Monday, January 31, 2011


1828 : HO'LINESS, n. [from holy.] The state of being holy; purity or integrity of moral character; freedom from sin; sanctity.

1. Applied to human beings, holiness is purity of heart or dispositions; sanctified affections; piety; moral goodness, but not perfect. The state or quality of being holy; perfect moral integrity or purity; freedom from sin; sanctity; innocence.

We see piety and holiness ridiculed as gloomy peculiarities.

2. Sacredness; the state of anything hallowed, or consecrated to God or to his worship; applied to churches or temples. (Sometimes People)

3. That which is separated to the service of God.

2011 : “Encarta On-Line Dictionary” Title used in addressing or referring to the pope;

Can the “Meaning” of a Word really Change that Much?

If You say “Holiness” to most people they get a pained look on their face, like you are about to suck ALL the Fun out of their lives…

It just has this “Old-Fashioned” sound to it that has become so negative in our church culture, the last thing you want to be is a Holiness Preacher!!!

Be Honest if your Church advertised two Bible Studies

1. “Being a Successful Christian in 2011” …..

2. “Being a person of Holiness in 2011” …..

Which one are you drawn to? Which one do you think will fill-up first?

I read the following short article from a young pastor in Michigan…

It Challenged Me…...

I hope it speaks to you as well….

Attached at the end is a PDF “Study-Tool” (If you Dare)

Leave some “Feed-Back” ….. Love to hear your Honest Thoughts…

And it’s the only way we know anyone is reading these things……

I have a growing concern that younger evangelicals do not take seriously the Bible’s call to personal holiness. We are too at peace with worldliness in our homes, too at ease with sin in our lives, too content with spiritual immaturity in our churches.

God’s mission in the world is to save a people and sanctify his people. Christ died “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor. 5:15) We were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Eph. 1:4) Christ “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27) Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14)

J.C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool from the nineteenth century, was right: “We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world…Jesus is a complete Savior. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, He does more–He breaks its power (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 12:10).” My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ saved us from, we will give little thought and make little effort concerning all that Christ saved us to.

The pursuit of holiness does not occupy the place in our hearts that it should. There are several reasons for the relative neglect of personal holiness.

1) It was too common in the past to equate holiness with abstaining from a few taboo practices like drinking, smoking, and dancing. In a previous generation, godliness meant you didn’t do these things. Younger generations have little patience for these sorts of rules. They either don’t agree with the rules, or they figure they’ve got those bases covered so there’s not much else to worry about.

2) Related to the first reason is the fear that a passion for holiness makes you some kind of weird holdover from a bygone era. As soon as you talk about swearing or movies or music or modesty or sexual purity or self-control or just plain godliness, people get nervous that others will call them legalistic, or worse, a fundamentalist.

3) We live in a culture of cool, and to be cool means you differentiate yourself from others. That has often meant pushing the boundaries with language, with entertainment, with alcohol, and with fashion. Of course, holiness is much more than these things, but in an effort to be hip, many Christians have figured holiness has nothing to do with these things. They’ve willingly embraced Christian freedom, but they’ve not earnestly pursued Christian virtue.

4) Among more liberal Christians, a radical pursuit of holiness is often suspect because any talk of right and wrong behaviors feels judgmental and intolerant. If we are to be “without spot or blemish,” it necessitates we distinguish between what sort of attitudes, actions, and habits are pure and what sort are impure. This sort of sorting gets you in trouble with the pluralism police.

5) Among conservative Christians, there is sometimes the mistaken notion that if we are truly gospel-centered, we won’t talk about rules or imperatives or exhort Christians to moral exertion. To be sure, there is a rash of moralistic teaching out there, but sometimes we go to the other extreme and act as if the Bible shouldn’t advise our morals at all. We are so eager not to confuse indicatives and imperatives that if we’re not careful, we’ll drop the imperatives altogether. We’ve been afraid of words like diligence, effort, and obedience. We’ve downplayed verses that call us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12) or command us to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1) or warn against even a hint of immorality among the saints (Eph. 5:3).

I find it telling that you can find plenty of young Christians today who are really excited about justice and serving in their communities. You can find Christians fired up about evangelism. You can find lots of Generation XYZ believers passionate about precise theology. Yes and amen to all that. But where are the Christians known for their zeal for holiness? Where is the corresponding passion for honoring Christ with Christlike obedience? We need more Christian leaders on our campuses, in our cities, in our seminaries who will say with Paul, “Look carefully then how you walk.” (Eph. 5:15)

When is the last time we took a verse like Ephesians 5:4 –“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”–when is the last time we took a verse like this and even began to try to apply this to our conversation, our joking, our movies, our YouTube clips, our TV and commercial intake? The fact of the matter is if you read through the New Testament epistles, you will find very few explicit commands that tell us to evangelize and very few explicit commands that tell us to take care of the poor in our communities, but there are dozens and dozens of verses in the New Testament that enjoin us, in one way or another, to be holy as God is holy (e.g., 1 Peter 1:13-16).

I do not wish to denigrate any of the other biblical emphases capturing the attention of younger evangelicals. But I believe God would have us be much more careful with our eyes, our ears, and our mouth. It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God. ……. Kevin DeYoung

Kevin is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, right across the street from Michigan State University. He has been the pastor there since 2004.

Holiness Unto The Lord


Bill and Christine Ekstrom said...

Wow! Very thought provoking blog. I especially liked the part about working out your salvation with fear and trembling... great reminder that nobody is "there" and makes me think twice about casually calling myself a Christian if I'm not spending enough time examining my thoughts, actions, words, and what I allow in. May the Lord help me as I seek to be more Holy... definitely an intimidating word in this day and age!

Amal said...

