Does holiness and the need for holiness ever bug you? Many surrender to Jesus as Saviour, but the last thing they want to do is to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. They want to get into heaven, but they want to get to heaven their way and not God’s way. Why? Because God’s way is a spoiler!
You might remember me speaking about holiness being the practical aspect of salvation. That is, holiness is the proof of salvation. No, it does not mean total holiness whilst in the flesh. As we have said many times, holiness-making is a lifetime matter. In Christ we are holy … that is positional holiness. In practice, we are not holy. This implies there needs to be desire and passion, and should this be lacking, then salvation is not genuine.
Do you think I’m harsh or judgmental? Let’s see what God says in His Word. (Some passage or verses I use often. Forgive me for this, but repetition helps to remember vital, encouraging and challenging passages and verses from our Lord’s Word.)
No Holiness, No Heaven
Isa 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
If God is the thrice-holy God, to be with Him in His holy heaven where even the seraphs covered their eyes because of God’s blazing holiness, those who desire heaven, need to be holy! Does He not say:
Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
No holiness, no heaven! The onus of practical holiness is placed squarely upon the person desiring heaven.
Suggestion, Invitation or Command
I don’t know, but many tend to behave as if holiness is a suggestion or an invitation. Read the following verses, and you make a decision.
Lev 19:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’”
Lev 20:26 “‘You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.’”
1 Pet 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Peter quotes Moses (Leviticus) … it’s the same Holy Bible–it’s the same Holy Spirit who is the author. Taking these three passages, note that, first, “Be” is not a suggestion or invitation … it is a command. God can command us to be what He wants His people to be. Second, God has set His people apart from the world (Lev 20:26) to be His. This separation means wholly different! Third, Peter, who picks up the theme from Moses, adds under inspiration, “be holy in all you do”. Holiness is a lifestyle requirement. We are commanded to be holy.
Presence or Banishment
Many people believe they can live as they please and God will still accept them and take them to heaven. Even some Christians are of this persuasion! As a pastor of many years standing, it always hurts my soul when people–lovely, educated, sincere people–take this approach to their morals. May people live as they please and still go to heaven? Let God answer that for us!
Ps 24:3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
God graciously inserts into His Word these questions to help pastors and sincere believers answer those who want to thin out and reshape holiness to suit their morality. Now look at His answer:
Ps 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
Did you notice that? Clean hands and pure heart! This is another way of saying, as Jesus put it:
Mk 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Does “clean hands and a pure heart” not mean loving God with all your heart (emotions), soul (spiritual), mind (intellect) and strength (body)? Only such a person is able to “ascend the hill of the LORD” and “stand in his holy place” … all others will be banished!
Chosen or Entitled
Far too many believe that because they were born into a Christian home they are Christian. Others feel that because they were baptised, either as an infant of believing parents or as an adult, they will go to heaven. Some carry the “confirmation certificate” or “membership card” as their access into God’s glory. There are even those who believe that because they are “good people” (no lies, no murder, no adultery, no gossip, etc.) they will go to heaven. Yet, apart from Jesus saying, “you must be born again” … God choses people to be holy.
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Heaven is not an entitlement. Heaven is for those who have been called to be holy and blameless.
Willingly or Forced
Some parents try to force Jesus on children. Some wives try to force Jesus on their husband. Some pastors try to force Jesus on people who attend their church. Salvation and holiness are the same!
Ro 12:1 In view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God
To offer means the person is doing his or her “living sacrifice” willingly! It is impossible to force a person into holiness because it is a heart matter between an individual soul and God.
Example and Modelling
Apart from Jesus who sets the model for us in holiness … Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s said, “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness”. It is extremely hard for pastors to demonstrate holiness because they are as human as the congregation … but they must try. Holiness is modelled to all by all. As pastors need to be demonstrative, modelling holiness, so ought Christian parents and Christian employers and Christian friends. Some say holiness is taught … the truth is … holiness is caught!
Dear Holy God, Your Word is amazing, for You thought of everything for our living and our holiness-making. Please grant Your people a passionate desire to willingly put on and practice holiness for Jesus’ sake. Amen.