Holiness

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To estimate holiness aright, we must first of all think of God Himself in His holy nature - and of a nature, a divine life in which we have fellowship with and enjoy Him. But for us, sinners, we must then take into account Christ, in and through, and by whom we have a pare with God - further we must take cognisance of the operation of the Holy Ghost, through whom all is revealed and imparted - lastly of the state and condition of the sanctified.

There is another point needed to be gone into to judge rightly of it, that is the object before us, which, as a means, sanctifies us; for the creature morally lives by objects placed before it, and acting on it. Besides all this, the Word of God, which is that in which all is revealed, and works effectually in us through faith.

With a holy God we have to do, with a holy God to be in communion - holiness becomes His house for ever. But it is important as a preliminary point. to distinguish between righteousness and holiness, both elements of God's nature and character in which we have to do with Him, and even practically that in which we are assimilated to Him in the new nature, "after God created in righteousness and true holiness" - I do so, because these are often confounded, to the prejudice of the soul's peace.

Righteousness, as contrasted with holiness in God, is the judicial estimate of, and dealing with what is right or wrong - involves responsibility to some one, and obligation in the one judged - and, in its exercise, the authoritative acceptance or rejection of what is presented to its judgment. It is used also for that which is the fulfilment of obligation, and acting according to what is due (and in this sense is true even of God), and satisfies that judicial estimate, but also for the just estimate itself too - the righteous Lord loveth righteousness - in all cases, its measure is consistency with the relationship in which we stand - in God, consistency with Himself and His own perfection, maintaining withal the obligation of those relationships in which He has placed us. It is thus doing right according to them, or judging justly how far right is done.

Holiness, on the other hand, is the abhorrence, in the nature, of what is evil, and delight in what is good and pure, and, when we speak of men, God having His own full place in our hearts,* as in God it is His separation from all evil, and abhorrence of it. One is connected with judicial title, the other with the delights of the nature.

{*We being creatures, must be set apart to something.}

166 Now we are clearly told that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." This, assuredly true, acts on the conscience, and it is all well; but then we seek to be holy that we may be accepted. But in this case, it is really righteousness which is sought - God's judicial estimate of us according to what we are - it is a question of acceptance, hence of judicial estimate, not of holiness, or our own delight in good, or hatred of what is evil - and feeling evil in us, we feel God cannot accept us. Thus, though there may be a holy nature, and an abhorrence of what is evil, and delight in what is good, there is never holiness practically till the question of righteousness is settled; because the holy nature acting on the conscience, this - our righteousness not being settled, nor our acceptance in righteousness known - necessarily raises the question as to that acceptance, and ought to do so. Suffice it to say that it must - hence the true desire for holiness destroys peace. When the question of righteousness is settled, and the soul thoroughly convinced of sin, "none righteous, no not one" - and that it cannot make it out, even if the will is present with it - cannot make it good as an obligation, which it is before God, the flesh not being subject to the law of God, as it cannot be - and has given up hope of righteousness in itself, and through grace finds Christ its righteousness before God - peace made by His precious blood, and He in the presence of God for us - divine favour resting on it in Christ, knowing that it is in Him, and that it is accepted in the Beloved, by one offering perfected for ever - in a word, washed from its sins through His precious blood, and not only so, but accepted in Christ in the sweet savour of His acceptance, then the delight in God Himself, from whose love all comes, is free, holiness has its free scope. We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have been reconciled to Him. It is of God's holiness we are made partakers, even when chastened.

This, then, is practically what holiness is - the soul in the new man in the light as God is, enjoying His purity (enabled to do it through the blood of Christ), and that in grace, having fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ; and the more we take it in this simple manner, the more really and practically shall we know what it is. If we are holy, we shall know what holiness is, only it will be enjoyed in its fulness and perfectness in God Himself, and so directly connected with love, for God is love; His other essential name is light, and in that we walk, being light in the Lord, and there enjoy, as we are formed by love. We have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Christ - and what brought us there? Infinite love - and what do we find there? Infinite love - and in Christ, nothing in us inconsistent with it; and, walking with God, nothing in our minds or consciences. "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the reconciliation" - for this we must have life, divine life, to know and enjoy it, and by the power of the Holy Ghost be separate, through the eye being fixed on Christ, from evil to good. The simpler we apprehend this, the better, if we would know what holiness is. It is separation, in living communion, to God who is holy.

