HOLY IN CHRIST:
Thoughts on the Calling of God's Children to be Holy as He is Holy.
BY REV. ANDREW MURRAY,
AUTHOR OF 'ABIDE IN CHRIST,' 'LIKE CHRIST,' ETC.
'I am holy: ye shall be holy.'
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY, CHICAGO, NEW YORK, TORONTO, Publishers of Evangelical Literature.
There is not in Scripture a word more distinctly Divine in its origin and meaning than the word holy. There is not a word that leads us higher into the mystery of Deity, nor deeper into the privilege and the blessedness of God's children. And yet it is a word that many a Christian has never studied or understood.
There are not a few who can praise God that during the past twenty years the watchword BE HOLY has been taken up in many a church and Christian circle with greater earnestness than before. In books and magazines, in conventions and conferences, in the testimonies and the lives of believers, we have abundant tokens that what is called the Holiness-movement is a reality.
And yet how much is still wanting! What multitudes of believing Christians there are who have none but the very vaguest thoughts of what holiness is! And of those who are seeking after it how many who have hardly learnt what it is to come to God's Word and to God Himself for the teaching that can alone reveal this part of the mystery of Christ and of God! To many, holiness has simply been a general expression for the Christian life in its more earnest form, without much thought of what the term really means.
In writing this little book, my object has been to discover in what sense God uses the word, that so it may mean to us what it means to Him. I have sought to trace the word through some of the most important passages of Holy Scripture where it occurs, there to learn what God's holiness is, what ours is to be, and what the way by which we attain it. I have been specially anxious to point out how many and various the elements are that go to make up true holiness as the Divine expression of the Christian life in all its fulness and perfection. I have at the same time striven continually to keep in mind the wonderful unity and simplicity there is in it, as centred in the person of Jesus. As I proceeded in my work, I felt ever more deeply how high the task was I had undertaken in offering to guide others even into the outer courts of the Holy Place of the Most High. And yet the very difficulty of the task convinced me of how needful it was.
I fear there are some to whom the book may be a disappointment. They have heard that the entrance to the life of holiness is often but a step. They have heard of or seen believers who could tell of the blessed change that has come over their lives since they found the wonderful secret of holiness by faith. And now they are seeking for this secret. They cannot understand that the secret comes to those who seek it not, but only seek Jesus. They might fain have a book in which all they need to know of Holiness and the way to it is gathered into a few simple lessons, easy to learn, to remember, and to practise. This they will not find. There is such a thing as a Pentecost still to the disciples of Jesus; but it comes to him who has forsaken all to follow Jesus only, and in following fully has allowed the Master to reprove and instruct him. There are often very blessed revelations of Christ, as a Saviour from sin, both in the secret chamber and in the meetings of the saints; but these are given to those for whom they have been prepared, and who have been prepared to receive. Let all learn to trust in Jesus, and rejoice in Him, even though their experience be not what they would wish. He will make us holy. But whether we have entered the blessed life of faith in Jesus as our sanctification, or are still longing for it from afar, we all need one thing, the simple, believing, and obedient acceptance of each word that our God has spoken. It has been my earnest desire that I might be a helper of the faith of my brethren in seeking to trace with them the wondrous revelation of God's Holiness through the ages as recorded in His blessed Word. It has been my continual prayer that God might use what is written to increase in His children the conviction that we must be holy, the knowledge of how we are to be holy, the joy that we may be holy, the faith that we can be holy. And may He stir us all to cry day and night to Him for a visitation of the Spirit and the Power of Holiness upon all His people, that the name of Christian and of saint may be synonymous, and every believer be a vessel made holy and meet for the Master's use.
Wellington, 16th November 1887.
DAY PAGE 1. God's Call to Holiness—1 Pet. i. 15, 16, 11
2. God's Provision for Holiness—1 Cor. i. 2, 19
3. Holiness and Creation—Gen. ii. 3, 28
4. Holiness and Revelation—Ex. iii. 4-6, 36
5. Holiness and Redemption—Ex. xiii. 2, 46
6. Holiness and Glory—Ex. xv. 11-17, 55
7. Holiness and Obedience—Ex. xix. 5, 6, 64
8. Holiness and Indwelling—Ex. xxv. 8, 73
9. Holiness and Meditation—Ex. xxviii. 36-38, 81
10. Holiness and Separation—Lev. xx. 24, 26, 89
11. The Holy One of Israel—Lev. xi. 45, 98
12. The Thrice Holy One—Isa. vi. 1-3, 107
13. Holiness and Humility—Isa. lvii. 15, 117
14. The Holy One of God—John vi. 69, 125
15. The Holy Spirit—John vii. 39, 133
16. Holiness and Truth—John xvii. 17, 142
17. Holiness and Crucifixion—John xvii. 19, 150
18. Holiness and Faith—Acts xxvi. 18, 158
19. Holiness and Resurrection—Rom. i. 4, 167
20. Holiness and Liberty—Rom. vi. 18-22, 175
21. Holiness and Happiness—Rom. xiv. 17, 184
22. In Christ our Sanctification—1 Cor. i. 30, 31, 192
23. Holiness and the Body—1 Cor. iii. 16, 201
24. Holiness and Cleansing—2 Cor. vii. 1, 210
25. Holiness and Blamelessness—1 Thess. iii. 12, 13, 219
26. Holiness and the Will of God—1 Thess. iv. 3, 227
27. Holiness and Service—2 Tim. ii. 21, 235
28. The Way into the Holiest—Heb. x. 19, 243
29. Holiness and Chastisement—Heb. xii. 10, 14, 253
30. The Unction from the Holy One—1 John ii. 20, 27, 262
31. Holiness and Heaven—2 Pet. iii. 11, 271
HOLY IN CHRIST.
God's Call to Holiness.
'Like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy, for I am holy.'—1 Pet. i. 15, 16.
The call of God is the manifestation in time of the purpose of eternity: 'Whom He predestinated, them He also called.' Believers are 'the called according to His purpose.' In His call He reveals to us what His thoughts and His will concerning us are, and what the life to which He invites us. In His call He makes clear to us what the hope of our calling is; as we spiritually apprehend and enter into this, our life on earth will be the reflection of His purpose in eternity.
Holy Scripture uses more than one word to indicate the object or aim of our calling, but none more frequently than what Peter speaks of here—God has called us to be holy as He is holy. Paul addresses believers twice as 'called to be holy' (Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 2). 'God called us', he says, 'not for uncleanness, but in sanctification' (1 Thess. iv. 7). When he writes, 'The God of peace sanctify you wholly,' he adds, 'Faithful is He which calleth you, who also will do it' (1 Thess. v. 24). The calling itself is spoken of as 'a holy calling.' The eternal purpose of which the calling is the outcome, is continually also connected with holiness as its aim. 'He hath chosen us in Him, that we should be holy and without blame' (Eph. i. 4). 'Whom God chose from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification' (2 Thess. ii. 12). 'Elect according to the foreknowledge of the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit' (1 Pet. i. 2). The call is the unveiling of the purpose that the Father from eternity had set His heart upon: that we should be holy.
It needs no proof that it is of infinite importance to know aright what God has called us to. A misunderstanding here may have fatal results. You may have heard that God calls you to salvation or to happiness, to receive pardon or to obtain heaven, and never noticed that all these were subordinate. It was to 'salvation in sanctification,' it was to Holiness in the first place, as the element in which salvation and heaven are to be found. The complaints of many Christians as to lack of joy and strength, as to failure and want of growth, are simply owing to this—the place God gave Holiness in His call they have not given it in their response. God and they have never yet come to an agreement on this.
No wonder that Paul, in the chapter in which he had spoken to the Ephesians of their being 'chosen to be holy' prays for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God to be given to believers, that they might know 'the hope of their calling' (i. 17, 18). Let all of us, who feel that we have too little realized that we are called to Holiness, pray this prayer. It is just what we need. Let us ask God to show us how, as He who hath called us is Himself holy, so we are to be holy too; our calling is a holy calling, a calling before and above everything, to Holiness. Let us ask Him to show us what Holiness is, His Holiness first, and then our Holiness; to show us how He has set His heart upon it as the one thing He wants to see in us, as being His own image and likeness; to show us too the unutterable blessedness and glory of sharing with Christ in His Holiness. Oh! that God by His Spirit would teach us what it means that we are called to be holy as He is holy. We can easily conceive what a mighty influence it would exert.
'Like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy'. How this call of God shows us the true motive to Holiness. 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' It is as if God said, Holiness is my blessedness and my glory: without this you cannot, in the very nature of things, see me or enjoy me. Holiness is my blessedness and my glory: there is nothing higher to be conceived; I invite you to share with me in it, I invite you to likeness to myself: 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' Is it not enough, has it no attraction, does it not move and draw you mightily, the hope of being with me, partakers of my Holiness? I have nothing better to offer—I offer you myself: 'Be holy, for I am holy.' Shall we not cry earnestly to God to show us the glory of His Holiness, that our souls may be made willing to give everything in response to this wondrous call?
As we listen to the call, it shows also the nature of true Holiness. 'Like as He is holy, so be ye also holy.' To be holy is to be Godlike, to have a disposition, a will, a character like God. The thought almost looks like blasphemy, until we listen again, 'He hath chosen us in Christ to be holy.' In Christ the Holiness of God appeared in a human life: in Christ's example, in His mind and Spirit, we have the Holiness of the Invisible One translated into the forms of human life and conduct. To be Christlike is to be Godlike; to be Christlike is to be holy as God is holy.
