Archive for the ‘Holiness’ Category

Holiness 3

September 28, 2016

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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Holiness 2

September 27, 2016

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.

There is no doubt that the Scriptures teach that men are to be holy. The question, however, has to do with what holiness is and how one obtains a measure of that holiness. If a person is wrong on justification, it is a fatal mistake and one ends up trusting in self. If one is wrong on the nature of holiness, it can also be fatal since this mistake flows from how one views the Gospel. A person that is justified by Christ alone and His grace alone should not even consider it a possibility that s/he could obtain a holiness acceptable to God by the flesh. It is plainly and simply unthinkable.

We also know that I Corinthians 1:30 -31 tells us that it is “by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”” If Christ is our sanctification (holiness), then surely we should look at sanctification and holiness as coming from Christ rather than our own abilities and nature. It is easier for our proud hearts to know that God can give us wisdom, but to think that Christ is the total of our sanctification as well as redemption and righteousness, this is a blow to our pride. There is no boasting in ourselves at all in this case, but instead our only boast is in the Lord.

Sanctification or holiness should be the love of the heart and the desire of those who love the Lord, but if we are to love God with all of our being that love and holiness must come from Him. The command to be holy is not just to be a little better than the average person, but we are to be holy as He is holy. The standard of holiness, then, is God Himself. If the standard of our holiness is to be holy as He is holy, then it should be immediately evident that human flesh cannot do this. Not only is God the standard, but the very essence of our holiness is to be like His holiness. This is to say, then, that it must come from Him. It is the Divine life in the soul and not just things we do in order to appear good.

When holiness is looked at in this way, we can see that holiness is a blessing that God shares with His people. It is not just any holiness that He shares, but it is His holiness that He shares with His people. This is profound beyond words and yet we must force ourselves to think and to gaze upon this brightness. We don’t have any way to work up holiness on our own, but what we do is to share in His divine life or divine holiness. We must get our minds and hearts off of the thought that holiness is unpleasant or something that hurts, but instead holiness is the great joy and delight of all who love God and they want to be holy as He is holy.

Of course we should want to be like God in holiness, but again that should make it obvious that holiness must come from Him and not our human flesh. In order to be truly holy, that is, to grow in being like God, we must die more and more to our own fleshly efforts. We must die more and more to our own pride and self. We must seek the Lord for grace to be holy. The flesh and self will do nothing but oppose true holiness, so we must seek Him to work in us to die to self and grant His grace of holiness to the humble.

Holiness 1

September 26, 2016

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.