THE GOD OF HOLINESS
"You only are holy." Rev.15:4
No perfection of "our God," thus far considered, presents Him to our view so
like Himself as the perfection of holiness. We can form no proper idea of
God apart from this. Even the unrenewed mind is conscious that it has to
deal with God who cannot connive at sin. It is true, its conceptions must be
obscure, its views defective; for, what proper notion of Divine holiness can
a sinful being form? His views must necessarily be just what those of an
untutored peasant would be of the sun beheld through a misted and distorted
medium. There would be in that peasant's mind the conviction that there was
a sun, and that it was light; but the mental conception of the nature and
splendor of the orb would, from the necessity of the case, be obscure and
There is in the human conscience the conviction that God is a God of
holiness- for conscience, left to its natural bias, is ever in the interests
of truth and righteousness, and, as the vice-regent of the soul, faithfully
whispers in the ear what is right and what is wrong. But the highest and
clearest views of the Divine holiness cherished by the unrenewed mind, in
consequence of the sinfulness and darkness of the mind, fall infinitely
short of what God is as the God of holiness.
Such is the Divine perfection to which we now bend our devout contemplation.
We are profoundly sensible of the awesomeness and solemnity of our theme.
The ground upon which we stand is, indeed, most holy, and we have need to
put off the shoes from our feet, for "Who can stand before this holy Lord
God?" Only as we keep our eye upon atoning blood, can we for a moment gaze
upon the unsufferable brightness of the God of holiness. Only can we deal
with the Divine purity as we deal with the Divine Savior. The Great
Atonement must come between us and the Divine Sun of infinite purity, or the
effulgence of its beams would overpower and the holiness of its glory would
consume us. Let us, standing beneath the shadow of the cross of Jesus,
meditate upon this lofty theme; and thus, with our believing eye reposing
upon the blood, which cleanses from all sin, we may pass within the veil,
and sinful though we are, hold sweet fellowship with Him who "only is holy."
The passage upon which the present subject is based suggests the first
thought we offer– that is, the ESSENTIAL HOLINESS of God. God is essentially
holy. This must he the meaning of the remarkable words addressed to Him in
the anthem of the glorified saints, "You only are holy," not holy merely as
others are holy, but as positively and essentially holy, in comparison of
whom none are holy. "You ONLY are holy." "You only are divinely holy, You
only are holy, from the necessity of Your nature; You only are infinitely,
absolutely holy." Such is the key-note, and such the substance of the
triumphant song of Moses and the Lamb.
As there is none good but God, so there is none holy but God. His creatures
are derivatively holy; He is holy from Himself– absolutely, independently
holy. "No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is
no Rock like our God." 1 Samuel 2:2. In comparison of God, none are holy, so
essentially pure and spotless is He. The heavens are not clean in His sight,
and He charges His angels with folly. These are remarkable words! Just as
the stars pale before the sun, creature holiness grows dim and is eclipsed
by the divine and essential holiness of God. In comparison of His holiness,
the holiest creatures and things are not clean in His sight.
It is said of God that, "He only has immortality." All created beings are
immortal, but God is absolutely so. He only has immortality as an essential
perfection of His nature. All others derive their immortality from Him; He
from Himself. What a great and glorious being, then, is God! He is "glorious
in holiness." He could possess no glory were He destitute of perfect
holiness. Divine in His nature, endowed with infinite perfections, and
possessing resources vast and boundless as His infinity, imagine what a
being He would be- how powerful for evil, how potent for destruction- were
not every perfection of His nature imbued with, and under the control of,
infinite and perfect holiness!
