“The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.” A.W. Tozer
If we are ever going to make real progress as Christ’s disciples in the pursuit of holiness, we are going to have to humbly and obediently deal with some of the fuzzy and faulty theology floating around in the body of Christ. One of the untruths I hear or read often is that “God sees we believers as holy.” Or “God sees us as holy and blameless”. Does He? Who says so?
For sure He has called us to be holy and blameless, and for sure He is working to make us holy and blameless as can be seen in passages like the following:
Rom 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship.
2Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Eph 5:27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Col 1:22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Himholy and blameless and beyond reproach--
1Thessalonians 3:13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
2Tim. 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
1Pe 1:15,16 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."
2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
Those are some of the passages dealing with holy and holiness. What about passages re: being blameless? Well there are 11 passages in the New Testament wherein we find the word “blameless”.
The first one in the list chronologically speaks to Paul’s example in Acts 24:16. In this passage he explains how his revelation of the truth that we all are going to be resurrected from the dead and thus will give an account of our lives to our Maker (see vs. 15) motivates him to pursue blamelessness, “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.”
The next one speaks to our wonderful Savior’s commitment to finish what He began in us, “who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 1:8
Three of them shown above in the holy/holiness passages, Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 5:27 and Colossians 1:22, have the phrase “holy and blameless”. All of those are forward looking and speak to what Christ died for and what He is working in us to bring about, and what we should be aspiring to.
In Philippians 1:9, 10 Paul records his prayer for the believers at Philippi, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ…”. For them to be blameless, they must first learn to abound in real knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve the things that are excellent, and only then can they be sincere and blameless.
In Philippians 2:14 Paul commands them to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing;” and only when they obey that command can they then “….prove themselves to be blameless and innocent,….” (2:15).
In Philippians 3:6 Paul refers to his past as a zealous Pharisee who was “found blameless” in regards to his pursuit of the righteousness that unbelieving Jews thought they could attain through the law.
In II Peter 3:14 Peter exhorts his readers to diligently pursue blamelessness, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”
Many of us who at various times have found the pursuit of holiness and blamelessness daunting have found great comfort in Jude’s statement of Christ’s commitment and power to help us attain it, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,”.
The final passage in the New Testament with this word “blameless” in it has to do with the 144,000 in Revelation 14:5. Whoever they are, their character and godliness as seen in vs. 4,5 enabled the apostle John to call them “blameless”.
So why do some in the body of Christ say that God sees us as holy or as holy and blameless? Well allow me to suggest a few reasons.
First, pastor types, especially those with the gift of mercy, do not like to see the sheep wallowing or groveling in their sins. We know Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and we don’t like to see the brethren beaten down by his accusations. So we typically try to help them see themselves the way God sees them. We try to help them get grounded in their identity in Christ.
But if we are not careful we will tell them things the Bible never says, nor does its author want us to say. I’ve written elsewhere (see: https://www.kingdomstreams.net/post/will-believers-be-judged-by-god) about the error of saying and thinking we believers are “covered by the blood of Christ” in our day to day lives to the point where we think our daily sins somehow just disappear because of what Christ did on the cross; and because of what He did on the cross we will not have to give an account of our lives when we are face to face before Him. Never does the Bible make statements re: the blood of Jesus to support such thinking.
I’ve also written a post about our dual identity in Christ, wherein I try to demonstrate that while it is a huge encouragement to know God sees me as His son, His child, etc., it is also true that I have another identity as a sinner that I must be honest about until I am released from this earthly body. It does me no good in my pursuit of godliness and holiness to pretend as if this identity is no longer an issue. You can see that here: https://www.kingdomstreams.net/post/a-primer-on-our-sin-nature-vs-our-new-nature-identity-in-christ
The second reason why well meaning believers might say that God sees all believers as holy and blameless is because of a few passages that might be initially interpreted that way. For instance:
- Rom 11:16 “If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.” This passage is talking about Israel, not the body of Christ, and can only be understood by studying closely the flow of Paul’s argument in this chapter.
- 1Co 3:17 “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” What Paul is after in this passage is helping the believers in Corinth to see and know that when they were born again by the Spirit of God, God made them to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, and thus set them apart for His purposes and His use. He sees them as a temple of the Holy Spirit, not as people who are holy in their practice, for we know many of the Corinthians believers were not holy in their practice.
- Col 3:12 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;” When Paul addresses the believers in Colossae as “holy”, He is emphasizing the fact that God has saved them and set them apart for His own use. If He truly saw them as holy in their practice/daily lives, He would not have had Paul say in Colossians 1:22,23 “yet He has now reconciled yo.u in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast,…” Do you see this conditional clause in vs. 23? Jesus Christ, our wonderful Savior has reconciled us to the Father through His death so that we can be holy and blameless if we continue in our faith firmly established and steadfast…etc.
The third reason why I think we sometimes trip over how God sees us is because we have limited being holy to that initial positional setting apart God has done for us through Christ. Perhaps this definition will help with that: To be holy is to be morally blameless. It is to be separated from sin and, therefore, consecrated to God. The word signifies “separation to God, and the conduct befitting those so separated.
Well dear brothers and sisters, the very good news in all of this is your Holy God is absolutely committed to helping you become holy in your daily life as you learn to abide in Christ, depend on the Holy Spirit, walk in humble and interdependent relationship with His church, and walk by faith in what He has done and is going to do in your life. God bless you abundantly in that pursuit for it is truly a glorious and rewarding pursuit.