by Vijay Chandra
How is holiness attained?
How must we pursue holiness? Very briefly:
- We need to know and relish Scripture. This is God’s primary road to holiness, the Spirit blessing His Word (John 17:17). We need to memorize Scripture, and search it, and seek grace to live it.
- Strive for constant faith in Christ: We need to flee often to Christ.
- If you would grow in holiness, ask always, What would Christ do? Seek grace to do as Paul: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
- Pray for holiness. No one is sufficient to bring a clean thing out of an unclean but God (Job 14:4). Hence, pray with David, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God’ (Psalm 51:10).
- Regard yourself as dead to the dominion of sin and as alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11). Seek to cultivate the same hatred of sin that God possesses. Recognize that God is worthy of obedience not only as a judge, but as living Father (Genesis 39:9). And believe that Christ is mightily to preserve you alive. You live through Him. His righteousness is greater than your unrighteousness. His Saviorhood is greater than your sinnership. Do not despair: you are strong in Him, alive in Him, victorious in Him. Satan may win many skirmishes, but the war is yours; the victory is yours. In Christ, realistic optimism, not negative pessimism, reigns (Romans 6:11).
Holiness: its hindrances
We have many impediments which we face daily as we pursue holiness. There are hindrances that we must guard against.
Firstly: Our attitude toward sin and life itself is prone to be more self-centered than God centered. We are often more concerned about the consequences of sin or victory over sin than about how our sins grieve the heart of God. We must strive to continue to see from God’s viewpoint as revealed in the Bible.
Positive consequences and victory then become byproducts of obedience and holiness.
Secondly: We fail when we don’t consciously live with our priorities fixed on God’s will. In the words of Scottish theologian John Brown, ‘Holiness does not consist in mystic speculation, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities. it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills’.
Thirdly: Our progress is dampened when we misunderstand ‘living by faith’ (Galatians 2:20) to imply that no effort toward holiness is commanded for us. Sometimes we are even prone to consider human effort sinful or ‘fleshly’.
J.C Ryle provides us with good instruction: “Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is this according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it. That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness no well-instructed Christian will ever think of denying it. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith”.
Fourthly: We are generally too prone to avoid the battle of daily spiritual warfare. No one likes war. The true believer is prone to blind himself to his enemies—especially to the reality of his or her own ongoing pollution which Paul brings out in Romans 7:14, 25. Hence we need to use the Christian armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) which also tends to be ignored at our peril. True holiness must be pursued against the backdrop of an acute awareness of indwelling sin which continues to live in our hearts and to deceive our understanding.
God intends the Christian life to be one of humble joy, not negative drudgery. The idea that holiness is to be associated with a dour disposition is a tragic caricature of Scripture. In fact, Scripture asserts just the opposite. Only those who walk in holiness experience true joy (John.15:10, 11). Those who are obedient—who are pursuing holiness as a way of life—will know the joy that comes from God: a supreme joy, an ongoing, and anticipated joy. We are called to practice holiness. Are we heeding the call to holiness?