The holiness journey starts with God, not ourselves. So this chapter establishes our roots – realizing that His holiness and righteousness is credited to us. This allows us to be firmly grounded in security in Christ.
Through the Lens of Jesus’ Holiness
As we grow in relationship with Jesus, if we truly have the Holy Spirit living in us, we experience His perfection and His hatred of sin. It’s easy for us to relate to Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!” And with Paul in Romans 7:15, “For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered], I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns].”
Jerry points out that Jesus’ holiness was more than the absence of sin, but it was also the perfect conformity to God’s will. He goes on to iterate that that Jesus’ absence of sin and conformity to God’s will not only included His actions, but also His attitudes and motives.
“It is possible for us to do the right action from a wrong motive, but this does not please God. Holiness has to do with more than mere acts. Our motives must be holy, that is, arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God.”
So the more we grow in holiness, as God works in our hearts, the more we come to see ourselves (our actions, motives and attitudes) through His lens of holiness. Our own sin nature becomes repulsive to us.
When I make an unholy choice, I feel God’s grief over it. Even before I make the choice, as it’s tempting me, I feel the urging to turn away from it, and in my own will, want to do what’s right. It’s much easier, at least for me, to identify and repent from sins of outward action.
For many of my younger years, I thought I was a model Christian and didn’t have much room for improvement. Why? Because I was a “goody-goody,” where I knew I wasn’t breaking the ten commandments, I didn’t do the typical “bad” things like drink, smoke, do drugs, go to parties, rebel against my parents, or even swear.
But it wasn’t until my late twenties that I began growing deeper with God and realized that even my “goody-goody” attitude was wrong: pride. God revealed attitudes and motives that had roots of pride that I hadn’t noticed before. I came face to face with how sinful and broken and in need of God’s righteousness and redemption I was.
Over the years, these “intangible” sins of the heart that no one sees have been my greatest struggles. Those pride roots are firm and deep.
Even recently, God has been revealing motives of pride in blogging and social media. So I’m working on seeking His guidance, adjusting things, and repenting. (They’re even things that seem innocent that a non-believer wouldn’t give a second thought. But His refining fire brings out all impurities!)
So as we see our own “filth” through God’s eyes and feel His grief, the more we may need the reassurance of Jesus’ righteousness on our behalf.
Jerry makes a great point that not only does the Holy Spirit make us more aware of our lack of holiness in order to spur us on into deeper desire for holiness, but Satan will attempt to use our awareness to discourage us. So we need to be on the alert for those attacks of the enemy. (You know, those thoughts, “A true Christian wouldn’t _________.”) They can drive us to doubts and insecurities.
We must continue running to Jesus, the Rock of our salvation, to confirm that we are saved by His righteousness alone. “It is at this point that Christ’s holy life lived on your behalf becomes so important to you.”
The next main point is that Jesus’ life is meant to be an example of holiness for us, so that we have a model to follow in His steps. (You can look up 1 Peter 2:21, Ephesians 5:1, and 1 Corinthians 11:1.)
Jesus said that He always does what pleases God. To which Jerry poses some poignant questions: “Do we dare take that as our personal goal in life? Are we truly willing to scrutinize all our activities, all our goals and plans, and all of our impulsive actions in the light of this statement: ‘I am doing this to please God’? If we ask that question honestly, we will begin to squirm a bit. We know we do some things, good things in themselves, to gain admiration for ourselves rather than glory for God. We do other things strictly for our own pleasure, without any regard for the glory of God.”
This is exactly where my struggles have been found. Even in the neutral, innocent or good things…are they for our pleasure or in glory for God?
Our driving force in life needs to be that we follow Christ in our actions, attitudes and motives…in everything we do, say, and think…in doing the will of the Father God.
For Further Study
Look up the following verses and write a statement of what the holiness of Christ means to you in your personal pursuit of holiness:
- Isaiah 6:5-7
- Ephesians 5:1-2
- 1 Timothy 1:15
- 1 Peter 2:21
The following verses show us about the holiness of Jesus Christ:
- Isaiah 53:11
- John 8:29
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Hebrews 1:9 & 4:15
- 1 Peter 2:22
- 1 John 3:5
Next week, we’ll be in chapters 5 & 6, looking at the battle for holiness.