Holiness Separated By His Holiness
By: C.M. Becton
At last we are accepted. We have taken one long leap from the “other side of the tracks” to the drawing rooms of the elite denominations. No longer do we stand out as the proverbial “sore thumb.” We thought it would never happen to us; we watched as similar Pentecostals blended into the background until they could no longer be distinguished from the rest. We said, “We will never do it!”
While this description may be true of many people in various churches, it does not describe true Christians. Those who follow God will not reflect the values of a Christ-less society, nor will they pattern their lives after the worldly behavior and dress of sinners.
Nobody wants to be different. Nowadays, it is not the trend to stand apart from others. Some people condemn separation by alluding to the parable of the good Samaritan. They point out that we should be the Good Samaritan who went to the place where the dying man was. They compare standards to the priest and the Levite who were so concerned about keeping themselves free from any possible contamination that they drew their robes of righteousness around them and went to the other side of the road to pass the injured man. After all, they tell us, separation can become isolation; sanctification can become escapism; holiness can become aloofness. And surely God does not expect us to be exclusive.
The story of the Good Samaritan is not a good illustration to prove their point. If they do not want to be separate, they should not look on those who do as self-righteous priests and Levites, afraid of being contaminated. The story has no connections with biblical separation.
Sure, we love the unsaved, and we will go anywhere they are to pour in the oil and wine. And we will gladly walk while they ride and we will take them to an inn where they can be nursed to health. But one thing we will not do is get down in the ditch and die with them.
Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in religion mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior what it ought to be. One of the most wonderful things about the gospel is its transforming power. God can take a sin-diseased and sin-distorted life and make it again until it emerges from His hands in the likeness of Jesus Christ-a miracle!
Let us get down to the business at hand. Just what is holiness?
Perhaps no word in the Christian vocabulary has been more misused and misunderstood. Basically, the word holiness comes from a root which in both Greek and Hebrew means “separateness:’ In its highest sense it is used of God Himself. God is holy because He is “high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
Man was created for the glory of God. He was created for the praise of God. God, who is love, created mankind as a special being of His care and the recipient of His love. God wants us to praise Him, adore Him, magnify Him, fellowship with Him, and become the object of His great love.
If God does not have fellowship with us in His holiness and righteousness, He is robbed by whatever takes us from Him. This fellowship with Him is the basis of separation. God wants the Christian to be separate from everything that would take away the purpose of the creation and the redemption of mankind. This means that since God made us for Himself and redeemed us for Himself, He wants us to be separate from anything that detracts from His praise, from His glory and from His fellowship.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Corinthians 6:14–17).
God is not just being “picky”; He wants us for Himself. He wants the purpose for His creating us and redeeming us to be fulfilled. Therefore, since His purpose would be hindered by our fellowship with unrighteousness, He demands that we separate ourselves from all evil.
Holiness is essential. It is the realization of God’s purpose in calling us to have fellowship with a holy God, and this fellowship is possible only by those who have “clean hands and a pure heart.”
Without separation, a professing Christian dishonors God in the eyes of the world; for the world, strangely enough, expects the Christian to be different in the way he lives. In fact, sinners are actually disappointed when they observe that “Christians” are no different from them.
Recent Gallup polls have uncovered conflicting trends in society. They reveal that religion is on the upswing, but so is crime and immorality. Furthermore, Gallup said there is little difference in ethical behavior between churchgoers and those who do not attend church services; the levels of lying, cheating, and stealing are remarkably the same. The polls indicate that there is a distressing drift toward a Christianity that does not demand a life-changing walk with God.
History shows that the church has had its greatest impact during difficult times, not when Christianity was popular. When Constantine became the Roman Emperor in A.D. 313, he made Christianity a legal religion. Christians welcomed the change. But as Christendom absorbed the culture around it, genuine Christian conversion was replaced by dead forms and empty ritualism!
The stigma of Christianity is gone, but so is its power. Someone said in a newspaper interview, “Today you can’t say turning to Jesus means you are turning your back on the world.”
In these days of permissiveness and easygoing standards, we need to remind ourselves that the Christian is called to purity, modesty, honesty, and that he is to avoid the appearance of evil. We are living in a global Sodom, and we need to take great care that its attitudes and standards do not seep into our souls as they did into the souls of Lot’s family.
There is no idea so positive as that of holiness; it is the very climax of positiveness. Holiness is not characterized merely by not doing wrong, but by a positive direction toward doing right. It is the
character of God in us and reflecting through us. The biblical view of holiness is wonderfully positive. Moses declared that God is “glorious in holiness” (Exodus 15:11).
True holiness is the loving response of the heart to every request that Christ makes in His Word or through the constraints of His Spirit. True holiness is the many-splendored radiance of the perfection of Jesus Christ!
Biblical separation is necessary for the preservation of New Testament Christianity. We must not lose our identity. The erosion of once held convictions can turn our great “Mount Zion” that stands high above all other religions into a mediocre landscape without any distinction from the world around us.
