Sabbath School Lesson for February 4-10, 2017

We’ve been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, but what comes next? Here’s the part that scares a lot of us: living a holy life. Here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

We feel very inadequate for the task of living a pure, holy life that fully reflects Jesus. And rightly so, for actually we are TOTALLY inadequate for doing it. The Holy Spirit must perform this sanctifying work. We aren’t designed for this divine assignment, but we are equipped for it when the Holy Spirit is allowed in our hearts.

God’s love and His holiness are not to be separated. So, it follows that our love for God must lead to holiness. It’s part of becoming like Him. We want to become like the One we love.

Our study this week allows us to see this holiness for what it is. And to understand that aspiring to be holy is a natural response to the love we feel for God. We can humbly and reverently become holy, with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s part of His name, so we better understand what “holy” means, in order to understand and know Him better.

Memory Verse: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB

Although this verse doesn’t mention holiness, we have come to understand that the work of sanctification means growing in holiness. Also notice that it doesn’t say we are preserved perfect, but complete, and that God is the one who does the sanctifying. He’s the One who makes us holy. We just allow Him to perform this work.

Sunday: The Holiness of God

We would shudder at the thought of an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent god, who wasn’t also all-good. Yes, the holiness of our Creator God is the one attribute that is mentioned most in Scripture, because it is the one attribute we would not want to do without.

His holiness means that He is totally separated from sin and desires good to prevail in our universe. To deny God’s purity and holiness would be more disturbing than not believing in God at all. Our comfort level is reduced when we believe God is non-existent, but imagine how frightening our world would be in the hands of a malevolent god, who was without holiness.

Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 1:14-16 and Leviticus 11:45. Why are we called to be holy? What does eating unclean animals, as it speaks of here in Leviticus, have to do with holiness? Are we changed by the foods we eat? Were clean animals healthier to eat, and what does this have to do with our holiness today, indeed in all areas of health? Why does God want us to be healthy?

Read Psalm 89:18, Isaiah 40:25, Jeremiah 51:5, and Ezekiel 39:7. Why is God referred to repeatedly as the Holy One? How is holiness related to character?

Read Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. When things are mentioned more than once in the Bible, we generally find that emphasis is being placed on that word (we remember Jesus saying, “Truly, truly”, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem”, and “Martha, Martha”). Why is there such an emphasis in these passages on God’s holiness?

Monday: The Nature of Holiness

Holiness, for us, simply means Christlikeness. This is something we can pray for, something we SHOULD pray for. It’s a promised gift for us to develop fruits of the Spirit, as they are called, which will make us like Him.

But to be holy is also a command, as well as a gift. For without it, we will do more harm than good to the kingdom of God. Therefore, in order to achieve any holiness, or Christlikeness, in our lives, we must first belong to Christ. It requires daily surrender to His will.

Holiness does not, however, make us ethically superior, perfect, or sinless. It does change us though, so we can start to live a pure and holy life. Paul called the followers in Corinth saints, or holy ones, even though they had several imperfections that he admonished them to correct.

We too, must recognize that this work of holy-making, or sanctification, is a lifelong process. Because we continue to live in a world beset by temptations and distractions, the Holy Spirit will continuously be needed to help us battle unseen forces of evil.

But we can be assured that all is being done to transform us into beings, acceptable to our Savior, when we have given our hearts to Him.

Discussion Questions: Read Ephesians 1:4, 5:25-27, and Hebrews 12:14. In what way has God chosen us? When is the church presented as without spot or wrinkle? Can we ever achieve that state on our own? What part does Jesus play in our being presented holy before God?

Read Galatians 5:16, 22, 25. How can the fruits of the Spirit help us recognize what is not holy, in other words, what is of the world? How can we differentiate good and evil, when they sometimes appear very similar?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:2. Who are called to be saints?