The call equally reveals the power of Holiness. 'There is none holy but the Lord;' there is no Holiness but what He has, or rather what He is, and gives. Holiness is not something we do or attain: it is the communication of the Divine life, the inbreathing of the Divine nature, the power of the Divine Presence resting on us. And our power to become holy is to be found in the call of God: the Holy One calls us to Himself, that He may make us holy in possessing Himself. He not only says 'I am holy,' but 'I am the Lord, who make holy.' It is because the call to Holiness comes from the God of infinite Power and Love that we may have the confidence: we can be holy.
The call no less reveals the standard of Holiness. 'Like as He is holy, so ye also yourselves,' or (as in margin, R.V.), 'Like the Holy One, which calleth you, be ye yourselves also holy.' There is not one standard of Holiness for God and another for man. The nature of light is the same, whether we see it in the sun or in a candle: the nature of Holiness remains unchanged, whether it be God or man in whom it dwells. The Lord Jesus could say nothing less than, 'Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.' When God calls us to Holiness, He calls us to Himself and His own life: the more carefully we listen to the voice, and let it sink into our hearts, the more will all human standards fall away, and only the words be heard, Holy, as I am holy.
And the call shows us the path to Holiness. The calling of God is one of mighty efficacy, an effectual calling. Oh! let us but listen to it, let us but listen to Him, and the call will with Divine power work what it offers. He calleth the things that are not as though they were: His call gives life to the dead, and holiness to those whom He has made alive. He calls us to listen as He speaks of His Holiness, and of our holiness like His. He calls us to Himself, to study, to fear, to love, to claim His Holiness. He calls us to Christ, in whom Divine Holiness became human Holiness, to see and admire, to desire and accept what is all for us. He calls us to the indwelling and the teaching of the Spirit of Holiness, to yield ourselves that He may bring home to us and breathe within us what is ours in Christ. Christian! listen to God calling thee to Holiness. Come and learn what His Holiness is, and what thine is and must be.
Yes, be very silent and listen. When God called Abraham, he answered, Here am I. When God called Moses from the bush, he answered, Here am I, and he hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. God is calling thee to Holiness, to Himself the Holy One, that He may make thee holy. Let thy whole soul answer, Here am I, Lord! Speak, Lord! Show Thyself, Lord! Here am I. As you listen, the voice will sound ever deeper and ever stiller: Be holy, as I am holy. Be holy, for I am holy. You will hear a voice coming out of the great eternity, from the council-chamber of redemption, and as you catch its distant whisper, it will be, Be holy, I am holy. You will hear a voice from Paradise, the Creator making the seventh day holy for man whom He had created, and saying, Be holy. You will hear the voice from Sinai, amid thunderings and lightnings, and still it is, Be holy, as I am holy. You will hear a voice from Calvary, and there above all it is, Be holy, for I am holy.
Child of God, have you ever realized it, our Father is calling us to Himself, to be holy as He is holy? Must we not confess that happiness has been to us more than holiness, salvation than sanctification? Oh! it is not too late to redeem the error. Let us now band ourselves together to listen to the voice that calls, to draw nigh, and find out and know what Holiness is, or rather, find out and know Himself the Holy One. And if the first approach to Him fill us with shame and confusion, make us fear and shrink back, let us still listen to the Voice and the Call, 'Be holy, as I am holy.' 'Faithful is He which calleth, who also will do it.' All our fears and questions will be met by the Holy One who has revealed His Holiness, with this one purpose in view, that we might share it with Him. As we yield ourselves in deep stillness of soul to listen to the Holy Voice that calls us, it will waken within us new desire and strong faith, and the most precious of all promises will be to us this word of Divine command:
BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
O Lord! the alone Holy One, Thou hast called us to be holy, even as Thou art holy. Lord! how can we, unless Thou reveal to us Thy Holiness. Show us, we pray Thee, how Thou art holy, how holy Thou art, what Thy holiness is, that we may know how we are to be holy, how holy we are to be. And when the sight of Thy Holiness only shows us the more how unholy we are, teach us that Thou makest partakers of Thy own Holiness those who come to Thee for it.
O God! we come to Thee, the Holy One. It is in knowing and finding and having Thyself, that the soul finds Holiness. We do beseech Thee, as we now come to Thee, establish it in the thoughts of our heart, that the one object of Thy calling us, and of our coming to Thee, is Holiness. Thou wouldst have us like Thyself, partakers of Thy Holiness. If ever our heart becomes afraid, as if it were too high, or rests content with a salvation less than Holiness, Blessed God! let us hear Thy voice calling again, Be holy, I am holy. Let that call be our motive and our strength, because faithful is He that calleth, who also will do it. Let that call mark our standard and our path; oh! let our life be such as Thou art able to make it.
Holy Father! I bow in lowly worship and silence before Thee. Let now Thine own voice sound in the depths of my heart calling me, Be holy, as I am holy. Amen.
1. Let me press it upon every reader of this little book, that if it is to help him in the pursuit of Holiness, he must begin with God Himself. You must go to Him who calls you. It is only in the personal revelation of God to you, as He speaks, I am holy, that the command, Be ye holy, can have life or power.
2. Remember, as a believer, you have already accepted God's call, even though you did not fully understand it. Let it be a settled matter, that whatever you see to be the meaning of the call, you will at once accept and carry out. If God calls me to be holy, holy I will be.
3. Take fast hold of the word: 'The God of peace sanctify you wholly: faithful is He which calleth you, who also will do it.' In that faith listen to God calling you.
4. Do be still now, and listen to your Father calling you. Ask for and count upon the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Holiness, to open your heart to understand this holy calling. And then speak out the answer you have to give to this call.
HOLY IN CHRIST.
God's Provision for Holiness.
'To those that are made holy in Christ Jesus, called to be holy.'—1 Cor. i. 2.
'To all the holy ones in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi. Salute every holy one in Christ Jesus.'—Phil. i. 1, iv. 21.
HOLY! IN CHRIST! In these two expressions we have perhaps the most wonderful words of all the Bible.
HOLY! the word of unfathomable meaning, which the Seraphs utter with veiled faces. HOLY! the word in which all God's perfections centre, and of which His glory is but the streaming forth. HOLY! the word which reveals the purpose with which God from eternity thought of man, and tells what man's highest glory in the coming eternity is to be; to be partaker of His Holiness!
IN CHRIST! the word in which all the wisdom and love of God are unveiled! The Father giving His Son to be one with us! the Son dying on the cross to make us one with Himself! the Holy Spirit of the Father dwelling in us to establish and maintain that union! IN CHRIST! what a summary of what redemption has done, and of the inconceivably blessed life in which the child of God is permitted to dwell. IN CHRIST! the one lesson we have to study on earth. God's one answer to all our needs and prayers. IN CHRIST! the guarantee and the foretaste of eternal glory.
What wealth of meaning and blessing in the two words combined: HOLY IN CHRIST! Here is God's provision for our holiness, God's response to our question, How to be holy? Often and often as we hear the call, Be ye holy, even as I am holy, it is as if there is and ever must be a great gulf between the holiness of God and man. IN CHRIST! is the bridge that crosses the gulf; nay rather, His fulness has filled it up. IN CHRIST! God and man meet; IN CHRIST! the Holiness of God has found us, and made us its own; has become human, and can indeed become our very own. To the anxious cries and the heart-yearnings of thousands of thirsty souls who have believed in Jesus and yet know not how to be holy, here is God's answer: YE ARE HOLY IN CHRIST JESUS. Would they but hearken, and believe; would they but take these Divine words, and say them over, if need be, a thousand times, how God's light would shine, and fill their hearts with joy and love as they echo them back: Yes, now I see it. Holy in Christ! Made holy in Christ Jesus!
As we set ourselves to study these wondrous words, let us remember that it is only God Himself who can reveal to us what Holiness truly is. Let us fear our own thoughts, and crucify our own wisdom. Let us give up ourselves to receive, in the power of the life of God Himself, working in us by the Holy Spirit, that which is deeper and truer than human thought, Christ Himself as our Holiness. In this dependence upon the teaching of the Spirit of Holiness, let us seek simply to accept what Holy Scripture sets before us; as the revelation of the Holy One of old was a very slow and gradual one, so let us be content patiently to follow step by step the path of the shining light through the Word; it will shine more and more unto the perfect day.
We shall first have to study the word Holy in the Old Testament. In Israel as the holy people, the type of us who now are holy in Christ, we shall see with what fulness of symbol God sought to work into the very constitution of the people some apprehension of what He would have them be. In the law we shall see how HOLY is the great keyword of the redemption which it was meant to serve and prepare for. In the prophets we shall hear how the Holiness of God is revealed as the source whence the coming redemption should spring: it is not so much Holiness as the Holy One they speak of, who would, in redeeming love and saving righteousness, make Himself known as the God of His people.
And when the meaning of the word has been somewhat opened up, and the deep need of the blessing made manifest in the Old Testament, we shall come to the New to find how that need was fulfilled. In Christ, the Holy One of God, Divine Holiness will be found in human life and human nature; a truly human will being made perfect and growing up through obedience into complete union with all the Holy Will of God. In the sacrifice of Himself on the cross, that holy nature gave itself up to the death, that, like the seed-corn, it might through death live again and reproduce itself in us. In the gift from the throne of the Spirit of God's Holiness, representing and revealing and communicating the unseen Christ, the holy life of Christ descends and takes possession of His people, and they become one with Him. As the Old Testament had no higher word than that HOLY, the New has none deeper than this, IN CHRIST. The being in Him, the abiding in Him, the being rooted in Him, the growing up in Him and into Him in all things, are the Divine expressions in which the wonderful and complete oneness between us and our Saviour are brought as near us as human language can do.
