Holiness: An Unpopular Topic

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I think it’s understandable that people who don’t believe in God or who have a theism based on some false religion or false teaching, don’t value holiness. After all, they don’t have a true model for what holiness looks like. Further, so many are focused on doing in order to gain: gain the highest heaven, gain happiness, gain salvation, gain Nirvana, gain acceptance—you name it.

But God calls Christians to be holy because He is holy. No other reason than that we are to be like Him. Reminds me of who God created us to be. Primarily God put Adam into the garden He prepared to act as His agent—to superintend what God had made. He was, after all, created in His image.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:27-28)

In essence, our holiness is the way God wants us to live out this agency today, given that we now have a fallen nature and live in a world far from God. But is that possible?

Yes, and no. Clearly, when we come to God by embracing His Son and His work at the cross on our behalf, we receive new life, though we still grapple with an old nature (see Romans 7). The process of becoming like Christ is just that—a process, one theology calls sanctification. What it practically means is believers walking in obedience.

Romans 7 is helpful:

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

We’re not bound by Law. But we still serve. We still do what God wants us to do, but only in the “newness of the Spirit.” Essentially, learning to say no to the old self with its sinful and selfish ways, and to say yes to the indwelling Holy Spirit, is a process. A life-long process.

The Bible says a lot about how we are to live. In fact, that last day Jesus spent with His men, He said, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 17). God wants us to obey Him, though our salvation doesn’t depend on our working to earn His favor.

He wants us to obey, I submit, the same way a parent wants a child to obey: it’s good for the little rug rat. 😉 Seriously, God’s commands are good for us, and not only for us as individuals but for the church and for our witness in the world.

Take this ONE command, for example, something probably most of us blow off as insignificant:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Phil 2:14).

Imagine living without grumbling. Imagine life without disputes. Yes, obedience to that one simple command would have a profound impact. Paul doesn’t leave it to our imagination. He tells us what would result:

[Don’t argue or complain] so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15)

Imagine! Blameless and innocent, shining as lights in the world. Well, isn’t that what Christ said we were to be, back in His Sermon on the Mount? Lights shining before men so that they see our good works and glorify our Father.

The point is, our heart attitude can’t stay inside. It can’t be our little secret. We can’t be undercover Christians. At some point, our relationship with God through Christ must spill out of our lives and splash onto our neighbors.

That’s pretty much what the whole book of James is about. Our faith—our inner spiritual life, our relationship with God—is real only if it gets up and walks.

Writers talk about cardboard characters versus the desirable kind—three dimensional ones that seem alive. Faith is like that, without the “seem.” Real faith is alive and therefore will show signs of life. James names three chief areas.

First we’ll be doers of the word, not merely hearers. In short, we’ll be obedient to God’s word. Second, we’ll bridle our tongues rather than deceiving our hearts. And third, we’ll be slow to anger, which means we won’t judge, quarrel with or complain about our “brother”—a term he uses consistently to refer to fellow Christians.

The first point alone can be overwhelming. If I read the Bible asking one thing—what in this passage must I obey—I can become paralyzed into inactivity because there’s too much. I’m not selfless enough to handle the one command from Philippians about not grumbling or complaining, let alone the ones about being a cheerful giver or being anxious for nothing or dwelling on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and of good repute.

When I realize this, I am pressed back into God where I must learn to stay. It is His strength that makes it possible for me to obey. It is the prompting of His Holy Spirit that makes me want to.

In short, obedience which leads to holiness is not a thing I can achieve apart from God, but if I love Him, I’m heading for the heights, one shaky step at a time, holding onto Him as tight as if my life depended on Him. Which it does.

This post includes a large, revised and edited, portion of a 2011 article entitled Holiness In Practice. Others in series are
“Holiness Is Not A Dirty Word”
“Holiness Means What Again?”
“Inside Out – The Way Of Holiness”

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Published in: on July 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm  Comments (31)  
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31 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Out of interest, do you consider the bible to be innerant?

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    • I suspect this is a set up for a discussion, Ark, but I’m game. 😉 Yes, I do believe the Bible is inerrant in the original, which has been remarkably preserved down through the centuries. Also infallible, in its whole and in its parts.

      Becky

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      • And how do you deal with evidence that disproves much of the text?

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        • Becky won’t mind me taking care of her light work.

          How do you ‘deal with evidence which disproves much of the text?’

          More correctly stated: ‘How do you deal with OPINIONS about evidence which disproves much of the text?’

          Easy. You ignore it and don’t give it the time of day. Just recall that rather large idiot named Goliath of Gath- his opinion regarding the living God was useless. See the connection?

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          • I won’t enter dialogue with you, John.
            I prefer to converse with Becky.

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          • Smart move. Lol

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          • Your condescension is noted. And now you’ll understand why I opted not to bother with you.

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          • Condescension? Ha! I merely beat u at your own game. Period.

            You can never win an argument against a sanctified mind- even Becky must happily agree

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          • And arrogance as well, I see.

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          • Sorry u are mistaken. Confidence in the living God and utter assurance in His word is hardly arrogant.

            Many people make the same wrong assumption as u; but I thought u were not talking to me? Lol

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          • And sarcasm as well, John.
            You make a fine example of one of Jesus’ little helpers.

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          • I am mild compared to the incomparable King Solomon:

            Cut the baby in half!!!!

