Monday, May 27, 2013

Holiness V

Holiness is a vital doctrine for Christians to understand. God states that He is holy and those who belong to Him must also be holy, since God is a perfect God with no shadow of changing and has no darkness only light, we humans fall short, so short in fact, that we can never measure up, its impossible. God in mercy sent a perfect sacrifice in Jesus Christ for us. Yet, God still holds us to a holy standard, and we see that the purpose and calling of all of His people is to live to and for His Glory. The whole of our Christian life, prayer, worship, reading the Word, witnesses, loving, being kind, resisting sin is to be done with the understanding that we belong to Christ. I find that that means we must pray much, we must mediate on the Word of God often, we must repent often and plead with God to place all our sins on Christ. (we know that all our sins or covering by Christ, yet in our day to day life, we are commanded to confess and repent each of our sins. (1 John).  Those who think that they are saved yet they are not to pursue a holy life are mistaken, and we pray that God would grant grace to their understanding.

Lets look at other comments about holiness:

These comments are from "Christ Formed in You" The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change by Brian G. Hedges - published by Shepherd Press

The German Lutheran scholar Rudolph Otto called the "mysterium tremendum," the awful mystery of holiness. Otto described this as "the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of that which is a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures. When human beings encountered God's holiness in Scripture, their response was always one of awe, fear or dread.

Job, despite his initial confidence as a plaintiff desiring audience before the Almighty's throne
(Job 23:1-7), lost all self-esteem when he heard the living Lord speak. in self-abhorrence, he confessed , "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Reflecting on these kinds of biblical stories, John Calvin wrote of the "dread and wonder with which Scripture commonly represents the saints as stricken and overcome whenever they felt the presence of God." He concluded that, "man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's Majesty.

If God's holiness is his transcendent otherness, his infinite moral perfection which demands a corresponding perfection of purity in us - which we desperately lack- then we, like Isaiah, are "undone." God is holy and we are not.

But Scripture provides another picture - Jesus, proclaimed by Peter as the "Holt and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14) In his fully realized human holiness, Jesus shows us what we were made for.
Christ as our sinless substitute, by faith, we are declared righteous in Him. God not only works for us, but in us. He not only counts us as holy, He purposes to make us holy - by calling us to holiness and by applying the gospel to our hearts to produce holiness within us.

Holiness is not mere morality, but the deep, personal transformation of the soul through the renewal of the mind in the truth of the gospel. This comes about in our personal appropriation of Christ. Paul explains it:

Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires , and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
             - Ephesians 4:21-24

Hedges says the goal is never simply refraining from sin, but actively replacing sin with righteousness as we are consciously motivated by the gospel.The restoration of God's image within us always has both these negative and positive dimensions. We must put off the old and put on the new - put sin to death and grow in grace. Killing sin and growing in grace summarize the biblical prescription for a holy life. This is how the gospel is applied to our hearts in the pursuit of holiness.

The fruit of personal change grows from hearts renewed in the gospel. Holiness is the lifestyle of the new creation

David Brainerd was a missionary to Native Americans, who struggled with sickness, loneliness, and harsh working and living conditions. His greatest struggles were with the corruption remaining within his own afflicted heart. But Brainerd pursued hard after God and holiness, giving himself relentlessly to ministry among the Indians (dozens were saved) and to prayer, fasting, and study. Brainerd called his passions for more holiness a "pleasing pain."

"When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of him the more insatiable and my thirstings after holiness the more unquenchable; ... Oh, for holiness! Oh, for more of God in my soul! Oh, this pleasing pain! it makes my soul press after God...Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey!

How can pain bring pleasure? The pursuit of holiness was pleasing, because Brainerd was irresistibly attracted to the beauty of holiness. But it was painful as well, because of his ongoing struggles with sin.

This is our experience as well, when we are pursuing true holiness. we feel a mixture of emotions. Fear and trembling, as we consider the transcendent perfection of our holy God, is mingled with delight in the beauty of holiness. Pain, in the agonizing process of putting sin to death, but gladness in gospel-driven growth in grace. Longing for more of God in our souls, and rest in knowing God's love revealed in the cross of Christ.

Blessings in Christ!!

Next: more on holiness

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