And when Old and New Testament have each given their message, the one in teaching us what Holy, the other what in Christ means, we have in the word of God, that unites the two, the most complete summary of the Great Redemption that God's love has provided. The everlasting certainty, the wonderful sufficiency, the infinite efficacy of the Holiness that God has prepared for us in His Son, are all revealed in this blessed, HOLY IN CHRIST.
'The Holy Ones in Christ Jesus!' Such is the name, beloved fellow-believers, which we bear in Holy Scripture, in the language of the Holy Spirit. It is no mere statement of doctrine, that we are holy in Christ: it is no deep theological discussion to which we are invited; but out of the depths of God's loving heart, there comes a voice thus addressing His beloved children. It is the name by which the Father calls His children. That name tells us of God's provision for our being holy. It is the revelation of what God has given us, and what we already are; of what God waits to work in us, and what can be ours in personal practical possession. That name, gratefully accepted, joyfully confessed, trustfully pleaded, will be the pledge and the power of our attainment of the Holiness to which we have been called.
And so we shall find that as we go along, all our study and all God's teaching will be comprised in three great lessons. The first a revelation, 'I am holy;' the second a command, 'Be ye holy;' the third a gift, the link between the two, 'Ye are holy in Christ.'
First comes the revelation, 'I am holy.' Our study must be on bended knee, in the spirit of worship and deep humility. God must reveal Himself to us, if we are to know what Holy is. The deep unholiness of our nature and all that is of nature must be shown us; with Moses and Isaiah, when the Holy One revealed Himself to them, we must fear and tremble, and confess how utterly unfit we are for the revelation or the fellowship, without the cleansing of fire. In the consciousness of the utter impotence of our own wisdom or understanding to know God, our souls must in contrition, brokenness from ourselves and our power or efforts, yield to God's Spirit, the Spirit of Holiness, to reveal God as the Holy One. And as we begin to know Him in His infinite righteousness, in His fiery burning zeal against all that is sin, and His infinite self-sacrificing love to free the sinner from his sin, and to bring him to His own perfection, we shall learn to wonder at and worship this glorious God, to feel and deplore our terrible unlikeness to Him, to long and cry for some share in the Divine beauty and blessedness of this Holiness.
And then will come with new meaning the command, 'Be holy, as I am holy.' Oh, my brethren! ye who profess to obey the commands of your God, do give this all-surpassing and all-including command that first place in your heart and life which it claims. Do be holy with the likeness of God's Holiness. Do be holy as He is holy. And if you find that the more you meditate and study, the less you can grasp this infinite holiness; that the more you at moments grasp of it, the more you despair of a holiness so Divine; remember that such breaking down and such despair is just what the command was meant to work. Learn to cease from your own wisdom as well as your own goodness; draw near in poverty of spirit to let the Holy One show you how utterly above human knowledge or human power is the holiness He demands; to the soul that ceases from self, and has no confidence in the flesh, He will show and give the holiness He calls us to.
It is to such that the great gift of Holiness in Christ becomes intelligible and acceptable. Christ brings the Holiness of God nigh by showing it in human conduct and intercourse. He brings it nigh by removing the barrier between it and us, between God and us. He brings it nigh, because He makes us one with Himself. 'Holy in Christ:' our holiness is a Divine bestowment, held for us, communicated to us, working mightily in us because we are in Him. 'In Christ!' oh, that wonderful in! our very life rooted in the life of Christ. That holy Son and Servant of the Father, beautiful in His life of love and obedience on earth, sanctifying Himself for us—that life of Christ, the ground in which I am planted and rooted, the soil from which I draw as my nourishment its every quality and its very nature. How that word sheds its light both on the revelation, 'I am holy,' and on the command, 'Be ye holy, as I am,' and binds them in one! In Christ I see what God's Holiness is, and what my holiness is. In Him both are one, and both are mine. In Him I am holy; abiding and growing up in Him, I can be holy in all manner of living, as God is holy.
BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
O Most Holy God! we do beseech Thee, reveal Thou to Thy children what it meaneth that Thou hast not only called them to holiness, but even called them by this name, 'the holy ones in Christ Jesus.' Oh that every child of Thine might know that He bears this name, might know what it means, and what power there is in it to make Him what it calls him. Holy Lord God! oh that the time of Thy visitation might speedily come, and each child of Thine on earth be known as a holy one!
To this end we pray Thee to reveal to Thy saints what Thy Holiness is. Teach us to worship and to wait until Thou hast spoken unto our souls with Divine Power Thy word, 'I am holy.' Oh that it may search out and convict us of our unholiness!
And reveal to us, we pray Thee, that as holy as Thou art, even a consuming fire, so holy is Thy command in its determined and uncompromising purpose to have us holy. O God! let Thy voice sound through the depth of our being, with a power from which there is no escape: Be holy, be holy.
And let us thus, between Thine infinite Holiness on the one hand and our unholiness on the other, be driven and be drawn to accept of Christ as our sanctification, to abide in Him as our life and our power to be what Thou wouldst have us—'Holy in Christ Jesus.'
O Father! let Thy Spirit make this precious word life and truth within us. Amen.
1. You are entering anew on the study of a Divine mystery. 'Trust not to your own understanding;' wait for the teaching of the Spirit of truth.
2. In Christ. A commentator says, 'The phrase denotes two moral facts—first, the act of faith whereby a man lays hold of Christ; second, the community of life with Him contracted by means of this faith.' There is still another fact, the greatest of all: that it is by an act of Divine power that I am in Christ and am kept in Him. It is this I want to realize: the Divineness of my position in Jesus. 3. Grasp the two sides of the truth. You are holy in Christ with a Divine holiness. In the faith of that, you are to be holy, to become holy with a human holiness, the Divine Holiness manifest in all the conduct of a human life. 4. This Christ is a Living Person, a Loving Saviour: how He will delight to get complete possession, and do all the work in you! Keep hold of this all along as we go on: you have a claim on Christ, on His Love and Power, to make you holy. As His redeemed one, you are at this moment, whatever and wherever you be, in Him. His Holy Presence and Love are around you. You are in Him, in the enclosure of that tender love, which ever encircles you with His Holy Presence. In that Presence, accepted and realized, is your holiness.
 There is one disadvantage in English in our having synonyms of which some are derived from Saxon and others from Latin. Ordinary readers are apt to forget that in our translation of the Bible we may use two different words for what in the original is expressed by one term. This is the case with the words holy, holiness, keep holy, hallow, saint, sanctify, and sanctification. When God or Christ is called the Holy One, the word in Hebrew and Greek is exactly the same that is used when the believer is called a saint: he too is a holy one. So the three words hallow, keep holy, sanctify, all represent but one term in the original, of which the real meaning is to make holy, as it is in Dutch, heiliging (holying), and heiligmaking (holy-making).
HOLY IN CHRIST.
Holiness and Creation.
'And God blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all the work which God created and made.'—Gen. ii. 3.
In Genesis we have the Book of Beginnings. To its first three chapters we are specially indebted for a Divine light shining on the many questions to which human wisdom never could find an answer. In our search after Holiness, we are led thither too. In the whole book of Genesis the word Holy occurs but once. But that once in such a connection as to open to us the secret spring whence flows all that the Bible has to teach or to give us of this heavenly blessing. The full meaning of the precious word we want to master, of the priceless blessing we want to get possession of, 'Sanctified in Christ,' takes its rise in what is here written of that wondrous act of God, by which He closed His creation work, and revealed how wonderfully it would be continued and perfected. When God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, He lifted it above the other days, and set it apart to a work and a revelation of Himself, excelling in glory all that had preceded. In this simple expression, Scripture reveals to us the character of God as the Holy One, who makes holy; the way in which He makes holy, by entering in and resting; and the power of blessing with which God's making holy is ever accompanied. These three lessons we shall find it of the deepest importance to study well, as containing the root-principles of all the Scripture will have to teach us in our pursuit of Holiness.
1. God sanctified the Sabbath day. Of the previous six days the keyword was, from the first calling into existence of the heaven and the earth, down to the making of man: God created. All at once a new word and a new work of God, is introduced: God sanctified. Something higher than creation, that for which creation is to exist, is now to be revealed; God Almighty is now to be known as God Most Holy. And just as the work of creation shows His Power, without that Power being mentioned, so His making holy the seventh day reveals His character as the Holy One. As Omnipotence is the chief of His natural, so Holiness is the first of His moral attributes. And just as He alone is Creator, so He alone is Sanctifier; to make holy is His work as truly and exclusively as to create. Blessed is the child of God who truly and fully believes this!
God sanctified the Sabbath day. The word can teach us what the nature is of the work God does when He makes holy. Sanctification in Paradise cannot be essentially different from Sanctification in Redemption. God had pronounced all His works, and man the chief of them, very good. And yet they were not holy. The six days' work had nought of defilement or sin, and yet it was not holy. The seventh day needed to be specially made holy, for the great work of making holy man, who was already very good. In Exodus, God says distinctly that He sanctified the Sabbath day, with a view to man's sanctification. 'That ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.' Goodness, innocence, purity, freedom from sin, is not Holiness. Goodness is the work of omnipotence, an attribute of nature, as God creates it: holiness is something infinitely higher. We speak of the holiness of God as His infinite moral perfection; man's moral perfection could only come in the use of his will, consenting freely to and abiding in the will of God. Thus alone could he become holy. The seventh day was made holy by God as a pledge that He would make man holy. In the ages that preceded the seventh day, the Creation period, God's Power, Wisdom, and Goodness had been displayed. The age to come, in the seventh day period, is to be the dispensation of holiness: God made holy the seventh day.