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        • Ark, there is no such “evidence.” What are some examples of this “much of the text” you’re referring to? It’s interesting that you frame the question in this way because the Bible is actually a collection of books. How would someone “disprove” the poetry of Psalms and the wisdom literature of Proverbs? How does someone disprove the books of prophecy that make up so much of the Old Testament? How does someone “disprove” the gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry or the letters Paul wrote? The only way would be to deny the supernatural before studying the Bible (and that’s not any kind of an accurate study that could “disprove” anything) or to re-date everything so as to mask the truth. But there is no hard evidence, such as the body of Christ or eyewitness accounts (or letters or any writing of any kind) saying that Paul wasn’t really beaten or stoned or put in prison.

          I could go on, but I’ll leave it there and give you a chance to respond.

          Becky

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          • You are surely familiar with archaeology, geology and physics, yes?

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          • Definitely. So, my question remains, in what ways do those “disprove” the Bible, let alone “much of the text”? I understand that atheists often say this kind of thing and yet I have yet to hear anyone give me an example of the things that supposedly have been “disproved.”

            Becky

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          • It’s quite straightforward, actually.
            Physics: The HGP disproves any notion of Adam and Eve as the primary progenitors of the human race as per the biblical tale.

            Geology: And we can include paleontology and the fossil record here as well, show quite clearly that, the tale of Noah and the flood did not happen.
            Archaeology: Shows that the Exodus is a geopolitical foundation myth and the evidence shows the internal settlement program of the Israelites, who were simply Canaanites all along. Furthermore, the evidence also shows that the area was controlled by Egypt at the time as demonstrated not least by the Armana letters.

            These are just three examples.
            And these are all supported by evidence of course.

            As you seem to doubt the scientific evidence I consider it would a demonstration of your integrity that if you wish to refute it, you provide counter evidence, rather than the type of theological/apologetic rhetoric that Colorstorm regularly indulges in.
            Thanks.

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          • Ark, I’ll try to deal with each of these, though the answers are not so cut and dried since you have given no specifics.

            Human Genome Project. Your conclusion is not proven fact. Here’s one article, quite scientific and long (it’s actually a chapter from a book – https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/adam-and-eve/genetics-confirms-recent-supernatural-creation-adam-and-eve/

            Geology. The “fossil record” doesn’t disprove a thing, first because God created a mature man so it’s likely He created a mature earth—trees with rings, though they had no past years of growth, rocks with fossils, and so forth. In addition the results of the Mount St. Helens eruption show a great deal about the formation of topography and geology. I’ll find the link to a dramatic video on this. Worth watching.

            Archaeology does nothing of what you’re suggesting. Do you know the history of the Hebrew people? Where Abraham came from, who his sons married? What you say about Egypt is not in any way contradictory to the Bible. And that’s just one tiny part of the Bible. There are so many archaeological finds that verify what the Bible says.

            Concerning my supposed doubting scientific evidence, that’s not factual (another assumption without evidence, really). I have high regard for scientific investigation, but what a lot of people call “evidence” is simply one hypothesis and that simply not conclusive. The article I linked to, does a good job of demonstrating this.

            Becky

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          • Here’s the link to the video I mentioned above. Now this is what I call evidence.

            Becky

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      • Sorry, Becky, I seem to have missed this reply.
        I just need to clarify one point.
        Are you suggesting that Yahweh created the earth mature and with fossils already embedded in rock?

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        • I am, Ark. I don’t see why that isn’t reasonable since clearly He created a “full grown” man, probably with a belly button, though he’d never had an umbilical cord, and fully developed trees that likely had rings that would have suggested years of growth.

          Becky

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          • It is not reasonable as you have no evidence to support this belief.

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          • As I often point out in discussions with atheists, Christians do have evidence. Just because those who don’t believe in God reject it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            Becky

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          • Then please present the evidence you have to demonstrate that fossils were placed in the rock as per your claim.

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          • I have His word that He created the heavens and the earth. The Bible tells us He made man, land, sea, the animals. It doesn’t say He created the process for those things to develop. He backs up His word (and it’s His word that counts since no one else was there in the beginning) by demonstrating that He has the power and the authority to do this miraculous work. Yes, miraculous. It’s not a natural process. Even science says they have no idea how the “big bang” happened. They just believe that it did because the scientific evidence points to this sudden release of energy and expansion of matter. In other words, they have less to go on than a Christian does who has the word of the One who was there and who superintended all of creation. It’s what I’ve said before, Ark. What divides us is really what we chose to bank on.

            Becky

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          • Then all you are making is a claim., and based on a text that is known to be riddled with error. This is not evidence.

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          • Ark, what do you think science is doing by with some of the claims about unrepeatable and unobserved data. Take the formulation of coal from trees, for instance. Mt. St Helen has proved that millions of years are not needed to form a peat bed. So that “dating” is pure speculation, and actually demonstrated to be wrong.

            As to the Bible “riddled with errors,” where is the proof of that?

            Becky

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          • The Human Gnome Project is as good a place to start.

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          • Oh, and the St Helens claim by YEC proponents has been discredited and explained by scientists
            Would you like a link?

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  2. Thank you, Rebecca! As you stay with God, your dependence upon Him shines through, because though you are weak, He is strong, and I love believers who choose to remain and rely more and more on His strength. Your posts are encouraging and challenging because they encourage us to walk out with God, what we have been called to do with Him. You are a remarkable daughter of God, you are blessed, and you are indeed a blessing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this encouraging comment, LP. I appreciate you taking the time to pass along your support!

      Becky

      Like


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