As I have said before I’ve traveled with believers for over two decades.
I’ve seen things that words will never explain; try as we may. I’ve also heard some things that sent my heart running for cover.
Through all the years there is one theme, one topic, a dogma, a belief that cripples more believers than it has helped. Of course there are several that have this affect but I don’t recall those ‘others’ being as vicious or as merciless as this one.
(Meet me outside the city gates, Don is about to be executed, stoned for blasphemy).
I’ve seen believers hung from the gallows of another’s theology too many times.
Believers that have turned away from following Him because of a teaching, a different gospel, concerning… (Got your stones ready?)
I know it’s in the scriptures. That’s not what I’m saying.
He tells us to “be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy”. I realize that.
I have no problem with holiness, none at all, in fact it’s a desirable attribute and a liberating one at that.
My issue is the way it has been used & is still used today.
The gavel of self importance has fallen one too many times on the soul of they who did not think to question any teaching on the subject. We just take some mans word for it.
(How many of us, after hearing a sermon on “Holiness” went home to search the scriptures to see if the teaching was true, and not just true for the sake of truth; but true to the heart of the Father?)
Let’s suppose that our definition of holiness is the same one as He who is holy and we’ve got it right. (This time).
Alright, now, the standard is holiness. I think we have established this.
The question is: How much holiness is enough to make us acceptable to God?
Next question: How will you know when it is enough? Once you get to that place where you are sure you are holy you see that He is holier still. You get on your treadmill of religious determination, resolving that this New Year you will be more holy. When will you get there?
Let’s say that holiness is the high jump event in the track and field of the Christian life.
The height that must be attained is 250,000 miles or the athlete is disqualified and told to leave the field.
The first person approaches the standard, the bar, and gives it his/her best try. Jumping an amazing 6’9” he/she rejoins the on looking team who are in awe of their achievement. A gold medal for sure.
The judge approaches and excuses the person from the field; reminding the others that the acceptable standard is one quarter million miles.
Our “oohing” and “ahhing” proves that the only ones impressed are us. The judge keeps the letter of the law. The standard will not be compromised. The bar will not be lowered.
“You either high jump past the moon or you are out.”
Billy Graham set the standard in evangelism. I don’t think any of us will ever surpass his Spirit led accomplishments. (This is not the best comparison; it’s like apples and oranges, but it will have to do.) But, to be considered as one that is going “into all the world”, one must equal Rev. Grahams mark on our world, or beat it. Nothing else will qualify the aspiring evangelist for the finals. (Heaven is pretty final, wouldn’t you say?)
I could go on with this analogy, but it would be superfluous.
I think you see what I am getting at here. Right?
“Be holy as I am holy.” Is about as black and white as it gets.
Keep in mind that He is infinite and His entire person is infinite. He is infinite in love. Immeasurable in grace. How long is longsuffering by His reckoning?
If one could attain to holiness, doesn’t it stand to biblical reason that the standard will still be “out there” in infinite Sovereignty? I say, yes!
What then are we to conclude about the issue of “holiness”?
I’ll leave you with two questions, to which I will not offer any answer of mine; I don’t do my kids homework and I’m not about to do yours.
Question: How “holy” is holy enough?
Next question: Is it possible that we’ve misused the word because we have been misinformed concerning the definition of the word?
If you wish, you are certainly free to keep on high jumping until that day. As for me, I enjoy another fact of life in His Kingdom.
A man, by far wiser than I, was moved by the Holy (there’s that word again) Spirit to let me know that I am “complete in Him” and this wise man also penned the message that “in Him I live and move and have my being”.
All the holiness I need is in Christ. As far as enough holiness to be accepted by God, well we are told that "we are accepted in the beloved."
All that remains for me is to abide.
So, what does He mean by holiness? Ask Him; I'm just the messenger. (Hint: the definition is found in Jesus question to the man at the pool of Bethesda)
How about you? Concerning the common teachings on “holiness”, have you had enough?
Excellent article. Aspiring to holiness is Biblical, as you say Don, but we are each one ill-equipped for the task. It is 3pm here in the UK, and I have already failed in this respect more times than it makes me happy to remember, and I've half a day left! All I can say is thank Heaven, Jesus took the penalty for my sins, because I couldn't last half a day without him, er, make that half a minute. However, of course, that does not mean that I can act just as I wish; there is a standard and I have to try and come up to it. It's when I sin deliberately that the Holiness issue really comes into its own! It has effectively divided the People of God for centuries. One thing I read recently which I liked was: where we stand on the Holiness issue is a non-essential when it comes to saving faith. For my part, I simply try as hard as I can, because I would not want to fail God in this area, I mean, blatantly. I do it without meaning to enough! Thanks, Don, for a great article, thought-provoking and enjoyable/pleasing to read.
Well written in your inquisitive, inimitable and imaginative style. Good questions you pose. My own take (for what it's worth) is that we are never going to match God's holiness. I feel though, He does want to see us making an effort in terms of right living!
The Bible does say "Without holiness no-one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). So it appears we are required to have some holiness. I guess we are all a "work in progress"?