In I Chronicles 16:29, II Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 29:2, and 96:9, we find the phrase “the beauty of holiness.” There is a beauty to holiness to which all people are drawn. There is a repulsion in counterfeit holiness by which all people are repelled. To distinguish between true and false holiness is critical to the victorious Christian life. It is the difference between being on the path of life and being on the road to increasing death and separation from God. We must distinguish between these two paths.
True holiness is one of the most compelling and contagious characteristics a person can have. Yet, most Christians think holiness is a form of legalism, harsh judgment, or readiness to smite for the least wrongdoing. This has been one of the most effective lies of the devil to destroy God’s people and to sow death and destruction rather than the life and healing we are called to carry through Christianity.
As instructed in Hebrews 12:14, we are to: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification (holiness) without which no one will see the Lord.” This makes sanctification as important as it can be. One of the most important tests to determine the level and quality of our faith is: Are we growing in sanctification? To grow in sanctification means to dispel the lies which have bound us and to know the truth that sets us free.
There is an understandable repulsion to the counterfeit holiness, which is legalism. The self-righteousness of the Pharisees was Jesus’ worst enemy when He walked the earth and continues to be the worst enemy of all who walk the path of life. On the contrary, true holiness is one of the most beautiful, compelling, and attractive characteristics a human being can have, because it is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
To know the “Holy” Spirit, we must first get to know His first name. “Holy” is His first name because it describes His basic nature. We cannot love the Holy Spirit and be a proper host for Him without loving holiness. To love and to walk in holiness is to walk in the greatest freedom and fullness we can know on this earth.
False holiness makes the bride want to be perfect for her Bridegroom out of fear. If He sees any imperfection in her, He will strike and reject her. True holiness makes the bride want to be perfect for the Bridegroom because she is so in love with Him and earnestly desires to be perfect and please Him in every possible way. Love characterizes true holiness. Fear characterizes false holiness.
True holiness is what Adam walked in before the fall. When we see true holiness demonstrated, it calls to something deep within us to walk in the way we were made—like wearing tailor-made garments so comfortable and attractive everyone wants garments just like them.
True holiness does not add pressure to our lives, but life and power. As we are told in Romans 14:17, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” True righteousness is in the Lord. It is the highest state of existence we can have. In His kingdom and domain, there is peace and joy far beyond anything we can experience.
This peace and joy in God’s righteousness both gives life and attracts others to it. Jesus is the holiest man who ever walked the earth, yet sinners were attracted to Him. He was also attracted to them because He loved them. He never condemned sinners but touched them so they wanted to rid themselves of any sin that was not in harmony with Him.
True holiness is true love and liberty. False holiness is fear which builds prisons and seeks to put all men in them. These are the two most opposing forces on earth. Thankfully, love is stronger than death and will always prevail.
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