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The Hole In Our Holiness

CIRCA 1900: A colorfully illustrated temperance bible study card from circa 1900 reads, “Elijah’s Spirit On Elisha. 2 Kings 2: 6-15. How much more shall your heavenly father give the holy spirit to them that ask him?” (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Sept 17, 2021 By Kevin Deyoung 

I have a growing concern that younger evangelicals do not take seriously the Bible’s call to personal holiness. We are too at peace with worldliness in our homes, too at ease with sin in our lives, too content with spiritual immaturity in our churches.

God’s mission in the world is to save a people and sanctify his people. Christ died “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor. 5:15) We were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Eph. 1:4) Christ “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27) Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14)

J.C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool during the nineteenth century, was right: “We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world…Jesus is a complete Savior. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, He does more—He breaks its power (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 12:10).” My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ saved us from, we will give little thought and make little effort concerning all that Christ saved us to.

The pursuit of holiness does not occupy the place in our hearts that it should.

There are several reasons for the relative neglect of personal holiness:

1. It was too common in the past to equate holiness with abstaining from a few taboo practices like drinking, smoking, and dancing. In a previous generation, godliness meant you didn’t do these things. Younger generations have little patience for these sorts of rules. They either don’t agree with the rules, or they figure they’ve got those bases covered so there’s not much else to worry about.

2. Related to the first reason is the fear that a passion for holiness makes you some kind of weird holdover from a bygone era. As soon as you talk about swearing or movies or music or modesty or sexual purity or self-control or just plain godliness, people get nervous that others will call them legalistic, or worse, a fundamentalist.

3. We live in a culture of cool, and to be cool means you differentiate yourself from others. That has often meant pushing the boundaries with language, with entertainment, with alcohol, and with fashion. Of course, holiness is much more than these things, but in an effort to be hip, many Christians have figured holiness has nothing to do with these things. They’ve willingly embraced Christian freedom, but they’ve not earnestly pursued Christian virtue.

4. Among more liberal Christians, a radical pursuit of holiness is often suspect because any talk of right and wrong behaviors feels judgmental and intolerant. If we are to be “without spot or blemish,” it necessitates we distinguish between what sort of attitudes, actions and habits are pure and what sort are impure. This sort of sorting gets you in trouble with the pluralism police.

5. Among conservative Christians, there is sometimes the mistaken notion that if we are truly gospel-centered, we won’t talk about rules or imperatives or exhort Christians to moral exertion. To be sure, there is a rash of moralistic teaching out there, but sometimes we go to the other extreme and act as if the Bible shouldn’t advise our morals at all. We are so eager not to confuse indicatives and imperatives (a point I’ve made many times) that if we’re not careful, we’ll drop the imperatives altogether. We’ve been afraid of words like diligence, effort and obedience. We’ve downplayed verses that call us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12) or command us to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1) or warn against even a hint of immorality among the saints (Eph. 5:3).

I find it telling that you can find plenty of young Christians today who are really excited about justice and serving in their communities. You can find Christians fired up about evangelism. You can find lots of Generation XYZ believers passionate about precise theology. Yes and amen to all that. But where are the Christians known for their zeal for holiness? Where is the corresponding passion for honoring Christ with Christlike obedience? We need more Christian leaders on our campuses, in our cities, in our seminaries who will say with Paul, “Look carefully then how you walk.” (Eph. 5:15)

When is the last time we took a verse like Ephesians 5:4—“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”—when is the last time we took a verse like this and even began to try to apply this to our conversation, our joking, our movies, our YouTube clips, our TV and commercial intake? The fact of the matter is if you read through the New Testament epistles, you will find very few explicit commands that tell us to evangelize and very few explicit commands that tell us to take care of the poor in our communities, but there are dozens and dozens of verses in the New Testament that enjoin us, in one way or another, to be holy as God is holy (e.g., 1 Peter 1:13-16).

I do not wish to denigrate any of the other biblical emphases capturing the attention of younger evangelicals. But I believe God would have us be much more careful with our eyes, our ears and our mouth. It’s not pietism, legalism or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God.

Scriptures: 1 Peter, Ephesians 5:4, Isaiah 52:11, Isaiah 52:11-12, Titus 2:14

Author: Narrow Path Ministries

Non-denominational, Independent, Bible believing Church

4 thoughts on “The Hole In Our Holiness”

  1. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    “The pursuit of holiness does not occupy the place in our hearts that it should.”

    Christ “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27)

    Yes Kevin Deyoung is onto something here of paramount importance! I’ve had personal experiences where I had some not so Christian Christians attack me and the entire Catholic Church saying we are all going to burn in hell! WRONG! The Reformation was work of the Devil and no matter how we try to sugar coat it the answer is always the same; if we are being honest with ourselves and Jesus Christ keeping Him close to our hearts working religiously, sacramentally and yes even ritualistically or rigidly repeating these things daily to maintain that closeness and absolute commitment or devotion necessary, to the Will of God the Father!

    Don’t people go to the gym daily and repeat over and over continuously the same actions and heavyweight lifting to become a strong muscular body? Is that so important to devout so much time to it, and will make a fraction of difference where one’s soul will reside for eternity? NOT A CHANCE! People repeat having a smoke or hit on some weed daily to get the right groove going on so they can get through the day! Or they have sex as often as possible to get that euphoria high feeling, then it’s gone and what did it amount to or accomplish for that soul in perpetuity? NOTHING and it was SIN, the act of turning away from God and serving self or man and his own ways or ways of the world; so that is another blemish on the soul making the burden of sin that they carry all the heavier; much heavier than any damned weights! Believe me I’m a sinner, and know this from my own life experience and what wisdom the Comforter has pointed out to me!