There was no way that Balaam could curse the Israelites. But perhaps the saddest verse of the whole story, Numbers 31:16, reveals the tragedy of lost separation: Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD. . . ”
Israel lost their identity when they followed the counsel of Balaam to mix with their enemy. Christians lose their identity when they are intimidated by those who taunt them with such words as isolation, exclusive, snobbish, and accuse them of having a “holier than thou” attitude.
We are so in love with God that we want to be more like Him every day. If others want to brand us with unkind remarks, we may not be able to stop them. But we can refuse to cast aside our devotion to God and our commitment to His holiness in order to please them.
“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 20:7).
(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)
THE FOUNDATION OF HOLINESS
By: David K. Bernard
The Bible calls Christians to a life of holiness. But why is it important for Christians to be holy? And how can sinners saved by grace actually live holy lives in this evil world? Understanding the answers to these questions is crucial to successful Christian living.
The Purpose for Holiness
The first reason for holiness is to please God. We belong to God in a double sense: by creation and by redemption. We have no right to live contrary to God’s will. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:15).
God created mankind for His glory (isaiah 4-3:7). He intended for man to love, worship, and commune with Him, but sin separated man from the holy God. Through Christ, God provided a means of redemption and reconciliation so that mankind could be saved and restored to fellowship with Him. If a born-again person persists in living in sin, however, he once again separates himself from fulness of fellowship with God. Only by living in holiness do we fulfill God’s purpose in creation and redemption.
Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (unique) people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The second reason for holiness is to communicate Christ to others. People will be attracted to Christ only to the extent that they see Christ in us. They will believe our proclamation that Jesus saves from sin only if they can see the saving power of the gospel operative in our lives. People who are dissatisfied with a worldly life and who seek salvation will be drawn to a church that is clearly different from the world. A holy church will lead sinners to the worship of God. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation (conduct) honest among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12). Christians are epistles of Christ written by the Spirit, known and read by everyone (II Corinthians 3:2-3).
The third reason for holiness is for our own sakes. Isaiah the spiritual point of view, living for God is the logical, reasonable, and expected thing to do (Romans 12:1). The life of holiness brings great benefits in this life-physically, mentally, and spiritually-and it leads to eternal life. God designed mankind to live according to holiness principles, and when those principles are broken, great harm results. Sinful living violates the “Manufacturer’s” specifications and instructions; mankind was not made for such abuse. For example, such things as intemperance, sexual immorality, rage, and bitterness can actually cause physical illness. Sin destroys bodies, minds, families, societies, and ultimately souls. Those who live godly enjoy divine love, peace, joy, and hope. They truly have abundant life, now and for eternity.
Holiness is God’s Nature
The call to holiness is rooted in the very nature of God. Christians are to be holy in everything they do because the God they serve is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Those who reject practical holiness fail to understand
that holiness is the fundamental characteristic of God upon which His moral nature and attributes depend. In particular, God’s holiness is the foundation of His love and gives direction to His love. His holiness determines His love, not vice versa. Because He is holy, He does not love sin or evil. Because He is holy, His love is impartial and eternal rather than arbitrary, capricious, or fickle. God’s love does not contradict or override His holiness.
Sin is a direct challenge to God’s sovereignty and a violation of His holiness. God’s love will never cause Him to overlook sin, because sin contradicts His basic nature of holiness. When God forgives sin He does not simply excuse it, but He accepts Christ’s death as the sufficient penalty for that sin. In this way, God’s love provides forgiveness without violating His justice (Romans 3:25). The Cross shows that God demands punishment for all sin. If we believe and obey the gospel of Christ, His substitutionary sacrifice atones for our sins, and we receive remission of sins and new spiritual life. Otherwise, we will receive punishment for sins.
The Source of Holiness Teaching
How do we learn about holiness? The supreme source of holiness teaching is the Bible itself, the inspired Word of God. It contains everything we need to know concerning salvation and godly living. From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (11 Timothy 3:15-17).
All true holiness teaching comes from the Bible, either from a specific biblical statement or from a valid application of a biblical principle. For example, the Bible teaches that drunkenness is sinful; therefore we do not drink alcoholic beverages. The underlying biblical principle is that all intoxication is wrong; therefore we abstain from intoxicants such as marijuana and cocaine, even though the Bible does not name them.
The Bible contains basic guidelines that apply to people of all cultures, times, and situations. It is not merely a collection of rules. It does not try to give specific answers for countless individual situations. God has given the church spiritual leaders for the equipping of the saints, for the building up, maturing, establishing, and growth of the body (Ephesians 4-:1 1-16). Spirit-filled pastors and teachers proclaim God’s Word, explain it, and apply its principles to the situations of contemporary life.
Finally, the Holy Spirit teaches us directly through inner promptings and convictions. The Spirit is given to teach and guide us (John 14-26; 16: 13). The Spirit writes God’s laws upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). We have an anointing-a fundamental nature of holiness and truth that resides within-that no man has taught us (1 John 2:27). In times of decision, struggle, crisis, or uncertainty, we should be sensitive to the still, quiet voice of the Spirit.
The three holiness teachers-the Bible, spiritual leadership, and the indwelling Holy Spirit-work together in harmony and complement one another. The Bible is our final authority. God does not give human beings the right to change His message, nor will the indwelling Spirit speak contrary to the written Word He Himself inspired.
