What sort of persons are those whom God calls holy?
- 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.
- A holy man will endeavour to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment.
- A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in Him, and draw from Him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labour to have the mind that was in Him, and to be “conformed to His image.” (Rom. 8:29.) Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6, NIV)
- A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue.
- A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. (Luke 21:34, 1Corinthians 9:27)
- A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavour to observe the golden rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men speak to him. (Romans 13:8)
- A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. He will strive to be useful in his day and generation, and to lessen the spiritual wants and misery around him, as far as he can (Acts 9:36)
- A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it.
- A holy man will follow after the fear of God.
- A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)
- A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life. He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls, but even better, because he has higher motives, and more help than they. (Colossians 3:23)
- A holy man will follow after spiritual mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come.
Sanctification is always a progressive work. It has a beginning. Sanctification in the very best is an imperfect work. The gold will never be without some dross – the light will never shine without some clouds, until we reach the heavenly Jerusalem.
True holiness is a great reality. It is something in a man that can be seen, and known, and marked, and felt by all around him. It is light: if it exists, it will show itself. It is salt: if it exists, its savour will be perceived. It is a precious ointment: if it exists, its presence cannot be hid.
Why practical holiness is so important
Can holiness put away sin – cover iniquities – make satisfaction for transgressions – pay our debt to God? No! The white robe which Jesus offers, and faith puts on, must be our only righteousness – the name of Christ our only confidence – the Lamb’s book of life our only title to heaven. With all our holiness we are no better than sinners.
- We must be holy, because the voice of God in Scripture plainly commands it. The Lord Jesus says to His people, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 20; also: Matthew 5:48, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Peter 1:15-16)
- We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world. Paul writes: “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.“ (2 Corinthians 5:15; also: Ephesians 5:25-26, Titus 2:14). Jesus is a complete Saviour. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, He does more – He breaks its power.
- We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we have a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. If we would die the death of the righteous, let us not rest in slothful desires only; let us seek to live His life.
- We must be holy, because this is the only proof that we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity (John 14:15, 21, 23: 15:14). Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul who can think of all that Jesus suffered, and yet cling to those sins for which that suffering was undergone.
- We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we are true children of God. “Say not,” says Gurnall, “that thou hast royal blood in thy veins, and art born of God, except thou canst prove thy pedigree by daring to be holy.”
- We must be holy, because this is the most likely way to do good to others. We cannot live to ourselves only in this world. Our lives will always be doing either good or harm to those who see them. You may talk to persons about the doctrines of the Gospels, and few will listen, and still fewer understand. But your life is an argument that none can escape.
- We must be holy, because our present comfort depends much upon it. It is vain for anyone to suppose that he will have a lively sense of his justification, or an assurance of his calling, so long as he neglects good works, or does not strive to live a holy life. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.“ (1 John 2:3, NIV). “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence“ (1 John 3:18–19, NIV). When the disciples forsook the Lord and fled, they escaped danger, but they were miserable and sad. When, shortly after, they confessed Him boldly before men, they were cast into prison and beaten; but we are told, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41, NIV)
- We must be holy, because without holiness on earth we shall never be prepared to enjoy heaven. Heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is a holy Being. How shall 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? To reach the holiday of glory, we must pass through the training school of grace.
- Are you holy? Not all “Christians” are.
- Are you holy, or are you not? Don’t look at others; it’s a personal question.
- Are you yourself holy this very day, or are you not? The great question is not what you think, and what you feel, but what you do. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14, NIV) Surely it is a text that ought to make us consider our ways, and search our hearts. Surely it should raise within us solemn thoughts, and send us to prayer.
- Impossible? It can be done. With Christ on your side nothing is impossible.
- Be unlike other people? Christ’s true servants always were unlike the world around them – a separate nation, a peculiar people.
- Only a few be saved? “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14, NIV)We must not merely have a Christian name, and Christian knowledge, we must have a Christian character also. We must be saints on earth, if ever we mean to be saints in heaven.
I fear it is sometimes forgotten that God has married together justification and sanctification. They are distinct and different things, beyond question, but one is never found without the other. All justified people are sanctified, and all sanctified are justified. What God has joined together let no man dare to put asunder. Boast not of Christ’s work for you, unless you can show us the Spirit’s work in you.
Advice to all who desire to be holy
- You must begin with Christ. He is the root and beginning of all holiness, and the way to be holy is to come to Him by faith and be joined to Him. “Wisdom without Christ is damning folly – righteousness without Christ is guilt and condemnation – sanctification without Christ is filth and sin – redemption without Christ is bondage and slavery.” (Traill)
- Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Linger not. Think not to make yourself ready. Go and say to Him, in the words of that beautiful hymn
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, flee to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.
- Holiness comes not of blood – parents cannot give it to their children: nor yet of the will of the flesh – man cannot produce it in himself: nor yet of the will of man – ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him, It is the fruit of being a living branch of the True Vine
- Abide in Christ. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5, NIV) He is the Physician to whom you must daily go, if you would keep well. He is the Manna which you must daily eat, and the Rock of which you must daily drink. His arm is the arm on which you must daily lean, as you come up out of the wilderness of this world. You must not only be rooted, you must also be built up in Him.