We measure the extent of a fallen creature's capacity for good or for evil
by the amount of his intellectual and moral resources. In proportion to his
ability to control the minds, shape the opinions and influence the actions
of others, we regard the extent of evil or of good he is capable of
accomplishing. Imagine, then, measured by this rule, what a being God would
be were He destitute of perfect holiness while yet armed with infinite
power! It is the fallen intellect of Satan that gives him the almost
omnipotent power and unlimited range which He possesses. All the perfections
of God would arm Him with tremendous forces for evil, bounded and restrained
only by the universe He had formed and the creatures He had made, were He
not a being infinite in holiness, spotless in purity. Compared with His, the
intellect of Satan would be a dwarf's, his wisdom idiotic, his strength an
infant's. But we need not attempt to imagine what God would be destitute of
infinite purity; rather let us think what a being He is "glorious in
Who that has seen anything of the beauty, and has felt anything of the
power, and has tasted anything of the happiness of holiness, would for a
moment cherish the wish that God were less holy than He is? Rather, is it
not the intense desire and fervent prayer and ardent struggle of the renewed
soul to be holy as God is holy? Sinful though we are, conscious of
innumerable infirmities, failures, and backslidings, is not our highest
bliss to commune with, and to be in some degree assimilated to, the spotless
purity of God? When are we so happy as when breathing after divine purity,
overcoming sin, "yielding our members servants to righteousness,"
"perfecting holiness in the fear of God"? Not for thousands of worlds would
we that He were less holy.
The deeper our views of His holiness grow, the deeper grows our love. We
love the truth, because it is on the side of holiness; we love the saints,
because they are the reflection of holiness; we love the discipline of our
heavenly Father, because it makes us partakers of His holiness; how much
more intense, then, our affection for God, as the holiness of His being, the
purity of His character, unveils to our admiring eye!
A question, often asked, may possibly here arise in the mind of the reader.
If God is essentially holy, and could have prevented sin, why, then, did He
permit it? The entrance of sin into the world is one of those mysterious
problems in its marvelous history, the solution of which awaits us in the
world to come. The brief space at present at our command, will only allow us
to meet this question by a single and simple reply. Sin entered into the
world, not by God's approving, but by His permissive will. He was under no
obligation either to prevent its origin or to hinder its advent. Where an
obligation exists, ceasing to act when that action would prevent a crime
were unquestionably to sin. An individual receiving from another the
confession that he was about to commit a deadly crime, and yet, under the
professed seal of secrecy, takes no steps to prevent its commission, is but
one remove from the actual guilt of the crime itself; the concealer of the
murder is well-near as criminal as the perpetrator of the deed. He is under
a moral obligation to disclose the intended crime and denounce the criminal.
He is bound by the tie of a common humanity, equally by the law of a common
charity, to avert the deed and save the victim.
But God stands in a totally different relation to His creatures. He was
under no such obligation to prevent the entrance of sin into the world. If
He was, to whom? and what was the nature of the obligation? Let the
speculatist reply. To him we must leave the solution of the problem of sin's
introduction, satisfied with the only rational conclusion at which the Bible
warrants our arrival, that God permitted it, and permitted it for His own
glory. Let not your mind, my reader, be perplexed with what must be
regarded- without insinuating anything of a skeptical character to those who
raise these questions- but as speculative discussions. "There are secret
things that belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us
and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law."
Let us be satisfied with, and be profoundly grateful for, the clearness with
which God has revealed to us the way by which, as sinners, we may be saved.
That Jesus Christ died for the ungodly, and by the love He has displayed,
and the mission He has undertaken, and the work He has finished, and the
invitation He has issued, is pledged to cast out none who believe in Him,
saving to the uttermost, and without a work of their own, all who come unto
God by Him.
Let this, too, be a matter of joy and thanksgiving to us, that the most
appalling event which the history of this universe records- the fall of man-
has, through infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, resulted in such a
manifestation of God's glory, and in such a great and endless blessing to
man, as could not possibly have been the case even had sin never entered
into the world. Assured of this, let us refer all that is obscure and
mysterious and speculative in the history of the world, and in the
revelation and government of God, to that day when we shall know even as we
are known, when the mystery of God shall be finished, and God be all in all.