    The good news is, we can overcome and will if we remain vigilant and stay close to the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ and our devotional faith daily! Did I always see it this way or practice what I preach religiously? NO! I’m a sinner and broken like all of you! But we see Truth so we’re not blind and lost which is beautiful because we can work at it harder; and “seek and you will find!” We can do this if we are so inspired and determined in our hearts by offering them to Jesus in this form of commitment and being part of the Church; the body of Christ!

    There are so many as I see it that think they are doing it right with self-stylized conceptualizations of following the Word of our Lord, but, as I see often times the ego or the subtle deceptions creep into that freewheeling approach, a Jim Jones of the former “People’s Temple” and too many for me to repeat here which isn’t necessary to point out that many will lead astray the unwary even in the name of our precious Lord Jesus! I must say here no Church being run by human beings is perfect, nor is that remotely possible! But The Roman Catholic Church of Old that traces back to the foundational period or roots of the Church that Jesus Himself handed off to Saint Apostle Peter has been extremely beneficial throughout history in guiding God’s faithful to Him through Christ our Lord!

    Many a man I ran into over the years would say they don’t bother with any church and they don’t need any tradition or ceremonial; rituals of the Catholic Church, to see or know what matters and to these guys I was just a lot of hot air or waste of their time; that they apparently thought they spend so wisely having their habits, and things like gambling or schmoozing with the ladies or having their fast cars! They as I know them to be are going it alone, as they think they know better than God! Then we have the varying degrees of this mindset and in some cases what somewhat appears to be legitimate sincere church activities that have some very nice window dressing or flashy signs and a preacher who can sound very convincing or entertaining, a Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker! But I assure you they fall short Big Time, in many cases allowing many of the youngest of the flock to be too casual; perhaps getting a door prize for showing up at least but then going out and living in a very sinful life, even Presbyterian churches promoting abortion as a good thing for society and these are actually a synagogue of Satan!

    But to attain anything nearing Holiness and true Sanctification of our souls as we live in this fallen material and wicked world is a tall order to fill by anyone, other than as I see it; a true continuous effort and practice in a simple way of putting it, “continual ritual and practice of all the original foundational precepts that were established in the Church by Jesus and continued on by Peter!” Of course Satan knew this was the case and began to infiltrate and divide the flock as soon as it was started and continued to corrupt from within, just like the satanic Communist atheistic Lenin or Marx said and did killing millions of their own citizens! They went on saying this would be the case with America’s falling; attacking from within until the destruction is so utterly complete, that it’s like ripe fruit falling right into their hands, actually the hands or clutches of Satan! Which is happening now with this complete imposter pope Bergoglio who is working in unison with Satan now, to destroy the remnants of the Church and usher in the antichrist; and the one world false church to enslave everyone!

    My sincere thoughts to address all of this with great regard; is that now like never before in human history its paramount to “discern and work feverishly daily to abide in the word of God,” but always being in His presence as best we can and is humanly possible, so as to allow the Comforter to work the miracles in our lives and in the world around us, as we remain like children as innocent and obedient as we can be; asking that the Comforter bring us all of the “Father’s will” for us; “moment by moment.” And I have to say that anyone who is “religiously praying and obedient” carrying out the “spiritual rituals of prayer, fasting, doing penance for our sins, receiving the blessed sacraments of the body and blood of Christ” thereby remaining in a “state of grace” as continuously as we can, comes close to being “Holy!” I say for example a man like Saint John Paul II or the blessed Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta did, with their “complete devotion and yes repetitive rituals that keep someone disciplined and on the right path to Holiness!”

    We must not forget from what heights we humans have fallen, we’ve became a most undisciplined and arrogant lot seeking our own pleasures and contrivances thinking we can go it alone and be our own bosses! Defiance and inflated ego is the work of Satan, running rampant in the world now, and so many of us fall to that temptation which I know I have at times during my life; the world beats us up like the “ultimate giant bully” that, “won’t take NO for an answer!” I must “discern and learn,” from all my trials and awake from my own sin that seeks to possess my very soul!

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote,
    “It is characteristic of any decaying civilization that the great masses of the people are unaware of the tragedy.

    Humanity in a crisis is generally insensitive to the gravity of the times in which it lives.

    Men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because they have no standard outside of themselves by which to measure their times. If there is no fixed concept of justice, how shall men know it is violated?

    Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.”

    Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote,
    “If men and women are really made for heroism and glory, made to stand in the presence of the living God, they can never be satisfied with bourgeois, mediocre, feel-good religion. They’ll never be fed by ugly worship and shallow moralizing. But that’s what we too often give them.”

    I can’t ever throw out the baby with the bath water and so the same is true with my beloved Church which I love, as it is what Jesus Christ Himself died for, in order to give us that “framework to bath ourselves in his Light, Body and Blood of absolute Truth” and therein lies our salvation, and only there; nothing else can save us, and so many scream out from all corners of the world saying, look here I can help you and they really cannot!

    So many thought this fraud pandemic and plan by men united with Satan to turn people away from God our beloved Savior Jesus Christ, saying like Communism does; we can provide for you and watch over you as long as you devout to the State; in other worlds worship men and their beast system! We are truly in the Latter Days and the race is on to steal away as many souls as possible, and, sadly I say so many are already being deceived! When the great lie comes, so many more will be tricked, but, this is why, “now is the time to work feverishly to maintain practices and rituals of prayer, as well as sacramental practices that align our daily lives and hearts with Jesus Christ;” making us virtually bulletproof from the slings and arrows of evil lies being directed at every one of us now!

    Thanks to God in all of His Glory, in the Holy name of our Lord, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ! Amen.
    God bless you all.

    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence Morra III


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