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• Rachel Berlin

Posted in Attributes of God, Sanctification

By Rachel Berlin

I feel like I am the last person who should be writing about holiness. Or maybe, in God's economy of first and last, this is exactly what I should write about. But when Daniel Baker first suggested this topic, I have to admit a little trill of fear rushed through me while standing in church that Sunday morning. Growing up, I had always expected that by the time I was this age it would be much easier to be holy. This past year has simply proven that, in my own power, I am entirely inadequate in any form of personal holiness. Any goodness, purity, or holiness in me is only directly proportional to the grace I have been given and look for each day in a growing love of Jesus Christ.

My journey of understanding holiness began last summer when I started reading The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. I highly recommend this book as both convicting and very freeing. DeYoung strikes a great balance of down-to-earth holiness without pulling any punches or making excuses.

But, before I share more on what God taught me through the book, let's look together at a few verses that pertain to the Christian's call to holiness:

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 as sons 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
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.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

Sound familiar? I know we have all heard these verses repeated many times in exhortation, but it wasn't until last summer, when I was reading Kevin DeYoung's book, that I finally understood that pursuing holiness was not simply avoiding sin, but pursuing communion with Christ.

And it wasn't until reading the book that I realized the laws and commandments throughout the Bible were not given to condemn, guilt-trip, or bring worldly sorrow, but to give us a firm foundation of conviction, grace, and love.

“Their delight in the Law, is a delight in having touched firmness; like the pedestrian’s delight in feeling the hard road beneath his feet after a false short cut has long entangled him in muddy fields.” - C. S. Lewis

Muddied footprints, indeed. As DeYoung succinctly puts it, "Mere rule keeping is not the answer because holiness cannot be reduced to a little ethical refurbishment." It is, rather, by drawing close to Christ and his likeness that we can become clothed in a sanctification that is empowered by love. After all, Paul writes that we are to "owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:3). And Jesus, when faced with Pharisees, answered that the greatest commandment was, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39).

And no one shows love greater than Christ. Indeed, he is the perfect picture of love, and therefore holiness.

"We see all the virtues of holiness perfectly aligned in Christ. He was always gentle, but never soft. He was bold, but never brash. He was pure, but never prudish. He was full of mercy but not at the expense of justice. He was full of truth but not at the expense of grace. In everything he was submissive to his Heavenly Father, and he gave everything for his sheep. He obeyed his parents, kept the law of God, and forgave his enemies. He never lusted, never coveted, and never lied. In all that Jesus Christ did, during his whole life and especially as his life came to an end, he loved God with his whole being and loved his neighbor as himself." - Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness

So as we love each other, let us not forget that this is a holy love that transforms us into his likeness, perfectly holy and pleasing.

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

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