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Is Your Holiness Internal or External?

doors.jpgAs we witness the daily unraveling fabric of our society, the question of a holiness lifestyle grows more pertinent to the church each day. For me, the answer inescapably comes down to one bedrock truth. Holiness unto the Lord must exist on the inside before it manifests itself on the outside. External characteristics lose their value without a vibrant, fertile, spiritual inner man. In fact, if the inner man loses his holiness, there is no mandate for holiness of any kind.

God is holy. We must possess a deep respect for the holiness of God. Moses immediately showed respect for God’s holy nature when he saw the burning bush. “And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5 Anyone with an intimate knowledge of God grasps the pervasiveness of divine purity. God’s holiness simply cannot be set aside. It stands in such stark contrast to man’s sinfulness that the difference constrains us to respond. To mitigate God’s holy nature would be to misunderstand the essence of deity. The main engine driving the holiness impulse is not petty adherence to rules and regulations, but a profound reverence for God’s holiness.

The new birth makes us different. We must have a genuine conversion experience. Before new converts knew the theology of sin, their hearts told them that it was repulsive. Therefore, they leaped from a life of disgusting, empty practices into a brand new life with Christ. Salvation is a nature change, one that is expected, affirmed and embraced. That’s why it is aptly described as a new birth. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” I Peter 2:9. We look, act, walk, talk and think differently, because we are different!

My life must be lived purposefully. We must recognize holiness principles. Rules are the whats, but principles are the whys. That’s why people eventually ignore rules that are not based upon corresponding principles. Principles, on the other hand, abound with meaning and purpose. They give rise to rules. For example, if I respect my body as a temple of God , I must not defile it by destructive behavior or improper dress. That is a general principle that leads to specific rules. If I respect the form and function of God’s creation, I must not pervert it by acting in ways that confound God’s purpose. If I value the holy nature of God, I must not permit anything in my life that will compromise or corrupt it. Principles give strength and legitimacy to rules.

The Bible governs the believer’s life. We must be willing to obey scripture. What do we do when we cannot totally understand the reasons behind Biblical commands? Obey them anyway! Our finite minds prevent us from an ultimate understanding of all God’s ways. Thus, the guiding principle we must rely upon remains obedience. A lack of understanding never justifies disobedience. Our implicit trust in the Scripture bridges us over gaps in human knowledge and comprehension.

I deny worldly influences. We must reject popular challenges to holiness living. It is no surprise that we grow more and more at odds with our increasingly degenerate culture. Will the devil and the world ever approve of us and legitimize our lifestyle? I think not. To the contrary, these forces constantly apply pressure against us. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:11-12. As long as this present world is not sober, righteous or godly, it has no right to influence our faith or our lives.

Meet the challenge. Stay on your knees, reflect on God’s purposes, separate yourself—-not just from the world—-but unto God, and cherish your relationship with your most holy God. When you approach your relationship to God this way, you will find a sustainable and effective basis for the way you live.

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