Holiness

22 Dec

Holiness

Holiness is the act of God consecrating a man submitted on the alter, conforming and sanctifying him into His own image. The analogy of the potter and clay is the ideal imagery of God the creator, forming man the creature, into a pot that is His creation and workmanship. God demands of us holiness because He in all His glory is Holy. God cannot contend with corruptible man, and He who started a good work will bring it to completion. God will not save a man and then decide not to sanctify him, what would be the point in saving someone whom He would not then sanctify? It would be mindless and obscene to think God does not want holiness of you.

Charles Spurgeon puts it so eloquently “Dear friend, salvation would be a sadly incomplete affair if it did not deal with this part of our ruined estate. We want to be purified as well as pardoned. Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all. It would call the leper clean, and leave him to die of his disease; it would forgive the rebellion and allow the rebel to remain an enemy to his king. It would remove the consequences but overlook the cause, and this would leave an endless and hopeless task before us. It would stop the stream for a time, but leave an open fountain of defilement, which would sooner or later break forth with increased power.”

Holiness is not something that can be earned through self-righteousness; it is not something that a person can achieve by their own doing, it must be done by God Himself making us holy. We by nature are sinners, we are crucified with Him, however the presence of sins still lurks beneath, above and to each side of us, longing to grip us once again, urging us to play the old tune through the new instrument God has made us to be. Our own efforts therefore will only lead us again toward sin, self can’t improve self, and it can’t make itself Holy because its origins aren’t of Holiness. There’s only one who originates in Holiness, namely God Himself. If Christ defeated sins power He is the only one who can defeat sins presence. As a snake cannot be reared by a bird, our old tendencies cannot be weaned by our own self. It would be obsured to find a pheasant taming a python, the python at once would ravish the bird and swallow it whole, as with sin, the Christian born again may try to control his selfish nature, but pride swallows his attempt. The Christian is therefore powerless to overcome sins presence as the flesh weak. Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. The only way the Christian can overcome sins presence is to present himself to the one who defeated sins power, that is Christ, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). Therefore submission to the King is the only way to holiness, humility is the highway. No other way can we come than through the blood of Christ. Our coming to God must be one of presenting to Him, relying on Him to mould us into His holiness. Romans 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Roy Hession, in his book The Calvary Road puts it simply “All we have to do is present our empty, broken self and let Him fill and keep filled.” 

Only Gods workmanship alone can result in our good deeds pleasing Him. God knows how He must be worshiped and we as believers give ourselves to His profound knowledge, to be shaped by the person of Christ. Ephesians 2 gives us insight into the workmanship of God. Two verses next to each other describe good works centred on man and good works coming from the centre of the Father. Good works are not to be questioned; the subject in question is man’s heart.

Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

At once we see Paul clearly condemning man’s attempt to save himself through his own works, that he may not boast before God. Yet, the next verse speaks once again of good works, this time however, it is not the workmanship of man but the workmanship of God.

As C.H. Spurgeon says A faith which works not for purification will work for putrefaction. Unless our faith makes us pine after holiness, it is no better than the faith of devils, and perhaps it is not even so good as that. A holy man is the workmanship of the Holy Spirit.”

Christ work on the cross obliterates our work, it annihilates even our good works done with a courteous spirit. His work was perfect in contrast to our work stained by the Adamic selfish nature. God calls us to holiness through our works, that we would walk in them to be pleasing to Him. However, these works are not ours but Gods, through Christ in us. These works are a sweet aroma to him, pleasant and fresh, bringing Him utter glory. The believer who presents himself as an instrument of righteousness gives himself for Christ to work in and through to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; The apostle Paul and believers of the new testament church seemed to grasp this. Not that it could be grasped in human effort, yet they yielded to His majesty, they knew the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Let’s look at these scriptures in further detail. 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1:

For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I willdwell in them andwalk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.

7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We are, in Christ Gods temple, God dwells in us, He does not dwell within sinners. No sinner can enter the temple and no sinner can dwell in Gods courts. Therefore the prophet Ezekiel tells us to be separate from uncleanliness. Holiness is perfected in the reverence and awe of God himself. To find an example of this in the scriptures we might look at the prophet Isaiah. The scriptures tell us that he saw God exalted, sitting on a throne and Gods robe was filling the temple. What a wonderful picture, the awe inspiring God, not able to be contained in a temple, is seen by the prophet who would incur Gods judgements on the people of Israel, not to their detriment but for Gods name sake, that He may make them holy, therefore being glorified by their holiness before Him. The account goes further as Isaiah then sees Seraphim calling to each other “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. Immediately, as Isaiah sees God in His glory, he perceives something else, namely his wretched self in all its contempt.

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

At once, the seraphim touch his lips with burning coals and his iniquity is taken away and his sins forgiven, Isaiah is made holy. What’s more, Isaiah could only be sent after he had seen God and had been made holy. The only way God can make us holy is by seeing Him, for we then see ourselves as we really are, we are then violently thrown on God’s grace and mercy. God only gives grace to those who humble themselves (James 4:6) and it is only grace that enables us to become holy. Titus 2:11-14:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Therefore humble yourself that you may receive grace.

One of the marks of holiness is the man who consciously sees his sin and brings it to the cross. Spurgeon once said “The more hoy a man becomes the more conscious he is of his unholiness”. Holiness comes when we are broken before him, we are broken to his will, God then convicts us as He reveals more of His son to us, and we cannot help but see the vices that lay within our hearts. There is nothing we can do, as we have discussed before, to control them or overcome them in and through ourselves. Roy Hession puts it like this “The moment you  are conscious of that touch of envy, criticism, irritability, whatever it is – ask Jesus to cover it over with His precious blood and cleans it away and you will find the reaction gone, your joy and peace restored, and your cup running over. And the more you trust the blood of Jesus in this way, the less will you even have these reactions.”

All we can do is present ourselves to God through Christ’s blood for Him to mould us. This does not mean that we have an excuse to sin, we have now more of a reason to become holy. Christ has saved us, ransomed and redeemed His children. We are no longer slaves of sin, yet we are still slaves, slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). Therefore let us throw off every encumbrance of sin (Hebrews 12:1-2) and approach the father through the blood of Christ, let us dwell continually in His holy place by humbling ourselves before his throne of grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:6). Let us present ourselves as instruments of righteousness for Him to play His holy tune through (Romans 6:13). Let us become separate from all worldliness and our own lusts to be a people secured for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9), and let us be holy for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). For without holiness no one shall see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14).

 

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