In the blog personal revival now, I emphasized the critical importance of confession, and repentance happening in one’s life, before they embrace spiritual disciplines. . This is because of the law of holiness. God is Holy and before He can entrust us with the Holy Spirit , ( the law of the Spirit of Life ) we must be cleansed of all the sins that are making us unclean and unholy. The reason why we need to confess and repent of ALL our sins is because Any of our sins will make us unclean. Of course being finite people we probably are incapable of even recognizing all of our sins, but our hope is in God who searches our hearts. What He is looking for not mathematical exactness but an earnest, honest, willingness to confess and be cleansed of every sin. And when we are cleansed then He both can and will bring us into the Holy devotions of prayer and bible study, fellowship and worship.
However there are degrees of holiness, the basic principle of which is that the closer anything is to God Himself, the more holy it is. For instance while the tabernacle of Moses was holy, there was the holy place in the tent and behind it the most holy place where only the ark of the covenant was kept. And this ” degree of holiness” is something real and substantial in it’s own right. Theologians are not eager to allow this distinction. If asked what holiness is they will say, “something that is set apart for God”, which is of course true. This I call the positional definition of holiness and it accords with the positional definition of righteousness, which is that we are righteous because we are in Christ. But there is also the substantial or existential definition of righteousness in which, “ Dear children, let no one lead you astray: he who is doing righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous, I John 3:7″ And there is also a substantial or existential definition of holiness. By this I mean a holiness that is actually a substantial part of a person or even a thing and this holiness always develops as a result of the degree of closeness that a person has achieved with God.
In accord with the principle of degrees of holiness we could define being revived as attaining to a degree of holiness such that God will entrust you with His Holy things. Now there are obviously even degrees of holiness in revival and we see that certain men, such as Evan Roberts of the Welsh Revival or David Branham an evangelist who labored here in BC in the mid 20th century, and many , many others, became extremely holy as a direct result of their intimate walk with God. As a result God entrusted them with profound revelations, immense authority, and great spiritual power. This leads me to the observation that while my personal revival is real, it is nothing when compared to the degree of revival achieved by such men. Nonetheless, being revived, I am thereby enabled ( by the law of the spirit of life ) to pursue even this degree of holiness through spiritual discipline.There is a high price for this degree of holiness and that price is is directly related to how diligent one is in spiritual discipline.
In our culture today, holiness is either totally ignored or is dismissed as irrelevant or even worse. Everything has been made common or profane in our culture. Comedians make a joke of everything and anything including that which is holy. And we, as Christians, being raised within this culture have for the most part lost our knowledge of, and skill for ,handling holiness. And as Christians we must handle or manage both our own holiness as well as the holiness of God. God has entrusted His holiness to us and on our part we are enjoined to 1 Peter 3:15 “ sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”. This means that even as the Lord has set us apart for Himself, so also we need to set Him apart as Lord. We need to regard Him as very sacred, very special. As the Irish Hymn says. Thou and thou alone first in my heart”. The more holy we regard Jesus, the more holy we become. The more holy we regard the things of Jesus, His church, His word, His spiritual presence, His songs, the more holy we become. And this holiness is something devoutly to be wished, for according to our holiness are we enabled to draw closer and closer to God and to be used more powerfully by Him.
To sanctify something or someone as holy is to remove them or it from common or profane use. It also means that it is not to be handled by profane hands or seen by profane eyes or heard by profane ears. This is the law of holiness and we in the church need to become much more sensitive and careful about how we handle and most importantly reveal the holiness of God. God never displays His holiness to the profane. I first experienced this principle when i was the pastor of a small church in Fort Nelson in the early 80’s. As a typical Pentecostal church we had Sunday morning and Sunday evening services and often our Sunday evening services were just grand. Twenty or thirty folk would be present and we would have ourselves a time in the presence of the Lord. I loved these meetings and often would encourage folk to come and experience our wonderful Sunday evening meetings. The dilemma was that when they came the service almost always would be bland and dismal. God showed us over and over that He would not display His Holiness as a spectacle for the merely curious. What I have since understood is that it was wrong for me to invite these people into this service without making allowance and preparation for their sinfulness. The church is very close and dear to the lord and as such it is very holy. The profane should not be invited into the church service unless A. the church is committed first of all to dealing with their sinfulness, and B. the church understands and is devoted to cherishing and protecting the holiness of God.
How the law of holiness works itself out in our lives and the life of the church will be the subject of my next blog.