HOLINESS IN PRACTICE TODAY: THE GREAT NEED OF THE CHURCH AND OUR GREATEST NEED AS WELL.
by Vijay Chandra
Its necessity and inducements:
These are at least nine in number for the believers and for the church as a whole.
- God has called us to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Whatever God calls us to is necessary. His call itself should induce us to seek and practice holiness. Holiness gives the evidence of our justification and election, and sanctification is the inevitable outgrowth of justification (1 Corinthians 6:11). The two may be distinguished but never separated. In and through Christ, justification gives God’s child the title for heaven and the holiness to enter. Sanctification gives him the fitness for heaven and the preparation necessary to enjoy it.
- Without holiness, all things are defiled (Titus 1:15). Through Christ, God sanctifies His child and makes his prayers and thanksgiving acceptable. As Thomas Watson has noted ‘A holy heart is the altar which sanctifies the offering, if not to satisfaction, to acceptation’.
- Holiness augments our spiritual health: As John Flavel said ‘What health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul’. Moreover, this spiritual health of holiness generally God works through discipline. That is through chastisement, child of God, you are profitably exercised (Hebrews 12:11) by the Father, which results in genuine holiness without which you cannot see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Through Christ’s justifying power, we receive a clean sheet before God; through His sanctifying power a clear conscience. Both are important for our spiritual health.
- Holiness fosters assurance: ’Ye shall know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:16). All reformed divines [Puritans] are agreed that most of the forms and degrees of assurance experienced by true believers—especially daily assurance—are reached gradually in the path of sanctification through careful cultivation of God’s Word, the means of grace. The way to lose a daily sense of assurance is to daily forgo the pursuit of holiness. Believers who live sloppily [treat sin lightly or neglect daily devotions and study of the Word] or inactively [i.e. don’t pursue holiness, but assume the posture that nothing can be done in the area of sanctification—as if holiness were something outside of us, except on rare occasions when something very special ‘happens’ inside] are courting a recipe for daily darkness, deadness, and fruitlessness (2 Peter 1:10).
- Holiness is essential for effective service to God (2 Timothy 2:21).
- Holiness makes us resemble God. As Watson notes, ‘We must endeavor to be like God in sanctity. It is a clear glass in which we can see a face; it is a holy heart in which something of God we can be seen’.
- The God you love loves holiness. Hence the intensity of His discipline. William Gurnall says it best, ‘God would not rub so hard if it were not to fetch out the dirt that is ingrained in our natures. God loves purity so well He had rather see a hole than a spot in His child’s garment’.
- Holiness preserves our integrity. It saves us from the hypocrisy of resorting to a ‘Sunday only’ Christianity. It gives vitality, purpose, meaning, and direction to daily living.
- Holiness fits us for heaven. “Follow [literally, pursue]—holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).