To ancient Israel, the Lord said, “Sanctify yourselves…and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 20:7).
The apostle Peter later reiterated this admonition: “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [and behavior]. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
And Moroni described an iterative process in which we become progressively more pure as we turn our hearts toward God and set aside worldly things:
Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.Moroni 10:32-33
I like Moroni’s description of the process, because it sounds like a cooperative effort: As we strive to become more holy, God sanctifies us. We don’t have to do it alone.
In August of 1831, the Lord reassured Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery that they would be able to do His work in spite of their shortcomings. “For I am able to make you holy,” He said (Doctrine and Covenants 60:7). What a reassuring promise!
The hymn “More Holiness Give Me” illustrates this synergy. In the hymn we ask God to help us behave in a way that is more consistent with His nature:
More holiness give me,
More strivings within,
More patience in suff’ring
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.“More Holiness Give Me,” Hymns, 131
We aren’t asking God to do all the work for us. We are willing to make an effort to be more patient, aware, joyful, and purposeful. But we are also acknowledging that we need His help to do better and to be better.
God will not only empower us to be holy; He will also teach us what we need to do. I love President Russell M. Nelson’s description of the process:
Sometimes we speak almost casually about walking away from the world with its contention, pervasive temptations, and false philosophies. But truly doing so requires you to examine your life meticulously and regularly. As you do so, the Holy Ghost will prompt you about what is no longer needful, what is no longer worthy of your time and energy.
As you shift your focus away from worldly distractions, some things that seem important to you now will recede in priority. You will need to say no to some things, even though they may seem harmless. As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord, the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!“Spiritual Treasures,” General Conference, October 2019
Today, I will strive to be more holy, and I will ask God to help me achieve that goal. I will trust that He is able to make me holy, by teaching me what to do and by empowering me to do it.