WHAT ABOUT HOLINESS?
©Copyright 1998 Randall D. Hughes
There are few subjects within the Church that stir more emotion and are met with more resistance than the topic of Holiness. We are first introduced to the word "holy," when God appears to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3. From then on the word is found some 611 times in 544 verses. Thirty books of the Old Testament and 20 New Testament books speak of the word. Of course there are other forms of the word, such as, "holiness" which appears only 43 times, in 19 books.
Most have heard the verse, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16. But few really like to consider its meaning. The one attribute of God that is most outstanding, is his holiness! In fact, the angels are constantly praising him by acknowledging this fact. Revelation 4:8. But for us to be holy is quite a challenging task. We cannot do it without the help of the Holy Ghost. As mankind we have inherited a sinful nature. Thanks to the fall of Adam, we must battle this everyday we live. As long as we are in the land of the living we will be faced with the struggles this battle will bring. We must daily die out to the flesh and live unto God.
So what does God require? For whatever reason, (human nature, I guess) often times we seek to find the bare minimal requirements to get to heaven. It is like the King who was seeking a new chariot driver. The last stage of the test was a road that ran along the edge of a steep-mountain. A narrow road wound around the outer edge of the cliff, with the sheer drop-off on the one side. The towering mountain wall on the other. The first driver drove as fast as he dared and rode the outside wheel along the edge of the road, demonstrating his great ability in controlling the horse and chariot along the narrow pass. The second driver was even more daring than the first. It was as if half of the wheel was hanging over the edge, just a fraction of the outside wheel on the road. The rest hanging over the steep drop. And then the third driver came along. What would he do to catch the king's attention? As the road began to narrow, and then break into the curve, he slowed the horses way down, and pulled the chariot as far from the edge as he could get it. Almost hugging the wall of the canyon. The king said, "this is the man I want to drive my chariot. The others, although skilled, would endanger my life too greatly. I want the one that has my safety in mind."
When choosing how to live it seems that often times we tend to try and see how close to the world we can live and still make it. When God is no doubt more please when he sees his children doing everything in their power to please him. Cautious, not wanting to do anything that is displeasing to him.
1 Peter 3:2-5 "While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands."
How often do we consider what is of great price to God? What is beautiful to God?
"Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." 1 Chor. 16:29
Also, Psalms 29:2, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."
In Isa. 61:3, we are told that God would be the one to "give unto them beauty for ashes… that he might be glorified." We often are seeking for ways to make ourselves more attractive to others. But it appears that God is wanting to take care of that so he receives the glory.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1-2
Here Paul tells us it is "reasonable" to live in a manner that is nonconforming to the world. And that by so doing we would prove acceptable unto God.
1 Cor. 3:16-17 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
1 Cor. 6:19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s."
Sometimes we forget who we belong to?
Eph. 1:4-6 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Also a similar phrase is used in 1 Cor. 14:10.
1 Peter 2:9-12 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
It is God's plan for his people to live a life that is different from the world. So different that it can be observed easily. In fact, the difference is to be such that you could be considered a pilgrim, a stranger, or even peculiar, by your abstinence for the things of the world!
Why make the line of demarcation so great? John lets us know in his writings, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." 1 John 2:15-17
When dealing with standards, you can usually categorize the issue that is being discussed under one of the above headings. "Lust of the flesh, lust of the eye," or "the pride of life." The motive for partaking of, or participating in also will fall under these categories.
2 Tim. 4:10. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…"
If Demas loved the world, then the love of God was not in him!
Eph. 2:2 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world," What would be the course of the world? It would have to be something different than the course true Christians follow!
Phil. 2:15 "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
How can you shine out in a dark world if you are doing the same things as the world?
1 Cor. 2:12 "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
To try to live in a manner that is pleasing to God is often perceived as foolish ever by those in religious circles who do not have the Spirit of God, or are not walking in the Spirit.
We are supposed to be striving to gain eternal life. Instead of grasping hold of "…the fashion of this world" that pass away. 1 Cor. 7:31
Mark 4:18-19 "And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."
To be fruitful you cannot allow the world to have a great influence on your life. John 17:16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Jesus even spoke of his disciples as not being of the world. So if we are disciples of Christ, then we cannot be of this world!
So if it really is a concern of yours to please God, to do the things that are of "great price" to him, those things he has indicated to us will not be too great to surrender to him. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15 And again in John15:14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." John then builds upon this to say, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:3-4. And then in 1 John 5:2-3, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
So to be a lover of God you must keep his commandments, and your love for him will be such that whatever he asks of you will not be grievous.
In Ephesians, Paul makes many correlations to Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. There are things that I do for my wife that I never thought I would do. But I love her and want to please her. There are things she does for me also that she wouldn't do for anyone else, but she does for me because she loves me. So it is when we truly love God. With his Spirit in your heart he will lead and guide you and help you to live in a manner that pleases him. That is one of the things his grace does. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;" Titus 2:11-12.
So it is not without God's help that one faces the challenge of living in a holy manner. It is his grace that will help us.
©Copyright 1998 Randall D. Hughes
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