“…and pursue holiness…”
Printable version pastoral letter 154
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I want to spur you on today in your walk with Jesus. The above three words, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews (12:14), are packed with purpose and meaning. They are aggressive, not passive. They are goal-oriented and therefore life-shaping. They rebuke laziness and reward diligence.
These words speak of a goal: Holiness. Please do not cringe at this word! It is a beautiful word. Holiness describes what the Lord is in His very essence. He is utterly pure. He contains nothing which is tainted or in the least way dirty. He has never had a bad thought or dream, pronounced an evil word or performed a sinful deed. He is good to the very core of His being, always has been and always shall be.
He is Holy.
His holiness is beautiful and renders Him worthy of all our worship.
Now, God possesses certain attributes which are His and His alone. We will never, in any measure possess these attributes. I am speaking here of His Eternality, His Omniscience (all-knowingness), Omnipresence (all-whereness), and His Omnipotence (all-powerfulness). These attributes are His, never ours.
But God possesses other attributes which to one degree or another He deigns to share with us. I am speaking here of things such as His Love, Mercy, Wisdom, and Justice. His holiness is just such an attribute. The Eternal God desires to make us like Himself in His holiness. Embrace this. Holiness is not a curse, but a blessing. Holiness, that is, true goodness at heart level, is a beautiful thing! In varying degrees, God in His grace can make us more loving, merciful, wise, just, and, holy.
You can describe growth in Holiness simply as “becoming more and more like Jesus”, if you want to.
Now, our Bible verse at the top tells us that we have a part to play in this development of holiness within. We have to cooperate with God in this. This pursuit of holiness is different in this regard than our initial salvation. When we are first saved from the guilt and penalty of our sin, we come to Jesus with no works of our own to offer. We receive pardon by the merits of Jesus and His death on the cross for our sins. He takes away our sin and gives us His righteousness in their place.
But growing in holiness, becoming more and more like Jesus, is something with which we must cooperate.
We “pursue” holiness. Like a boy pursues a girl, or a person pursues a dream, a Christian pursues becoming more like Jesus. He becomes increasingly consumed by this. He thinks about it, works on it, strategizes for it.
Becoming more like Jesus will not happen by accident. More so, the true Christian is proven from the false by his earnest desire to have done with the old ways and live a new way. I think it fair to say that if one does not want to become more like Jesus, that is, grow in holiness, then they are most probably not His. How can they be? In other words, one’s salvation is proven by one’s pursuit of holiness.
Look, we are not saved by works. We are saved by grace, through faith, alone. But we are saved to become. We are saved to as well as from: From sin, to Christ. And God is able and willing to give us all the grace we need to:
Battle heart and life sins
Seek Him in prayer
Discover Him in His Word
Put off the “old” and put on the “new”
Growing in holiness requires spiritual effort and commitment. It is a pursuit, not just an automatic.
And the result, the prize at the end, is a character that is larger for God, shaped like Christ, happy in Jesus.
Nobody will ever be sorry for pursuing holiness. Many will be sorry for not doing so.
May each one of us receive all the grace available to join in the magnificent obsession of becoming like Jesus!
Yours for Christ and forever,