2. God sanctified the Sabbath day, because in it He rested from all His work. This rest was something real. In Creation, God had, as it were, gone out of Himself to bring forth something new: in resting He now returns from His creating work into Himself, to rejoice in His love over the man He has created, and communicate Himself to him. This opens up to us the way in which God makes holy. The connection between the resting and making holy was no arbitrary one; the making holy was no after-thought; in the very nature of things it could not be otherwise: He sanctified because He rested in it; He sanctified by resting. As He regards His finished work, more especially man, rejoices in it, and, as we have it in Exodus, 'is refreshed,' this time of His Divine rest is the time in which He will carry on unto perfection what He has begun, and make man, created in His image, in very deed partaker of His highest glory, His Holiness.
Where God rests in complacency and love, He makes holy. The Presence of God revealing itself, entering in, and taking possession, is what constitutes true Holiness. As we go down the ages, studying the progressive unfolding of what Holiness is, this truth will continually meet us. In God's indwelling in heaven, in His temple on earth, in His beloved Son, in the person of the believer through the Holy Spirit, we shall everywhere find that Holiness is not something that man is or does, but that it always comes where God comes. In the deepest meaning of the words: where God enters to rest, there He sanctifies. And when we come to study the New Testament revelation of the way in which we are to be holy, we shall find in this one of our earliest and deepest lessons. It is as we enter into the rest of God that we become partakers of His Holiness. 'We which have believed do enter into that rest;' 'He that hath entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.' It is as the soul ceases from its own efforts, and rests in Him who has finished all for us, and will finish all in us, as the soul yields itself in the quiet confidence of true faith to rest in God, that it will know what true Holiness is. Where the soul enters into the Sabbath stillness of perfect trust, God comes to keep His Sabbath holy; and the soul where He rests He sanctifies. Whether we speak of His own day, 'He sanctified it,' or His own people 'sanctified in Christ,' the secret of Holiness is ever the same: 'He sanctified because he rested.'
3. And then we read, 'He blessed and sanctified it.' As used in the first chapter and throughout the book of Genesis, the word 'God blessed' is one of great significance. 'Be fruitful and multiply' was, as to Adam, so later to Noah and Abraham, the Divine exposition of its meaning. The blessing with which God blessed Adam and Noah and Abraham was that of fruitfulness and increase, the power to reproduce and multiply. When God blessed the seventh day, He filled it so with the living power of His Holiness, that in it that Holiness might increase and reproduce itself in those who, like Him, seek to enter into its rest and sanctify it. The seventh day is that in which we are still living. Of each of the creation days it is written, up to the last, 'There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.' Of the seventh the record has not yet been made; we are living in it now, God's own day of rest and holiness and blessing. Entering into it in a very special manner, and taking possession of it, as the time for His rejoicing in His creature, and manifesting the fulness of His love in sanctifying him, He has made the dispensation we now live in one of Divine and mighty blessing. And He has at the same time taught us what the blessing is. Holiness is blessedness. Fellowship with God in His holy rest is blessedness. And as all God's blessings in Christ have but one fountain, God's Holiness, so they all have but one aim, making us partakers of that Holiness. God created, and blessed; with the creation blessing. God sanctified, and blessed; with the Sabbath blessing of His rest. The Creation blessing, of goodness and fruitfulness and dominion, is to be crowned by the Sabbath blessing of rest in God and holiness in fellowship with Him.
God's finished work of Creation was marred by sin, and our fellowship with Him in the blessing of His holy rest cut off. The finished work of redemption opened for us a truer rest and a surer entrance into the Holiness of God. As He rested in His holy day, so He now rests in His Holy Son. In Him we now can enter fully into the rest of God. 'Made holy in Christ,' let us rest in Him. Let us rest, because we see that as wonderfully as God by His mighty power finished His work of Creation, will He complete and perfect His work of sanctification. Let us yield ourselves to God in Christ, to rest where He rested, to be made holy with His own holiness, and to be blessed with God's own blessing. God the Sanctifier is the name now inscribed upon the throne of God the Creator. At the threshold of the history of the human race there shines this word of infinite promise and hope: 'God blessed and sanctified the seventh day because in it He rested.'
BE YE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
Blessed Lord God! I bow before Thee in lowly worship. I adore Thee as God the Creator, and God the Sanctifier. Thou hast revealed Thyself as God Almighty and God Most Holy. I beseech Thee, teach me to know and to trust Thee as such.
I humbly ask Thee for grace to learn and hold fast the deep spiritual truths Thou hast revealed in making holy the Sabbath day. Thy purpose in man's creation is to show forth Thy Holiness, and make him partaker of it. Oh, teach me to believe in Thee as God my Creator and Sanctifier, to believe with my whole heart that the same Almighty power which gave the sixth-day blessing of creation, secures to us the seventh-day blessing of sanctification. Thy will is our sanctification.
And teach me, Lord, to understand better how this blessing comes. It is where Thou enterest to rest, to refresh and reveal Thyself, that Thou makest holy. O my God! may my heart be Thy resting-place. I would, in the stillness and confidence of a restful faith, rest in Thee, believing that Thou doest all in me. Let such fellowship with Thee, and Thy love, and Thy will be to me the secret of a life of holiness. I ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus, in whom Thou hast sanctified us. Amen.
1. God the Creator is God the Sanctifier. The Omnipotence that did the first work does the second too. I can trust God Almighty to make me holy. God is holy: if God is everything to me, His presence will be my holiness.
2. Rest is ceasing from work, not to work no more, but to begin a new work. God rests and begins at once to make holy that in which He rests. He created by the word of His power; He rests in His love. Creation was the building of the temple; sanctification is the entering in and taking possession. Oh, that wonderful entering into human nature!
3. God rests only in what is restful, wholly at His disposal. It is in the restfulness of faith that we must look to God the Sanctifier; He will come in and keep His holy Sabbath in the restful soul. We rest in God's rest; God rests in our rest.
4. The God that rests in man whom He made, and in resting sanctifies, and in sanctifying blesses: this is our God; praise and worship Him. And trust Him to do His work.
5. Rest! what a simple word. The Rest of God! what an inconceivable fulness of Life and Love in that word. Let us meditate on it and worship before Him, until it overshadow us and we enter into it—the Rest of God. Rest belongeth unto God: He alone can give it, by making us share His own.
HOLY IN CHRIST.
Holiness and Revelation.
'And when the Lord saw that Moses turned aside to see, He called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And He said, Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place where thou standest is holy ground. And Moses hid his face, for He was afraid to look upon God.'—Ex. iii. 4-6.
And why was it holy ground? Because God had come there and occupied it. Where God is, there is holiness; it is the presence of God makes holy. This is the truth we met with in Paradise when man was just created; here, where Scripture uses the word Holy for the second time, it is repeated and enforced. A careful study of the word in the light of the burning bush will further open its deep significance. Let us see what the sacred history, what the revelation of God, and what Moses teaches us of this holy ground.
1. Note the place this first direct revelation of God to man as the Holy One takes in sacred history. In Paradise we found the word Holy used of the seventh day. Since that time twenty-five centuries have elapsed. We found in God's sanctifying the day of rest a promise of a new dispensation—the revelation of the Almighty Creator to be followed by that of the Holy One making holy. And yet throughout the book of Genesis the word never occurs again; it is as if God's Holiness is in abeyance; only in Exodus, with the calling of Moses, does it make its appearance again. This is a fact of deep import. Just as a parent or teacher seeks, in early childhood, to impress one lesson at a time, so God deals in the education of the human race. After having in the flood exhibited His righteous judgment against sin, He calls Abraham to be the father of a chosen people. And as the foundation of all His dealings with that people, He teaches him and his seed first of all the lesson of childlike trust—trust in Him as the Almighty, with whom nothing is too wonderful, and trust in Him as the Faithful One, whose oath could not be broken. With the growth of Israel to a people we see the revelation advancing to a new stage. The simplicity of childhood gives way to the waywardness of youth, and God must now interfere with the discipline and restriction of law. Having gained a right to a place in their confidence as the God of their fathers, He prepares them for a further revelation. Of the God of Abraham the chief attribute was that He was the Almighty One; of the God of Israel, Jehovah, that He is the Holy One.
And what is to be the special mark of the new period that is now about to be inaugurated, and which is introduced by the word holy? God tells Moses that He is now about to reveal Himself in a new character. He had been known to Abraham as God Almighty, the God of Promise (Ex. vi. 3). He would now manifest Himself as Jehovah, the God of Fulfilment, especially in the redemption and deliverance of His people from the oppression He had foretold to Abraham. God Almighty is the God of Creation: Abraham believed in God, 'who quickeneth the dead, and calleth the things that are not as though they were.' Jehovah is the God of Redemption and of Holiness. With Abraham there was not a word of sin or guilt, and therefore not of redemption or holiness. To Israel the law is to be given, to convince of sin and prepare the way for holiness; it is Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, the Redeemer, who now appears. And it is the presence of this Holy One that makes the holy ground.
2. And how does this Presence reveal itself? In the burning bush God makes Himself known as dwelling in the midst of the fire. Elsewhere in Holy Scripture the connection between fire and the Holiness of God is clearly expressed: 'The light of Israel shall be for a fire, and the Holy One for a flame.' The nature of fire may be either beneficent or destructive. The sun, the great central fire, may give life and fruitfulness, or may scorch to death. All depends upon occupying the right position, upon the relation in which we stand to it. And so wherever God the Holy One reveals Himself, we shall find the two sides together: God's Holiness as judgment against sin, destroying the sinner who remains in it, and as Mercy freeing His people from it. Judgment and Mercy ever go together. Of the elements of nature there is none of such spiritual and mighty energy as Fire: what it consumes it takes and changes into its own spiritual nature, rejecting as smoke and ashes what cannot be assimilated. And so the Holiness of God is that infinite Perfection by which He keeps Himself free from all that is not Divine, and yet has fellowship with the creature, and takes it up into union with Himself, destroying and casting out all that will not yield itself to Him.
It is thus as One who dwells in the fire, who is a fire, that God reveals Himself at the opening of this new redemption period. With Abraham and the patriarchs, as we have said, there had been little teaching about sin or redemption; the nearness and friendship of God had been revealed. Now the law will be given, sin will be made manifest, the distance from God will be felt, that man, in learning to know himself and his sinfulness, may learn to know and long for God to make him holy. In all God's revelation of Himself we shall find the combination of the two elements, the one repelling, the other attracting. In His house He will dwell in the midst of Israel, and yet it will be in the awful unapproachable solitude and darkness of the holiest of all within the veil. He will come near to them, and yet keep them at a distance. As we study the Holiness of God, we shall see in increasing clearness how, like fire, it repels and attracts, how it combines into one His infinite distance and His infinite nearness.
3. But the distance will be that which comes out first and most strongly. This we see in Moses: he hid his face, for He feared to look upon God. The first impression which God's Holiness produces is that of fear and awe. Until man, both as a creature and a sinner, learns how high God is above him, how different and distant he is from God, the Holiness of God will have little real value or attraction. Moses hiding his face shows us the effect of the drawing nigh of the Holy One, and the path to His further revelation.
How distinctly this comes out in God's own words: 'Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet.' Yes, God had drawn nigh, but Moses may not. God comes near: man must stand back. In the same breath God says, Draw nigh, and, Draw not nigh. There can be no knowledge of God or nearness to Him, where we have not first heard His, Draw not nigh. The sense of sin, of unfitness for God's presence, is the groundwork of true knowledge or worship of Him as the Holy One. 'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet.' The shoes are the means of intercourse with the world, the aids through which the flesh or nature does its will, moves about and does its work. In standing upon holy ground, all this must be put away. It is with naked feet, naked and stript of every covering, that man must bow before a holy God. Our utter unfitness to draw nigh or have any dealings with the Holy One, is the very first lesson we have to learn, if ever we are to participate in His Holiness. That Put off! must exercise its condemning power through our whole being, until we come to realize the full extent of its meaning in the great, 'Put off the old man; put on the Lord Jesus,' and what 'the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ,' is. Yes, all that is of nature and the flesh, all that is of our own doing or willing or working—our very life, must be put off and given unto the death, if God, as the Holy One, is to make Himself known to us.
We have seen before that Holiness is more than goodness or freedom from sin: even unfallen nature is not holy. Holiness is that awful glory by which Divinity is separated from all that is created. Therefore even the seraphs veil their faces with their wings when they sing the Thrice Holy. But oh! when the distance and the difference is not that of the creature only, but of the sinner, who can express, who can realize, the humiliation, the fear, the shame with which we ought to bow before the voice of the Holy One? Alas! this is one of the most terrible effects of sin, that it blinds us. We know not how unholy, how abominable, sin and the sinful nature are in God's sight. We have lost the power of recognising the Holiness of God: heathen philosophy had not even the idea of using the word as expressive of the moral character of its gods. In losing the light of the glory of God, we have lost the power of knowing what sin is. And now God's first work in drawing nigh to us is to make us feel that we may not draw nigh as we are; that there will have to be a very real and a very solemn putting off, and even giving up to the death, of all that appears most lawful and most needful. Not only our shoes are soiled with contact with this unholy earth; even our face must be covered and our eyes closed, in token that the eyes of our heart, all our human wisdom and understanding, are incapable of beholding the Holy One. The first lesson in the school of personal holiness is, to fear and hide our face before the Holiness of God. 'Thus saith the High and Lofty One, whose name is holy, I dwell in the High and Holy Place, and with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit.' Contrition, brokenness of spirit, fear and trembling are God's first demand of those who would see His Holiness.
Moses was to be the first preacher of the Holiness of God. Of the full communication of God's Holiness to us in Christ, His first revelation to Moses was the type and the pledge. From Moses' lips the people of Israel, from his pen the Church of Christ, was to receive the message, 'Be holy: I am holy: I make holy.' His preparation for being the messenger of the Holy One was here, where he hid his face, because he was afraid to look upon God. It is with the face in the dust, it is in the putting off not only of the shoes, but of all that has been in contact with the world and self and sin, that the soul draws nigh to the fire, in which God dwells, and which burns, but does not consume. Oh that every believer, who seeks to witness for God as the Holy One, might thus learn how the fulfilment of the type of the Burning Bush is the Crucified Christ, and how, as we die with Him, we receive that Baptism of Fire, which reveals in each of us what it means: the Holy One dwelling in a Burning Bush. Only so can we learn what it is to be holy, as He is holy.
BE YE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
Most Holy God! I have seen Thee, who dwellest in the fire. I have heard Thy voice, Draw not nigh hither; put thy shoes off from thy feet. And my soul has feared to look upon God, the Holy One.
And yet, O my God! I must see Thee. Thou didst create me for Thy likeness. Thou hast taught that this likeness is Thy Holiness: 'Be holy, as I am holy.' O my God! how shall I know to be holy, unless I may see Thee, the Holy One? To be holy, I must look upon God.
I bless Thee for the revelation of Thyself in the flames of the thorn-bush, in the fire of the accursed tree. I bow in amazement and deep abasement at the great sight: Thy Son in the weakness of His human nature, in the fire, burning but not consumed. O my God! in fear and trembling I have yielded myself as a sinner to die like Him. Oh, let the fire consume all that is unholy in me! Let me too know Thee as the God that dwelleth in the fire, to melt down and purge out and destroy what is not of Thee, to save and take up into Thine own Holiness what is Thine own.
O Holy Lord God! I bow in the dust before this great mystery. Reveal to me Thy Holiness, that I too may be its witness and its messenger on earth. Amen.
1. Holiness as the fire of God. Praise God that there is a Power that can consume the vile and the dross, a Power that will not leave it undisturbed. 'The bush burning but not consumed' is not only the motto of the Church in time of persecution; it is the watchword of every soul in God's sanctifying work.
2. There is a new Theology, which only speaks of the love of God as seen in the cross. It sees not the glory of His Righteousness, and His righteous judgment. This is not the God of Scripture. 'Our God is a consuming fire,' is New Testament Theology. To 'offer service with reverence and awe,' is New Testament religion. In Holiness, Judgment and Mercy meet.
3. Holiness as the fear of God. Hiding the face before God for fear, not daring to look or speak,—this is the beginning of rest in God. It is not yet the true rest, but on the way to it. May God give us a deep fear of whatever could grieve or anger Him. May we have a deep fear of ourselves, and all that is of the old, the condemned nature, lest it rise again. 'The spirit of the fear of the Lord' is the first manifestation of the spirit of holiness, and prepares the way for the joy of holiness. 'Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost;' these are the two sides of the Christian life.
4. The Holiness of God was revealed to Moses that he might be its messenger. The Church needs nothing so much to-day as men and women who can testify for the Holiness of God. Will you be one?
The connection between the fear of God and holiness is most intimate. There are some who seek most earnestly for holiness, and yet never exhibit it in a light that will attract the world or even believers, because this element is wanting. It is the fear of the Lord that works that meekness and gentleness, that deliverance from self-confidence and self-consciousness, which form the true groundwork of a saintly character. The passages of God's Word in which the two words are linked together are well worthy of a careful study. 'Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises?' 'In Thy fear will I worship towards Thy holy temple.' 'O fear the Lord, ye His holy ones.' 'O worship the Lord, in the beauty of holiness; fear before Him, all the earth.' 'Let them praise Thy great and terrible name; holy is He.' 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.' 'The Lord of hosts, Him shall ye sanctify; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.' 'Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.' 'Like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy; and if ye call on Him as father, pass the time of your sojourning in fear.' And so on through the whole of Scripture, from the Song of Moses on to the Song of the Lamb: 'Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord! and glorify Thy name, for Thou only art holy.' If we yield ourselves to the impression of such passages, we shall feel more deeply that the fear of God, the tender fear of in any way offending Him, the fear especially of entering into His holy presence with what is human and carnal, with aught of our own wisdom and effort, is of the very essence of the holiness we are to follow after. It is this fear of God will make us, like Moses, fall down and hide our face in God's presence, and wait for His own Holy Spirit to open in us the eyes, and breathe in us the thoughts and the worship, with which we draw nigh to Him, the Holy One. It is in this holy fear that that stillness of soul is wrought which leads it to rest in God, and opens the way for what we saw in Paradise to be the secret of holiness: God keeping His Sabbath, and sanctifying the soul in which He rests.
HOLY IN CHRIST.
Holiness and Redemption.
'Sanctify unto me all the first-born.'—Ex. xiii. 2.
'All the first-born are mine; for on the day I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified unto me all the first-born in Israel: mine they shall be: I am the Lord.'—Num. iii. 13, viii. 17.
'For I am the Lord your God that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.'—Lev. xi. 45.
'I have redeemed thee; thou art mine.'—Isa. xliii. 1.
At Horeb we saw how the first mention of the word holy in the history of fallen man was connected with the inauguration of a new period in the revelation of God, that of Redemption. In the passover we have the first manifestation of what Redemption is; and here the more frequent use of the word holy begins. In the feast of unleavened bread we have the symbol of the putting off of the old and the putting on of the new, to which redemption through blood is to lead. Of the seven days we read: 'In the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation;' the meeting of the redeemed people to commemorate its deliverance is a holy gathering; they meet under the covering of their Redeemer, the Holy One. As soon as the people had been redeemed from Egypt, God's very first word to them was, 'Sanctify—make holy unto me all the first-born: it is mine.' (See Ex. xiii. 2.) The word reveals how proprietorship is one of the central thoughts both in redemption and in sanctification, the link that binds them together. And though the word is here only used of the first-born, they are regarded as the type of the whole people. We know how all growth and organization commence from a centre, around which in ever-widening circles the life of the organism spreads. If holiness in the human race is to be true and real, free as that of God, it must be the result of a self-appropriating development. And so the first-born are sanctified, and afterwards the priests in their place, as the type of what the whole people is to be as God's first-born among the nations, His peculiar treasure, 'an holy nation.' This idea of proprietorship as related to redemption and sanctification comes out with especial clearness when God speaks of the exchange of the priests for the first-born (Num. iii. 12, 13, viii. 16, 17): 'The Levites are wholly given unto me; instead of the first-born have I taken them unto me; for all the first-born are mine; in the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.'
Let us try and realize the relation existing between redemption and holiness. In Paradise we saw what God's sanctifying the seventh day was: He took possession of it, He blessed it, He rested in it and refreshed Himself. Where God enters and rests, there is holiness: the more perfectly the object is fitted for Him to enter and dwell, the more perfect the holiness. The seventh day was sanctified as the period for man's sanctification. At the very first step God took to lead him to His Holiness—the command not to eat of the tree—man fell. God did not give up His plan, but had now to pursue a different and slower path. After twenty-five centuries' slow but needful preparation, He now reveals Himself as the Redeemer. A people whom He had chosen and formed for Himself He gives up to oppression and slavery, that their hearts may be prepared to long for and welcome a Deliverer. In a series of mighty wonders He proves Himself the Conqueror of their enemies, and then, in the blood of the Paschal Lamb on their doors, teaches them what redemption is, not only from an unjust oppressor here on earth, but from the righteous judgment their sins had deserved. The Passover is to be to them the transition from the seen and temporal to the unseen and spiritual, revealing God not only as the Mighty but as the Holy One, freeing them not only from the house of bondage but the Destroying Angel.
And having thus redeemed them, He tells them that they are now His own. During their stay at Sinai and in the wilderness, the thought is continually pressed upon them that they are now the Lord's people, whom He has made His own by the strength of His arm, that He may make them holy for Himself, even as He is holy. The purpose of redemption is Possession, and the purpose of Possession is likeness to Him who is Redeemer and Owner, is Holiness.
In regard to this Holiness, and the way it is to be attained as the result of redemption, there is more than one lesson the sanctifying of the first-born will teach us.
First of all, we want to realize how inseparable redemption and holiness are. Neither can exist without the other. Only redemption leads to holiness. If I am seeking holiness, I must abide in the clear and full experience of being a redeemed one, and as such of being owned and possessed by God. Redemption is too often looked at from its negative side as deliverance from: its real glory is the positive element of being redeemed unto Himself. Full possession of a house means occupation: if I own a house without occupying it, it may be the home of all that is foul and evil. God has redeemed me and made me His own with the view of getting complete possession of me. He says of my soul, 'It is mine,' and seeks to have His right of ownership acknowledged and made fully manifest. That will be perfect holiness, where God has entered in and taken complete and entire possession. It is redemption gives God His right and power over me; it is redemption sets me free for God now to possess and bless: it is redemption realized and filling my soul, that will bring me the assurance and experience of all His power will work in me. In God, redemption and sanctification are one: the more redemption as a Divine reality possesses me, the closer am I linked to the Redeemer-God, the Holy One.
And just so, only holiness brings the assurance and enjoyment of redemption. If I am seeking to hold fast redemption on lower ground, I may be deceived. If I have become unwatchful or careless, I should tremble at the very idea of trusting in redemption apart from holiness as its object. To Israel God spake, 'I brought you up out of the land of Egypt: therefore ye shall be holy, for I am holy.' It is God the Redeemer who made us His own, who calls us too to be holy: let Holiness be to us the most essential, the most precious part of redemption: the yielding of ourselves to Him who has taken us as His own, and has undertaken to make us His own entirely.
A second lesson suggested is the connection between God's and man's working in sanctification. To Moses the Lord speaks, 'Sanctify unto me all the first-born.' He afterwards says, 'I sanctified all the first-born for myself.' What God does He does to be carried out and appropriated through us. When He tells us that we are made holy in Christ Jesus, that we are His holy ones, He speaks not only of His purpose, but of what He has really done; we have been sanctified in the one offering of Christ, and in our being created anew in Him. But this work has a human side. To us comes the call to be holy, to follow after holiness, to perfect holiness. God has made us His own, and allows us to say that we are His: but He waits for us now to yield Him an enlarged entrance into the secret places of our inner being, for Him to fill it all with His fulness. Holiness is not something we bring to God or do for Him. Holiness is what there is of God in us. God has made us His own in redemption, that He might make Himself our own in sanctification. And our work in becoming holy is the bringing our whole life, and every part of it, into subjection to the rule of this holy God, putting every member and every power upon His altar.
And this teaches us the answer to the question as to the connection between the sudden and the gradual in sanctification: between its being a thing once for all complete, and yet imperfect and needing to be perfected. What God sanctifies is holy with a Divine and perfect holiness as His gift: man has to sanctify by acknowledging and maintaining and carrying out that holiness in relation to what God has made holy. God sanctified the Sabbath day: man has to sanctify it, that is, to keep it holy. God sanctified the first-born as His own: Israel had to sanctify them, to treat them and give them up to God as holy. God is holy: we are to sanctify Him in acknowledging and adoring and honouring that holiness. God has sanctified His great name, His name is Holy: we sanctify or hallow that name as we fear and trust and use it as the revelation of His Holiness. God sanctified Christ: Christ sanctified Himself, manifesting in His personal will and action perfect conformity to the Holiness with which God had made Him holy. God has sanctified us in Christ Jesus: we are to be holy by yielding ourselves to the power of that holiness, by acting it out, and manifesting it in all our life and walk. The objective Divine gift, bestowed once for all and completely, must be appropriated as a subjective personal possession; we must cleanse ourselves, perfecting holiness. Redeemed unto holiness: as the two thoughts are linked in the mind and work of God, they must be linked in our heart and life.
When Isaiah announced the second, the true redemption, it was given to him, even more clearly and fully than to Moses, to reveal the name of God as 'The Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.' The more we study this name, and hallow it, and worship God by it, the more inseparably will the words become connected, and we shall see how, as the Redeemer is the Holy One, the redeemed are holy ones too. Isaiah says of 'the way of holiness,' the 'redeemed shall walk therein.' The redemption that comes out from the Holiness of God must lead up into it too. We shall understand that to be redeemed in Christ is to be holy in Christ, and the call of our redeeming God will acquire new meaning: 'I am holy: be ye holy.'
BE YE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
O Lord God! the Holy One of Israel and his Redeemer! I worship before Thee in deep humility. I confess with shame that I so long sought Thee more as the Redeemer than as the Holy One. I knew not that it was as the Holy One Thou hadst redeemed, that redemption was the outcome and the fruit of Thy Holiness; that a participation in Thy Holiness was its one purpose and its highest beauty. I only thought of being redeemed from bondage and death: like Israel, I understood not that without fellowship and conformity to Thyself redemption would lose its value.
Most holy God! I praise Thee for the patience with which Thou bearest with the selfishness and the slowness of Thy redeemed ones. I praise Thee for the teaching of the Spirit of Thy Holiness, leading Thy saints, and me too, to see how it is Thy Holiness, and the call to become partaker of it, that gives redemption its value; how it is for Thyself as the Holy One, to be Thine own, possessed and sanctified of Thee, that we are redeemed.
O my God! with a love and a joy and a thanksgiving that cannot be uttered, I praise Thee for Christ, who has been made unto us of Thee sanctification and redemption. In Him Thou art my Redeemer, my Holy One. In Him I am Thy redeemed, Thy holy one. O God! in speechless adoration I fall down to worship the love that passeth knowledge, that hath done this for us, and to believe that in one who is now before Thee, holy in Christ, Thou wilt fulfil all Thy glorious purposes according to the greatness of Thy power. Amen.
1. 'Redemption through His blood.' The blood we meet at the threshold of the pathway of Holiness. For it is the blood of the sacrifice which the fire of God consumed, and yet could not consume. That blood has such power of holiness in it, that we read, 'Sanctified by His own blood.' Always think of holiness, or pray for it, as one redeemed by blood. Live under the covering of the blood in its daily cleansing power.
2. It is only as we know the Holiness of God as Fire, and bow before His righteous judgment, that we can appreciate the preciousness of the blood or the reality of the redemption. As long as we only think of the love of God as goodness, we may aim at being good; faith in God who redeems will waken in us the need and the joy of being holy in Christ.
3. Have you understood the right of property God has in what He has redeemed? Have you heard a voice say, Mine. Thou art Mine. Ask God very humbly to speak it to you. Listen very gently for it.
4. The holiness of the creature has its origin in the Divine will, in the Divine election, redemption, and possession. Give yourself up to this will of God and rejoice in it.
5. As God created, so He redeemed, to sanctify. Have great faith in Him for this.
6. Let God have the entire possession and disposal of you. Holiness is His; our holiness is to let Him, the Holy One, be all.
 See Note A on Holiness as Proprietorship.
HOLY IN CHRIST.
Holiness and Glory.
'Who is like unto Thee, O Lord! among the gods? Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders? Thou in Thy mercy hast led Thy people which Thou hast redeemed: Thou hast guided them in Thy strength to the habitation of Thy holiness ... The holy place, O Lord, which Thy hands have established.'
