Holiness and Righteousness; December 27, 2020

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

I would venture to say that this verse is preached on very little in most churches today. We sing of “Silent night, holy night,” but have no thought of our own holiness. I’m reminded of a line from one of Don Francisco’s songs: “Holiness. It’s the Lord’s command, not the Lord’s request.” We tend to want a religion that is all blessings and no demands, but life doesn’t work that way. Even Peter quoted Leviticus and wrote, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16) At first glance this might seem to be an impossible command, because we are not inclined to be holy, but that impression stems from a misunderstanding of what holiness is. In the Old Testament it is consistently a matter of being dedicated to God. We confuse it with righteousness, which is doing the right thing, and we know we don’t always do the right thing. However, as Paul explains extensively in Romans, (from 3:21 on through chapter 4) from Abraham on, God has accepted faith as righteousness. In other words, if we cling to Christ in faith, our wrong actions are covered over, and we are made to be the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) So how is that different from holiness? Holiness is a matter of commitment. We can believe all the facts about Jesus, but until we commit ourselves to follow Him as Lord, we aren’t holy. Frankly, the world isn’t holy. As Scott Ott commented, even when he worked as an installer for a cable TV company he had his own cable access severely limited, because “Why would I bring a sewer into my home in hopes that a diamond would occasionally come through?” There is good stuff out there, but we aren’t to be passively accepting of the flood of filth. Right now the contrast between holy and unholy, righteous and unrighteous, is becoming starker and starker. To be holy, we need to commit our hearts and our lives to the Lord in all honesty, not compromising with the world because “everybody’s doing it.” (Romans 12:2)

This certainly isn’t something new to me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it laid out this clearly before. This is something I need to make clear to all the believers, from the young woman who will be baptized this morning all the way through the church elders. Before and beyond that, I need to walk in it fully myself! I too am tempted to compromise, with considerable frequency. I need to speak the truth in love and walk that truth out, not deceiving myself into thinking that because I’m teaching it, I’m doing it. (James 1:22) This has been an unusual year, but it has certainly not been without blessings. I need to keep my commitment fresh, in genuine holiness and righteousness, so that I will be fully available to my Lord for however He wants to use me, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this Word. Help me live it out indeed, today and throughout the new year, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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