“1 Peter 2:22 ~ ‘He [Jesus Christ] committed no sin.’ Christ’s life is meant to be an example of holiness for us, and Christ committed no sin. The sinless, holy life of Jesus Christ is our example. So consider this statement: ‘I always do what pleases Him …’ (said by Jesus concerning His Father). Is that to be your personal goal in life?! A 19th Century Scottish theologian, John Brown, said: ‘Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations or enthusiastic fervors or uncommanded austerities … but in thinking as God thinks, willing as God wills.’ Nor does it mean adhering to a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ (mostly don’ts). Jesus Christ said: ‘I have come to do Your will, O God’ (Hebrews 10:7). This example we must follow. In all our thoughts and actions and in every part of our character, the ruling principle to motivate & guide us must be the desire to follow Jesus in doing the Father’s will.” (abbreviated from Jerry Bridges: The Pursuit of Holiness)
“Holy, holy, holy …” This famous chant about God reminds us of the power of repetition in the Bible. Triple holy … and actually doubled again, as the same sequence appears in both testaments (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). “Be holy, for I am holy.” “… the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Joshua 24:19 ~ “The Lord is a holy God!”
Holiness is the primary attribute of God, flavoring and balancing all the others. Holiness, then, is to be a very high priority for all humans, and there are drastic consequences if it is missing in and for you. I am sorry to observe, though, that holiness is what humans particularly lack: We are not holy. We are positively full of sin (from the inside out). We are totally depraved. We suffer under the condition called original sin. In this world and age, people by nature are not holy … not even close.
But wait, we are going too fast! Manna: “What Is It?” Holiness is a complex concept in the Bible. It means: set apart for special use (like Levitic pottery); pure (cleansed; no sin or stain); fully & wholly & strangely “other” (as different as is God from man); devoted or dedicated (think of “holy” matrimony, pointing to exclusive relationship); chosen and called (with the focus on the Chooser and the Caller). So holiness can carry all five of these indications at once. Moreover, due to God’s unmerited favor toward His people, He counts us as already holy in Jesus Christ … even as He charges us to continually strive to be like Christ, in the power of Christ, for the glory of Christ!
So keep in mind that five-fold description, and also keep clear in your thinking that God is all this and has all this, while man by nature does not. But one way to describe the gospel of our salvation is through the Trinity: God the Father is holy; He sets the holy standard & He demands perfect holiness if anyone wants to enjoy fellowship with Him. God the Son offered up Himself, became a real man, and then lived the perfectly holy human life, yet still at the end paid the penalty for the unholy lives of all God’s people. God the Spirit moves into those saved people, to work in and to work out, over time, His holiness on the inside which God already credits via Christ on the judicial record.
So let us put away, and warn against, all aberrations about holiness in the worldly philosophies which are so tempting: * The temptation to define holiness down such that, amazingly, I find myself meeting the standards which I set for myself, all by myself, to the high praise of myself! * The temptation to invent “good works” or new law codes which I must add to the not-quite-good-enough holiness of Jesus Christ offered up on my behalf. * The temptation to emphasize what some call the Pure Grace, love, & mercy of God, such that we forget or ignore His eternal holiness and His justified anger against all sin, and thus we tolerate in ourselves the sins which so offend God, poison ourselves, corrupt our witness, and ultimately deny the holy purpose of the gracious cross. Let us cooperate, co-labor, and work with (and not against) God in what He has promised to complete in His own: “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Let us praise God (our holy Triune God) for this eternal, holy plan which He is working out in His perfect time.