require is for the Holy Spirit to “make you a slightly better person,” you will not get very far. But if you recognize that the Holy Spirit means to pass on God’s holiness to you, and that the Spirit lives within you, you will start to realize that He wants to totally possess you.”
So the Holy Spirit actually makes us like the Lord. The blood of Jesus has made us clean by faith, the work of the Spirit in us makes us holy in our practical experience. This brings glory to God.