At a monthly meeting of a group of men our pastor confronted us with a question: “What does holiness mean for me?” While listening to the answers of other men, I got caught up in my own thoughts about holiness. Holiness is a concept that goes beyond living free from sexual sin. Holiness becomes a way of life that God demands that we practice in order to be in harmony with Him. God’s holiness in our lives becomes itself a sufficient reason for us seriously weigh any situation that might break our harmony and communion with God. Notice what Jerry Bridges says in one paragraph of his book: The Pursuit of Holiness:
“Holiness is the perfection of all His other attributes: His power is holy power; His mercy is holy mercy; His wisdom is holy wisdom. It is His holiness more than any other attribute that makes Him worthy of our praise.”
And in another place:
“The holiness described in the Bible calls us to do more than separate ourselves from the moral pollution of the world around us. It calls us to obey God even when that obedience is costly, when it requires deliberate sacrifice and even exposure to danger.”
These words, however strong, highlight the demand of God that you and I recognize Him as a Holy God, but they also demonstrate the appeal made to each of us to face battles with the full conviction that we are already victorious through Christ. As if this were not enough, the second chapter closes in the footnotes page with a quote from GB Stevens:
“By its nature, holiness is the likeness of God”.
Is it possible to be that much like God? In our human reasoning we would say that’s impossible, but from God’s perspective, what is not possible is that we would have fellowship with Him without practicing holiness. Here is the proof:
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 NIV
What is it that keeps you from seeing God? Perhaps you are at a stage where sexual temptation is no longer as difficult to overcome. You have learned much about it. You know the tools to use, and the only reason for failure is if you were disobedient. That’s fine, but what about your heart? What about the temptations that you have daily about lying? What about not being able to control your temper and other reactions? What about the strong sense of selfishness that corrodes the whole human nature? Do you have those challenges?
So we can see that the holiness that God desires goes far beyond freedom from sexual sin. Holiness is a lifestyle reflected in everything we are and do, but it is His being unified with us that God wants to project to the world. It means being truly free in Christ; that is, people seeking every day to be more like Jesus in how He thinks, what He says and what He does. And that likeness to God is described in one sentence: be holy as He is holy.