God is also DECLARATIVELY HOLY- His word is a revelation of His holiness. He
is styled– "the Holy One;" "The Holy One of Israel, whose name is Holy;"
"You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity;"
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;" "The four living creatures rest not
day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." God selects
this perfection of His nature to swear by– "Once have I sworn by my holiness
that I will not lie unto David;" "The Lord will swear by His holiness." The
saints are called to praise His holiness– "Sing unto the Lord, O you saints
of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness."
Need we multiply these Scripture declarations of God's holiness? We might
increase the proofs, but could scarcely strengthen the revealed fact that
God is holy. And yet, in these days of low views of Inspiration, of lax
principles Concerning the truth of the Bible, we should be jealous of every
word of that sacred volume, especially as it bears upon what is the crown of
Jehovah– His essential and perfect holiness.
Beware, my reader, of indulging in doubts concerning the divine veracity or
the correct rendering of any part of God's word. The most profound human
judgment is after all, but fallible, and human learning often contradictory.
The safest path is to accept the Bible as it is, and not to allow your
confidence in its Divine integrity to be disturbed by this rendering or by
that, by one manuscript or by another; but to hold fast the memorable and
precious declaration of the Savior- a declaration which may be fearlessly
asserted in the face of every doubt cast upon the Divine Inspiration of the
Scriptures- "Your Word is Truth."
God is JUDICIALLY HOLY. His judgments are manifestations of His holiness-
His holiness in dreadful exercise. "The Lord is known by the judgments which
He executes. What was the flood which destroyed the Antediluvians- the fire
which consumed Sodom and Gomorrah- the armies which besieged Jerusalem, and
leveled her to the ground, but the dreadful exhibitions of the holiness of
God, solemn demonstrations of His hatred and punishment of sin? In this
light we must ever read and interpret the Divine judgments that befall an
ungodly world, whether in its natural, social, or individual character. And
yet, blinded by sin and ignorance, the men of this world see not this solemn
Never rising above the second causes of the judiciary dealings of God- the
pestilence and the famine, the earthquake, the whirlwind and the fire, the
commercial panic, and the blighted harvest- they recognize not the fact
that, far above the immediate and proximate causes leading to these natural
and social convulsions, there is One of purer eyes than to look upon
iniquity, whether it be in an individual, a family, or a nation, and who,
when His patience has long waited, but in vain, and will wait no longer,
unseals the vials of His wrath, and writes His name holy in letters of
tremendous and impressive significance.
It is in this light we read the expressive declaration of the prophet, "When
your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn
righteousness." Isaiah 26:9. That is, God's judgments are such unmistakable
and tremendous demonstrations of His holiness, that the ungodly world shall
recognize the fact, and from these terrible visitations of His providence
learn to loathe themselves in His sight, to repent of their sins, and
renounce their iniquities, and turn to the Lord.
My reader! is the Lord dealing with you individually in the way of judgment?
Has He "Uncovered his bow, and called for many arrows?" Do His arrows fall
thick and piercing? Is there the loss of health, or the destruction of
property, or the visitation of bereavement? Is your song of judgment as well
as of mercy? Oh! interpret these dispensations of God in the light of a holy
and righteous, yet loving discipline, designed to correct an evil, to arrest
a declension, and to bestow upon you the highest honor God could confer- the
making you a partaker of His holiness. "This," says the prophet, "is all the
fruit, to take away sin."
God is also MEDIATORIALLY HOLY. This illustration of our subject presents a
more solemn and impressive view of the Divine holiness than any we have yet
considered- the view exhibited in the cross of Jesus. Not hell itself, awful
and eternal as is its suffering- the undying worm, the unquenchable fire,
the smoke of the torment that goes up forever and ever- affords such a
solemn and impressive spectacle of the holiness and justice of God in the
punishment of sin, as is presented in the death of God's beloved Son.
