I hesitate to use the words holy, holiness, or associated words for the simple reason that it has been wounded in the house of its friends. Everybody seems to take that word, twist it to accommodate their own prejudices and use it in a way that will puff them up, at least in their own eyes.
Many false notions about holiness have seeped into the church. There are legalistic notions where holiness is reduced to a regimen of rules and regulations that if you do them, you are holy. After that comes the judgmental aspect. If you are not doing that, then you are just not holy. Holiness has become an external thing rather than an internal thing. If you fit into a person’s definition of holiness, then you are okay. If you adhere to certain rules and regulations that are supposed to define holiness, then you are also okay.
I want to stress the fact that holiness is the perfect balance between our Creator and us. I think this is something we need to really get a hold of. Holiness is not some set of rules and regulations, rather it has to do with relationship and our holiness is the perfect balance between our Creator and us. It is not hard for us to understand that we were created for His fellowship. St. Augustine said, “Thou, O Lord, has created us for Thyself and we are restless until we rest in Thee.”
Then in Revelation, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). God takes pleasure in us. It is very difficult for us to understand this concept.
When I am using the word, “us,” I am talking about the redeemed “us.” The man out in the world has lost the capacity to have this kind of fellowship with God because of the Fall. Only as we commit our heart and life to Jesus Christ and enter into the blessed realm of the redeemed are we in any position to bring honor and pleasure unto God. However, as redeemed men and women, we begin to develop a relationship with Him that is ongoing. Not what you were 50 years ago. That time is passed. That is done. That cannot be replicated. It is what I have right now in my relationship with God that is true. Anything yesterday is passed and tomorrow is not here yet. But my holiness has to do with my relationship with the heavenly Father right now. We were created for Him for fellowship and that fellowship is something God highly delights in.
Our holiness is a reflection out into the world of God’s perfections in us. This is what evangelism is all about. Sometimes we have the idea that evangelism is telling someone that they are lost and going to hell and they need Jesus. I suppose that is one way of putting it. Evangelism is a result of the reflection of God’s perfection through a life that has been redeemed. When people can see the change in me that cannot be explained in human terms, they begin to understand a little bit that I am different. That is, the perfections of God being reflected through my redeemed nature.
The human nature always gives way to the divine nature. Think of what the Apostle Paul said, “Not I, but Christ,” and that is the idea and attitude we as believers must accept. It is not “I” doing this, but it is Christ. John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). In the ongoing fellowship that I have with God, that we might call holiness, there is the sense that I am constantly decreasing and He is constantly increasing. It is an ongoing aspect of my life. As I begin to grow in the essence of holiness, I begin to lose interest in worldly things. The external always gives way to the internal. If I am growing and if my harmony with the divine perfections is growing in this sense of holiness, then I am losing interest in the world.
We begin to lose interest in this world and start having a sense of the other world about us. This is the holiness we need to embrace in this day. It is not academic or technical. Our problem is we like to boil things down into something that is technical with a variety of parts. You do this and then do that and this will happen. It is not technical, it is not academic, but is the mystic Majesty of knowing God. As a devotional writer said, it is the mystic Mysterium Tremendum of coming into the presence of this awesome person we call our Father which art in heaven.
We are to be the incarnation of God’s Word in our generation. It is through our lives that the Holy Spirit establishes the essence of Christ in our world. We are not only the messenger, we also become the message. “Christ in you,” the Apostle Paul said, “the hope of glory.” Therefore, we are to be the incarnation of the Word unfiltered by the world. Too often, we take the essence of the Scriptures and filter it through the world, hoping that somehow we can attract the world. The only way we can attract the world is through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
I lift up Jesus Christ by pursuing this pathway of holiness. I must pierce that infamous Cloud of Unknowing and come into the presence of God in such a way that my life becomes a reflection of the perfections and character and nature of the God who redeemed me and created me for Himself. I need to be walking in the beauty of holiness, not a holiness of my own making, but a holiness reflecting the perfections and character of God Almighty.