Everything we choose to say or do says something about the God we believe. When what we believe about God, shown through our words and actions, begins to align with what the Bible says about God, holiness is obtained. Holiness therefore is not simply an abstract religious term. Holiness is actually just faith in action.
Do you know anything of practical Christian holiness?
The Bible makes it clear that ‘without holiness no one will see the Lord.’ Holiness is the invariable result of true conversion. Now holiness is not absolute perfection – absolute freedom from sin. That exists only in heaven. Neither is holiness something which we obtain without a constant fight and struggle. But although holiness in this life is imperfect, nevertheless it is real. Real holiness will make a man do his duty in his own home and at work and will affect the way he lives his daily life and copes with its problems. It will make him humble, kind, unselfish, considerate of others, loving and forgiving. It will not lead him away from the normal duties of daily life, but will enable him to live as a Christian wherever God has called him to be.J.C. Ryle, Walking with God (Abridged and simplified version of Practical Religion)
When we think about the word ‘holiness,’ some words that may come to mind are: purity, sacredness, perfection, religiosity and piety. All these words are real definitions that are used and meant as when people say holiness. But really, the word ‘holiness’ many times remains in the abstract and the weight of the word is usually hard to explain. It’s a word that many times requires an emotional reference to find its way to being relatable. And although holiness should be incredibly relatable and familiar to the true Christian, it often is not. Why is that?
I think one major reason is because we listen too much to the voices of this world instead of the Word of God. As I said before, when what we believe about God, shown through our words and actions, begins to align with what the Bible says about God, holiness is obtained. But how can our actions begin to align with what the Bible says when we’re mainly concerned with what the world is saying?
We cannot do what we do not know.
Faith is at its core a surrender and trust in God for the unknown. But it is also more than that. Hebrews tells us plainly that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And although we may not fully know, we know the fullness in part because of the revelation of God’s Word. And that passage continues on to explain what that looks like by listing out a bunch of people from the Old Testament and showing what actions they took. What we choose to say and do says everything about our faith, about the God we believe.
But for many Christians, their faith was provided to them as more of a means to go to heaven, rather than a restored relationship with God. This has left many professing Christians to have a shallow understanding of the gospel leading to a lack of conviction and perseverance through hardship and trials. We should be grateful to God for the discomforts and sufferings we are facing during this pandemic because it is perfecting in us a true faith.
At this point, it could be helpful to just simplify the concept of holiness. In one sense, we can say that holiness is simply a fruit, a reality of our conversion. True faith in action. But the holiness we experience on earth is just a shadow of its true form, just like everything else while we are in this world. The reality is, the concept of holiness can never beat the experience of holiness.
What does it look like for our faith to be active?
Yes, it is the power of God made evident through you. Signs and wonders and miracles will follow you. But the fact is, there is a power and experience of holiness that is even greater than these. Because when there is a mountain to move, we can expect God to move mightily. But a deeper power and faith is found when there is nothing to move, when we are in the midst of the mundane and ordinary. What are our expectations of God then?
Experiencing faith in action in the mundane is what I believe so many Christians lack. And this is why when our only experience of holiness is mountains moving, we begin to chase greater mountains and end up burning out. But the Christian who has dug deep in the experiences of faith in the midst of the ordinary, that Christian will be able to more truly appreciate the moving of mountains. And not only that, that person’s faith will be so assured that the enemy will not be able to gain a foothold because they do not need mountains to be moved to sustain faith. That person will never backslide, never burn out, never be too discouraged and always turn to Jesus. In short, they will be a person of righteousness. A person after God’s own heart.
What do you do then? How do you start? Begin by simply following Jesus. One small mundane step at a time. Begin to die to yourself and obey the Word of God. As J.C. Ryle says, “It will not lead him away from the normal duties of daily life, but will enable him to live as a Christian wherever God has called him to be.”