2Co 7:1b … perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Christians face two opposite mistakes with regards to their spiritual life. One is to assume that since Christ has done everything on the cross, I don’t have to take any responsibility for my life. The other is to assume that I have to strive to achieve holiness by my own efforts. But the truth is a middle ground where Christ indeed has done all the work necessary for us to be holy, but we are to play our part in the process as well. There is a wonderful phrase in the New Testament: ‘workers together’. We often think of this in relation to Christian work, but it also applies to our walk of Holiness. There is a cooperation that God delights in, where Christ Jesus makes us holy within, but the expectation is that we cooperate by making that inner holiness visible by an outward holiness in all that we do.
What do we mean by holiness? In original meaning it carries the idea of separation to the purposes of God. So even inanimate things could be considered holy in the Old Testament. But for us that separation to God brings with it a need to live in a way that is consistent with that separation or holiness. Inanimate objects cannot make choices or pursue certain lines of action, but we as living being are not so limited. We are expected to fulfil that separation unto God by the way we live, the things that we do, and the attitudes that we support. Our holiness is not to just to be in theory, but in the practical reality worked out in daily life. And this is our responsibility, as guided by the Holy Spirit, to cleanse both the things that we do and allow in our lives and the spiritual things that we are involved in order that that nothing displeasing to the Lord.
What is the basis that motivates us to do these things? We have to go back to the ending of the previous chapter to see the reason for Paul’s insistence on this Holiness. The promises that God has been making over the centuries have now been fulfilled; He now dwells within us and walks amongst those that are true believers; we have become His sons and daughters. It is on this basis that Paul encourages us to set our lives fully in order. We need to be sure that God is not ashamed of His children and is pleased to call us His sons and daughters.