What Is Holiness?
Is it the condition of a bad guy after a lost gunfight with the police? Is it the proper way to address the Pope? As in, “your holiness, I believe Peter was a fine character.” Actually, holiness is a main attribute of the Divine nature. It is entire freedom from moral evil, to the degree of moral perfection. Now man has a problem here because he appears in scripture as a fallen being, by nature unholy & sinful. And of course modern man appears the same way. . . And it appears that this world leads us to swim in sin of all sorts so we cannot be holy & blessed by God.
In the Christian church of the last couple hundred years there has been a “Holiness” movement. Starting from early Methodists then spreading to other denominations with the emphasis on perfection of character & conduct, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This movement has moved through time “arm in arm” with charismatic groups and is still a significant part of Christian thought & practice. Its message in a nutshell is, live close to God and experience the power of God.
Way back in time, about 2800 years ago there was an incident recorded in Second book of Chronicles chapter 20 which gives “holiness” its real boost in Biblical thought. The Israelites were challenged by a “great multitude” of enemy soldiers. (Maybe 50 thousand.) Jehoshaphat the king prayed seriously, then the prophet Jahaziel gave the word from God, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed. . . the battle is not yours but God’s.” The king believed and had singers march as head into the battle, “praising the beauty of holiness.” (Now this is a pure faith picture with great suggestions for the practical value of holiness for living & having the victory over our sin & problems.) Scripture records that the enemy forces destroyed each other in the battle – all of them. Then the Israelites picked up the spoil from the dead soldiers – much valuable stuff, even jewelry. V. 25 (This outrageous miracle not only speaks of the value of holiness, but it also speaks of God’s sense of humor & His arrogance in answering prayer.) On the “beauty of holiness” see also Psalm 29:2 and 96:9
Now in this world there are beautiful things. Childhood, natural wonders, true love, good health, (Army retirement?), are some examples. But if the Bible defines true religion, and holiness is spoken of as “beautiful”, that means something . In the words of a current Biblical scholar, “As we grow in holiness we grow in conformity to the image of Christ, and more & more of the beauty of his character is seen in our lives. . . the more we grow in likeness to Christ, the more we will personally experience the “joy” and “peace” that are part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.” (see link #10) We may experience some of the other Holy Spirit gifts too. On that note, I had a spiritual dream, (Joel 2:28) about 1981 while we were involved in a holiness church in Lawton Oklahoma. I saw Jesus walking in that church among the pews. That church had blue upholstery on those pews which confirmed it was the church we were attending. That may have been God’s way of endorsing “holiness” and its emphasis on having a godly standard in our Christian character & conduct. A popular reference in the New Testament is Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Then 1 Peter 1:16 “Because it is written, be ye holy for I am holy.”
As I reflect on the presence of God and the victory over problems & sin, the “beauty of holiness” just might be the key. "Put off your old nature . . . and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24 Choose Jesus, he is alive. John 1:12 says this, "To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God." That's Holiness . . .
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