What does it mean to live a holy life, and why should we live holy lives as Christians? After all, aren’t we saved by grace and faith in Jesus Christ and not by the things we do? If I were saved by being nice to people, helping the elderly cross the street, holding doors open, and being a “good” person to everyone, why would I need Jesus? In fact, why would anyone need Jesus? 

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul gives us an answer, of sorts, of what faith in Jesus would mean if we were saved by doing “good” things. 

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:21 (NIV)

Paul questioned the Galatians’ choices to listen to people preaching false doctrines, such as circumcision, as requirements for salvation. We can apply any works-based theology or mindset, whether or not it’s based on the Mosaic law of Moses, to Galatians 2:21. This applies to anyone who preaches anything beyond the grace of God and faith in Jesus Christ as a means to salvation. 

So what does it mean to live a holy life, and why should we live holy lives if we are saved by grace? I think Job gives us great insight into these questions. 

And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

Job 28:28 (NIV)

Many non-Christians believe in God. Some even acknowledge Jesus Christ as a real person with great ideas about how we should live, but do they know Jesus as Savior or just as a man who advocated great principles on how to live life? Paul tells us what happens when someone truly gives their life to Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

When we are saved, we are given the Holy Spirit.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)

We are also given the mind of Christ. 

For, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)

Therefore, as new creatures in Christ, we can access the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ to turn away from doing evil things. Those who are not saved may temporarily try and turn away from wrong things, but they will eventually fail because they lack the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ and do not turn away from those things because of faith in Christ. This is what it means to lead a holy life; shunning evil and turning to holiness because the Lord said to be holy as he is holy. 

But just 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 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)

Our holiness comes from God and isn’t really our holiness. Indeed, as I have written, we cannot truly turn away from evil things without the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ that dwell in us. This leads me to why we should live holy lives.

In Jeremiah, the Lord asks this question.

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.

Jeremiah 23:13 (NIV)

While the interpretation of this verse deals with the Israelites and their habitual sin, we can inversely apply it to those in Christ because it’s talking about one’s nature. We see something similar in Matthew.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 7:6 (NIV)

Dogs and pigs will never change their nature. They will always be dogs and pigs. Like the leopard, they cannot change their “spots.” While the pigs and dogs deal with an inward nature and the leopard and Ethiopian deal with outward appearance, neither can be changed by human hands. Just as those with gender identity issues might claim an opposite sex of what they were given by God, no human hand can change who they were born to be.

For those in Christ, something new happens when we become that new creation. The sinful nature we were born into can now be cast aside, and because our heart has changed, we ought to be inclined to turn away from evil things and want to be holy in all we do. Therefore, we should lead holy lives because our new nature demands it!

In 1 Corinthians 13, we are given insight into what growth looks like. 

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

When we are first saved, we are children in Christ. However, just as we all physically and mentally mature from children into adults, we should show a similar change in our growth as Christians. This growth in Christ demands a turning away from abasing things and toward a holy way of life. Just as anything dropped from a great height cannot resist gravity, we in Christ should not be able to resist the yearning of the Spirit within us to be more like Jesus. 

Let’s consider Galatians 2:21 with what we have covered thus far.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:21 (NIV)

The grace of God saves us and allows us to be saved and turn from a life of sin and embrace a life of holy living. Therefore, anyone claiming that anything other than faith in Jesus Christ and his righteousness is the way to salvation nullifies Christ’s death, and the Spirit of God is not in that person. 

For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Acts 17:28 (NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.