I can go on with the list and say: Well God I don't drink I don't smoke I don't go club dancing I don't swear I don't watch rated R movies...... But holiness is more than that. My prayer is God guard my thoughs and my tongue, examine my heart and my motives. Help me to do the right thing when no body is watching. Help me to love the unlovely and forgive those who continue to hurt me. In Jesus' name.  

Anonymous said...

I am a new church person and to be honest I never even heard of “Holiness” till I read this.
Thank you New life for being a great church and I am working on trying to be better at doing and being what god wants.

Anonymous said...

What a challenge...Holiness...but what is life without a challenge. It's time to take my walk with God to the next level. My salvation has to be more than emotion it has to be real even if that makes me "not cool"!

Luke Evans said...

This is powerful stuff...he definitely knows what he is talking about and from working with this coming generation I know all too well that we are becoming a people who put personal holiness aside for thing that make us feel good. This has given me a new perspective on holiness and I believe is something I will address soon with my students!

Andrew said...

Wow! Growing up in church my entire life, I can recall how my grandpa would call the people to be Holy! I thought as a youngster... "that is going to rob me of all the fun that life has to offer... "What I was really saying is that being Holy would challenge me to give up my shallow, self centered "sinful" life for a life that mattered, for a life that had meaning and a life that could impact many.

I am thankful that we have this life we have and the ability with Christ to be holy.

Pastor Vinny said...

OUCH ... it never ceases to amaze me how my theology is shaped by the things I am better at ... I don't drink, I don't smoke and I don't kiss girls that do (my wife frowns on that) so that becomes my gauge of what is HOLY ... the problem is when I do that what I am really doing is taking the spotlight off of my own weaknesses ... which makes me feel a whole lot better!!!

I guess it is easy for us to forget what the first verse in the article reminds us of

“that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

In an effort to make living for myself LOOK like living for Christ I tend to make my view of HOLINESS line up to whatever my life is NOW ... see I really am a GOOD Christian ... but it should REALLY line up with who Christ is and what He EXPECTS! Great article!!!!

GP said...

I coudn't agree more with this article. My upbringing on some of the things mentioned does make me feel like a "weird holdover from a bygone era". And it feels so strange to say that. Also, the statement, "They've willingly embraced Christian freedom, but they've not earnestly pursued Christian virtue" stood out to me. We'll take the easy stuff like forgiveness, and enjoy worship because it makes us feel good. Anything that brings light to our faults and things we need to change or anything that takes effort to work at is something that a lot of people shy away from or avoid.
I think our answer about which bible study draws us is a good way to dig deeper inside and ask ourselves why we chose that particular one. And then determine if we need to address issues and change things in our own lives.
I also like to think that as Christians we are all "Under Construction" and never quite finished. The definition of Holiness contains a line that says "moral goodness, but not perfect". That's not an excuse to no try! We should always strive to become more than we are and grow as Christians.

Chris said...

Great article! This is so true, we often justify what we do based on lists like shared in this article, well I don't smoke, I don't drink so I am ok, when God wants and has so much more for us than ok. We often as C.S. Lewis talks about: settle for making mud pies in the slums, when God has a holiday by the sea. I want to seek holiness in my life, leaving behind preconceived ideas that come when hearing this "old fashioned word" and instead pushing on and striving for holiness in everything I do. I am challenged to be much more careful with my eyes, my ears, and my mouth and all that I do, to as the author quoted, to live out Ephesians 5:4 –“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”

Thanks so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Great article….but I couldn’t help but notice that in the article and the comments that individuals made, that a theme kept repeating….they had the obvious “Holiness” features covered….DRINKING, SMOKING, CLUBING and so on and that we needed to watch out for some of the not so obvious areas of holiness like our thoughts and words. While I agree with this, I think the church may need a refresher in the “Obvious” ones.

I interact daily with those who profess Christ as Savior and are good people but they have no problem with clubbing or drinking, it isn’t even a question that comes into their thinking they openly talk about it and post pictures of themselves on their facebook pages having a night at the club with drink in hand! I think this really falls at the feet of “Church Leadership” at large. We have become so eager to reach this younger generation that we’ve held back on anything that might be seen as judgmental or restrictive. In their efforts to be hip and on the cutting edge our national and denominational leaders have neglected or outright turned away from holiness principles and embraced this generation’s philosophy of “what’s right for you may not be what’s right for me” there is no absolute right or wrong. When the church world over looks and embraces the divorces of it’s national leaders and the gay affairs and drug use of so called leaders like Ted Haggard how can it speak to, or ask its member to hold to any form of holiness with any moral credibility. It has none.

Well, lest I run on and spiral into a depressive state let me say that God has always had a remnant, a group who hold the line, who don’t cave in to the pressures around them. We need to thank God for this remnant and seek to be worthy to be included in it. God will win the day, His church will triumph.

Mike Sorrentio said...

very challenging. reality check, where do i stand in relation to holiness?

Anonymous said...

I, too, have to agree with that last, lengthy, anonymous post.

Some of the things I see my Brothers and Sisters in Christ posting on their Facebook pages cause my heart to grieve for the fact that they are giving explicit endorsement to things that are very much contrary to the concept of HOLINESS.

Certain crude jokes. Certain crude videos. Certain secular music and/or groups, TV shows, movies, Hollywood, so many things.

A desire for true Holiness, in the Biblical sense, would lead them AWAY from such things. I cannot (and should not) judge them, so I will, quietly, pray for them, that the Holy Spirit will convict them, and draw them closer to Jesus. That is the best thing we can do when we see such things.

2 Cor 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,"

Let us truly desire to live like the words of that beautiful song by the Brooklyn Tab Choir, "Let my life, Oh Lord, praise You"