An eminent Puritan writer thus strikingly puts it- "Not all the vials of
judgment that have or shall be poured out upon this wicked world, nor the
flaming furnace of a sinner's conscience, nor the irrevocable sentence
pronounced against the rebellious devils, nor the groans of the damned
creatures, give such a demonstration of God's hatred of sin, as the wrath of
God let loose upon His Son!"
Never did Divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the time
our Savior's countenance was most marred in the midst of His dying groans.
This Himself acknowledges in that penitential psalm (Ps. xxii. 12), when God
turned His smiling face from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart,
which forced that terrible cry from Him, "My God, my God, why have You
forsaken Me? But, You are holy." Such an impressive view of God's holiness
the angels in heaven never before beheld, not even when they saw the
non-elect spirits hurled from the heights of glory down to the bottomless
pit, to be reserved in chains of darkness and woe forever.
But it will be asked, Wherein did lay the great proof that God was holy in
the soul-sorrow, bodily suffering, and ignominious death of Jesus? We
answer– It is found in the fact that He was the innocent One dying for the
guilty, the holy One dying for the sinful. Divine justice, in its mission of
judgment, as it swept by the cross, found the Son of God impaled upon its
wood, beneath the sins and the curse of His people. Upon Him its judgment
fell, on His soul the wrath was poured, in His heart the flaming sword was
plunged; and thus, from Him, justice exacted the full penalty of man's
transgression- the last farthing of the great debt.
Go to the cross, then, my reader, and learn the holiness of God.
Contemplate the dignity of Christ's person, the preciousness of the Son of
God to His Father's heart, the sinlessness of His nature; and then behold
the sorrow of His soul, the torture of His body, the tragedy of His death,
the abasement, the ignominy, the humiliation, into the fathomless depths of
which the whole transaction plunged our incarnate God; and let me ask,
standing, as you are, before this unparalleled spectacle, Can you cherish
low views of God's holiness, or light views of your own sinfulness?
But look at this mediatorial representation of the Divine holiness in two or
three particulars. The PARDON OF SIN exhibits the holiness of God. How is
sin pardoned? By the atoning blood of Jesus alone. "In whom we have
redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sin." There is no
remission of any sin but by the atoning blood of Christ; while, by that
blood-shedding, there is the remission of all sin in those that believe.
That which cleanses us from all sin, must itself be free from all sin. The
slightest taint of sin in Christ would have invalidated His whole sacrifice,
and have rendered His atoning blood totally inefficacious in the canceling
of our guilt. But we are "redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as of a
Lamb without blemish and without spot."
And herein God's holiness appears so conspicuous, in that He provided a
spotless victim, a sinless sacrifice, a holy Savior; thus, while securing
the rights of holiness on the one hand, on the other cleansing and effacing,
fully and forever, the deepest stain of man's transgression. And now,
because God is so holy, and because He has vindicated, to the utmost, the
righteousness of His moral government, behold Him "waiting to be gracious,"
"ready to pardon" the vilest, the guiltiest, the very chief of sinners,
casting himself, in penitence and faith, at His feet. And in thus extending
to that penitent sinner a full and free forgiveness, He receives and
magnifies His own holiness in the eyes of angels and of men. Thus the
apostle puts it; "For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and
to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we
believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was
being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in
Hesitate not, then, to cast yourself upon God's pardoning mercy in Christ
Jesus, since, in the very act of conferring upon you the forgiveness of all
sin, His holiness will appear all the more illustrious. Oh, the marvelous
love of our God in providing such an expedient as can efface every, and the
darkest spot, and the foulest stain, and the deepest dishonor of sin,
presenting the sin-cleansed soul to Himself "whiter than snow," and yet the
sinner's sins appear all the more sinful, and His holiness all the more
holy. "But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared."
