Can a believer not want to be holy?

Holy do you feel about holiness? Holiness gets a bad reputation in our society; it’s stodgy, joyless, legalistic, funless drudgery. But there is so much we misunderstand about holiness. We’ve listened to the hissed whispers of the Devil that the world needs our compromise not our distinctiveness, that to be holy is to make the gospel unattractive, to compromise is to show people that we’re not that different.

But that is far from how God defines his people. In Deuteronomy Israel are consistently called “a people holy to the LORD your God.”  They’re set apart.  They are saved, redeemed, to be different, to be distinctive, to bear the family image.  It’s so important that it’s repeated again and again. This is who they are; distinctive, sanctified, different, called out, holy.  God’s people who show what God is like to the world.

That call echoes down the ages to all of God’s people.  It’s personified in Jesus who is holiness en-fleshed.  It’s heard in his call to his disciples to follow him, to live like him with an awareness of the depth of God’s love and so obeying him.  You can’t be a disciple of Jesus and find holiness distasteful, because to do so is to find Christ distasteful.  Jesus was holy, he died to make you holy in terms of our status, and so we cooperate with the Spirit to become increasingly holy in reality.

Perhaps we struggle with holiness because we think of it as burdensome legalism, perhaps that’s how you’ve seen it.  It’s certain how it’s often portrayed in the media.  What the devil whispers to us. But it isn’t that.  That’s a twisted stunted fake holiness.  True holiness is becoming increasing like our God who is loving and full of grace and truth.  It’s seen in Jesus who is full of grace and truth; who loves fiercely and compassionately but stands on God’s word without compromise as he invites people into the kingdom.

If we have no appetite for true holiness we need to ask ourselves why?   Is it that we are struggling to believe we’re loved and so are looking in the wrong places?  Or because, actually, we’re not really children of God, because holiness is the families defining characteristic, it’s what it means to be God’s child becoming more and more like Jesus?

But maybe you’re thinking I want to be holy, I want to follow Jesus, I try, I pray, but I keep on sinning.  Thomas Brooks uses an illustration of water. It’s not falling into the water, but lying in the water that drowns.  It’s not falling into sin, but lying in sin, that destroys the soul.  There is forgiveness for our sin in Jesus if we repent, but are we falling into sin, or happily lying in it?

How do you feel about holiness?


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