By Mike Ratliff
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. (Isaiah 35:8-9 ESV)
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 ESV)
God is holy and immutable. There is not now nor has there ever been nor will there ever be any darkness in Him. He is eternally holy. In James 1:17 we read that with God, there is no variation or shadow due to change. The Puritans referred to God as the “Thrice Holy God!” Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:14-19 that the redeemed of the Lord are commanded to be holy as He is holy then he tells us why and how we are to do so.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the in time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:14-19 ESV)
Christians who are walking according to the flesh, which is being conformed to their former ignorance, are not walking according to the spirit. What is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23) When believers walk according to the flesh they are seeking fulfillment from the world. This is sin. Therefore, to be holy is to walk in accordance to our sanctification. Sanctification is the act of God removing His flock from sin. God is intimately involved in our sanctification, but our role in it is not passive.
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18 ESV)
All in Christ are begotten of God. This is speaking in part of our regeneration where the word of truth is written on our hearts as His grace, in accordance with our faith, quickened us from spiritual death unto eternal life. Therefore, we are to “lay aside every weight and sin as we run the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We are commanded to cleanse out the old leaven from our hearts. Why? For Christ our Lord, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.
Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7 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 Corinthians 7:1 ESV)
Much of the teaching in “churches” these days never speak of these things. The emphasis is on the “Social Gospel” or the “Feel Good and Be Positive Gospel” or the “Be Healthy and Wealthy and Prosperous Gospel.” I believe that God is drawing His sheep in these last days because time is short. The end of this age is swiftly approaching. We are being prepared. We must understand what it means that Christ is our Passover sacrifice. Because we believe on Jesus Christ, His righteousness has been imputed to us and we also received justification. God the Father has declared us righteous; therefore, we have entered a relationship with Him as though we have never sinned.
The expectation of God is that those whom He has saved commit themselves to maintaining that relationship by living a holy life, not under our own power, which would be self-righteousness, but through the word of God and the Holy Spirit teaching and convicting through that word. This is why it is vital that believers become spirit-filled by saturating their lives with the Word of God and being obedient to it.
In the last phrase in 2 Corinthians 7:1 above, we read that our maintaining of our relationship with God by “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” I wrote a series not long ago on how vital it is for Christians to walk in the fear of God. I was inundated with hundreds of complaints that we are called to love God, not fear Him. It is Biblical that our fear of God is a necessary component in running the race set before us by God. One look at the utter nonsense that passes for “church” these days should tell us that this fear of God is largely unknown. This is why we have “cussing” pastors and others who use secular movies in place of sermons or who attempt to entice the world to come into their churches by using worldly music and sermons that never touch any aspect of the genuine Gospel. There is no fear of God in those who do these things.
We are calling for our Christian leaders to repent of these things and become conformed unto the real Gospel, not the various facsimiles of it. We are in desperate need of hearing the real Gospel because it is through reading the word in its proper context and the Holy Spirit’s revealing that word by which we are conformed to Christ’s character, which is our sanctification, for He is holy. The very work of the Holy Spirit after our salvation is to conform us to the image or character of the Lamb of God, which is holiness.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29 ESV)
Much of the “debate” between those of us who have been called “ODM” or “Orthodox” and the emergent crowd is centered on the veracity of one’s salvation. We need to understand that the only standards that we can use here is the Bible. What does the Bible tell us that separates the genuine believer from the disingenuous one? To know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour is good, but that is not enough because the demons believe that. No, the Biblical mark of genuineness as a Christian is commitment to God to live a holy life. This means that the genuine believer has a commitment to grow in the knowledge of Him and be conformed unto His image and likeness by and through the work of the Holy Spirit within.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)
All genuine Christians have believed on Christ because they realized He was the holy Lamb who was the sacrifice for them as born sinners and the sins they commit. However, they also must continue their Christian walk according to that knowledge of His holiness. As they have received Christ Jesus the Lord, they do walk in Him. This is so much more than mumbling a few words about receiving Him into one’s heart! Genuine salvation is the product of commitment to be holy and a commitment to Him who is holy! This is also a commitment to treat God’s Word as holy and to dwell in it. This commitment is wrapped in the fear of God because we know that God totally expects us to walk as Jesus walked because we accepted His offer of salvation and His Spirit now indwells us. Salvation is not a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” that is given to those who simply do some religious act then live for self from that point on.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:8-12 ESV)
God delivered and saved us and called us with a holy calling which leads to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness. God did not do this because of anything we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and Grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)
What was the purpose of God towards those who believe? It is that they be holy and blameless before Him. Therefore, let us seek to remove the leaven from our ‘house’ because the Lamb of God, our Passover Lamb, is with us. We are commanded to be holy, which means that we are to live lives of commitment to be separate from the world and its ways, to not be conformed to it. If you are a genuine Christian then the Holy Spirit is working in you to cleanse you of your enslavement to your flesh. Your part is to draw near unto God that He may draw near unto you.