Holiness: An Unpopular Topic

Photo by Narcis DRAGOI from FreeImages

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”

Published in: on July 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm  Comments (48)  
Tags: , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/holiness-an-unpopular-topic/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

48 CommentsLeave a comment

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

    Like

    • 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

      Liked by 1 person

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

        Like

        • 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?

          Like

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

            Like

          • Smart move. Lol

            Like

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

            Like

          • 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

            Like

          • And arrogance as well, I see.

            Like

          • 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

            Like

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

            Liked by 1 person

          • I am mild compared to the incomparable King Solomon:

            Cut the baby in half!!!!

            Like

        • 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

          Like

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

            Like

          • 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

            Like

          • 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.

            Like

          • 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

            Like

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

            Becky

            Like

      • 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?

        Like

        • 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

          Like

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

            Like

          • 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

            Like

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

            Like

          • 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

            Like

          • 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.

            Like

          • 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

            Like

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

            Like

          • Sorry these last two comments got away from me, Ark. But I see it’s all good since you have your buddies laughing about Christian belief, and me in particular. So glad you have time for that, but I wish you had watched the above video about Mr. St. Helens instead. There’s nothing to “discredit” there. It’s what you atheists all like: observable, researched science—apart from the conclusion. But that’s what atheists do: take the data and make a conclusion, then call it all “fact.” That’s OK, but when someone disagrees with your conclusions, so many atheists are quick to say they are idiots. I’m sorry, but this is myopic and biased.

            As far as the Human Gnome Project is concerned, I’m not sure where it fits into the discussion. I asked about the things you claimed are corrupted in the Bible. Since the HGP isn’t in the Bible, your answer makes no sense. As it happens, the head of the HGP has become a Christian, so clearly that science doesn’t have to end in an atheistic worldview or a belief that the the Bible is “riddled with errors.” It’s nothing more than an assertion without fact.

            Becky

            Like

          • If you know about Collins then you will know his story. If not then I suggest you research it.

            I offered links that refute your claims re St Helens.
            Obviously you did not think it worthwhile to pursue.

            Other Christians laugh about Young Earth Creationism,
            I think it is patently absurd, and not least because YEC is indoctrinated into children, – research ACE ( Accelerated Christian Education) which is, quite frankly nothing but child abuse.
            And this is the view of at least one former ACE pupil, Johnny Scaramanga who wrote his doctoral theses on the dangers of ACE (YEC) and petitioned the UK government to have it banned.
            The bible is riddled with errors across almost very major discipline; to suggest otherwise is willful ignorance.

            Like

          • Ark, you gave me no links. I gave you a video which you apparently didn’t watch. Sure, give me a link (WP doesn’t allow more than one at a time–part of their span service).

            The fact is, you, no atheist in fact, has answered the question: if there is an all powerful God, what couldn’t He do? Why couldn’t He create a world fully formed, not in need of coming into being through a “natural” process? You see, what divides us is that you are looking for naturalistic causes (and evolution doesn’t have a first cause that to this day, just that there was a beginning). Christians who believe the Bible’s account say that science has nothing to say about origins because it was miraculous, unrepeatable, caused by God in ways that we don’t know or can’t understand, apart from what He’s told us.

            Yes, I’m aware Collins believes in evolution, but my point is, he became a Christian and did not find, as you do, that the HGP ruled out God’s involvement in creation. The way he and I differ is that he believes science can learn how God brought life into being, and in particular, human life. I’m OK with the fact that we see things differently. Not every Christian is, but that’s not the point, not pertinent to our discussion. What is pertinent is that you believe somehow the HGP proves something negative about the Bible. Collins, head of that project, doesn’t say that. Your conclusion is biased.

            Becky

            Like

          • Ark, you gave me no links.

            I offered to provide you with link/s if you were interested. You did not reply until now.
            http://www.chem.tufts.edu/science/franksteiger/grandcyn.htm

            The fact is, you, no atheist in fact, has answered the question: if there is an all powerful God, what couldn’t He do?

            Surely the onus is on the believer to first demonstrate the existence of this god?

            Christians who believe the Bible’s account say that science has nothing to say about origins because it was miraculous

            Non believers have nothing to say about origins as no one knows. However, evolution is regarded as fact.
            As you do not accept this at this moment in time I strongly recommend you do a little basic research.
            Again, I can provide one or two excellent videos to watch that will explain in laymen terms.

            What is pertinent is that you believe somehow the HGP proves something negative about the Bible. Collins, head of that project, doesn’t say that. Your conclusion is biased.

            Collins does accept evolution. The HGP demonstrates that the biblical tale of Adam and Eve is an impossibility as no such bottleneck could have existed where two humans were the progenitors of our entire species.

