3 Feb 2013
This may just be God’s admonition for me; nevertheless I would request you briefly consider this subject. Our theme today is popular with God, but unfortunately not so popular with men. It is Holiness, to be or to become holy.
Leviticus 11:44 (NASB95)
44 'For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.
Ephesians 1:4 (NASB77)
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love.
The word translated holy above is defined in the Key Word Bible as follows: sacred, pure, blameless, without blemish, upright, holy. Spoken of those who are purified and sanctified by the influences of the Spirit.
This same Greek word is used by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament in numerous places, but for our purposes we will examine only a few. [ this word will appear in bold type throughout the balance of this article]
Spoken by a demon: Luke 4:34 (AMP)
34 Ah, let us alone! What have You to do with us [What have we in common], Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know Who You are—the Holy One of God!
Concerning our Holy calling: 2 Timothy 1:9 (AMP)
9 [For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace (unmerited favor) which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago].
Concerning our position before God at the return of Jesus: 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (AMP)
13 So that He may strengthen and confirm and establish your hearts faultlessly pure and unblamable in holiness in the sight of our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) with all His saints (the holy and glorified people of God)! Amen, (so be it)! (Yes the word translated saints is the same word translated in these other passages as holy)
Concerning the need for Holiness in Prayer: 1 Timothy 2:8 (AMP)
8 I desire therefore that in every place men should pray, without anger or quarreling or resentment or doubt [in their minds], lifting up holy hands.
How does holiness impact prayer? It seems that anyone can pray. We know that God has given His children a special privilege in prayer. However there also appears to be a general teaching of the Bible that there is a relationship between the way God answers prayer and the degree of holiness in His eyes of the one petitioning.
While righteousness and holiness are words that few of us regularly focus upon, and perhaps even fewer of our churches strongly insist upon, the idea of spiritual purity has not gone out of favor with God. If we are to make a reasonable effort to pursue authentic holiness, it is certain that we must comprehend this matter from the perspective of God.
God has provided for us a great deal of instruction. Probably the most potent is the prototype of our progenitor, Jesus. Jesus modeled a heart of holiness that was undeniable. Whereas the Pharisees practiced outward legalistic holiness, Jesus demonstrated unbiased holiness from his soul. He did not attempt to look holy, He was holy, and this to some did not look holy. However He always looked holy in the eyes of His Father.
Jesus was not trying to be holy, because His holiness was not something He practiced but rather it was intrinsic to His very nature. While Jesus did perform certain disciplines, they were not the disciplines for the eyes of the people. Jesus’ disciplines were related to seeking the face of His Father and were generally for the eyes of His Father alone.
In Jesus’ day the Pharisees attempted to define what holiness looked like. You may know someone today who has some very definite ideas of what holiness looks like. Yes , no doubt one can look holy to the world and actually be holy in the eyes of God, but we must be careful to note that how we look to those around us whether in the church or in the world does not in itself make us holy; God looks at the heart.
It is a well accepted principal, both from the Bible and from social science that when we spend significant time in the company of someone, we will over time begin to look, think, and act like them. This may be at least a part of the secret of Jesus, as the Bible clearly teaches that He spent considerable time in the presence of His Father. Of course some may wonder how we as mere mortals can effectively follow the example of the Son of God.
Others might quickly point out that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we have God in the person of the Holy Spirit living within us. Many believe that God’s amazing gift, the Holy Spirit, is the key to living a holy and righteous life.
Galatians 5:16 (NASB77)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
It is well accepted that God is sovereign; at least most of us accept the theory. However God in His matchless wisdom has made it possible for us to significantly impact His actions. Let’s examine a cause and effect progression together to better examine this theory.
Since as believers we are indwelt by God in the person of the Holy Spirit and since the Holy Spirit is either active when we choose to walk in the Spirit or passively inactive when we choose to walk in the flesh, based on our God given ability to choose. We then by our daily choices impact the work of God in and through our lives.
We can choose to walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh. If we choose to walk in the Spirit, God will bring about in us and through us supernatural activities and changes through our walk of faith. If we choose to walk in the flesh, God will simply let us pursue our fleshly desires and allow us to languish in sin. He will through various means seek to encourage us to repent, but the choice to walk in sin remains ours.
If we oversimplify these interactions it would appear that if we set about to focus directly upon becoming holy we are likely to fail. Many of us have failed. In some ways this is like rain, it can only come down from above; we cannot make it go up. Jesus holiness seemed to flow from His relationship with His Father. He said that He and the Father were one. Will not our holiness flow from the Spirit of God alone?
If we desire to grow in holiness we would do well to focus on growth in our intimacy with God. From growing intimacy we invariably grow in our desire to please our Father. “If you love Me you will keep my commandments.” From extended times of personal worship we will find our hearts being transformed. From extended times of study of His word we will find our minds being renewed. From time spend in His presence we find our souls being revived. Is this not the real work of drawing out holiness from the well of Living Water?
1 Peter 1:15-16 (AMP)
15 But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.
16 For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.
For another thought on how holiness relates to prayer:
James 5:17b (AMP)
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
Revival prayer is more powerful when it flows from a soul that is being revived.