I recently came across a book trailer for Kevin DeYoung’s The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness and, since then, I cannot get the idea of the pursuit of holiness out of my head. A few things he talks about include: Christians shying away from holiness due to fear of legalism, de-emphasizing the gospel, and “reveling” in the fact that we all fall short. I found myself thinking about aspects of this that I have never considered before. Although I have not read his book, I plan to (after I knock down my to-read list a bit). His words and the Holy Spirit sent me to the scriptures to find the places where holiness is mentioned. Here are some that stood out to me (all emphasis is mine):
… but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:10-14, ESV)
For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.
(Leviticus 11:44, ESV)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
(2 Peter 1:3-9, ESV)
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:11-18, ESV)
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
(2 Cor 7:1)
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!–assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Wow! Honestly, I wanted to emphasize every word of all of these! I want to see the Lord, so I will strive for holiness. I want to remain in Him, so I will guard and pursue my relationship with Him. If I fear God and believe that He is who He says He is, I will obey His commands, and He commands us to be holy because He is holy. He has called me to Him, given me “precious and very great promises” that allow me to “partake of the divine nature.” He gives me an escape from the world; from the corruption that kills us. He gives us the Holy Spirit that leads and convicts us and teaches us how to live and love the way Jesus did. I do not want to forget that I have been saved and cleansed and adopted. I want to pursue holiness and godliness. Throughout the scriptures, we see encouragement and exhortation to not forget whom we belong to and to desire and nurture the fruits of the Spirit. To put to death our old ways and be renewed in our minds. We have been given everything. First, in salvation through Jesus and then with an ever-present helper who is with us every second to guide us to be holy, and more Christ-like.
All these became so fresh to me as I read them. Being reminded that our call is to be Christ-like in every way and to remember that it calls for us to be different is good. When did I forget that I might not be able to continue to hold the same ideas as the world or that I should be careful what I take delight in or how I amuse myself? I definitely live in a great awareness of grace. I acknowledge the grace that sustains me every single day no matter what. I breath it every second, every thought, every blown temper. I do not want to let myself distort that grace or let my mind mistake freedom for disobedience. To be given so much… eternal and abundant life with all the means and tools necessary to live it. Be encouraged that God loves us more than we can understand. He has given us life by drawing us to Himself and then enlightening us to find the narrow path. We can show that great love and His glory through being set apart. It is hard to be noticed if you aren’t striving to be different from the world. By being set apart- a city on a hill-, we have the supernatural power to touch hearts and create and nurture relationships.