Why Does Holiness Matter?
Taken From “Holiness: What It Is, Why It Matters” By J.I. Packer.
Faith & Renewal, Mar/Apr 1993, Pages 3-11.
In earlier days, it was understood by most believers that a life of holiness was part and parcel of being a follower of Christ. Today, however, the concept of holy living is practically unheard of among Christians. From the 1800s to the mid 19OOs, holiness stood as the distinguishing mark on the lives of Christians, as the “holiness revival” swept across Europe and America.
“If we play down or ignore the importance of holiness, we are utterly and absolutely wrong.”
By definition, holiness means separated and set apart for God.” It has more to do with inward motivations than with outward actions, and the primary motive is the passionate desire to please God with all of one’s life. Holiness involves the temperament, which the ancient Greeks classified as either sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholic. There are specific implications, in terms of holiness, for each temperament’s strengths and weaknesses.
Holiness leads to humanness not depraved humanity, but life lived as God intended, perfectly expressed in the life of Jesus Christ. The secular humanists have perverted and distorted the concept of humanness. Rather than accepting God’s ideal for human life, they deify self and deny God at every turn. “Only through Jesus Christ can true humanity be found,” however.
While Christians should spend time alone with God, the…must still function in the real world, rub shoulders with real people, and make decisions about real problems. It is precisely in these areas that personal holiness is lived out. Early in Christian history the idea of separating oneself from society in order to be “holy” took root. In the middle Ages, holiness was seen as an optional ‘higher life of prayerful austerity for the super-serious.
Many believers today apparently think holiness is outdated, optional, and thus unimportant. There is a flood of preaching and teaching that emphasizes everything but holiness. Leaders are valued not for their holiness, but for then- talents or speaking abilities. Evangelism stresses faith rather than repentance.
Holiness is the very purpose of regeneration: that believers become Christlike. Nothing defeats Satan’s purposes for Christians like a holy life, and nothing “plays into his hands” more than the failure to
practice holiness. Holiness gives credibility to witness; lack of it negates the witness. True happiness comes only as a by-product of holiness.
The Pit Of Legalism “Mercy Or Sacrifice” By Dudley Hall.
Charisma, Apr 1993, Pages 40-47.
The fiercest opposition Jesus experienced did not come from the ordinary people, who either accepted Him or ignored Him. It came from the religious leaders who saw Him as a threat. The Pharisees were the well respected theologians and spiritual leaders of their day. Today the toughest opposition to Christianity still comes from the legalism inherent in human religion, and there are plenty of legalists in our churches.
The Pharisees were so caught up in their religious traditions that they failed to distinguish between sacrifice and mercy. All world religions place great importance on the idea of sacrifice. Originally, it was God’s idea. We instinctively understand that sacrifice is the only way to take care of our sin. Jesus, of’ course, was the ultimate sacrifice, to which all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed.
The mistake the Pharisees made -,vas believing that their sacrifices actually paid for their blessings. Sacrifice was a way to buy God’s favor rather than “a response to His love. Twice Jesus used a verse from Hosea to rebuke them for their legalism:
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6). We need to beware of the same three pitfalls He warned them about.
Staying away from sinners. The Pharisees had the mistaken notion that they needed to avoid all evil, especially evil people, in order to not contaminate themselves. Jesus freely associated with those the Pharisees considered untouchable, but the church today has pharisaically withdrawn behind stained glass to become an ingrown community. If we are light, there is no need to fear darkness.
Valuing traditions over persons. In the New Testament we can clearly see that the Pharisees thought keeping the Sabbath was more important than ministering to individual’s needs. Yet we persist in emphasizing the letter of tire law and trying to reduce God’s unfathomable truth to a neat set of rules and regulations. A prime example of this is the way our zeal to protect holy matrimony has made divorced people feel like second-class Christians.
Trusting in rules, not a relationship. Viewing sacrifice as the basis for approaching God reduces an intimate relationship to a mere formula. Legalists fear that overemphasizing grace will lead to license, but they are the ones who, by focusing on right actions and rituals, are presuming on God’s grace.
Only those who accept God’s mercy can experience true joy and freedom.
The Above Material Was Published By Current Thoughts & Trends, June, 1993, Pages 5-8. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.