Holiness Today September/October 2017

Holiness Today

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H oliness: Does it matter? To phrase the question this way evokes a predetermined answer. We may refer to holiness as "it," but must make a disclaimer. If holiness were a "thing," then the answer is, "No, holiness doesn't really matter." Holiness could be a code of ethics we futilely strive to embrace; an incomplete formula we employ to help us make choices. Holiness could be an ethical lifestyle we produce through gradual reform, following instructions, or by imitating examples. If we think of holiness in such ways, we invite frustration and failure to fill our spiritual journeys. On the other hand, understanding holiness as a relationship with God in Jesus Christ leads us to affirm that holiness matters in every aspect of life. Holiness matters because life consists of attitudes and relationships—toward God, people, and material things. Holiness corrects our attitudes and our relation- ships with others. Imagine the positive changes that would occur in our personal affairs, international relations, and attitudes toward all people if we pursued holy lives. Using Jesus' words, John Wesley observed that Christian holiness is "loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as our self "—including our enemies. "Holiness" describes God's essential nature. To be holy is to be like God. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of holiness (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; John 6:69). We are to model the holiness demonstrated in the life, death, and resur- rection of Christ. In short, holiness is Christ-likeness. Holiness matters because the holy God commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15). God intended for His holiness, which is a projection of His character, to be shared with His creatures. God issues this command. So being holy and living a holy life is not optional for Christ's followers. Holiness is the heart and core of the Christian life. Holiness matters because Christ prayed that we might be holy (John 17:17, 20). Jesus not only prayed for our holiness, but went to the Cross to make it real in our lives (Hebrews 13:12). The doctrine of holiness is in harmony with the purpose of Christ's atonement. He came to restore humankind's original relationship with God. He came to "seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10). He was manifested that He might "destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8), and purify the heart (John 17:17). By his life, death, and resurrection Christ has won for us the victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:57). Holiness matters because holiness of heart and life is necessary for the growth of the Church, and the evan- gelization of our world. The Church's health is measured "'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty" (Zechariah 4:6). Holiness is the only answer to the world's needs—from the nightmare of war to the shattering collapse of social structures. We will not find solutions in legislation, military might, culture, or education. Our national, social, and international problems are spiritual in nature and require a spiritual solution. Holiness matters because individ- uals and society need Christian holi- ness. Paul admonished "Make ever y effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy. . ." (Hebrews 12:14). We long to be holy. Jesus Christ is our "moment by moment" salvation. The Apostle James wrote: "…that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything " (James 1:4). Holiness matters because holiness is necessary to get to heaven—to see God. "Blessed are the pure [the holy] in heart: for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8; see also Hebre ws 12:14). " This is how love is made complete among us… " that is what Christian holiness is, "that we will have confidence on the day of judgment." (1 John 4:17). 'Be imitators of God...and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us' (Ephesians 5:1-2). Such a life is not possible in human strength. It becomes reality by the purifying, indwelling, enabling Spirit of Christ, as we totally submit our wills to His. "The one who calls you is faith- ful, and he will do it [make you holy]" (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Reprinted from July/August 2004, Holiness Today John A. Knight (1931-2009) was a general su- perintendent in the Church of the Nazarene and a former editor of the Herald of Holiness. Holiness matters in every aspect of life. BY J O H N A . K N I G H T • General Superintendent Emeritus Holiness— Does it Matter? C L A S S I C C O M P A S S

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