Holiness 3

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

Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

I Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

2 Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Holiness is an expression and even the victor over death or the ways of death. Holiness is life or a way of life and it is the shining forth of the character of God in and through human souls. God has life in and of Himself and has no need of anything, but His life is holy, holy, holy. We should not separate life from the way of true life and the way of true life is holiness. For those who have been shown the free and sovereign grace of God, holiness will be what they love and what they pursue.

In many ways the Pharisees were the epitome of an extreme way of death that was thought to be holiness. Men will always try to find ways of holiness that fit with their temperament and perhaps with their abilities. True holiness, on the other hand, is beyond the ability of men and cannot be attained apart from the free-grace of God bringing life into the soul. True holiness, in terms of its very root, is the holiness of God who always does all for His own glory out of love for Himself as triune. It is God, out of that love for Himself, working His holiness or sharing His holiness (or life) with His children. The Pharisees, who stand for all who attempt to come up with holiness on their own, try to attain that holiness and simply fail miserably. The life of God in the human soul cannot be worked up by the flesh of men.

The Pharisees thought holiness was in their power to accomplish by following the rules that they had determined over many years. In doing that they looked to themselves and their own ability to be holy. They followed rules to keep them from breaking the commandments, but there are no rules that God has set out that will make people holy if they keep them. It does not matter how many rules a person keeps, apart from the life of a holy God in the soul that person will never be holy. Apart from the life of God in the soul, there will be no spiritual power and there will be no love for God. All keeping of rules and attempts to be holy, therefore, will utterly and miserably fail.

Holiness is completely out of the power and ability of the human soul. Holiness cannot be brought down by the efforts of men. Holiness is when God shares His holiness with those that He has given grace to and that He dwells in them. Holiness is to be like God and the only way we can be like God in holiness is to share in His holiness. A holiness that is like His holiness can only come from Him and that by pure and undiluted grace. God works by grace alone because it is that in which His glory and His self-sufficiency shines. If holiness could come by human works, then it would be to the praise of men and their sufficiency.

While we have heard a lot about the Pharisees in our day, the heart of the Pharisees remains with us. There are so many who want to follow rules and laws in order to be holy, or perhaps they think of holiness as something they can do by themselves and for themselves. They cannot. Any effort to come up with holiness on our own or attempt to be holy by following rules (of men or of God) is nothing other than to follow the spirit of the Pharisees. We receive the life of God by grace alone and in sharing that life we will grow in holiness.

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