Saturday, 4 February 2012

The way of holiness

Holiness is misunderstood in our day and age. Many think of it as if it was an unpleasant thing, as if it is the hostile friend of pleasure. Holiness is associated with an un-happy life evidence and reduced to the life of religion and those who are enemies of culture. Holiness occurs not in the thinking of many men even among those who are called to holiness because the God who redeemed them is holy. Some do have a desire to be holy, but they too have failed to see the pleasure and loveliness of having such an attribute so they adorn themselves with an hypocrites vest and walk around gloomy as if there is but death in following God’s commands and laws and they disfigure their faces as if they would rather be indulging in the pleasures of their flesh; but they pursue this drowsy holiness because they don’t want to go to hell and have misunderstood what true holiness is.

I wonder what your view of holiness is - do you desire to be clothed in it and if so what are your reasons? Scripture firmly says ‘strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the lord’ (heb 12:14). It is clear that man in order to see the Lord must strive - that is with great violence of energy, with a earnest desire for the holiness in which God has commanded us seek or else we shall never see his face; we shall never enter his rest and take our place in that Mansion which Christ our heavenly beloved has gone to prepare for us. But what is the holiness we are to strive for?

The holiness we are to strive for is that holiness which is a conformity of the heart and life unto God. It is that holiness which eluded the Pharisees because they thought holiness to be an outward thing rather than the conformity of heart unto God. This holiness is also a conformity unto Jesus Christ for He was man without sin and we are called to imitate his life. If any man should live their lives like Jesus as presented to us in the gospels then no man would ever be in the dark of what is meant by true holiness. This holiness is also a conformity to God’s laws. By God’s laws I mean God’s precepts and commands as they are delivered to us in the gospels and those contained in the letters.

The nature of this true holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. There is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. As Jonathan Edwards put it:

'Tis the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties; 'tis a divine beauty, makes the soul heavenly and far purer than anything here on earth-this world is like mire and filth and defilement compared to that soul which is sanctified-'tis of a sweet, lovely, delightful, serene, calm, and still nature. 'Tis almost too high a beauty for any creature to be adorned with; it makes the soul a little, amiable, and delightful image of the blessed Jehovah. How may angels stand with pleased, delighted, and charmed eyes, and look and look with smiles of pleasure upon that soul that is holy!’

My friends, Holiness is what we were and are created for, when we live in holiness we find that our souls finds rest; and communication with God is as smooth as butter and our hearts and will will have no differing opinions.  Jesus died for our sins and clothes us in His perfect righteousness. The evidence to show that this is ours, this perfect righteousness whether it has been reckoned to us and that we are on our way to heaven is that we truly have a desire to be conformed to God by pursing his holiness.

Edwards helps us with application points to test our hearts to see whether we are on our way to heaven or being conformed to God in his holiness:

  • Meditate on the holiness of God, and see if you cannot see a conformity, a likeness in your mind. If those that think themselves in the way to heaven, that are unholy in the meantime in their hearts, would compare themselves and their nature to the holy nature of God, such a glorious light as the holiness of God would quickly discover their rottenness and unsoundness.

  • See if you can see any resemblance in your life to the life of Christ.

  • Is there an agreeableness between your souls and the Word of God? Have you love to all God's commands and a respect to them in your actions? Is it your delight to obey and hearken to the will of God? Do you obey them of choice? Is it what you would choose to do if God had not threatened to punish the breach of them?

I encourage you all to holiness in as much as I encourage myself not as a means to obtain your salvation because if you pursue it this way you will fall by the wayside. Pursue it with joy and great diligence exclaiming with the Psalmist “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander away from your commandments!” Psalm 119:10.


Indebted to Jonathan Edwards sermon titled The way of Holiness.

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