JUSTIFICATION equally secures and illustrates the holiness of God. Our
justification- in other words, our acquittal from all blame and consequent
condemnation- could only be secured on the footing of the perfect holiness
of God's government. But the obedience of the Lord Jesus to the law on
behalf of the sinner was so complete, yes, so magnifying of the holiness of
that law, and so honorable to the character of the Lawgiver, that now it
becomes proper, on the part of God, to "justify the ungodly." He can do this
without the slightest compromise of His divine and essential purity.
The righteousness in which the believing sinner stands, is emphatically
denominated the "righteousness of God." Consequently, it must be a holy
righteousness, since not only is it a righteousness of God's appointing, and
of God's accepting, but it is the righteousness of Him who was God, and who
is God. In contrast with this, how impure appears our own obedience, how
filthy the rags of our own righteousness! And, if we accept this
righteousness of God, how entirely must we cast away from us the imperfect,
sullied, worthless garment of our own righteousness, and enfold ourselves
within that divine robe of the "righteousness of God, which is unto all and
upon all those who believe."
REGENERATION, or the spiritual renewal of the soul, is a not less, in some
respects, it is a more, striking illustration of the Divine holiness. It is
so, in point of fact, since it is the restoration of man to the image of
God, and, consequently, the manifestation of God's holiness in man. How
clearly the apostle states this: "And that you put on the new man, which,
after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness." "And have put on
the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that
created him." The writer already quoted thus pointedly puts this; "As
election is the effect of God's sovereignty, our pardon the fruit of His
mercy, our knowledge a stream from His wisdom, our strength an impression of
His power, so our purity is a beam from His holiness."
The great, the grand end, the accomplishment of which is the design of God
in our spiritual regeneration, is our restoration to holiness. Thus, God
designs more than our happiness, since, in making us holy, He makes us
happy; in restoring us to holiness, He restores us to happiness– the one
including the other, as the effect involves its cause, the shadow its
substance. God might have assimilated us to His love, or to His mercy, or to
His power, or to His wisdom, and yet, leaving our nature to the uncontrolled
power and dominion of its innate depravity, we still would have been
miserable. But, in assimilating us to His holiness, He assimilates us, in a
measure, to His happiness- the highest happiness of heaven being its highest
degree of holiness. The perfection of glory is the perfection of grace, and
the perfection of grace is its perfect assimilation of the soul to the holy
image of God.
It will, I think, be obvious to the mind of the spiritual and intelligent
reader, that in this view of the Divine holiness we include the Godhead in
its Triune personality– the holiness of the Father, the holiness of the Son,
the holiness of the Spirit- the Three Persons constituting the One Holy Lord
God. Christ was essentially holy concerning His Deity, and He was perfectly
holy concerning His humanity. How remarkable the words of the angel
announcing Christ's birth to Mary! "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will
be holy, and he will be called the Son of God." Yes, Christ, who was "holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," and because He was thus without
sin, and "knew no sin", His atoning, precious blood, "cleanses us from all
Equally holy is the Spirit. Therefore He is emphatically designated "The
HOLY Spirit," "the Spirit of holiness." The Spirit is the Sanctifier of the
church, the Divine Author, Sustainer, and Finisher of all that is holy in
the regenerate, to whom belongs the work of fitting their souls for the
inheritance of the saints in light. Hold fast with unswerving faith this
essential doctrine of salvation- the doctrine of the Trinity. Its belief is
essential to our being saved, its experimental acquaintance is indispensable
to our being holy. And may "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love
of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit," be with all those who
believe this doctrine simply, who live it holily, and who earnestly contend
for its truth as for the faith once delivered unto the saints!
But we must conclude this subject, thus briefly and imperfectly discussed,
with some deductions drawn therefrom.
It supplies us with THE REASON OF MAN'S NATURAL OPPOSITION TO GOD. The
sinner hates God because He is holy! "For the sinful nature is always
hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will." Sin can
never be enamored with holiness, nor can holiness ever hold fellowship with
sin. There must therefore ever be– until divine and sovereign grace
interpose– a wide and impassable gulf between God and the sinner, God's
holiness loathing the sinner, because of his sin; man's sinfulness hating
God, because of His holiness.