The Basis of Holiness: Faith, Love, and the Spirit
Genuine faith in God inevitably results in obedience to God (Acts 6:7; Romans 1:5; 10:16; 16:26; James 2:14-26). If we believe God we will believe His Word, and if we believe His Word we will accept its teachings and apply them to our lives. By faith we die to sin in repentance, are buried with Jesus Christ in baptism for the remission of sins, and receive new life through the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live holy. By faith we continue to walk with God until the ultimate work of salvation-glorification.
We must also have a love for God, His Word, and holiness. Without love, all attempts to live for God are vain (1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Revelation 2:1-7). if we truly love God, we will obey His commandments and follow holiness (John 14-:15; 23; I John 2:3-6). We will actively hate evil (Psalm 97:l0), and we will seek to become like our holy God. The greater our love for God, the greater will be our desire for holiness.
Love is far stricter and more demanding than law, for love always goes farther than duty. Love for God will cause someone to draw much closer to God than legalism will, both in attitudes and in disciplined living.
Love will cause someone to avoid everything that displeases God or that hinders a closer walk with God. Love rejects everything that is not clearly compatible with godliness, or that is not conducive to Christianity, even though no rules have labeled these things as sin. In this way, the principle of love replaces the law of Moses or a codification of rules.
Love dominates all actions and all relationships. All the law is summed up in love: we are to love God with all our being and to love our fellow man as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 13:9-10). Instead of the law of Moses we have “the perfect law of liberty,” the “royal law” of love (James 1:25; 2:8; 2:12).
Since holiness is God’s very nature, when we receive the Holy Spirit of God we receive a holy nature. Holiness is not an external law but an integral part of our new nature. The Spirit places God’s moral law within us, not written on tables of stone but written in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 10:16). The Spirit brings power to live righteously (Romans 8:2-4).
Living for God is not merely following an outward list of rules, but following the new nature of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 7:6; II Corinthians 3:3-6). We live holy because that is what the new man is and wants to be. We abstain from sin and worldliness because it is anathema to our new nature. We still struggle against the carnal desires of the old nature, but this is an internal struggle. No dictator imposes rules on us; we impose restrictions on the sinful nature because we no longer wish to follow the flesh but to follow the Spirit.
A person will be successful in Christian living if and only if he first receives the life-transforming Holy Spirit and then submits daily to the Spirit’s leadership and control, walking by the Spirit’s power.
(The above material appeared in a September,1987, issue of Pentecostal Herald.)
By: Stephen A. Scmidt
The twenty-six words in I Timothy 2:9 supply a wealth of information about the matter of a woman’s dress and appearance. This verse teaches that women should wear modest clothing. We should not ignore that it also opposes ornamentation by means of elaborate coiffures, gold, jewels, and extravagant dress. The direction is toward simplicity and tastefulness, not garish displays of wealth or artistry in hair and clothing.
Single words in the New Testament Greek text often provide startling insight into important issues. The key words with regard to clothing are modest apparel. What do these two words mean? AMG Publishers’ Twenty-six Translations of the Bible provides the following synonyms for modesty: appropriate, proper, becoming, orderly, seemly, and suitable. Ladies dress should fulfill these qualifications. The Christian women should not dress sloppily, shabbily, or tastelessly but rather strive for a balance between attractiveness and humility, style and economy.
“Appropriate and suitable” lend themselves to the idea that certain activities may demand an outfit suiting the activity. A person would not want to parachute from an airplane in formal dress, nor would one want to wear parachute clothing to a formal social function.
“Proper and seemly” lend themselves to the next key word, apparel. The New Testament uses other words for clothing that refer to vestures and robes in general, but apparel is special and distinctively concerns
women. Men are to dress modestly as well as women but they are not to wear the type of clothing signified by this Greek word. Katastole is worn by women, while himation or esthes is worn by men.
Strong’s Concordance and Thayer’s Lexicon help us understand the significance of apparel as it pertains to a woman’s clothing. Literally, it is “a lowering, letting-down garment; a dress.” The root words tell
us that this garment is a distinctly feminine one into which a woman can withdraw herself, a quality that pants and miniskirts do not possess. This garment is expected to quiet, quell, avoid, and repress lustful glances and gazes of men.
A study of the history of clothing provides overwhelming evidence of a clear distinction between men’s and women’s clothing styles throughout recorded history. The modern trend toward unisex clothing and appearance is not only a historical aberration, but it also definitely contradicts biblical teaching. (See Deuteronomy 22:5.)
The Christian woman’s clothing is to be characterized by dress that is modest in cost and in covering the body. Consequently, she should avoid such things as short dresses or high splits that expose the upper leg when walking or sitting; plunging, drooping, or large boat-necked tops; and tight-fitting or clinging clothes that accentuate body curvature. I Timothy 2:8 teaches that men are to concentrate their thoughts on
worship, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting; they are not to entertain carnal thoughts and fleshly lusts. When men and women cooperate in obeying I Timothy 2:8-9, god’s people will be able to walk before Him in holiness.
(The above material appeared in a June 1988 issue of Pentecostal Herald.)
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