Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Holiness. . . . The Great Conduit

Holiness in the life of a minister is a conduit for the work of the Spirit. More and more, we are losing sight of this incredible principle of power. Dirty lives lead to dirty churches. Dirty ministries lead to dirty disciples. When this happens, the voice of the Spirit is quenched and the once refreshing oasis is nothing more than a dried mudcake. The heat of the times has dried it out and it is cracked and broken along the edges as well as in the very center. Sadly this is where the refreshing water used to be.

Holiness in the life of a minister is a conduit for the work of the Spirit. It is imperative that my life be a holy life. Uzzah died because he touched the Ark of God. The men of Bethshemesh died because they looked into the Ark. The beasts who crossed the boundaries of the holy mountain of God were to die at the hand of Moses. What is the penalty of those who will handle the holy things with dirty hands?

Holiness in the life of the minister is a conduit for a work of the Spirit. Too often when we speak of "holiness" we immediately direct our thoughts to a particular set of standards, manner of dress, or the "do's and don'ts" of our relationship with God. Yet, holiness in it's purest sense is a separation to God. Holiness is cleanliness of our own spirit. A clean spirit will resist much of what is being offered by the world. Furthermore, a clean spirit will allow for a much sharper ability for spiritual discernment.


Holiness is fed with holy thoughts. This is where devotion and places of private prayer plays such a crucial role in my life. Holy motives are important also. God is going to place much emphasis on my motives. In fact, the final rewards of heaven will be most exalted if my motives are pure and Kingdom minded.

I ran up against this thought some time back and thought I would share it. It became perplexing to me that those of Saul's ilk could prophesy with the prophets. The fact of the matter is that this was dealing with the atmosphere that he was in. I also could not understand how that very un-holy lives could be greatly used in the gifts of the Spirit. It came to my understanding that the gifts are exactly that, gifts from God. I also understood that personal talents could take some a very long way. However, the catch is this, God will not reward us for our giftings and talents but rather with the fruit that has grown in our lives.

For this reason, we cannot depend on atmosphere or talent to bring us a great move of the Spirit. The great Scottish minister, Robert Murray McCheyne, who was a great revival preacher had this to say, "My people's greatest need is my personal holiness." Have you read that in a "how-to" book lately? Very few in modern times, whether clergy or laity, would agree with this statement.

The church where you serve has much need of your own personal holiness. Holiness in heart, action, and practice is where it is crucial. It is very hard to lead a flock toward greater spiritual growth if personal holiness is not present in your life.

Go to any "Christian" bookstore these days and very little writing is spent in the area of holiness. Holiness has lost position to self-help, success, and "how-to" books. The latest books beckon to me, they cajole me to purchase them because this book/technique will help me to control my mind, lose weight, regain control from co-dependency (whatever that is), build a church, understand what this society is thinking and how they think, and we are hopelessly losing our way.

A very old book (written in 1879) entitled Holiness and written by Bishop J. C. Ryle listed a classic twelve point profile of a holy person. They are very simple but they are very Biblical.

1. Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find his mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God's judgment, hating what he hates, loving what he loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of his Word.

2. A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have a decided bent of mind towards God, a hearty desire to do his will, a greater fear of displeasing him than of displeasing the world and will feel what Paul felt when he said, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." (Romans 7:22)

3. A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith and draw from him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in him, and to be conformed to his image (Romans 8:29). It will be his aim to bear with and forgive others, to be unselfish, to walk in love, to be lowly minded and humble. He will lay to heart the saying of John: "He that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:6).

4. A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights.

5. A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labor to mortify the desires of the body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain any carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose (Luke 21:34; 1 Corinthians 9:27)

6. A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavor to observe the gold rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men to speak to him. He will abhor all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating, dishonesty, and unfair dealing, even in the least things.

7. A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. Such was Dorcas: "full of goodworks and almsdeeds, which she did" not merely purposed and talked about but did (Acts 9:26).

8. A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation.

9. A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment and would rather be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father's face, because he loves him.

10. A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world.

11. A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations of his life. He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls, but even better, because he has higher motives and more help than they. Holy persons should aim at doing everything well and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can help it. They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbors, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to his people, when he says, "What do ye more than others?" (Matthew 5:47).

12. Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual mindedness. He will endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim traveling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of his people--these things will be the holy man's chief enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good thoughts...not popular today...holiness is the essence of what God is and what we should emulate...we are in sore need of this today...keep up the good work on the blog