167 It is only as to the means of meeting the practical difficulties of many souls, that I pursue the subject into any details, showing how Scripture teaches us on the subject. I know not anything which will more fully express our calling in this respect, than the first verses of Ephesians 1, "According as He hath chosen us in him (Christ), before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and without blame before him in love" - this is the counsel of God as to us in Christ. The other part of it - being sons - is His prerogative and sovereign purpose, the good pleasure of His will. The first is according to His nature, both not only in Christ, but Christ's own place in which we are set by grace; it is the first which is according to God's nature, so that He cannot have other than such - this is our subject here. As it is here spoken of as the counsel of God, the degree of realisation is not. It is what His purpose about us is - it is identified with what God is, in His nature and ways, and what Christ was before Him; of course He is essentially the same now that He is glorified. The second part of the calling - sons - is relationship, but Christ's also - He is gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God. On this wonderful and perfect place (we could have none other such), I have entered elsewhere; my part now is to weigh that part of it which is contained in verse 4. We may look at it in two ways, as God's nature thus imparted and reflected in us, and enjoyed in its perfectness in Him - or as Christ, as man before God, according to it. God is blameless in His ways - He is love and He is perfectly holy - we are called to answer perfectly to what He thus is. We are made partakers of the divine nature; the spirit of love and holiness is that of the new man in us, and, as such, its fruit blameless - hence it is said, we cannot sin, because we are born of God. Thus the Christian state is, with a nature derived from God, "born of him," and hence necessarily holy - to be "before God" in His presence; an infinite and infinitely perfect object - God Himself - before Him, with a nature capable, as being of Him, of enjoying Him. We must add, the Holy Ghost as the power of doing so. The divine nature, with God who is love, a divine and infinite object - "before him" - to enjoy, with no thought of self needed (for we answer to His own nature), save to know that His favour rests upon us.

168 Now, the actual accomplishment is imperfect because the flesh is in us - in heaven, perfect; but in this passage it is looked at in itself, without estimating the degree of accomplishment, and in Christ we are perfectly so now.

We may also look at it in Christ Himself, as Man here below - He was holy and without blame, always before God so, and in love; the same applies to verse 5, but on this I do not enter here. It is what we have to seek to realise - communion with Him who is light, being light in the Lord, and in the light as He is, called to have communion with Him, not grieving His Spirit who dwells in us. The measure of it in practice is walking as Christ walked, and walking in the Spirit as we live in the Spirit. Walking in obedience, we have our fruit unto holiness, a greater knowledge of God, walking in His presence and enjoying Him, and are more deeply imbued with His estimate of all things, with His mind, more separated to Him in spirit, before whom we thus walk. In obedient righteousness in Christ (for it is to Christ's obedience we are called) we walk, and increasingly in the atmosphere in which God dwells. Practically separated from evil, we live in that we are separated to, we delight in Him, have communion with Him, and are separate from all that obscures this, and distracts us. True we see through a glass darkly, then face to face; but the objects are the same - God revealed in Christ - and the nature in which we enjoy them, the same. We joy in God - we have the treasure, but in a poor earthen vessel, and needing to have our senses exercised to discern good and evil; still, we walk in the light as God is in the light.

169 I may now inquire into the means of so walking, and what and how it is, as to our place in this world. It is in every sense - place, state, relationship with God, nature and glory - likeness to Christ, and that in glory, for this is the only good. It is true, this includes glory as well as holiness, but so it is presented in Scripture - we are "changed into the same image, from glory to glory" - "he that has this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure."

But there is another element, which though collateral, cannot be separated from it, and that is, love. If God is holy, His nature is love as well as light, and He cannot, so to speak, be divided'; and thus divine love is inseparable from holiness. For divine affections in us is the very being of holiness, and these cannot be without divine love - we partake in them of the divine nature. Failure in love would not be holiness, but flesh and sin - self as a centre, if not positive hatred - and this is not holiness, for holiness is separation of heart to God in known love, and so walking in that spirit with others. This gives us too, superiority over the evil with which we have to say; this, in an infinite way, is in God too, in whose communion we walk in holiness, and then we are followers of God as dear children. Compare Ephesians 4, 5, and Matthew 5:43-48, and Luke 6:35, 36.

So we find in 1 Thessalonians 3, "the Lord make you to increase, and abound in love one towards another, and towards all men, even as we do towards' you, to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." A remarkable passage, showing the path of holiness, before whom it is measured and estimated - before God, even our Father; and, when and in what circumstances - the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with the saints in glory. Sin is always selfish - holiness inseparable from love. It is holiness before God and our Father. It will have its estimation in the time of glory.

Such is the nature of holiness in general as stated in Scripture.

We may now look at the blessed Lord, as the One who in every respect is the way and pattern of holiness to us. And first of life - we are born of God; but this by the Holy Ghost. It is a wholly new nature communicated and given, which Adam innocent had not more than Adam guilty. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, partakes of the nature of Him of whom it is born, as every nature does. It is entire contrast with the Adam life in us; "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," and "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary one to the other" - "they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh, and they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit" - "the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace." We shall have to see that the power and mind of the Holy Ghost is included here, the objects being there, as well as the nature; but the nature born, as we have seen, is of the nature of which it is born. So the Christian by faith has put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. Here "renewed" is that which is wholly new, was not before, not that merely which is not grown old God's seed remains in him and he cannot sin because born of God, not the flesh that is born of the flesh. It is a holy nature - Christ as life - our life the last Adam, not the first. "Not I," says the apostle, "but Christ that lives in me"; and again, "when Christ who is our life shall appear." And in formal doctrine, in 1 John 5, "God hath given to us eternal life, and that life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." "He has sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." He is "that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us"; and as it is expressed of this life in 1 John 2, "which thing is true in him and in you." In Him this life was the light of men - He was the light of the world.

