|Volume 17 Number 6 June 2015||
Perfecting holiness, developing holiness, bringing holiness to full growth in the Christian life is an imperative instruction to believers (2 Corinthians 7:1). In the context of 2 Corinthians 6 and 7, the apostle Paul urged the church to separate from unbelievers and have nothing to do with things impure. If they would do this, God would be their God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Based on this promise, God’s Word requires Christians to “cleanse themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit…” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Purity is clearly seen here as an aspect of holiness. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV).
Before we can put on as holy the good things, we must put to death evil and put off the “old man” of sin (Colossians 3:5-14). The urgency of cleansing self of all defilement is quite apparent. If Christians are to be holy, they must be clean and pure.
Consider the word “perfecting.” It is used in 2 Corinthians 7:1 to mean “take to its full potential.” We often think of perfect as something or someone that has no flaws or never makes a mistake. God does not expect perfection as we use the word. God expects us to work to develop holiness in our lives and see it through to the end. Perfecting is a process of accomplishing completely the development of holiness in our lives. We are to take holiness to full growth with reverential respect for God (2 Corinthians 7:1). We do this not so much in fear of His power to punish, but more with a desire to not displease our loving Heavenly Father.
Do some professing Christians fail to perfect holiness? Yes. Why do Christians neglect striving on unto perfection (Hebrews 6:1)? Why the seeming aversion to holy living? Can believers justify their failure in perfecting holiness? These are reasonable inquiries worthy of our consideration. Here are some possible reasons for our resistance to spiritual growth and the development of holy lives.
Sometimes teachers of the Gospel may not make it clear regarding the commitment and the requirements of being a Christian. Maybe some do not understand what God expects or that we are capable of perfecting holiness.
Could some believers simply be apathetic? Maybe. Ignorance of the Scripture is sometimes given as an excuse. That is not a just reason. Even new converts can know that God expects them to live godly lives. We turn from sin in obedience not to continue in sin.
Another possible explanation for failure to perfect holiness is that some are not willing to sacrifice – not willing to give up things contrary to holy living. It’s certainly not because we are too holy already! Holy and godly living does not appeal to the carnal minded. Could it be that some are still living after the flesh? Whatever the hindrance, we must put it aside and perfect holiness in our lives.
Though Christians are to work out their own salvation, it is God who, through His holy Word, works in each of us as we yield to His will (Philippians 2:13-14). Part of perfecting holiness is knowing God’s will and allowing His Word to direct our lives.
To perfect holiness is certainly a challenge. This may be because we do not take our sinning seriously. We allow for “little white lies.” We categorize sins. We look at sin as just a personal failure. Sin is more than that. Sin grieves the heart of God. Sin is against God (Genesis 39:9). To perfect holiness we must confess with David, “I have sinned against Jehovah” (2 Samuel 12:13).
To perfect holiness we must live by faith, trusting in God (2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20).
“And Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Master; it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias’” (Mark 9:5). Where are you right now? The place we now occupy is either a good or a bad place. Usually the place where we live and serve is by choice. However, there are a few exceptions where someone may be forced into someplace by circumstances. However, wherever you find yourself, it can be transformed into a place of usefulness and joy by the presence of Jesus. It is His presence and companionship that makes the difference.
In Mark 9:5, we see Jesus, Peter and John on the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus was transfigured; most likely this was Mount Hermon. When Jesus was transfigured with radiant, shining garments of white, Elijah and Moses appeared with Him. Peter, in his excitement, said that the place was good where they were and desired to build tabernacles (tents of meeting). Indeed, it was a good place to be.
It is good to be where Jesus is. With Him, we have a sense of security, and we are closer to heaven’s glory with Him. We are in great fellowship with other believers because of Christ.
It is good to be above the lower things in life so that we may have a proper evaluation of things, and that enables us to reinforce our convictions on certain issues. It is good to be in a place where the center of eternal goodness is Christ Jesus.
It is good to be where God’s glory is manifested. We must have a clear vision of our purpose in life to serve God. It warms our hearts and prepares us for the “valley” times ahead. With this, our wills are empowered, and we are strengthened for greater activity.
It is good to be where we can share Christ with others. What do we need to do this? Complete resignation to His will and purpose. We must always be obedient to His Word while we display a genuine love for the Savior and for a lost and dying world.
The Lord speaks to us through His Word. Let us yield to Him that we might ever be found with Him on all occasions, with our affection on things above, ready to share with Him in His suffering and sacrifice. May our lives be “transfigured” and transformed to one of service and usefulness for the Master (Romans 12:1-2).