The Power of Inward Holiness

The Essence of Holiness
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He is incapable of contradicting himself because moral goodness is his very nature. Throughout Scripture, the holiness of God is a recurring theme. The Bible writers draw a sharp contrast between the Lord's character and that of humankind. God's sacredness was so high that writers of the Old Testament even avoided using the personal name of God, which God revealed to Moses from the burning bush on Mount Sinai.

Ancient Jews considered that name so holy they would not pronounce it aloud, substituting "Lord" instead. When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments , he expressly forbid using the name of God disrespectfully. An attack on God's name was an attack on God's holiness, a matter of grave contempt.

Ignoring God's holiness brought deadly consequences. Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu, acted contrary to God's commands in their priestly duties and he killed them with fire. Many years later, when King David was having the ark of the covenant moved on a cart—in violation of God's commands—it tipped when the oxen stumbled, and a man named Uzzah touched it to steady it. God immediately struck Uzzah dead. Ironically, the plan of salvation was based on the very thing that separated the Lord from mankind: the holiness of God. For hundreds of years, the Old Testament people of Israel were bound to a system of animal sacrifices to atone for their sins.

However, that solution was only temporary. As far back as Adam , God had promised the people a Messiah. A Savior was necessary for three reasons. First, God knew human beings could never meet his standards of perfect holiness by their own behavior or good works. Second, he required a spotless sacrifice to pay the debt for humanity's sins. And third, God would use Messiah to transfer holiness to sinful men and women. To satisfy his need for a faultless sacrifice, God himself had to become that Savior. Jesus, the Son of God , was incarnated as a human being , born of a woman but retaining his holiness because he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That virgin birth prevented the passing of Adam's sin on to the Christ child. When Jesus died on the cross , he became the fitting sacrifice, punished for all the sins of the human race, past, present, and future. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead to show that he accepted Christ's perfect offering. It is a gift. An understanding of holiness as the perfecting of love. Holiness is Christlikeness, and Christ is all love.

Are the foundations of such ideas to be found in Holy Scripture? I believe that they are and that our tradition rests on thoroughly biblical moorings. Never mind that some of the chosen texts have little if anything to do with what the Articles they are said to support. I used to use as a kind of object lesson, an old NIV Bible in which I had marked with a yellow highlighter every passage in the New Testament that had any reference to holiness or sanctification.

On virtually every page there was yellow highlighter. A biblical theology is no more the piling up of disconnected biblical texts than a pile of timber is a house. From this raw material must be fashioned a coherent system of Christian teaching. Defining Holiness Holiness has been defined by religious thinkers in a variety of ways.

As such it predates both Hebrew and Christian religion. Without such revelation we could find no way of approaching God but could only cringe in fear before a Reality that filled us with a dread untempered by hope or revelation. Two different possibilities for the origin of the Hebrew word qadesh bring these twin aspects of holiness into focus. John W. Harvey London: Oxford University Press, , , Stephen C. Nashville: Abingdon, , Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans, and ed.

Bible Questions

I decided to choose the text The Way of a Pilgrim. We need a supernatural transformation of our mind and spirit! Preteen - Teacher's Manual - Grades Summer Character and values are compromised when we focus on possessions, and not God. Hebrews Topic: Holiness Being holy means that you have been set apart for the Lord in this world; being filled with the Holy Ghost means that you are prepared to be set apart for the Lord in the next as well. This free gift, called grace , justifies or makes holy every Christ follower. The Joy Of Holiness Hebrews Topic: Holiness In our modern times becoming a child of God has lost much of its grandeur because the flesh has reduced being a Christian to becoming religious.

Geoffrey W. Bromiley Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, , I More recently Mary Douglas in her study of the dietary laws of Leviticus has seen holiness as the wholeness that comes from separation. Instead the focus has typically been on categories such as heart purity, moral excellence, and Christian perfection.

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Perhaps, however, we are ahead of ourselves. We have begun to speak of the holiness of believers, before first considering the holiness of God. The Holiness of God One of the weaknesses of the earlier Wesleyan-Holiness writers was their failure to take seriously enough the doctrine of the holiness of God.

This is now recognised as an important starting point in any consideration of the holiness of believers. Kevin W. London: John Mason, , This is the idea we have to get back into our current religious thinking. Justice had not been done to it. Holiness is such a central biblical motif that the Walter Eichrodt refers to the theology of the Old Testament as a theology of holiness.

This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven!

Inner Holiness and Outward Worship

When Moses encountered God in the burning bush he needed to remove his sandals for he was on holy ground Ex. The holiness of God forms the basis of worship as the Psalmist makes clear in Ps. Nothing can humble a pious mind so much as scriptural apprehensions of the majesty of God. It is easy to contemplate his goodness, loving kindness, and mercy; in all these we have an interest, and from them we expect the greater good.

But to consider his holiness, and justice, the infinite righteousness of his nature, under the conviction that we have sinned, and broken the laws prescribed by his sovereign Majesty, and feel ourselves brought as into the presence of his judgment seat: who can bear the thought? And how, without such a Mediator and Sacrifice as Jesus Christ is, can any human spirit come into the presence of its Judge?

Those who can approach Him without terror know little of his justice, and nothing of their sins. When we approach him in prayer, or in any ordinance, should we not feel more reverence than we generally do? See also P. Wesley is commenting on Revelation Baker Philadelphia: Westminster Press, , I If this were all we knew about God, our faith would be expressed very differently than it currently is. But Christians confess a God who is both holy and loving. The special genius of Christianity is that it holds in tension the transcendence and the immanence of God.

