Holiness: Part 1
For the purposes of this study I will be relying much on two holy Anglicans, J.I. Packer and J.C. Ryle.
First, lets get a theological overview from Dr. Packer:
GOD IS LIGHT
I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy…. LEVITICUS 11:44
When Scripture calls God, or individual persons of the Godhead, “holy” (as it often does: Lev. 11:44- 45; Josh. 24:19; Isa. 2:2; Ps. 99:9; Isa. 1:4; 6:3; 41:14, 16, 20; 57:15; Ezek. 39:7; Amos 4:2; John 17:11; Acts 5:3-4, 32; Rev. 15:4), the word signifies everything about God that sets him apart from us and makes him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of his transcendent greatness and moral perfection and thus is an attribute of all his attributes, pointing to the “Godness” of God at every point. Every facet of God’s nature and every aspect of his character may properly be spoken of as holy, just because it is his. The core of the concept, however, is God’s purity, which cannot tolerate any form of sin (Hab. 1:13) and thus calls sinners to constant self-abasement in his presence (Isa. 6:5).
When John says that God is “light,” with no darkness in him at all, the image is affirming God’s holy purity, which makes fellowship between him and the willfully unholy impossible and requires the pursuit of holiness and righteousness of life to be a central concern for Christian people (1 John 1:5-2:1; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Heb. 12:10-17). The summons to believers, regenerate and forgiven as they are, to practice a holiness that will match God’s own, and so please him, is constant in the New Testament, as indeed it was in the Old Testament (Deut. 30:1-10; Eph. 4:17-5:14; 1 Pet. 1:13-22). Because God is holy, God’s people must be holy too.
Packer, J. I. (2001-02-01). Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (pp. 43-44). Tyndale House Pub. Kindle Edition.
J.C. Ryle says this:
1. 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.
He who most entirely agrees with God — he is the most holy man.
2. A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have . . .
a decided bent of mind towards God,
a hearty desire to do His will,
a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the world,
and a love to all His ways.
He will feel what Paul felt when he said, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22), and what David felt when he said, “I esteem all Your precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).
3. 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 labor to have the mind that was in Him, and to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). It will be his aim . . .
to bear with and forgive others, even as Christ forgave us;
to be unselfish, even as Christ pleased not Himself;
to walk in love, even as Christ loved us;
to be lowly-minded and humble, even as Christ made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself.
He will remember . . .
that Christ was a faithful witness for the truth;
that He came not to do His own will;
that it was His food and drink to do His Father’s will;
that He would continually deny Himself in order to minister to others;
that He was meek and patient under undeserved insults;
that He thought more of godly poor men, than of kings;
that He was full of love and compassion to sinners;
that He was bold and uncompromising in denouncing sin;
that He sought not the praise of men, when He might have had it;
that He went about doing good;
that He was separate from worldly people;
that He continued instant in prayer;
that He would not let even His nearest relations stand in His way when God’s work was to be done.
All these things, a holy man will try to remember. By them, he will endeavor to shape his course in life. He will lay to heart the saying of John: “He who says he abides in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6); and the saying of Peter, that “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Happy is he who has learned to make Christ his “all,” both for salvation and example! Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented — if men would oftener ask themselves the question: “What would Jesus have said and done — if He were in my place?”
4. A holy man will follow after meekness, patience, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, and government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much and be slow to talk of standing on his rights. We see a bright example of this in the behavior of David when Shimei cursed him, and of Moses when Aaron and Miriam spoke against him (2 Sam. 16:10; Num. 12:3).
5. A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labor . . .
to mortify the desires of his body,
to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts,
to curb his passions,
to restrain his carnal inclinations — lest at any time they break loose.
Oh, what a word is that of the Lord Jesus to the apostles: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life — and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap!” (Luke 21:34); and that of the apostle Paul: “I beat my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize!” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
6. A holy man will follow after love and brotherly kindness. He will endeavor 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. He will be full of affection towards his brethren, towards their bodies, their property, their characters, their feelings, their souls. “He who loves another,” says Paul, “has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). He will abhor all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating, dishonesty and unfair dealing — even in the least things. He will strive to adorn his religion by all his outward demeanor, and to make it lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all around him.
Alas, what condemning words are the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and the sermon on the mount — when laid alongside the conduct of many professing Christians!
7. A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. He will not stand idle all the day. He will not be content with doing no harm — he will try to do good. He will strive to be useful in his day and generation, and to lessen the spiritual needs and misery around him as far as he can. Such was Dorcas: “full of good works and alms-deeds, which she did” — not merely purposed and talked about — but did. Such a one was Paul: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you,” he says, “though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (Acts 9:36; 2 Corinthians 12:15).
8. A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all immorality, and impurity of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder — and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation. Who shall dare to talk of their own strength — when David can fall?
There is many a hint to be gleaned from the ceremonial law. Under it the man who only touched a bone or a dead body or a grave or a diseased person — became at once unclean in the sight of God. And these things were emblems and figures. Few Christians are ever too watchful and too particular about this point.
9. A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave — who only works because he is afraid of punishment and would be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child — who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him.
What a noble example Nehemiah gives us of this! When he became governor at Jerusalem, he could have been supported the Jews and required money from them for his sustenance. The former governors had done so. There was none to blame him, if he did. But he says, “The former governors, in contrast, had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides forty pieces of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because I feared God — I did not act that way!” (Neh. 5:15).
10. A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart — than in any other in the world.
He will understand something of Abraham’s feeling, when he says, “I am dust and ashes!”
And Jacob’s feeling, when he says, “I am unworthy of the least of all Your mercies!”
And Job’s feeling, when he says, “Behold! I am vile!”
And Paul’s feeling, when he says, “I am the chief of sinners!”
Holy John Bradford, that faithful martyr of Christ, would sometimes finish his letters with these words: “A most miserable sinner, John Bradford.”
The godly William Grimshaw’s last words, when he lay on his deathbed, were these: “Here goes an unprofitable servant!”
11. 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. Those words of Paul should never be forgotten: “Whatever you do — do it heartily, as to the Lord.” “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23; Romans 12:11).
Holy people should aim at doing everything well and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything poorly, if they can help it. Like Daniel, they should seek to give no “occasion” against themselves, except concerning the law of their God (Dan. 6:5). They should strive to be . . .
good husbands and good wives,
good parents and good children,
good masters and good servants,
good in private and good in public,
good in the place of business and good by their firesides.
Holiness is worth little indeed — if it does not bear this kind of fruit. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to His people when He says, “What are you doing more than others?” (Matthew 5:47).