“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:3,4).
It doesn’t say, “…that we should be happy and self-fulfilled.” God wants a people like Himself. Truly, those who surrender to the lifelong process of sanctification and become holy and blameless are also happy and self-fulfilled, but it comes as a byproduct, not a goal.
The one word that best describes God is “holy.” The angel, pierced by divine revelation, do not cry out “love, love, love,” but “holy, holy, holy.” The Spirit within is the Holy Spirit. When Hannah’s request was answered for a son, she prayed, “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you” (I Samuel 2:2). Unholy demons knew they were in the presence of holiness when confronted by Jesus. They would cry out, “We know who you are, the holy one of God” (Mark 1:24).
We’ve been marked for holiness, for moral perfection. It was not an afterthought; it preceded creation. Think of it—God saw you holy before He called the world into being.
The work of the cross reaches beyond getting us into the family. It purposes to make us like God. We bear His image. We of all His creation are most like Him. The cross takes us past forgiveness to transformation, a total makeover.
Holiness is the way of God. It is also the will of God. Paul writes, “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” People often struggle with finding the will of God for their lives. I can tell you in one word—holiness. We read, “I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).
And because the Lord is holy, everything about Him is holy—His name, His words (Jeremiah 23:9), His law (Romans 7:12). The holiness of God comes under fire more than any divine attribute. People don’t complain about His love, but they chafe under the standards of a holy God. We might prefer that He were a bit more flexible, but holiness has no give to it. His love embraces, but His holiness separates.
The Pharisees had the sick look of self-contrived holiness. In fact, they were walking dead men. Holiness must hit the heart where I live and think and feel and will. Holiness has everything to do with Christ-like character, nothing to do with pious talk or action. To give it my best shot and think I am remotely close totally misses the point.
Holiness is both an event and a process, a position and a practice. It takes us from the indicative to the imperative, what God declares to what God desires. It moves from being to doing. It’s the heart of humanity that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” so that’s where we must start. And no one operates on the heart but Dr. Jesus.
Holiness is not only the way of God and the will of God; it is the work of God. It is not something I am capable of. It comes not by grit but by Holy Spirit. I can will it but I can’t work it. God who is holy can. Let Him have His way today, through the indwelling Holy Spirit!