Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some Thoughts on Holiness


Since holiness is all about our state of spiritual cleanliness before the Lord, I thought this piece by Mary Cassatt depicted that condition well. Here is a child who is basically clean, but as she walks about during the day, she gets her feet dirty. Her kind mother is assisting her in washing her feet.

Jesus told His disciples when He stooped to wash their feet, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean..." (meaning that they had been restored to a relationship with God through their faith in who the Christ was). In speaking about the fact that they needed to have their "feet washed" Jesus referred to their personal sin on a daily basis, being cleansed from it and restored to fellowship with God.

So it is with holiness. Those who know Christ as their redeemer and Lord, by faith in His work on the cross whereby He bore the penalty of their sins, have been washed by His blood and have a righteous standing before God the Father. We are clothed in Christ's righteousness and that can never change.

We have been cleansed and our Heavenly Father now sees His Son when He looks at us. This is called positional holiness. It is our eternal position before God the Father and it will never change.
But we walk in this world and often get dirty. Living in the world, we do succumb to sin and need to have our feet washed, so to speak. Practical holiness is the working out of our positional holiness, evidenced by the way we live and think or the practice of holiness day-to-day. Though our position before God never changes, our working out of that holiness is not perfect as we live here below, and sometimes we fall, get soiled by sin and need a good foot bath.

How thankful I am for the promise of 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." With the confession of sin, we are restored to fellowship and practical holiness. Our tender and compassionate Father does just what the loving parent in the picture does. He takes us onto His lap and He cleanses us with His own holiness. He is always ready (faithful) to assist us when we come to His cleansing basin through the confession of our sin.

These are just some musings that came to mind when I looked at Mary Cassatt's painting above in regard to holiness. But what does practical holiness look like? Here are some thoughts on holiness from others who have said it much better than I ever could:

Definition of holiness from J. C. Ryle:
Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God's judgment - hating what He hates - loving what He loves - and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.
Jonathan Edwards:
Holiness is a most beautiful and lovely thing. We drink in strange notions of holiness from our childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely.
Thomas Brooks:
Man's holiness is now his greatest happiness, and in heaven, man's greatest happiness will be his perfect holiness.
Gary Thomas:
Sin tastes sweet but turns bitter in our stomachs. Holiness often tastes bitter but turns sweet in our stomachs.
C. H. Spurgeon:
Those who tolerate sin in what they think to be little things, will soon indulge it in greater matters.
F. F. Bruce:
Christian holiness is not a matter of painstaking conformity to the individual precepts of an external law code; it is rather a question of the Holy Spirit's producing His fruit in the life, reproducing those graces which were seen in perfection in the life of Christ.
Though we often have this skewed idea of a kind of down-in-the-mouth way of living when we think of holiness, a dull keep-all-the-rules existence, that is not what holiness is about at all. When we live holy lives, we are being imitators of Christ. His Spirit is producing the fruit of Christ-likeness in us.

So when you think of holiness, think "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). This is the fruitful life of Christ in us. This is holiness!

And when you blow it - get angry instead of exhibiting patience, for instance - God's Word instructs the believer to confess that sin and be cleansed (1 John 1:9). Remember that confessing your sin of anger before your kind and faithful Heavenly Father is also an act of holiness, since "measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word", is part of what it means to be holy. And the promise is that He will "wash your feet", He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

And, by the way...a foot bath - I mean, a real foot bath - you know, when someone else cleanses and massages your feet...would you not agree that it is a most refreshing and delightful thing? This is what we find when we confess our sin. Why would we put off something so sweet? If you've been waiting, go to Him now and be cleansed by His perfect holiness! Newer Post Older Post

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Join the discussionSome Thoughts on Holiness

  1. Thanks Sharon! I loved this article. It's so good to be reminded about confessing my sin. It is a refreshing thing to do because it draws me closer to Him! I've been meditating on 1 Peter and in particular 1:14-16 where Peter talks about holiness, what it is and why we should be it. Your article goes right along with that. Thank you!