Breath in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Of late God has been pleased to keep my soul hungry almost continually, so that I have been filled with a kind of pleasing pain. When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of Him the more insatiable and my thirstings after holiness more unquenchable.
What is holiness? The best practical definition that I have heard is simply “without sin.” That is the statement that was made of the Lord Jesus’ life on earth (Hebrews 4:15), and that should be the goal of every person who desires to be godly. Granted, we will never reach that goal in this life; nevertheless it is to be our supreme objective and the object of our most earnest efforts and prayers.
True salvation brings with it a desire to be made holy. When God saves us through Christ, He not only saves us from the penalty of sin, but also from its dominion.
We must have conviction that it is God’s will that we seek holiness – regardless of how arduous and painful the seeking may be. And we must be confident that the pursuit of holiness results in God’s approval and blessing, even when circumstances make it appear otherwise.
Only one who has a strong desire to be holy will ever persevere in the painfully slow and difficult task of pursing holiness. There are too many failures. The habits of our old nature and the attacks of Satan are too strong for us to persevere unless the Holy Spirit is at work in us to create a desire for holiness. The Holy Spirit creates this desire, not only by showing us our sins, but also by showing us God’s standard of holiness. He does this through the Scriptures. As we read and study the Scriptures or hear them taught, we are captivated by the moral beauty of God’s standard of holiness.
Man’s holiness is now his greatest happiness, and in heaven man’s greatest happiness will be his perfect holiness.
Perfect holiness is the aim of the saints on earth, and it is the reward of the saints in Heaven.
God’s holiness lies at the very heart of the need for discernment. Our passion for God’s holiness, our desire to keep ourselves pure from sin, will motivate our practice of discernment. The greater our understanding of God’s holiness, the greater will be our understanding of the importance of discerning truth from error. We will desire to cast off all that is wrong so that we can be unsullied, unspoiled by sin.
The Challenge of Discernment by Tim Challies taken from The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies, copyright 2007, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, page 50.
Why do we make holiness out to be some austere obligation or burden to be borne, when the fact is that to be holy is to be clean, to be free from the weight and the burden of sin? Why would we cling to our sin any more than a leper would refuse to part with his oozing sores, given the opportunity to be cleansed of his leprosy?
Here are just some of the ways in which the Bible motivates us to pursue holiness: Duty (Ecc. 12:13), God knows all and see all (Ecc. 12:14), It’s right (Eph. 6:1), It’s for our good (Deut. 12:28), God’s example (Eph. 4:32), Christ’s example (Eph. 5:2), Assurance (2 Pet. 1:10).
In seeking after holiness we are not so much seeking after a thing as we are seeking a Person. The blessings of the gospel – election, justification, sanctification, glorification, and all the rest – have been deposited in no other treasury but Christ. We don’t just want holiness. We want the Holy One in whom we have been counted holy and are now being made holy. To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God.
Abide and Obey by Kevin DeYoung taken from The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2012, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 123.
Holiness appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature; which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the soul. In other words, that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers.
When Jesus commands us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48), this simply shows that God’s own absolute moral purity is the standard toward which we are to aim and the standard for which God holds us accountable. The fact that we are unable to attain that standard does not mean that it will be lowered; rather, it means that we need God’s grace and forgiveness to overcome our remaining sin. Similarly, when Paul commands the Corinthians to make holiness perfect in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor. 7:1), or prays that God would sanctify the Thessalonians wholly (1 Thess. 5:23), he is pointing to the goal that he desires them to reach. He does not imply that any reach it, but only that this is the high moral standard toward which God wants all believers to aspire.
What a strange kind of salvation do they desire that care not for holiness… They would be saved by Christ and yet be out of Christ in a fleshly state… They would have their sins forgiven, not that they may walk with God in love, in time to come, but that they may practice their enmity against Him without any fear of punishment.
Let me be taught that the first great business on earth is the sanctification of my own soul.
To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it. I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with His holiness. Holiness and happiness are like light and heat. God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. Christ has a body such as I have, yet He never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete… Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment… The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it. He says, Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as much as Solomon or David? You may go to heaven also. I am persuaded this is a lie — that my true happiness is to go and sin no more.
My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.
Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it… Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God’s holiness?
The chief design of my life in the station wherein the good providence of God hath placed me, are, that mortification and universal holiness may be promoted in my own and in the hearts and ways of others, to the glory of God; that so the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things.
If you dislike a holy God now, why would you want to be with Him forever? If worship does not capture your attention at present, what makes you think it will thrill you in some heavenly future? If ungodliness is your delight here on earth, what will please you in heaven, where all is clean and pure? You would not be happy there if you are not holy here.
We ask that God would make us holy. It is a good request indeed. But are we prepared to be sanctified by any process that God in His wisdom may call on us to pass through? Are we ready to be purified by affliction, weaned from the world by bereavements, drawn nearer to God by losses, sicknesses, and sorrow?
Do you want to go to heaven? I mean, do you really want to go to heaven? Let’s remember that heaven is a place of perfect holiness. That means as we delight in beholding God’s glory now, it is as if we are, 2 Corinthians 3:18, “beholding [Him] as if in a mirror.” Heaven will be direct exposure to the fullness of His glory. Why there and not here? Because we still have sin. Yet the split second Christians die, they are instantly transformed to be as righteous as Christ. Now we are declared as perfectly righteous as Christ. Then we will be made as perfectly righteous as Christ. If you are in Christ, this will be your state into all of eternity. Therefore I have to make the two following conclusions: One, we can think of our time here on earth as we are being made more holy like God only as preparation for our future existence with Him. And two, if you really want to go to heaven and be as holy as God throughout all of eternity, isn’t it safe to assume you’d desire it right now as well?
So if we are already declared perfectly holy in God’s eyes and our future is a place of perfect holiness and God’s goal for us is increasing holiness, it’s safe that the clearest sign that we are really saved will be the desire and ability to be more holy.
I believe the holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him.
There is nothing which my heart desires more than to see you, the members of this church, distinguished for holiness. It is the Christian’s crown and glory. An unholy church? It is of no use to the world and of no esteem among men. Oh, it is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. And the larger the church, the more influential, the worse nuisance does it become when it becomes unholy. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.
I would sooner be holy than happy if the two things could be divorced. Were it possible for a man always to sorrow and yet to be pure, I would choose the sorrow if I might win the purity, for to be free from the power of sin, to be made to love holiness, is true happiness.
True godliness lies very much in desires. As we are not what we shall be, so also we are not what we would be. The desires of gracious men after holiness are intense – they cause a wear of heart, a straining of the mind, till it feels ready to snap with the heavenly pull. A high value of the Lord’s commandment leads to a pressing desire to know and to do it, and this so weighs upon the soul that it is ready to break in pieces under the crush of its own longings. What a blessing it is when all our desires are after the things of God. We may well long for such longings.
Thou canst not make me happy with Thyself, till Thou hast made me holy like Thyself.
The first priority of my life is to be holy, and the second goal of my life is to be a scholar.
Wherever the Holy Spirit dwells, His presence creates a hunger for holiness. His office is to magnify Christ, and it is He who gives the believer a desire to be like Christ. The natural man has no such passion. But in the Christian, the Spirit of God begins to carry out the will of God to make the child of God like the Son of God (Romans 8:29). And He who began this good work in the life of the believer “will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 1991, p. 237. Used by permission of NavPress – www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. For more information please see the website www.BibicalSpirituality.org. Get this book!