H. G. Bosch, in Our Daily Bread, tells about the Ermine, a little animal in the forests of northern Europe and Asia known for his snow-white fur in winter. The Ermine instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it.
Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine.
The frightened animal flees toward home but doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his clean, white fur. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life.
Our word of the week is holiness.
Several years ago Barna Researchers did a survey to find out what people knew about holiness. Surprisingly, they discovered that “though the Bible talks a lot about holiness, most adults are confused and even daunted by the concept.”
Only one in 4 of the Church goers they interviewed believed they were holy.
And when asked what holiness meant, the most common answer was “I don’t know!”
What is holiness? Why do we need it? And how do we achieve it?
A preacher once asked a group of disadvantaged, inner city kids in Bible class “What is holiness?” A poor little boy in tattered rags, jumped up and exclaimed, “It is to be clean inside.”
Holiness is about moral purity. Cleanness. Uprightness. The Greek word is often translated “sanctification,” which simply means “set apart.”
We should want to be holy because God is holy. And He desires that we be like Him (1 Pet 1:16). Christianity is a life dedicated to holiness. The prophet Isaiah called it “the highway of holiness.” And further affirmed “that the unclean shall not pass over it” (Isa 35:8).
“Holiness,” wrote the 19-century Scottish theologian John Brown “does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”
Holiness must begin with a pure heart (Matt 5:8). From such comes righteous, faith, love, and peace (2 Tim. 2:22).
Holiness issues itself in God-ordained worship that exalts His holy name (Ps 96:9; 30:4).
Holiness produces the fruit of Spirit (Rom. 6:22; Gal. 5:22-23). Patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control all arise from a holy heart.
Holiness abstains from passionate lusts, sexual impurity, and moral degradation. (1 Thess. 4:3,5)
Holiness does not take advantage of or defraud his brother or sister in Christ (1 Thess. 4:6).
Holiness walks in the way of honor, integrity, and mutual respect for others (1Thess 4:4).
Holiness is focused on matters of the spirit, instead of the desires of the flesh (2 Thess 2:3).
“The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy,” wrote A. W. Tozer. “The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.”
“The true Christian ideal,” Tozer repeats for emphasis, “is not to be happy but to be holy. Real faith invariably produces holiness of heart and righteousness of life. No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.” In other words, if you sow holiness, you will reap happiness.
Pascal was right when he wrote, The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the Spirit of God.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman