Thoughts on Holiness and the Heart

In his book "Christ formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change", Brian Hedges says this regarding holiness: "As believers we want to be holy, but sometimes we pursue holiness as if it were for grace – a condition for being welcomed by God, rather than from grace – an overflow of our love for the father who freely welcomes us through Christ and his cross. This is not only a misunderstanding, but a hindrance to our growth in Christ. To trust in our holiness as the ground of our acceptance with God is legalism."

A. W. Tozer said "God's holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely better. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God's power and admire his wisdom, but his holiness he cannot even imagine."

John Owen said "Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the Gospel in our souls."

No one wants to lead a legalistic life. And we ought to live in fear of displeasing Almighty God and incurring his discipline upon our life. We should deeply desire the implanting of the gospel on our souls. What an amazingly powerful God we serve that can do such a miraculous thing every moment of every day.

I don't know about you but most of the time I do not feel all that holy. I guess if any of us start feeling too holy we are probably pretty proud. More often than not I feel fully undone. My heart seems to go after idols of the heart like a magnet goes after steel. I feel like I'm feeling more defeated than I am victorious. My flight against sin is not as convincing as I might want others to think. It is just sometimes discouraging because you think you've made progress and then you fall back a few spots. The indwelling Holy Spirit ever seeks to humble us.

Of course we could throw up our hands and say it isn't worth it. We could say that the fight just isn't worth it. But sinning more is never an excuse for more sinning. You don't make up any ground by losing more ground. I do think this: the more we sin and feel the Holy Spirit's conviction the more we feel our dependence for God; the more we want to confess our sins and receive His forgiveness; and the more our hearts are drawn to fix our hope completely on God who delivers us. It is painful to live as a Christian in this world because we are constantly being reminded how much we need Jesus. But that's what makes it so joyful. We belong to Jesus, the Merciful; our souls are possessed by God, and we have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

I need Jesus every moment. I am reminded often, because of my sin and my propensity to wander, Jesus is my only hope. In Him my heart finds it's true home. I need Jesus every second, every minute, every hour as I live by God's grace.

That brings me back to my ongoing response of gratitude for God's grace and mercy: All praise to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been saved by sovereign grace alone, through the gift of faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, for God's glory alone.

Remember, Jesus loves you!

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