The moment you begin to discuss holiness, those within earshot drift into a sadistic world where rules and oppression reign, life has had every bit of fun drained from its veins, and totalitarians come rummaging through your home to find evidence of rebellion and shame. Standards are not necessarily holiness, though separation and personal boundaries are important. I want to explore holiness from the perspective of God’s word and the ever-so-tiny amount of insight that I believe He has entrusted me with over the years. I hope to reveal a blueprint for personal holiness development that encourages a relationship with our Creator and diminishes the misrepresentation of legalism. I will present a case for spiritual maturity in the manner in which we choose to live our lives, resulting in a stronger walk with Christ that results in the bearing of fruit for the kingdom.
The gospel accounts give us the viewpoints of the disciples, perhaps written to appeal to different audiences, and come together to testify of the good news; the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many of these stories overlap to give us a clearer picture of the events from individual observances. Old Testament scriptures were repeated in New Testament settings to express fulfillment and validation. Jesus Himself would begin teaching with “verily, verily” or “truly, truly.” I equate this practice to that of a teacher stomping their foot or banging on the board to signify that this information will be on the test. One seemingly similar passage is found in john chapter 3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5 KJV, Tyndale 1987). Jesus uses His “verily” words of emphasis (four times in verses 3 and 5) and appears to repeat His statement, but the wording is slightly changed. In verse 3, Jesus instructs that without the born-again experience you cannot see the kingdom of God, and verse 5 changes the statement to read you cannot “enter into.” Most have taught that this refers to entering into heaven and I believe this when it comes to verse 5. Luke 17:20-21 reads, “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” The kingdom of God does not come with outward signs to those that demand proof of its existence, but those that are born of the water and the Spirit are bursting at the seams with the evidence of God’s goodness and can see the plans and the peace that God is trying to work in the lives of everyone around us!
Seeing the kingdom is not enough. In John chapter 12, certain Greeks came to the disciples wanting to see Jesus. Their desire to look upon the Master was greeted with a lesson, “He that loveth his life shall lose it” (John 12:25). The writer of Hebrews states, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Could it be that we can have the born-again experience and see what Jesus is attempting to manifest in the lives of the lost, but without self-denial and holiness, we will not always see the Lord working in our own lives? Revelation 22:4 says that His servants, “shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” His name in their foreheads, sealed with the “holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Living, moving, and having our being in Christ requires some losing on our part. Paul pleads, “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. And 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). Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is our reasonable service, or in another version, our true and proper worship (NIV). Peter writes, “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). This command, not a promise, comes some five or six times in the Book of Leviticus, addressed not only to the Levites but to all the people (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). The Greek word for “holy” in 1 Peter means set apart by (or for) God (Strong’s 40). David Bernard writes, “Specifically, holiness comes in two components: (1) separation from sin and worldliness and (2) dedication to God and His will. Holiness involves both the inner man and the outer man (I Corinthians 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? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s; I Thessalonians 5:23, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. KJV). We must perfect holiness by cleansing ourselves of filthiness both of the flesh and of the spirit (II Corinthians 7:1, Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The word for holiness here means a sanctified state. (Strong’s 42))”. (Bernard, David K., Practical Holiness: A Second Look, Word Aflame Press, Hazelwood, MO, 1985, pp. 32-33).
To be continued…