170 Thus as He was the holy One of God here, only absolutely and perfectly as born, even as to the flesh, of the Holy Ghost - walking in love - so we, as partakers of life in Him, He being our life, are holy brethren, are saints, brought in as we have seen by His precious blood, but saints as partakers of the life also that was and is in Him.

If we look at that life in Him, we find perfect separation to God, love to Him and to us, and necessarily, separation too, consequently, from all evil, passing through the midst of it, but not touched by it, goodness and holiness in the midst of evil in the power of divine love - and that is our path.

171 This takes a double character in the Christian, according as we look at him as emerging out of a world of sin, in the power of this new life and the Holy Ghost, "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" - or as sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and coming thence, so to speak, into the world. The one we have in Romans 12, the other in Ephesians 4 and 5. In the former, we yield ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead - yield our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our intelligent service, proving what the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is. Here it is the original principle of giving ourselves wholly up to God, separated, sanctified to Him. It is simply that - and that is much - and true of the believer; we have not love connected with it.

In Ephesians we have another aspect of the believer's consecration. He comes as a dear child, out of his Father's home, to show out his Father's character - "be ye imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ hath loved us and hath given himself for us, a sacrifice and an offering to God for a sweet smelling savour." He gave Himself - not just loving His neighbour as Himself - but gave Himself up, not merely as separated from evil to God, but in love to us, divine love, looking downward in love to need - hence a sacrifice for us, and also to God, looking upward in perfectness to what made the sacrifice perfect. This too is our pattern - "hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Here, while offering up to God is perfection in the sacrifice, love comes fully in - one is the measure of what we ought to be, as walking in this world as alive to God in Christ; the other is the measure of devotedness of walk, as manifesting God's nature and loving others, but still having the eye on God as the One towards whom we act, that all may be perfect. The lower the object in the love of grace, the greater and more divine the love; the higher the one to whom it looks, the purer and holier the affection, and here it is God Himself. Self is wholly got rid of in both - it is thus a holy love. We are not said to be love, for that is sovereign in goodness and free, though we are to love. We are light in the Lord, for we have a life in which is the purity of the divine nature - God's seed remains in us, we cannot sin. Such then is our life in its nature.

172 And as to this unselfish grace, we are called on, not to be, as Abraham, perfect with the Almighty, nor, as Israel, perfect with Jehovah our God, but perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. Such is our life in its nature, for indeed it is Christ Himself - "he that hath the Son, hath life." God has given us eternal life, and that life is in His Son.

But we cannot omit the Holy Ghost, who is at once its source and its power. We may consider the Spirit as inseparable from this life, as the stream is connected with its spring, or apart, as a divine Person who leads it, and reveals the objects by which this life is governed - "they that are after the Spirit, mind the things of the Spirit." The Holy Ghost is, as we have seen, the source of this nature - we are born of the Spirit, and this is spirit. But the Christian is also dwelt in by the Spirit - the seal of faith in Christ's blood - our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. We have liberty with God, and that as sons, and are delivered from the law of sin. The bearing of this on holiness is evident, indeed it cannot be without it; not only does it introduce us into the holy atmosphere of God's presence in confidence, but occupies our affections with what is there, making us abound in hope by His power. But His presence is a measure of holiness down here - "would I," reasons the Apostle, "use the temple of God to sin with?" So we are called on not to grieve that holy Spirit of God by which we are sealed. It keeps the conscience withal awake. The Spirit then is life because of righteousness, enables me to reckon myself dead, and to hold the flesh practically in subjection, and, by His power, I mortify the deeds of the flesh, so that my communion is not interrupted. He is the Spirit of adoption, and bears witness with my Spirit that I am a son, and so keeps me in the free enjoyment of divine and heavenly things - takes the things of Christ and shows them to me - has revealed the things that are freely given to us of God, enabling me to discern them. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (and this is based on redemption - a new place - in Christ), sets me free from the law of sin and death, and enables me, as a son, to enjoy the things which are above - yea to joy in God Himself - have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We get this double basis for our walk in Ephesians 4, the having put on the new man, and not grieving the Holy Spirit of God. It is nothing less than God dwelling in us, and we in God - His love shed abroad in our hearts by His presence. How this is the very place, and breath of holiness, is evident; in such a state, according to the measure of our growth, what God is and suits His presence, and nothing else, is in the mind - see 1 John 4:12-16. We have thus the highest and fullest character of holiness in the believer - a nature capable of enjoying God, derived from the Spirit - a holy seed of God in him, and the Holy Ghost dwelling in him - God dwelling in him and he in God - the same Spirit dwelling in him, shedding His love abroad in his heart. This is the fruit of redemption. God never dwelt with Adam, never with Abraham, but as soon as He had redeemed Israel out of Egypt, He dwelt among them - "they shall know that I the Lord their God have brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them" - here in an outward way, between the Cherubim. And now, so soon as Christ, as Man, sat down at the right hand of God, eternal redemption being obtained, the Holy Ghost descends, sent by the Father - the Spirit of adoption - in Christ's name; by Christ from the Father, to reveal His glory as Son of man above - to dwell in those who were washed in His blood, and He dwells in us individually, and collectively too. On the latter I do not enter, as we are occupied with personal holiness.

