Yesterday at Redeemer Fellowship we looked at 1 Peter 1:13-21. In the sermon I offered a simple definition of personal holiness as "consecration to the Lord in heart, mind, and action," and argued that personal holiness in the Christian life, while not perfected holiness, is still real holiness.
While some today are calling us to leave the pursuit of holiness behind in favor of only pursuing Jesus, this strikes me as a false dichotomy at best, and unbiblical at worst. Later in his letters Peter says, "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3:11-12). Paul said that holiness is not only something we are credited with in justification, but also something that God calls us to in the life of faith. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor... For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 7) The author of Hebrews also calls us to "pursue... holiness without which no one will see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14)
But the call to holiness is not simply a call to behave. Peter is calling us to live lives of consecration in the light and power of the gospel we have believed. Paul also makes the point when he says, "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Personal holiness is not perfect holiness, but it is real holiness. And this will always include both faith and repentance. The Christian who is marked by increasing holiness is not characterized sinless faith, but repenting faith.