—Ex. xv. 11-17.
In these words we have another step in advance in the revelation of Holiness. We have here for the first time Holiness predicated of God Himself. He is glorious in holiness: and it is to the dwelling-place of His Holiness that He is guiding His people.
Let us first note the expression used here: glorious in holiness. Throughout Scripture we find the glory and the holiness of God mentioned together. In Ex. xxix. 43 we read, 'And the tent shall be made holy by my glory,' that glory of the Lord of which we afterwards read that it filled the house. The glory of an object, of a thing or person, is its intrinsic worth or excellence: to glorify is to remove everything that could hinder the full revelation of that excellence. In the Holiness of God His glory is hidden; in the glory of God His Holiness is manifested: His glory, the revelation of Himself as the Holy One, would make the house holy. In the same way the two are connected in Lev. x. 3, 'I will be sanctified in them that come nigh unto me, and before all the people I will be glorified.' The acknowledgment of His Holiness in the priests would be the manifestation of His glory to the people. So, too, in the song of the Seraphim (Isa. vi. 3), 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.' God is He who dwelleth in a light that is unapproachable, whom no man hath seen or can see: it is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God that He gives into our hearts. The glory is that which can be seen and known of the invisible and unapproachable light: that light itself, and the glorious fire of which that light is the shining out, that light is the Holiness of God. Holiness is not so much an attribute of God, as the comprehensive summary of all His perfections.
It is on the shore of the Red Sea that Israel thus praises God: 'Who is like unto Thee, O Lord! Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness?' He is the Incomparable One, there is none like Him. And wherein has He proved this, and revealed the glory of His Holiness? With Moses in Horeb we saw God's glory in the fire, in its double aspect of salvation and destruction: consuming what could not be purified, purifying what was not consumed. We see it here too in the song of Moses: Israel sings of judgment and of mercy. The pillar of fire and of the cloud came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel: it was a cloud and darkness to those, but it gave light by night to these. The two thoughts run through the whole song. But in the two verses that follow the ascription of holiness, we find the sum of the whole. 'Thou stretchedst out Thy right hand: the earth swallowed them.' 'The Lord looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and discomfited them.' This is the glory of Holiness as judgment and destruction of the enemy. 'Thou in Thy mercy hast led Thy people which thou hast redeemed. Thou hast guided them in Thy strength to the habitation of Thy Holiness.' This is the glory of Holiness in mercy and redemption—a Holiness that not only delivers but guides to the habitation of holiness, where the Holy One is to dwell with and in His people. In the inspiration of the hour of triumph it is thus early revealed that the great object and fruit of redemption, as wrought out by the Holy One, is to be His indwelling: with nothing short of this can the Holy One rest content, or the full glory of His Holiness be made manifest.
And now, observe further, how, as it is in the redemption of His people that God's Holiness is revealed, so it is in the song of redemption that the personal ascription of Holiness to God is found. We know how in Scripture, after some striking special interposition of God as Redeemer, the special influence of the Spirit is manifested in some song of praise. It is remarkable how it is in these outbursts of holy enthusiasm, God is praised as the Holy One. See it in the song of Hannah (1 Sam. ii. 2), 'There is none holy as the Lord.' The language of the Seraphim (Isa. vi.) is that of a song of adoration. In the great day of Israel's deliverance the song will be, 'The Lord Jehovah is become my strength and song. Sing unto the Lord, for He hath done excellent things. Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.' Mary sings, 'For He that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is His name.' The book of Revelation reveals the living creatures giving glory and honour and thanks to Him that sitteth on the throne; 'and they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, which was, and which is, and which is to come.' And when the song of Moses and of the Lamb is sung by the sea of glass, it will still be, 'Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy.' It is in the moments of highest inspiration, under the fullest manifestation of God's redeeming power, that His servants speak of His Holiness. In Ps. xcvii. we read, 'Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His Holiness.' And in Ps. xcix., which has, with its thrice repeated holy, been called the echo on earth of the Thrice Holy of heaven, we sing—
Let them praise Thy great and terrible name. HOLY IS HE.
Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool: HOLY IS HE.
Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill: For the Lord our God is HOLY.
It is only under the influence of high spiritual elevation and joy that God's holiness can be fully apprehended or rightly worshipped. The sentiment that becomes us as we worship the Holy One, that fits us for knowing and worshipping Him aright, is the spirit of praise that sings and shouts for joy in the experience of His full salvation.
But is not this at variance with the lesson we learnt at Horeb, when God spake, 'Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes,' and where Moses feared and hid his face? And is not this in very deed the posture that becomes us as creatures and sinners? It is indeed: and yet the two sentiments are not at variance: rather they are indispensable to each other; the fear is the preparation for the praise and the glory. Or is it not that same Moses who hid his face and feared to look upon God, who afterwards beheld His glory until his own face shone with a brightness that men could not bear to look upon? And is not the song that sings here of God as glorious in holiness, also the song of Moses who feared and hid his face? Have we not seen in the fire, and in God, and specially in His Holiness, the twofold aspect; consuming and purifying, repelling and attracting, judging and saving, with the latter in each case not only the accompaniment but the result of the former? And so we shall find that the deeper the humbling and the fear in God's Holy Presence, and the more real and complete the putting off of all that is of self and of nature, even to the putting off, the complete death of the old man and his will, the more hearty the giving up to be consumed of what is sinful, the deeper and fuller will be the praise and joy with which we daily sing our song of redemption: 'Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?'
'Glorious in holiness; fearful in praises:' the song itself harmonizes the apparently conflicting elements. Yes, I will sing of judgment and of mercy. I will rejoice with trembling as I praise the Holy One. As I look upon the two sides of His Holiness, as revealed to the Egyptians and the Israelites, I remember that what was there separated is in me united. By nature I am the Egyptian, an enemy doomed to destruction; by grace, an Israelite chosen for redemption. In me the fire must consume and destroy; only as judgment does its work, can mercy fully save. It is only as I tremble before the Searching Light and the Burning Fire and the Consuming Heat of the Holy One, as I yield the Egyptian nature to be judged and condemned and slain, that the Israelite will be redeemed to know aright his God as the God of salvation, and to rejoice in Him.
Blessed be God! the judgment is past. In Christ, the burning bush, the fire of the Divine Holiness did its double work: in Him sin was condemned in the flesh; in Him we are free. In giving up His will to the death, and doing God's will, Christ sanctified Himself; and in that will we are sanctified too. His crucifixion, with its judgment of the flesh, His death, with its entire putting off of what is of nature, is not only for us, but is really ours; a life and a power working within us by His Spirit. Day by day we abide in Him. Tremblingly but rejoicingly we take our stand in Him, for the Power of Holiness as Judgment to vindicate within us its fierce vengeance against what is sin and flesh, and so to let the Power of Holiness as Redemption accomplish that glorious work that makes us give thanks at the remembrance of His Holiness. And so the shout of Salvation rings ever deeper and truer and louder through our life, 'Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?'
BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
'Who is like unto Thee, O Lord! glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?' With my whole heart would I join in this song of redemption, and rejoice in Thee as the God of my salvation.
O my God! let Thy Spirit, from whom these words of holy joy and triumph came, so reveal within me the great redemption as a personal experience, that my whole life may be one song of trembling and adoring wonder.
I beseech Thee especially, let my whole heart be filled with Thyself, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, who alone doest wonders. Let the fear of Thy Holiness make me tremble at all there is in me of self and flesh, and lead me in my worship to deny and crucify my own wisdom, that the Spirit of Thy Holiness may breathe in me. Let the fear of the Lord give its deep undertone to all my coming in and going out in Thy Holy Presence. Prepare me thus for giving praise without ceasing at the remembrance of Thy holiness. O my God! I would rejoice in Thee as my Redeemer, MY HOLY ONE, with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. As my Redeemer, Thou makest me holy. With my whole heart do I trust Thee to do it, to sanctify me wholly. I do believe in Thy promise. I do believe in Thyself, and believing I receive Thee, the Holy One, my Redeemer.
Who is like unto Thee, O Lord! glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
1. God's Holiness as Glory. God is glorified in the holiness of His people. True holiness always gives glory to God alone. Live to the glory of God: that is holiness. Live holily: that will glorify God. To lose sight of self, and seek only God's glory, is holiness.
2. Our Holiness as Praise. Praise gives glory to God, and is thus an element of holiness. 'Thou art holy, Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.'
3. God's Holiness, His holy redeeming love, is cause of unceasing joy and praise. Praise God every day for it. But you cannot do this unless you live in it. May God's holiness become so glorious to us, as we understand that whatever we see of His glory is just the outshining of His holiness, that we cannot help rejoicing in it, and in Him the Holy One.
4. The spirit of the fear of the Lord and the spirit of praise may, at first sight, appear to be at variance. But it is not so. The humility that fears the Holy One will also praise Him: 'Ye that fear the Lord: praise the Lord.' The lower we lie in the fear of God, and the fear of self, the more surely will He lift us up in due time to praise Him.
HOLY IN CHRIST.
Holiness and Obedience.
'Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: ye shall be unto me an holy nation.'—Ex. xix. 4-6.
Israel has reached Horeb. The law is to be given and the covenant made. Here are God's first words to the people; He speaks of redemption and its blessing, fellowship with Himself: 'Ye have seen how I brought you unto myself.' He speaks of holiness as His purpose in redemption: 'Ye shall be unto me an holy nation.' And as the link between the two He places obedience: 'If ye will indeed obey my voice, ye shall be unto me an holy nation.' God's will is the expression of His holiness; as we do His will, we come into contact with His holiness. The link between Redemption and Holiness is Obedience.
