Holiness ... 2
A new goal
While Christianity is a life made complete in Christ by a combination of imparted virtues and attributes, the primary attribute or value that provides for this unique union and fellowship with God is holiness. And regardless of what comes to mind when we think of holiness, it is not an option, but an imperative, for God has said, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16 NASB) It must be rated among the top five priorities of the Christian way: love, service, sacrifice, godliness, holiness.
Holiness is a state of purity completely untouched by the slightest hint of sin. Being pure, clean and incorruptible; holiness is opposed to anything that is not loving, anything that is hurtful, such as hatred, resentment, lust, gossip, dishonesty, or ill-will. You would think someone as renowned as the Old Testament prophet Isaiah to be the epitome of holiness, yet we learn that when he beheld the glory of God’s holiness, he immediately fell on his face and declared himself a man of unclean lips, admitting he was not worthy. His own inability to be holy underscored the deficiency between the wretched condition of humanity and the splendor of Divinity. With nothing in common between sin and holiness, any attempt at affiliation is untenable. The whole Biblical story explains that corruption had forced a mighty chasm between man and God. However God did not forsake us, He remembered His early purpose, and “doubled down” on the value He placed on man.
From the time we were born, or even earlier, when each human baby was formed and woven together in the secret place in each mother’s womb, we were special and we were wonderful. Both God, and our parents, were delighted at our birth, and we were lavished with affection. While just little babies, we ignited a spark of joy and love in the hearts of our families and the people who doted on us. Yes, our infant form was strangely adorable. Yet, as we grew up, it became evident we were not so lovely and not so perfect, after all. As humans, we were all stained inside by sin, and incapable of holiness. Thanks be to God, who had a solution for us that provided something beautiful that would negate the ugliness of our visible and invisible sinfulness. He gave us a way back into His loving family by His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Holiness calls us to a personal exercise in spiritual development, for try as we may, a mere intellectual knowledge of holiness is inadequate to affect the desired goal of relating to God. Acquiring this knowledge, however, is the first step in a succession of steps to be taken, for we learn that our conduct is transformed by the re-education of our minds. We are to think as God would have us think, know what God would have us know, and do what God would have us do.
Because of our background as sinners who were, at one time, children of disobedience, our minds are filled with ungodly thoughts, carnal attitudes, and beliefs steeped in deception and doubt. We were intimately wedded to the sinful nature in our minds and bodies and, as such, we were the enemies of God, repugnant in our sinfulness and ungodliness. Regardless of the fact that we have been "born again" we can still remain critically attached to the sin of the world through this previous association, and it is only to the extent that we root out and divorce these residual ties that we begin to properly reflect the reality of a new power we’ve received in Christ.
It is not at all uncommon to encounter many struggles with the desires of our flesh, and of renewing our minds, because this is ground once dominated by unbelief, deceit, selfishness, carnality, and the devil’s schemes. Overturning this condition presents an ongoing challenge. But having been completely extricated by Christ from a dark spiritual domain in principle, we learn that we must now take an aggressive position of faith in God’s Word and His provisions in order to push forward, develop, live, walk, and establish the practical application of holiness more and more, actualizing our new spiritual status and blessings. Our continual resistance to inappropriate mental thoughts and unholy urges are essential in the battle against sinfulness. We believe these goals are attainable, because Jesus said the very things He did, we will do.
Experience affirms that our spiritual adversaries will work to prevent us from coming to a correct understanding about the power of godliness and true holiness. They want us to fall short in some areas, to slow us down or hinder us from fully embracing these values, and appear hypocritical. Our lives will then represent little more than mediocre people feebly attempting to live good moral lives apart from the power of God; and there is little dynamic distinction in that to some non-Christians. Experience also affirms, a life of far greater victory is our birthright as born-again Christians.
In comparison to man’s “dirtiness”, God’s holiness is a picture of absolute moral perfection. Our faith can take us on the journey towards it, as we understand, perceive, and be moved with reverential fear, praise, and adoration at the existence of God’s total purity and glory. Holiness is one of the prizes Jesus won for us through His victory on the cross. Holiness is to be our new disposition. “As He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 NASB)