HOLINESS IS OUR GREAT NEED FOR TODAY
- a message showing the utmost need for holiness today
OPPOSITION TO HOLINESS
I wonder why so many oppose holiness, for they are opposing all things holy. The God we serve is holy, we read His holy Scriptures, we have His holy Spirit, we worship His Holy Son, yet we deny our living holy? Oh what blindness and opposition to the work of grace in our souls. We must deny the commandments of men that desire to bring us under the bondage of sin and not the freedom of holiness. The grace of God leads into holiness and is not to be used as a cover for sin. "Say not," says William Gurnall, "that you have royal blood in your veins, and are born of God, except you can prove your pedigree by daring to be holy." let us strive to be holy! A Holy Church is useful to God and is God’s will and desire. The Scriptures declare in light of the destruction of the world with all the ungodly, the Apostle Peter says: "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of person ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness."
Jude stated that there were "certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness." In another place God says: "Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ." And it states a few verses later for us to "put on" true holiness. Through every epistle and book in the bible you will find this theme of holiness, do not deny it brother and sister. God is drawing a distinction line and will separate the sheep’s from the goats in the "great day." Let us be found in Him walking in holiness and loving the commands of God more then the lawlessness of sin in our lives.
John Wesley with a heavy burden shared doctrines and teachings in his day that were pervading across many Churches and lulling many earnest Christians to sleep. Hear the voice of Wesley pleading with you to understand the need for holiness in the Christian life: "Yes, professing Christians invariably invent one way or another to get to heaven without holiness. In the place of holiness, some have substituted penance, pilgrimages, and praying to saints and angels. Thousand of professing Christians have no doubt but that, by a diligent use of these things without any holiness at all they shall see the Lord in glory. However, Protestants will not be satisfied in that manner. They are convinced that whoever leans on such things leans on the staff of a broken reed. Yet, thousands of such Protestants also think that they too will see God without holiness. How? Why, by doing no harm, generally doing good, going to church, and receiving the sacraments. And many thousands are content with this, believing they are on the high road to heaven. Yet, that is not much better than the hopes of the first group. However, other Protestants recognize that such nominal Christianity is not sufficient. They correctly say that such a religion does not stand on the right foundation. However, they go on to say that Christ has already accomplished and suffered everything for us. They say that His righteousness is imputed to us; therefore, we need none of our own. Since there is so much righteousness and holiness in Him, there needs to be none in us. In fact, they claim, that to think we have any holiness, or to desire to seek any holiness, is to renounce Christ. That from the beginning to the end of salvation, all is in Christ, nothing is in man. And that those who teach otherwise are preachers of legalism, and know nothing of the gospel."
"What evasion! What has Satan done? He has persuaded the very men who receive it to "turn the grace of God into licentiousness" (Jude 4). This is indeed a blow at the root, the root of all holiness, all true religion. The whole design of Christ's death was "to destroy the works of the devil" - 1 John 3:8. But now this is overthrown in one stroke. For wherever this doctrine of easy grace is received, it leaves no place for holiness. It forbids all such exhortations as might excite a desire for holiness. Nay, it makes men afraid of personal holiness, afraid of cherishing any thought of it. For they fear that any step toward holiness might be a denial of the faith, and a rejection of Christ and His righteousness. So that, instead of being "zealous for good works," good works are a stench to their nostrils. In short, they are infinitely more afraid of the works of God, that the works of the devil. Here is Satan's masterpiece! We are to believe that men are holy, without a grain of holiness in them! Holy in Christ, however unholy in themselves. They are supposedly in Christ, although they have not one jot of the mind that was in Christ. They are "complete in Him," although they are as proud, as vain, as covetous, and as lustful as ever. They think they can continue in unrighteousness because Christ has "fulfilled all righteousness.
"I testify unto you, that if you still continue in sin, Christ shall profit you nothing. That Christ is no Savior to you, unless He saves you from your sins. And that unless it purifies your heart, faith shall profit you nothing. Oh, when will you understand, that to oppose either inward or outward holiness, under color of exalting Christ, is directly to act the part of Judas, to "betray the Son of man with a kiss?"