Tuesday: The Agent of Sanctification

As we have seen, the agent who makes us holy is none other than the Holy Spirit. He not only makes us holy (justifies us), but He keeps us holy (sanctifies us). It is accomplished by faith, through His power.

In actuality, the Holy Spirit does this by enabling us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), is none other than the Spirit of Jesus, because Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life (John 14:6). Therefore, we naturally are drawn to Jesus when we allow His Spirit to dwell in us.

Focusing on Jesus is vital in making us sanctified and holy. In looking to ourselves, others, or to the worldly pleasures that tempt us, we will find it impossible to please Jesus. We will become:

  • self-centered,
  • destroy our relationships with others, or
  • find ourselves steeped in sinful practices that drive us further away from God.

Discussion Questions: Read 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5, and Hebrews 13:12. How are washing, sanctifying, and renewing related? How is Jesus included in this process?

Read Galatians 5:16, 17 and Hebrews 12: 1, 2. In what way is Jesus the author and finisher of our faith? How is faith the answer to our fight against sin then?

Read Romans 7:20 and Philippians 3:13, 14. Can we ever come to a point when we aren’t tempted by sin? How is this achieved?

Wednesday: The Rule of Holiness Is God’s Law

God’s law is referred to as holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). John was clear about the place of the law in the perfecting of our characters and faith, when he said…

“Now by this we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” 1 John 2:3-6 NKJV

His commandments, His law, and His word are expressions used interchangeably to mean whatever the Lord has told us to do. John is telling us that by keeping God’s law, the love of God is perfected in us. In studying His law, we find that it is the embodiment of love–love for God and for others–and this love becomes a part of us, enabling us to achieve holy living, as we are called to do.

Discussion Questions: Read Matthew 5:17-19, Romans 13:10, and 1 John 5. How is the law fulfilled? Why is love said to be the fulfillment of the law? Is love enough?

Read Matthew 22:37-40 and 24:12. To what does lawlessness lead? Why are lawlessness and the concept of love so connected?

What’s the difference between legalism and faithfulness to the law?

Thursday: Pursuing Holiness

Although holiness involves being active in God’s work, it must be grounded in spending quality time with God, through the Holy Spirit. Being busy doing good deeds does not indicate our holiness. In other words, if we’re too busy to pray and commune with God, we’re too busy to be effective disciples. Our greatest need will  always be to spend time with God.

Receiving strength from His word and staying connected with Him through prayer will make our character grow and will result in the kind of life that draws people to God. The only thing we can take with us to heaven, as you may have heard, is our character. And holy characters are the only ones God can accept into His kingdom.

Being called by God to do something is different from just feeling driven to do something. Being called means that the Holy Spirit is the one actualizing the action. Being driven can happen through one’s own sense of duty or desire for approval. Our holiness must grow out of our connection with the Holy Spirit. No other source will lead to a holy outcome.

Discussion Questions: Read Psalm 15:1, 2 and Ephesians 4:22-24, and 2 Timothy 2:21. Describe what holiness looks like, as described in these verses.

Read Philippians 1:6. When does holy living begin and when does it end?

Read Matthew 7:22-23. Is righteous living necessarily from God? How must the Holy Spirit be involved for our lives to be truly holy?


The process of holy living is described most clearly in Hebrews 8:10, which says…

” ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ “

Only with God’s law written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit are we able to live pure, holy lives that belong to God. As the book of Hebrews tells us later, this happens so “we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). We are actually given the opportunity to participate in His holiness through this covenant relationship.

Holiness, also called Christlikeness, or being sanctified, is not a state of perfection. It just requires that we focus on Jesus and become steadfastly more like Him. By beholding the beautiful character of Christ, our own lives are molded into His likeness.

Parting Words

From the book Steps to Christ, p. 70, we find this counsel:

“Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Jesus, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”

By focusing on Jesus, you will let the Holy Spirit produce holiness in your life, as you spend time with God through prayer and the study of His word.

 Next Week: The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit

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