The Worship Workshop

 

Articles to read and be blessed.

Righteousness & Holiness - by Colin Owen

Righteousness & Holiness are two of the most misunderstood doctrines of the church today. They are always associated with a sense of striving. It's as though they are something we have to attain at all costs. Well, it's certainly true that we are to be both righteous and holy, for, "Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord." It's also a command, "Be holy for I am holy".

The problem is, as always, that we don't really understand what they are. This is especially true of holiness. I have proved this time and again. I stand on a platform and ask people to raise their hands if they're holy. Very few, if any, will respond to this. And those who do, tend to be very sheepish about it, illustrated by the slow raising of the hand to just about shoulder height. I challenge them again with the scripture, "without holiness no-one will see the Lord." and still there is precious little response. Why? Are we saved? Are we going to heaven? We answer a resolute yes to these last two, but stumble every time over our personal holiness. Again I ask you, why?

It has become doctrine, that holiness is something we must strive to attain. We probably all have a picture of someone we see as being holy. For some it will be the Pope, others a clergy man of some order, still others their Pastor, or elders. In every case we will judge by our perception of their achievements. In other words, we will look at how they are and see if that measures up to our understanding of holy. Many of these folk we picture will have a demeanour that we interpret as holiness. It will always be a quiet demeanour, softly spoken, a gentle manor. It will never be anyone who is loud, boisterous, gushing etc. We will imagine a person like Robert Powell's portrayal of Jesus, someone with a somber face, no joy in them. Someone who looks like they're carrying the burdens of the world on their shoulders. All of this is just as false as Mr. Powell's portrayal. Jesus was known for His joy. He also leapt for joy as He praised God (Luke 10: 21) He shouted quite a bit too, and threw the money changers out of the temple with a whip! Not our picture of holiness at all, so was Jesus not holy? Did he lose His holiness when He got angry and shouted, and have to work for it again? Of course not.

The problem is, we have a false perception of holiness, handed down to us by generations of religious people who have fallen for the lie of asceticism. The harsh treatment of the flesh to subdue it (even though the flesh is dead!). The hiding from the world so as not to be contaminated by it (even though Jesus commanded "go into all the world"). This is the root our perception of holiness today. True, we don't now shut ourselves away in monasteries, wearing sack cloth tied with some string, and walk round in sandals, but we still see holiness as something hard, no pain no gain! I tell you it's a lie from the pit, and has done serious harm to the people of God.

So, what does the Bible say about holiness? What truth can we learn from it? Let's look.....

Holiness:

In the English dictionary...

Morally and spiritually excellent and to be revered (sounds like our ideal picture person!)

Belonging to or devoted to God. Consecrated, sacred.

In Hebrew...

Qadoswh: Sacred, selected i.e. "a holy nation", set apart by God.

Qadash: To be, or make, or pronounce clean.

Qodesh: A holy thing, i.e. the Ark.

Qadesh: A consecrated or devoted one (male), either to God, i.e. a priest, or to the devil, i.e. a male temple prostitute.

Qedeshah: The female form of above, i.e. a temple prostitute.

In Greek...

Hagiasmos: Separation to God, the God given state of the believer.

Hagiosune: The manifestation of holiness in personal conduct.

Hagios: Separated from sin, therefore consecrated to God.

Hosios: Religiously right, as opposed to what is unrighteous or polluted, pure from evil conduct, and observant of God's will.

Hagiazo: To be made holy.


What can we learn from this? Well, the first item on each list gives us the truth. They are the most used words for holiness, and both of them state quite clearly, that holiness is God given. The nation of Israel was "set apart" by God to be a holy nation. True they struggled with it, but non the less they are still God's holy people, warts and all. The Greek spells it out for us. Holiness is a God given state. In other words, that's how He sees us. He chooses to look on us as holy because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. You can't earn a gift, you can't strive for it, you can't achieve it for yourself, because you already have it. You are already holy, you have it now, so why strive for something you already possess?

(Hebrews 10:10, NIV+).

10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


Did Jesus die? Did He accomplish our salvation on the cross? Of course He did. IT IS FINISHED!

(1 Corinthians 1:30, NIV+).

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.


Dear saint, when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. We are IN Him, IN Christ Jesus. He is our wisdom, righteousness, and holiness, just as much as He is our redemption. There's nothing to strive for, nothing to achieve, Jesus has done it all for you Hallelujah!

But I Sin!

We all sin. God knows this and has allowed us to confess our sin and gain forgiveness. Our failings don't exclude us from being in Him. If they did, we would be just as lost as we were before He saved us. God forgives us as we confess, He knows just how imperfect we are, that's why He sent someone who was perfect to take the wrap for us! We are IN Christ Jesus, and He's not about to let us go. "Never will I leave you or forsake you".

Righteousness is simply doing what is right in God's sight, and if you miss it once in a while, He gives you a swift clip round the ear, and shows you where you went wrong. Having learned the lesson you move on with Him. It's called life, walking with God, being changed from one degree of glory to another.

So, my friends, are you born again? Have you given your life to Christ (fully)? If so, you are holy. Now, walk in righteousness, and stop listening to the devil's lies and trying to achieve for yourself what God has already given you.

Amen.


Some Extra Thoughts:

The Bible calls us a peculiar people, which could translate as different. We are different, or as the world would say it, strange, because God has made us that way. When someone refuses to enter into worldly sin, the world looks on them as strange. To be holy is to be different from, separate from, not part of the world. Aliens that do not belong here.

God made you holy when He took your sin away from you, when He separated you from it. God is holy because He is totally separated from all sin.

In His service,

Colin.