Can anything present a more just and melancholy view of the awful condition
of the natural man than this- hating God because He is holy! Unconverted
man, this is your state! Your carnal mind is hostile against God, and will
continue its hatred and rebellion, unless converting grace changes you; or
until your spirit stands before Him in judgment. And then you will wake up
to the awful discovery that all your life long you have been fighting
against God; but that it proved an unequal, as it was an unholy, contest;
and that at last God proved stronger than you, and has gotten the victory;
consigning you to a righteous and an endless condemnation.
In view of this statement what is your proper and immediate course? In one
word would I state it- throw down your weapons of rebellion, submit and be
reconciled to God. To hate this holy Lord God, whose name is love, is the
deepest crime! To fight against Him who is infinite in power and omnipotent
in strength, is the deepest madness. Think of the appalling consequences!
Think of Him who has power to cast both soul and body into hell. Think who
it is you hate and against whom you rebel– the God who made you, who
preserves you, who has fed and clothed you, who has lavished upon you every
blessing, who has poured in ceaseless flow, the tide of His mercy around
your every path, who has never wronged you, or injured you, or done you
harm, but has always blessed you with nothing but good!
And yet, instead of love, you return Him hate; instead of obedience, you
meet Him with rebellion; instead of submission, you offer Him defiance;
instead of His heaven, you prefer His hell! For in your present state you
are utterly unfitted for heaven! It is written with the pen of the Holy
Spirit, "Without holiness no man can see the Lord." Heaven, therefore, would
be too holy for your enjoyment. You would have no moral fitness for the
place, no sympathy with its enjoyments, no love for its inhabitants, and
would long to escape as from an atmosphere too pure in which to breathe,
from employments in which you would have no taste, and from the fellowship
of beings with whom you had nothing in sympathy.
Oh, fall down before God in penitence and prayer. Throw down your weapons at
His feet, submit to His scepter, and cast yourself upon His pardoning mercy
in and through Christ Jesus. Lo, He waits to be gracious to you. Listen to
His affecting language, "All day long have I stretched out my hands." And in
His infinite patience, in His unwillingness that any should perish, that
hand is stretched out still. "Why! will you die? " "Be reconciled unto God."
But others of another class may scan these pages. The weeping penitent,
through his blinding tears, will search for one word of promise from which
he may extract assurance and hope that such a sinful, guilty soul may find
forgiveness, acceptance, and salvation with this holy Lord God. Yes, there
is forgiveness, there is acceptance, there is salvation, oh, humble,
penitent sinner, in Christ Jesus, the Savior of sinners, for you! His blood
cleanses from all sin, His righteousness justifies from all things; so that,
in default of any holiness and merit in yourself, Jesus supplies you with
all that God demands and that you require, and thus, in the strong language
of the apostle, "You are complete in Him."
One word of caution in this connection. Beware of putting sanctification in
the place of justification. Many are so doing, and the consequent effect is,
they are ever striving after that which they can never in this way attain– a
clear sense of their acceptance in Christ. It is not for a holiness wrought
in us that God accepts us, but for a righteousness wrought outside of us;
not on the ground of the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification, but on the
ground of Christ's work of justification. Thus, to look at our holiness for
Divine acceptance, instead of at Christ's work, is to substitute
sanctification for justification, the Spirit's regenerating work for the
Savior's atoning work. This will never give you peace and joy and hope,
since all your own strivings after holiness- on the ground of which you are
in vain looking for salvation- will prove but sad and repeated failures;
while one believing sight of Christ, as "made of God unto us wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," will bring a blissful tide
of peace, joy, and assurance unto your soul. Cease, then, your strivings
after holiness in order to win the favor of God; and set yourself upon the
great yet simple, the mighty yet easy, work of believing- believing in
Jesus- and thus, "being justified by faith, you will have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ."