WE MUST BE HOLY!
J.C. Ryle spoke much on the need for holiness in his day. Holiness is not a option but a requirement for heaven and a necessary fruit of salvation. : "Lastly, we must be holy, because without holiness on earth we will never be prepared to enjoy heaven. Heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is a holy Being. The angels are holy creatures. Holiness is written on everything in heaven. The book of Revelation says expressly, "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie" (Rev. 21:27). How will we ever be at home and happy in heaven if we die unholy? Death works no change. The grave makes no alteration. Each will rise again with the same character in which he breathed his last. Where will our place be if we are strangers to holiness now? Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself, and by whose side would you sit down? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy if you had not been holy on earth?"
"Now perhaps you love the company of the light and the careless, the worldly–minded and the covetous, the reveler and the pleasure–seeker, the ungodly and the profane. There will be none such in heaven. Now perhaps you think the saints of God too strict and particular and serious. You rather avoid them. You have no delight in their society. There will be no other company in heaven. Now perhaps you think praying and Scripture reading and hymn singing dull and melancholy and stupid work, a thing to be tolerated now and then, but not enjoyed. You reckon the Sabbath a burden and a weariness; you could not possibly spend more than a small part of it in worshiping God. But remember, heaven is a never–ending Sabbath. The inhabitants thereof rest not day or night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," and singing the praise of the Lamb. How could an unholy man find pleasure in occupation such as this?"
"Do you think that such a one would delight to meet David and Paul and John, after a life spent in doing the very things they spoke against? Would he take sweet counsel with them and find that he and they had much in common? Do you think, above all, that he would rejoice to meet Jesus, the crucified One, face to face, after cleaving to the sins for which He died, after loving His enemies and despising His friends? Would he stand before Him with confidence and join in the cry, "This is our God . . . we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa. 25:9)? Do you not think rather that the tongue of an unholy man would cleave to the roof of his mouth with shame, and his only desire would be to be cast out? He would feel a stranger in a land he did not know, a black sheep amid Christ’s holy flock. The voice of cherubim and seraphim, the song of angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven would be a language he could not understand. The very air would seem an air he could not breathe. I do not know what others may think, but to me it does seem clear that heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man. It cannot be otherwise. People may say in a vague way they "hope to go to heaven," but they do not consider what they say. There must be a certain "fitness for the inheritance of the saints in light." Our hearts must be somewhat in tune. To reach the holiday of glory, we must pass through the training school of grace. We must be heavenly–minded and have heavenly tastes in the life that now is, or else we will never find ourselves in heaven in the life to come."
TO LIVE IN SIN IS HELL
Scripture says: "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." Charles Finney shares on the work of Christ and the necessity of being saved from sin: "Christ is chiefly precious because he saves from wrath, much more than because he saves from sin; more because he justifies, than because he sanctifies. Now, rely upon it, that, whenever this is the case, there is a sad defect of character. What is the true spirit of the children of God? Why, it is this,-- they feel as if they must get rid of sin, at any rate. They don't want to be saved in their sins; they feel that to live in their sins is hell enough. They abhor themselves on account of their sins. They must get away from their sins. They would not wish to be saved at all, if they could not be saved from sin. They are ready to say, If the gospel cannot save me from sin, it is a failure, for this is my necessity." Finney continues on this theme: "Believer in Christ, the Lord hath set you apart for himself, separated you from the rest of the world; but you are only set apart as "holiness to the Lord:" this must be written plainly upon you; and if the Lord has written his name upon you you are safe, not else."
The Apostle Paul stated: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." But alas how many Christians interpret these things in the spirit of how far I can go in sin without "practicing" it. In light of the things written and quoted in this article I plead with you Christian reader to understand and walk in "true holiness" for then shall we fully receive the grace and salvation Christ came to offer to us.
This article © Greg Gordon 2007