Holiness 1

Holiness must have a root of its own, a divine nature, to produce it. The new creature cannot rise from the old. As well may figs spring from thistles, or light from darkness, as a spiritual mind from the carnal, or as love to God from enmity towards Him, or as faith from unbelief. Mere morality rises from self, and terminates there; but holiness, springing from a divine nature, tends toward God, centers in God, and ceases not till it comes to God. It contains all morality; but what is called morality may be without holiness, and never will rise up to it. Think not to find in yourself the materials of Gospel-holiness, nor to raise it from the dust of natural endowments. Go to a holy God for holiness.         John Berridge, Gospel Gems

Here is a beautiful statement about the vital nature of holiness. It is vital to grasp this in terms of what biblical holiness is versus a mere morality. It is also very helpful to distinguish between those who are truly regenerate and those who follow the ways of external morality and think that they are regenerate. It may also be very helpful to true believers who have many struggles with sin and their own hearts, yet they look upon others who seem to be confident in their doctrine, their religion, and their holiness.

It is utterly vital to note what Berridge says here in pointing out the source of true holiness. Holiness must, absolutely and positively must, have a root that sinks into the divine nature rather than the human flesh. All human morality and human works apart from flowing from this root of divine nature come from the flesh and as such are loaded with the stench of sin. If it does not come from God, then it is produced from the flesh and as such it is nothing but carnal self that works it up and it does so out of self-love and self-interest rather than love for God. Every act and every motive that the soul has will come from the divine root which comes by the grace of God or it will come from the flesh.

It may be argued that this is a great burden, but the reality of the matter is that it is a great relief. Holiness, then, is not so much a matter of the efforts of self, but instead true holiness comes from true life in the soul. It is, as the book by Scougal points out, the life of God in the soul of man. It is the life of Christ in the soul. It is the soul under the great influences of the Spirit working His fruit into the soul and then through the soul. It is the believer being brought in to share in the divine life (II Peter 1:3-5) and as such the believer becomes a partaker or sharer of holiness (Heb 12:10). These texts should teach us that holiness is not what comes from man, but it is what comes from God. As Jesus said in John 15, apart from Him we can do nothing.

The illustrations used by Berridge points us to the impossibility of holiness coming from the flesh. The new creature does not come from the old creature, but instead the new creature is a new creation of God. Figs cannot come from thistles, so surely it is clear that holiness must come from He who is holy rather than from the flesh which is sinful. Holiness, which is compared to light in the New Testament, cannot come from the darkness of the human flesh, but instead it must come from Christ who is light. Holiness cannot come from a carnal mind, but instead must come from the living God who is thrice holy. Mere morality, as opposed to true holiness, is rooted in self while true holiness is rooted in the divine life.

The morality that is acceptable to men and apparently acceptable to most religious men in our day is really nothing more than what was acceptable to the Pharisees. Their righteousness came from hearts that loved self, which is the only root of morality if one does not have the root of divine life and holiness from which true holiness can alone come from. This teaches us with great clarity that what comes God alone can constitute true holiness. It must come from God and always be focused on Him and be for Him and His glory. External morality is showy at times, but true holiness is aimed at God out of love for Him and His glory.

While some may struggle with their hearts relating to true holiness, those who are at ease do not seem to be in the battle at all. True holiness will cause a battle in the soul as the flesh will war against it, so those who have struggles are most likely those who have true holiness despite what the externals may reflect. The lover of Christ must never be satisfied with the externals, but instead keep focused on the upward goal of true holiness. The lover of Christ must never look to self for holiness, but must always be going to God for holiness. The lover of Christ will not be satisfied with anything but His holiness, but others will be satisfied with the mere outward show of it.

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