This takes us back to what we saw in Paradise. God sanctified the seventh day as the time for sanctifying man. And what was the first thing He did with this purpose? He gave him a commandment. Obedience to that commandment would have opened the door, would have been the entrance, into the Holiness of God. Holiness is a moral attribute; and moral is that which a free will chooses and determines for itself. What God creates and gives is only naturally good; what man wills to have of God and His will, and really appropriates, has moral worth, and leads to holiness. In creation God manifested His wise and good will. His holy will He speaks in His commands. As that holy will enters man's will, as man's will accepts and unites itself with God's will, he becomes holy. After creation, in the seventh day, God took man up into His work of sanctification to make him holy. Obedience is the path to holiness, because it is the path to union with God's holy will; with man unfallen, as with fallen man, in redemption here and in glory above, in all the holy angels, in Christ the Holy One of God Himself, obedience is the path of holiness. It is not itself holiness: but as the will opens itself to accept and to do the will of God, God communicates Himself and His Holiness. To obey His voice is to follow Him as He leads in the way to the full revelation and communication of Himself and His blessed nature as the Holy One.
Obedience. Not knowledge of the will of God, not even approval, not even the will to do it, but the doing of it. Knowledge, and approval, and will must lead to action; the will of God must be done. 'If ye indeed obey my voice, ye shall be unto me an holy nation.' It is not faith, and not worship, and not profession, that God here asks in the first place from His people when He speaks of holiness; it is obedience. God's will must be done on earth, as in heaven. 'Remember and do all my commandments, that ye may be holy to your God' (Num. xv. 40). 'Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; and ye shall keep my statutes and do them. I am the Lord which sanctify you' (Lev. xx. 7, 8). 'Therefore shall ye keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord: I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt' (xxii 21, 33).
A moment's reflection will make the reason of this clear to us. It is in a man's work that he manifests what he is. I may know what is good, and yet not approve it. I may approve, and yet not will it. I may in a certain sense will it, and yet be wanting in the energy, or the self-sacrifice, or the power that will rouse and do the thing. Thinking is easier than willing, and willing is easier than doing. Action alone proves whether the object of my interest has complete mastery over me. God wants His will done. This alone is obedience. In this alone it is seen whether the whole heart, with all its strength and will, has given itself over to the will of God; whether we live it, and are ready at any sacrifice to make it our own by doing it. God has no other way for making us holy. 'Ye shall keep my statutes and do them: I am the Lord which make you holy.'
To all seekers after holiness this is a lesson of deep importance. Obedience is not holiness; holiness is something far higher, something that comes from God to us, or rather, something of God coming into us. But obedience is indispensable to holiness: it cannot exist without it. While, therefore, your heart seeks to follow the teaching of God's word, and looks in faith to what God has done, as He has made you holy in Christ, and to what God is still to do through the Spirit of Holiness as He fulfils the promise, 'The very God of peace sanctify you wholly,' never for one moment forget to be obedient. 'If ye shall indeed obey my voice, ye shall be an holy nation to me.' Begin by doing at once whatever appears right to do. Give up at once whatever conscience tells that you dare not say is according to the will of God. Not only pray for light and strength, but act; do what God says. 'He that doeth the will of God is my brother,' Jesus says. Every son of God has been begotten of the will of God: in it he has his life. To do the Father's will is the meat, the strength, the mark, of every son of God.
It is nothing less than the surrender to such a life of simple and entire obedience that is implied in becoming a Christian. There are, alas! too many Christians who, from the want either of proper instruction, or of proper attention to the teaching of God's word, have never realized the place of supreme importance that obedience takes in the Christian life. They know not that Christ, and redemption, and faith all lead to it, because through it alone is the way to the fellowship of the Love, and the Likeness, and the Glory of God. We have all, possibly, suffered from it ourselves: in our prayers and efforts after the perfect peace and the rest of faith, after the abiding joy and the increasing power of the Christian life, there has been a secret something hindering the blessing, or causing the speedy loss of what had been apprehended. A wrong impression as to the absolute necessity of obedience was probably the cause. It cannot too earnestly be insisted on that the freeness and mighty power of grace has this for its object from our conversion onwards, the restoring us to the active obedience and harmony with God's will from which we had fallen through the first sin in Paradise. Obedience leads to God and His Holiness. It is in obedience that the will is moulded, and the character fashioned, and an inner man built up which God can clothe and adorn with the beauty of holiness.
When a Christian discovers that this has been the missing link, the cause of failure and darkness, there is nothing for it but, in a grand act of surrender, deliberately to choose obedience, universal, whole-hearted obedience, as the law of his life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let him not fear to make his own the words of Israel at Sinai, in answer to the message of God we are considering: 'All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do;' 'All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.' What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God hath done by the gift of His Son and Spirit. The law-giving of Sinai on tables of stone has been succeeded by the law-giving of the Spirit on the table of the heart: the Holy Spirit is the power of obedience, and is so the Spirit of Holiness, who, in obedience, prepares our hearts for being the dwelling of the Holy One. Let us in this faith yield ourselves to a life of obedience: it is the New Testament path to the realization of the promise: 'If ye will obey my voice indeed, ye shall be unto me an holy nation.'
We have already seen how holiness in its very nature supposes the personal relation to God, His personal presence. 'I have brought you unto myself; if ye obey, ye shall be unto me an holy nation.' It is as we understand and hold fast this personal element that obedience will become possible, and will lead to holiness. Mark well God's words: 'If ye will obey my voice, and keep my covenant.' The voice is more than a law or a book; it always implies a living person and intercourse with him. It is this that is the secret of gospel obedience: hearing the voice and following the lead of Jesus as a personal friend, a living Saviour. It is being led by the Spirit of God, having Him to reveal the Presence, and the Will, and the Love of the Father, that will work in us that personal relation which the New Testament means when it speaks of doing everything unto the Lord, as pleasing God.
Such obedience is the pathway of holiness. Its every act is a link to the living God, a surrender of the being for God's will, for God Himself to take possession. In the process of assimilation, slow but sure, by which the will of God, as the meat of our souls, is taken up into our inmost being, our spiritual nature is strengthened, is spiritualized, growing up into an holy temple in which God can reveal Himself and take up His abode.
Let every believer study to realize this. When God sanctified the seventh day as His period of making holy, He taught us that He could not do it at once. The revelation and communication of holiness must be gradual, as man is prepared to receive it. God's sanctifying work with each of us, as with the race, needs time. The time it needs and seeks is the life of daily, hourly obedience. All that is spent in self-will, and not in the living relation to the Lord, is lost. But when the heart seeks day by day to hearken to the voice and to obey it, the Holy One Himself watches over His words to fulfil them: 'Ye shall be unto me an holy nation.' In a way of which the soul beforehand can have but little conception, God will overshadow and make His abode in the obedient heart. The habit of always listening for the voice and obeying it will only be the building of the temple: the Living God Himself, the Holy One, will come to take up His abode. The glory of the Lord will fill the house, and the promise be made true, 'I will sanctify it by my glory.'
'I brought you unto myself; if ye will obey my voice in deed, ye shall be unto me an holy nation.' Seekers after holiness! God has brought you to Himself. And now His voice speaks to you all the thoughts of His heart, that as you take them in, and make them your own, and make His will your own by living and doing it, you may enter into the most complete union with Himself, the union of will as well as of life, and so become a holy people unto Him. Let obedience, the listening to and the doing the will of God, be the joy and the glory of your life; it will give you access unto the Holiness of God.
BE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
O my God! Thou hast redeemed me for Thyself, that Thou mightest have me wholly as Thine own, possessing, filling my inmost being with Thy own likeness, Thy perfect will, and the glory of Thy Holiness. And Thou seekest to train me, in the power of a free and loving will, to take Thy will and make it my own, that in the very centre of my being I may have Thine own perfection dwelling in me. And in Thy words Thou revealest Thy will, that as I accept and keep them I may master their Divine contents, and will all that Thou willest.
O my God! let me live day by day in such fellowship with Thee, that I may indeed in everything hear Thy voice, the living voice of the living God speaking to me. Let the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Thy Holiness, be to me Thy voice guiding me in the path of simple, childlike obedience. I do bless Thee that I have seen that Christ, in whom I am holy, was the obedient one, that in obedience He sanctified Himself to become my sanctification, and that abiding in Him, Thy obedient, holy Child, is abiding in Thy will as once done by Him, and now to be done by me. O my God! I will indeed obey Thy will: make Thou me one of Thy holy nation, a peculiar treasure above all people. Amen.
1. 'He became obedient unto death.' 'Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.' 'I come to do Thy will.' 'In which will we are sanctified.' Christ's example teaches us that obedience is the only path to the Holiness or the glory of God. Be this your consecration: a surrender in everything to seek and do the will of God.
2. We are 'holy in Christ'—in this Christ who did the will of God and was obedient to the death. In Him it is we are; in Him we are holy. His obedience is the soil in which we are planted, and must be rooted. 'It is my meat to do His will;' obedience was the sustenance of His life; in doing God's will He drew down Divine nourishment; it must be so with us too.
3. As you study what it is to be and abide in Christ, as you rejoice you are in Him, always remember it is Christ who obeyed in whom God has planted you.
4. If ever you feel perplexed about holiness, just yield yourself again to do God's will, and go and do it. It is ours to obey, it is God's to sanctify.
5. Holy in Christ. Christ sanctified Himself by obedience, by doing the will of God, and in that will, as done by Him, we have been sanctified. In accepting that will as done by Him, in accepting Him, I am holy. In accepting that will of God, as to be done by me, I become holy. I am in Him; in every act of living obedience, I enter into living fellowship with Him, and draw the power of His life into mine.