Who is sufficient for these things? The Way of Holiness is the path all those who follow Jesus are to travel and yet it is holy ground we often struggle to find, let alone to walk on or manage to stay on. Moses found holy ground when he was not looking for it – his response was to take off his shoes and hide his face. Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, Paul and John all had visions of God in his awesome holiness and were overwhelmed. When mortals come before the immortal, to be overwhelmed is not surprising but how do we approach the One who dwells in ‘unapproachable light’? How can we who are so flawed in our human condition come into the presence of God who defines perfection and holiness in himself? Even the most beautiful diamond is a poor representation of the pure radiance of Almighty God. What’s it to be – shadows and lies or truth and beauty?
- ‘God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might for ever. Amen’ – 1 Timothy 6:15-16
- ‘Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?’ – Exodus 15:11
- ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy”’ – 1 Peter 1:15-16
- ‘Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth’ – 1 Chronicles 16:29-30
Supposing a sterile operating theatre is ready for a life-saving operation and then someone sneezes without a mask! The whole area has been compromised as the average sneeze or cough can send around 100,000 contagious germs into the air at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Bacteria cells can double in number every 4 minutes so that contamination of a ‘once-pure’ area happens from the tiniest individual cell. Sin is similar for there is no big or little sin – sin is sin and its contaminating effect separates us from a holy God. Sin is not so much about personal defeat as it is about offending the holiness of God. Such contamination of God’s holiness is impossible, thankfully. We each bear a personal responsibility for right and wrong choices for it is we who make them. Holiness cannot be considered without also discussing sin and the dilemma to our relationship with God that it presents.
- ‘Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man’ – Oswald Chambers
- ‘Holiness of life is not the privilege of a chosen few - it is the obligation, the call, and the will of God for every Christian’ – Mother Angelica
- ‘I often pray, “Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be”’ – Robert Murray McCheyne
- ‘God has called every Christian to a holy life. There are no exceptions to this call’ – Jerry Bridges
- ‘Sow holiness and reap happiness’ – George Swinnock
A child of God is born of the Spirit and yet still lives within the fallen mortal body. So although having the desire to live a holy life, he or she also has the ‘old nature’ which provokes the daily struggle Paul writes of in Romans 7: ’For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out’ (v18). Seeing our dilemma, God brings us out of condemnation through the complete purifying work of Jesus his Son. How? It is Jesus who eradicates the power of sin on our lives through his substitutionary death on our behalf. This work places believers ‘within Christ’ so that God sees us through his Son and we are justified, as if we had no sin. The daily struggle of our spiritual inner being with the strong sinful nature in our bodies is then dealt with as ‘Christ lives within us’ through his Spirit and we are sanctified, becoming pure and more like Christ.
- ‘God works in us and with us, not against us or without us’ – John Owen
- ‘Holiness is not the way to Christ; Christ is the way to holiness’ – Adrian Rogers
- ‘There is no detour to holiness. Jesus came to the resurrection through the cross not around it’ – Leighton Ford
- ‘What is holiness except Christlikeness’ – J R W Stott
- ‘We in Christ = justification; Christ in us = sanctification’ – Martin Luther
God the Father could not be more committed to the goal of our holiness than he has demonstrated in the giving of his Son and his Spirit, but we have our part to play in admitting our need, making right life choices and small daily decisions. It is only then that we move away from the shadows and lies that plague so many Christians with a sense of failure and have us walking instead with assurance on the truth and beauty highway of holiness. God hates sin and so should we. The psalmist knew this: ‘How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path’ – Psalm 119:103-105
Let this Word be a lamp for our next daily steps and a light for the broader path ahead:
- HOLY IN CHRIST: ‘It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
- HONOURING GOD : ‘Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’ – 2 Corinthians 7:1
- OUR DESTINY: ‘You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness’ – Ephesians 4:22-24
- NOT TO MISS OUT: ‘God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord’ – Hebrews 12:10-14
- WALKING THE WALK: ‘And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it … But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away’ – Isaiah 35:8-10
- READY TO ARRIVE: ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless’ – Ephesians 5:25-27
Holiness is not only possible as we take God at his Word, it is our destiny. Brought through faith into Christ, his light and righteousness becomes ours so that we approach God in the orb of Christ’s light – ‘in your light we see light’ (Psalm 36:9). Our darkness is long gone, our flaws perfected and Christ’s joy becomes ours so that we can say, ‘Our Father, holy is your Name, your kingdom and will has come in me’.
TAGS – perfection, attainment, deliverance, atonement, hallelujah, glory