The Two Things We Need to Do Holiness Well
Suppose you had a family member you loved dearly but who was constantly disrespectful, destructive, and untrustworthy. Though you love this person, my guess is you would find it hard to enjoy their company. If they were unwilling to change, you’d have to set some healthy boundaries in the relationship. This would probably include the decision not to be around them on a daily basis.
This is what holiness—a subject many struggle to understand—is about. God is a Person who wants to be in intimate relationship with us, His children. But He is also completely holy. And while it may be difficult or unhealthy for us to be around bad behavior, it is actually impossible for someone to dwell in God’s presence without being holy. That’s why holy living is a big deal!
When we talk about the subject of holiness, it’s essential we understand it is not about control, guilt, or adherence to a man-made standard. It’s about relationship.
Hebrews 12:14 makes this clear when it urges us to “pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (NKJV). It couldn’t be stated more clearly: pursuing holiness is about seeing (or intimately knowing) God.
The word translated pursue in this verse means “to do something with intense effort and with definite purpose or goal.” Notice the two elements of pursuit: intense effort and a definite goal. Our goal is to be in God’s presence. We go after that goal by pursuing holiness through the empowerment of God’s grace.
Make no mistake: holiness has nothing to do with lifeless religious rules. So how can we pursue it without falling into legalism? The pursuit of true, healthy holiness requires us to be two things:
1. A student of God’s Word.
There are many things human reasoning or society would call acceptable that don’t fit God’s idea of a holy life. Likewise, some restrictions that sound spiritual are not found in the Bible and are merely imposed by culture or tradition. That’s why Scripture is our standard! We must immerse ourselves in it to understand God’s definition of a holy life.
2. Attentive to God’s Spirit.
God will never direct you to do anything contrary to His Word. But He knows you better than anyone else does. He knows the areas in which you are especially vulnerable to temptation, so He may give you specific directions about things He does or doesn’t want you to do.
Now, while we’re each responsible to pursue God for ourselves, we’re not designed to go it alone. Paul told the Corinthian church, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV). Is there someone in your life who obviously knows God’s Word and listens to His Spirit? Invite them to sit down with you for a conversation sometime this week. Ask about their relationship with God and how they have grown in understanding the Bible and recognizing God’s voice. Their insights were likely gained over many years, and they will be a source of wisdom and inspiration for you!
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