True Holiness

true holinessWhat is true holiness? A preacher thundering out threats from the pulpit of God’s holy wrath against sin, or a virgin gazing adoringly at her husband to be on her wedding day?

I believe that true holiness, looks like a person: Jesus Christ THE HOLY ONE, the sinless Son of God.


Acts 3:14 “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;”

How did Jesus act towards the unholy?

How did this holy one act toward the sinner? Did he avoid and separate himself from the wicked, as a good religious Pharisee or separate one should? Or, was he found dining out as the friend of tax-gatherers and sinners?

Matt 11:19 “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”

Many times in the Gospels, we read amazing stories of how sinners are attracted and transformed by the holiness and goodness of Jesus – rather than repelled. Take for instance, the woman of Samaria, who by the end of the encounter is telling everybody:

“He told me all things I had done” John 4:38.

What accounts for this transformation, this fearlessness and this lack of shame? I believe it is an encounter with true holiness and goodness: Jesus Christ.

Again, look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19; the most hated man in town; a collaborator and a thief – equivalent to a banker or corrupt politician today! He hasn’t got a hope of getting an audience with Jesus so he climbs a tree to crash the party. How does Jesus treat him? Does he publicly reveal his sin? Does Jesus command him to come down and face the music? No, he commands him to hurry, come down and make him dinner!

Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

What is the fruit of this kindness? A dramatic change of thinking, a response far beyond what the Law required. Light has expelled darkness. A son of Abraham has been revealed!

Did Jesus ever rebuke the sinner?

Of course you may ask, did Jesus ever point out a person’s sin and warn of continuing to sin? Yes he did sometimes. To the women caught in adultery he said in John 8:11

“neither do I condemn you go and sin no more”.

To the man by the pool of Siloam who he has just healed he says:

John 5:14 “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”

Many times Jesus rebuked his own disciples and others for their stupidity, lack of faith and downright unbelief. However, Jesus did not look or act an angry man. His anger, when revealed, was reserved for the hard-hearted and religious rather than the sinner.

Mark 3:1 “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts”

Matthew 23:27 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

What does holiness look like?

What then, does true holiness look like in us, if we call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ and  have put on Christ?

Eph 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

First, we must understand that true holiness and righteousness now live inside of us. We are already like Christ at the centre of our beings because Christ is in us. Our job now, is to live up to the dignity and majesty of that calling and put on the new man.

Ephesians 5:3 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;”

Consequently, we’re not sinners any more, we are not trying to be saints we are saints (holy ones). We are royalty and part of God’s family.

1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

The New Testament therefore, is full of commands but these are not the commands of Old Covenant Law (which although holy could never make us holy). This is called the Law of Christ or the Royal Law.

James 2:8 “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”

Therefore, you are not trying to be something you are not. Christianity isn’t behaviour modification it’s a miracle of transformation called new birth. You are already righteous and holy in your spirit.  God is not making better beggars he’s adopting beggars into his royal family. We are kings, priests and ambassadors!

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” 1 Samuel 2:8

Beggars to princes

For this reason, when we know and believe our new identity and role, this should change our behaviour and our outward holiness. A work of transformation from beggar to prince has begun.

1 Peter 1:5 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”

For example, imagine you are a beggar taken from the street and adopted as a king’s son. Of course, the outward transformation from beggar to prince does not come overnight. Years of living on the streets are not easy to leave behind in a few days. No, a brand new way of thinking has to be established and that is the job of your tutor (the Holy Spirit).

First you are washed and scrubbed and given new clothes to wear and then you begin to spend many hours with the tutor as he patiently trains you in table manners, correct speech and even maybe how to dance! Sometimes of course, there are setbacks and you want to give up but the tutor is well trained and infinitely patient!

What a tragedy it would be then, if you ran away from the palace and went back to your old life in the gutter and back to begging? Really that is the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15: The younger son leaves a perfectly good home and wastes his inheritance in a far country. Did his Father disown him or stop loving him? No not for one moment. In fact, I think the younger son was quite surprised at the positive reception he got from his Father on his return. Maybe he was expecting anger; he didn’t even get to finish his prepared speech before the Father was lavishing him with blessings – a robe, a ring, shoes and a feast!

Likewise, how sad when we go back to living in the gutter, when we continue sinning and living in the flesh. Living like this,  we miss out on God’s inheritance, his kingdom expressed through us. Yes we are still loved and still a king’s son or daughter but we are grieving our mentor the Holy Spirit and missing out on a fatted calf!

Ephesians 5:5 “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

In conclusion then,  lets not be afraid of true holiness, what a privilege to be mentored by the Holy Spirit to become just like Jesus and reign with him one day.

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Further reading:

What is holiness?
Training for reigning

 

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