And still, it must be our aim to be holy! But how is this to be attained? We
cannot be holy and be of the world. We cannot be holy- it were a
contradiction of terms- and live in any known sin. We cannot be holy and
pamper the flesh, and love the society of the ungodly, and so walk after the
course of this world. What does the apostle say? "Stop loving this evil
world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that
you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the
lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our
possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world."
How earnest and touching the language of the apostle, "And so, dear
Christian friends, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be
a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what
he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don't copy the behavior and
customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by
changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and
you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is." And yet
again how precious his prayer for the Thessalonian saints, "Now may the God
of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and
body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes
And is this our desire, this our aim, and this, in some degree, our real
attainment? Are we hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Do we long
and pant after holiness, with a deepening conviction of the "exceeding
sinfulness of sin," and a growing spirit of self-loathing and
sin-renunciation? Oh, then, we have the truest, the strongest evidence, that
we are God's true saints, His holy ones; that we are regenerate, have passed
from death unto life, and are born again from above, our bodies the temples
of God, through the Spirit.
There exists not a stronger evidence- and without it, our religion is vain-
of our being partakers of the Divine nature than this one- our desire and
aim after sanctification of heart, leading, as it inevitably will, to
holiness of life. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
But in all our failures in our strivings after holiness- and failures many
and sad there will be- let us repair to the "Fountain open for sin and
uncleanness," and wash, constantly, daily, ceaselessly wash, and be clean.
It is only thus that we shall be kept from a spirit of bondage, yes, from a
spirit of despair. A simple looking off ourselves- off both our successful
and our unsuccessful attempts after holiness- to Jesus, must be our constant
habit, if we would walk at peace and in fellowship with God. To His atoning
blood let us bring all our holy things, that they may be cleansed and
Sin taints, impurity mars, imperfection traces, all we do for God. Thus, the
most holy service in which we engage, the most heavenly mind we cherish, the
most spiritual and useful day we spend, needs the atoning blood of Jesus to
cleanse, purify, and present it without fault, holy, and acceptable unto
God, sweetly incensed with the fragrance of His own most precious merits.
How expressive is the typical teaching of this truth- referring to the mitre
on the head of Aaron the priest- "Aaron will wear it on his forehead, thus
bearing the guilt connected with any errors regarding the sacred offerings
of the people of Israel. He must always wear it so the Lord will accept the
people." Exodus 28:38. Thus Christ, our true Aaron, puts away the iniquity
of our holy things by the cleansing of His precious blood.
See that your holiness is evangelical. Not the holiness of human merit, not
the holiness of pious duties, not the holiness of ceremonial observance, not
the holiness of ritual, but the holiness of the Gospel, the holiness that
flows from faith in Christ alone, from love to God, and by the grace and
power of the Spirit in the soul. In a word, the holiness that springs in
looking away from self in every shape, from duties of every kind,
believingly, simply, unto Jesus, embodied and expressed in obedience to
Christ, under the all-commanding constraint of His love.
In the light of your personal holiness, interpret all the disciplinary
dealings of God. All your trials, afflictions, bereavements, adversities,
are sent as corrections of your heavenly Father but to promote your profit,
that you might be a partaker of His holiness. "For our earthly fathers
disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's
discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in
his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is
painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for
those who are trained in this way." "Then, Lord," you are ready to exclaim,
"if this is the great end of Your discipline- if it be but to conform me to
Your will, to expel sin from my heart, to imbue it with Your Spirit, and to
mold me to Your Divine image, kindle the flame, fuel the furnace, use the
flail, refine Your gold from the dross, and winnow Your wheat from the
chaff- and let Your will, and not mine be done."
Anticipate the coming of the Lord, for "we know that, when He shall appear,
we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He really is." O blissful
thought, perfect and eternal freedom from sin!
"And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord
Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in
you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to him. Jesus
is the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting covenant, signed with
his blood. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20