            Like

          • Here is a christian site.
            http://www.oldearth.org/rebuttal/other/sdc/sdc_mount_saint_helens.htm

            Like

          • The video I linked to is done by a geologist, Ark. So the mention at the beginning of the article that some non-geologist reached these conclusions is only partially true. We non-geologists can look at the geological evidence and draw a conclusion, like everyone else.

            Secondly, the article makes assertions, offering no proof. For instance he says, “However, not all canyons, in fact, most canyons, are not formed as a remnant of a volcanic eruption.” What evidence does he have of this assertion?

            I hope you watch the video, Ark. You won’t agree with the conclusion, but it’s impossible to refute the science.

            Becky

            Like

          • That you claim Yahweh created an earth with fossils already buried in the rock strata suggests you are willfully denying the obvious science and the fact the age of the earth is magnitudes of order older that what YEC’s believe.
            Honestly, what possible motivation could be behind any god creating fossils?

            Like

          • Ark, I’m still here answering other comments, so I’ll take this too. Understand, the Bible does not say that God made an earth with fossils. Those actually all could have been a result of a worldwide flood, as some people think. It’s just an idea and one that makes sense if you believe God can create the world out of nothing. He wasn’t limited by a “natural process.” He MADE the natural process, and if He wanted to use evolution, He could have. I don’t think He did because death didn’t enter the equation until Adam sinned. But He could have done something else to bring about the development of life. Not an issue to fall on a sword over. That God created, is. How He created is not specified in Scripture. When He said, Let there be … does that mean it came into being fully formed or at it’s rudimentary stage? Scripture says, For God, a day is like a thousand years. I don’t know why YEC proponents don’t apply that to the 7 days of creation. They insist it refers to a 24-hour day, but day one was before time existed. There was no sun to create a “day” as we know it, so how does anyone know it was “24 hours”? But all that is beside the point. The only thing that matters really is that God created the heavens and the earth. Science has no explanation, so I don’t see that it’s actually a debate. One side: God created. The other side: we have nothing. The atheist adds, we have nothing but we know it wasn’t God. That’s not a tenable argument. Not even an argument. It’s the worst of assertions because atheists will admit the universe is so vast that man can’t possibly know what all is in it. The Christian says, of course, that God isn’t “in it.” He’s outside it, beyond it, sustaining it. So we’re back to “how do you know”? Which I’ll be happy to talk about if you’re interested.

            Becky

            Like

          • Understand, the Bible does not say that God made an earth with fossils.

            I did not say it did. YOU said your god did it.
            My question was, if this is in fact the case, what could possibly be the motivation?
            As you suggested it, please can you answer my question.

            The only thing that matters really is that God created the heavens and the earth.

            This is an unsubstantiated assertion.
            There is no evidence for this claim.

            The atheist adds, we have nothing but we know it wasn’t God.
            No atheist I am aware of has ever said this. I most certainly never have.
            Atheists have no belief in gods – your’s or anyone else’s – based on the lack of evidence.

            So we’re back to “how do you know”?

            You don’t …. and neither does anyone.

            Like

          • Sorry, i didn’t mean to be unclear. You didn’t say that, but I thought it necessary to make the point that this is my thinking. Some other people too, but certainly not something stated in Scripture.

            Yes, atheists have no belief that God exists, which does exactly what I said: in an atheist’s mind, that God created is not possible. It’s ruled out as an option. Instead, the creation of this world is precisely the evidence you are looking for that God exists.

            As far as knowing is concerned, Christians do know, because God has told us. Not because we have some secret super power or something. He’s told us all, so anyone who takes Him at His word can know.

            Becky

            Like

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

            Like

      • Becky,
        What does infallible in the originals mean to you?

        Like

        • The originals would be the original languages in which each writer of Scripture penned the text. Remarkably, or should I say, miraculously, God has preserved His word through the centuries, and scholars have done a great job, both studying and providing study tools, as well as translating to various languages. But we can’t say, the King James Version is the inspired version of the Bible, and therefore without error. It’s not inspired the way the original manuscripts were and it’s not free of error. The original manuscripts were. Did I cover what you wanted to know?

          Becky

          Liked by 1 person

          • Do we have the originals themselves?

            Like

          • My guess from the silence as to my last question regarding whether we have the originals or not leads me to believe that possibly… you know we do not. Am I right?

            Like

  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 2 people

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

      Becky

      Like

  3. […] Reply […]

    Like

  4. […] sourced:   CLICKETH HERE […]

    Like

  5. This following quote, and your last paragraph say it all:

    “. 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.”

    I say Amen and Amen! Thank you so much for this teaching on holiness. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person


Leave A Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: