Monday, May 18, 2009

Be holy because I am holy

Can we ever be holy?
What does it mean, practically?
What must we do?

Way of Holiness
Isaiah 35:8a - And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.
I have expounded this on my blog entry:  Way of Holiness - The Way of the Lord. I encourage you to read this entry to appreciate why holiness is so important.

I will just summarise the key reasons for holiness:
1. God is holy and unholy cannot be with holy
2. When we are holy, God will receive us
3. Without holiness , you will not see God

Can we ever be holy?
1 Peter 1:14-16 - As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he[the Lord] who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

I believe that many things are always, either right or wrong, i.e. one way or the other, no two ways about them. For example, for Christians, you cannot worship another god beside the Lord God Almighty.

On the other hand, there are few things that can be viewed in a spectrum kind of way (although, it may be possible to break down the thing into all its components and look at each and every component individually, to decide whether it is right or wrong). Holiness, for example, is one of them. You can view holiness from a scale of say, 0 to 10; where 10 is the holiness of God, perfect holiness. This being the case, one may be tempted to say that it would be alright to score 2, and be contented with that. But for any endeavour, if 10 is the perfect score, would 2 do, especially, if you are going to be contented with that? Where will it lead you to? Another may ask, then can I ever achieve 10 for holiness? For that matter, is it possible for man to achieve any holiness?

I believe if it is not possible for man to achieve any degree of holiness, God would not ask it. I also do not believe once you accepted Jesus as the Saviour, you straightway become holy to the degree of 10 and remain so, all the time, kind of auto-refreshing by Jesus. I accept the holiness of Jesus is 10, and the suggestion that on imputation of Jesus’ holiness upon a person, the degree of holiness imputed is to the degree of 10; but I do not believe the state remains at 10 without maintenance. I can accept that each time all your sins are forgiven you and you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, your holiness can reach 10, by virtue of the imputed holiness of Jesus but that holiness can fall. Does that then mean, it is not our business or our fault if we are not having a high score? No, God said “Be holy, because I am holy”. That means we are accountable.

What does it mean, practically?
The next gives us the big picture:
2 Cor 6:16 - 2 Cor 7:1
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor 7:1 - Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

From the above text, we can see God promised to be our God and Father, and be with us, and we, be His people and children on the conditions (v17) that we stay off unrighteousness (be separate from the unbelievers or be no longer of the world, and “touch” no unclean thing), and to have ourselves cleansed of contamination to the body and spirited soul, in our perfecting of holiness in the fear of God (KJV uses "fear of God", instead of "reverence for God").  We need to stay off unrighteousness, and we need to have ourselves cleansed of contamination to our body and spirited soul.

The Apostle Paul was urging us to perfect holiness.  So, we must try to remain in the high end of the spectrum with an eye for perfection, i.e.  stay high and aim for 10.  Ask Jesus for forgiveness, each time we faltered, try again and try harder, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  One important difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the former has the Holy Spirit while the latter does not.   I think the more holy you get, the more sensitive to the Holy Spirit you become, and the easier you get a conviction that something is not holy.  But be careful not to hide under the excuse of “I did not feel any conviction” and refuse to repent and leave an unholy situation.  Very often, it is not that you did not feel any conviction but it was that you ignored it when it first came to you.  Believe me, when you did that for another time or two, often you would no longer think the particular situation was wrong; you have numbed your conscience.

Grow, you must
Recently, an itinerant preacher of many years said a very important thing to me, he said that God can even use a person with poor spiritual state to do his work but for continual moves in the Spirit for the Lord, the person must grow. I think he hit the nail right on the head. Jesus came into our lives when we were yet sinners – in poor spiritual state.

Also, from time to time we heard of or even witnessed isolated but unmistakable moves of God through certain individuals (God worked through them) when such persons apparently were not “very righteous”. I think in many cases, such moves remained isolated (i.e. God did not move through the individuals anymore or on a consistent basis) because the individuals did not grow in the areas that God expects.

Holiness is one area, I believe we must grow. That we are not yet perfect, God knows, but Paul is right to say that we are to perfect holiness. I now believe that if we want God to use us consistently in supernatural work (in particular), we have to be perfecting holiness. A person who “does” supernatural work consistently, bears the name of God all over him, do you think an unholy man will be allowed to be the bearer of the name of the holy God?

Also, God does allow us to go through situations which we may not like, to cause us to grow, including in the area of holiness. Hebrews 12:10 - Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.

What must we do?
Firstly, we need to understand what falls under the area of holiness. Secondly, we need to know how we could get defiled and guard those gates. So, there will be a 3rd article on this subject of holiness.

For now, let us “chew” on this subject. For a Christian, I am saying there is no-auto refreshing of holiness. If you faltered, repent, get refreshed, try harder to stay holy with the help of the Holy Spirit. God expects us to grow but not necessarily expecting that you have arrived (we all grow at different rates and are at different stages of our growth, God may expect more from certain individuals, but the same is not expected of you, at least not yet). But do not take the grace of God for granted. Do not give up trying either, that is what the Devil wants you to do. You are on the way of Holiness, do not let anyone or anything get you off the highway. If you are not yet a Christian, you need to be one before you can travel on this Way. Talk to a Christian on how to know Jesus.

Not that I have achieved perfection, but that we may all learn and press on (Phil 3:14),
Anthony Chia, high.expressions - perfecting holiness is a high expression to God

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