Holiness – The Divine Life, The Forgotten Realm
By Dr. Mark Spitsbergen, ThD, MS
Holiness – The Divine Life, The Forgotten Realm
By Dr. Mark Spitsbergen, ThD, MS
There is only One Who possesses it, and He alone has the power to impart it.
Holiness of heart and life is not the perfection of human nature, but the holiness of the divine nature dwelling within. (Days of Heaven on Earth: Devotional, June 27
by A.B. Simpson)
There is a realm of divine life and power that no religion can touch. It surpasses all that men can understand about their existence. It has been mislabeled, misunderstood, and taken hostage by the religious ideologies of men and their concepts of God and the divine. With all of the misunderstanding and false representation, still there is a realm so majestic and glorious that belongs only to the true and living God. He alone possesses it and expresses the splendor of all that it has to offer. Holiness belongs to God alone, and He desires to impart His holiness and teach the ways of holiness to anyone who will receive what He alone can give. To begin this journey with God, which is so wonderful that only eternity can fully reveal it, one must be born again!
Never before has a generation been faced with such an overwhelming force of wickedness and ungodliness. If there has ever been a time in the history of the church when the revelation of the beauty of holiness, the value of sanctification, and the protection of consecration has been needed, it is now. The power of God’s holiness is a glory that cannot be penetrated by darkness. It is at the heart of the fellowship that has been given to us through the new birth. It is His shield about us, and our ability to stand against all the wiles of our enemy. It is the essence of what the Holy Spirit brings to us, and the sum total of what He teaches, and leads and guides us to do. It must become our battle cry and song of deliverance to a generation that would otherwise be overrun by the rising tide of demonic forces.
In many instances, holiness has been more defined by the “holiness movements” than by what the Bible says about holiness. As with every doctrine in the Bible, there is the revelation that God has given of Himself, and there is the revelation that man has of the revelation that God has given of Himself. God’s holiness is equivalent to God’s nature. When we were born of God, we were given His nature and His holiness. What we should be certain of is that the doctrine of holiness is as important as the doctrine of justification. There have been those who have mistaken holiness for legalism, but nothing could be further from the truth. Legalism is in the category of earning a place with God. The holiness of God could never be earned, for no man would ever be deserving of it. It can only come to us by way of God’s mercy. Holiness is given to those who belong to God, and through it we are given the opportunity to learn and grow up into every dimension of the goodness of God’s divine life.
Holiness can only be understood by the revelation that God has given of Himself. God is holy, and holiness is defined by everything that He is. The sum total of His life is holiness. The many-splendored majesty of holiness is observed in the love of God, His goodness, and His truth. Everything that describes God is a definition of His holiness. Any time that God acts or is observed in the Bible, we are allowed to view His holiness and the attributes and behaviors that flow from holiness. We may say “God is love,” but we can speak even more broadly of who God is when we say “God is holy” (1 John 4:8, 1 Peter 1:15-16). As the essence of God is holiness, the essence of holiness is love.
Man lost his holiness through sin, and therefore lost his communion with God. As a result, man was cast out of the paradise of God. Man was to remain separated from God until holiness was once again returned to Him. God in His goodness supplied a gift of holiness that allowed Him to dwell in the midst of His covenant people in the Old Testament. However, through the grace that came by Jesus Christ, God restored holiness to man, and a way back into the holiest place with God (Hebrews 9:8, 10:19). We who had become alienated from God by wicked works, who were once far removed from God, are now allowed to approach unto Him. We are brought near by the blood of Christ Jesus, which removed every sin that separated us from His holiness (Colossians 1:21-22, Ephesians 2:13). Through the offering of the blood of Jesus, we were made holy (Hebrews 10:10, 19, 29). Through the new birth, we were recreated in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24). By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, oneness was established between the redeemed and God (Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:18, John 6:56, 14:23). We are now able to understand all of the sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament through Christ Jesus. The sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament are like looking at the shadow rather than the very image, and testified of these good things that have now come to us through Christ Jesus (Hebrews 10:1).
The washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit is one act of grace realized in the new birth (John 3:3-6, Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5). Salvation brought to us the gift of holiness, which Peter referred to as the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The understanding of these things is not discovered in the theological ideas of men, but in the nature of Christ Jesus granted to us in the new birth. God who is rich in mercy, for the great love with which He has loved us, created us entirely new in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). The new creation is holy, and Jesus Christ who purchased it for us is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). If we allow the divine nature of God, which by definition is holiness, to be expressed through us, then we will walk in righteousness (Romans 6:19-20). The fruits of holiness are righteousness, which is shown again and again to be the opposite of sin (Romans 6:22, 1 John 3:7-8).
Everything that is in relationship with God is holy, for holiness is essential to any interaction with God. In fact, originally, everything in creation was holy because it belonged to God. Holiness was only lost because of a rebellion against God. Yet still, those who have remained faithful behold Him and marvel at the goodness of His holiness. The seraphim still cry holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3)! God, who is the Author of life, created everything to live forever in the splendor and majesty of His holiness. It is there in His holiness that He is exalted, and wherever holiness is found, God is the source of that holiness (Psalm 99:5). Wherever God is, His presence communicates His holiness, and whatever is touched by His presence becomes Holy.
In the Old Testament, men were permitted different degrees of “nearness” to God. The conditions of their approach and proximity were strictly defined by God, and each according to the mercy and grace that God gave them to stand before Him (Exodus 19:12, 33:19). The person in the Old Testament who is most identified with the holiness of God, who was also allowed to approach to God and stand closer to Him than any other, was Moses. Even the High Priest, who alone was given the special anointing to enter into the Holy of Holies, was not allowed to commune with God as Moses did (Numbers 12:5-8). If men who were unauthorized attempted to take upon themselves the right to approach unto God, they found themselves violating the holy things of God and the consequences were grave (2 Chronicles 26:16-23, 1 Samuel 13:9-14). Even if they were authorized and empowered to approach unto God, if they did not observe the strict conditions set forth by God, judgment would fall (Leviticus 10:1-2).
Nested in the doctrine of holiness is the concept of sanctification, which for the most part means “to be made holy.” The gift of holiness should never be taken for granted, but instead valued as one of the most amazing opportunities entrusted to those who belong to God. The Holy Spirit indwells those who are born again with the Spirit of holiness. Through the working of His mighty power, we grow and mature as we yield ourselves to being led and developed by the Holy Spirit. However, the same neglect that was witnessed in Israel can also ruin our lives. Many in Israel did not allow the gift of holiness to result in their spiritual growth and maturity, a neglect which has also been repeated today in the church. God gave us the gift of holiness that we might grow and mature in holiness so that the whole of our lives would be conformed to the image of the Son.
Dr. Mark Spitsbergen Th.D., M.S is the Senior Pastor at Abiding Place Ministries, San Diego.