A thing is holy or sanctified if it is set apart for use by God and in the worship of God. The ground upon which Moses stood before the burning bush was holy Ex. Olive Wyon Philadelphia: Westminster Press, , The idea of personal goodness as an aspect of devotion is by no means absent. Several persons are said to have reflected the holy character of God by walking closely with Yahweh.

These include Noah, described as a man blameless among the people of his time Gen , and Abraham called to walk with God and be blameless Gen ; But the Hebrew word used does indicate a high degree of moral excellence. The love of and love for Yahweh is expressed through loyalty to his covenant.

The characteristic stamp of cosmic orderliness in Deuteronomy is expressed in the idea of love as that power which is exhibited in eternal and unalterable maintenance of the divine order. The shema of Deuteronomy lies at the heart of the Old Testament and continues to be recited in the Jewish synagogue. Covering all the Synoptics and John would lie beyond the scope of this lecture. Those interested are directed to the work of Kent Brower. David W. Kendall has noted how odd it should be that the holiness movement has paid little attention to the Gospels as an exegetical basis for the doctrine of entire sanctification.

Yet it is in the Gospels that the call to discipleship is most radically set forth and where the redefinition of holiness in new covenant terms is firmly established. It should not surprise us that with the arrival of Jesus the meaning of holiness should undergo a revolutionary change.

In the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, while there is direct continuity with Old Testament concepts of holiness there is also radical reinvention. For one thing the location of holiness is moved. Jesus offers us little detail on the process and the steps that would lead a people to be truly holy.

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It would seem odd indeed if there were no steps and helps toward holiness. Likewise, how strange if there were no common patterns of life experience observable among followers of Jesus to a holy life.

As legitimate and helpful as identifying these may be, however, still Jesus offers little explicit help for doing so. Contrast that with a common tendency in our [Wesleyan-Holiness] tradition to pin down the steps, as though getting it right in this sense and proclaiming it passionately somehow guarantees results. Mannoia and Don Thorsen, eds. Walters, Sr. A contrast is made by John the Baptist in Matthew , between baptism with water as an outward rite and an inward purifying baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.

And this was done even with the visible appearance as of fire, on the day of Pentecost. A more fruitful textual basis for our doctrine is found in the following three passages, which speak in turn of holiness as happiness, holiness as purity, and holiness as reflecting the character of God the Father B. Yet the equating of holiness with happiness is typical of Wesley whose moral philosophy may be described as Eudaimonian.

And accordingly here he pronounces eight blessings together [beginning] his Divine institution, which is the complete art of happiness, by laying down before all that have ears to hear, the true and only method of acquiring it.

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Locke, and the Cambridge Platonists before him, had asserted that happiness was the result of following that inner law of human nature implanted in all persons. To obey the inner law was to attain to happiness. For Wesley the inner law was replaced by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Perfect love casts out all fear and enables the believer to experience the joy of the Lord. A Christian is one who rejoices always, prays without ceasing, and gives thanks for all things. If we can help our present day hearers understand that to be invited to holiness is to be invited to the only genuinely lasting happiness, our message may be given a fresh reception. Holiness as Heart Purity Matt. From such it is impossible that God should hide himself.

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Teleios means mature, fully grown having reached an appointed end, or purpose telos , functioning according to an intended design. Leo Cox makes the helpful distinction in the following passage. Not even the cross precludes human happiness, for beyond death lies the hope of eternal life. Wesley, ed. The fact is that Wesley brought to the spiritually starved outcasts of England a fellowship of love and joy and hope.

Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew vol. Jesus said we are to be perfect as our Heavenly Father. God knows all things, and never errs in His judgment. He can do all things, and so never fails in accomplishment. Jesus was not meaning this kind of perfection.


He turns the other cheek, goes the second mile, is good to evil men as to the good ones. It is clear from the context of this verse that Jesus is talking about love, especially love for those who wrong us. In these aspects we are to be as perfect as our Father. Therefore sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself. Entire sanctification must be understood in dynamic, relational, and experiential, rather than static, legal, and forensic terms. Absolute perfection lies only in glorification, but a relative perfection is the goal toward which every grace-enabled heart must press.

In fact 41 Kenneth Geiger, ed. Wesley revised this work several times throughout his life, making many qualifications and changes, the final revision taking place in when he was 77 years of age. Reformed thinkers in particular have exhibited a typically Western concern for forensic and legal concepts in their doctrine of salvation. The Lutheran and Calvinist reformers alike operated on a dialectic of works-faith, nature-grace, and law-gospel. There is no such thing for Wesley as an imputed righteousness that is not also an imparted righteousness. Steve McCormick sees Wesley drawing on the Eastern concept of theosis as the organising principle of his ordo salutis.

Wall, it is more likely to be the case that the purification being spoken of here is the lifting of ceremonial purity laws and a relocation of purity and therefore of acceptance with God to the sphere of the heart. Paul, who figures so largely in the Acts narrative, developed a theology of holiness that was profoundly aware of the confusion that could arise over what kind of behaviours were still to be expected of Gentiles becoming part of a formerly Jewish ekklesia.

This new status demands and the Spirit enables a new way of living — the embodiment of a holy life.

Holiness in Paul 45 Robert W. Wall goes even further. From a canonical perspective, I would posit meaning in the interplay between the two.