173 The Apostle Paul gives us the blessed effect, he desired for the saints individually, at the end of Ephesians 3, "Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the length and breadth and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled up to all the fulness of God." John speaks more of the divine Personality of Christ revealing God, and so our dwelling in Him, and He in us - for habitually he does not distinguish God and Christ, speaking of Manhood and Godhead in the same sentence, though in chapter 4 he goes up to simple Godhead, and His presence known by the Spirit; Paul more of His mediatorial place - of the counsels of God accomplished through His work and in His: Person, and that to the glory of God by us. So that the form is different; still as one gives the fact, true through the Holy Ghost, that God dwells in us - all in whom Christ is - so Paul, in the desire of the saints realising their privileges, leads us up to the fulness of God.

174 But while this is the full blessedness of our present state, living here as creatures acted on by grace, there is another aspect of the operation of the Holy Ghost in us; that is, the fixing the affections and intelligence on the Word which the Holy Ghost reveals, and that with sanctifying power. Thus the Apostle in Ephesians I prays that they may know the hope of God's calling, and the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints; for the creature, whatever the excellency of his nature, lives by objects - is characterised by those that govern him - money - power - pleasure - in a word, our object, what our mind, our phronema is upon, is what we morally are. Thus where it is on Christ and on heavenly things, we are Christian and heavenly minded.

These then, the Holy Ghost reveals, fixing the affections on the object thus revealed, and so sanctifying the heart. Thus, so to speak, in its natural effect on the new man - "With open (unveiled) face beholding in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord." So in holy spiritual activity - we know that "When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, and every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure." So the Apostle in Philippians 3, "This one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before, I press towards the mark for the calling of God above,* which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

{*("High," is ano the calling is "up above").}

So the exhortation (though the Holy Ghost is not the subject of the Colossians, but life), "set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth"; but these things are called "the things of the Spirit." "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." "We have received not the spirit which is of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." Hence our conversation is in heaven, and we declare plainly that we seek a country.

175 But this consideration of the sanctifying power of the object the Holy Ghost sets before us, gives us the true character and only measure of our sanctification practically - Christ in glory - "we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" - " conformed to the image of his Son, that he may be the firstborn among many brethren" - "as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." The only object and goal of the saint is the prize of the calling above. This one thing he does. Hence he purifies himself even as He is pure - knowing he shall be like Him in glory, seeks to be as like Him as possible now. When Christ comes, even his body of humiliation shall be fashioned like Christ's glorious body.

The goal and object of the heart of the believer is Christ glorified, only the present effect is sanctifying him according to that measure, leading him to walk withal as He walked down here, and to grow up to Him, who is the Head, in all things. As Christ ever looked up to His Father, and ever did such things as pleased Him - in His case perfectly - so we, He being our life, looking up to Him glorified, walk in our measure as He walked. Hence we read that Christ sanctified Himself - set Himself apart - as the Man in glory according to the counsels of God, that we might be sanctified through the truth - our souls formed by the revelation of that into which He is entered.

It remains to be noticed that it is the Truth - the Word - by which we are thus sanctified. The Word is the truth as to everything, but it is, as Christ was in Person, the revelation of what is heavenly amongst men, and perfectly adapted to man on the earth. Though it be made effectual, by the Spirit, in the heart, the Word is that by which all is wrought, from the giving of life, onward till glory comes. So, just before the passage quoted above from John 17, we read, "Sanctify them through Thy truth - Thy word is truth." Hence, as to life - "of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of his creatures" - man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. It is by words the Holy Ghost taught, that the things the Holy Ghost revealed were communicated. It is the incorruptible seed of the Word which endures for ever. Hence it is by faith - sinners are sanctified by faith that is in Jesus. The Word is the revelation of God's mind, and of all that is unseen, and, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, is faith in the heart; and thus we are sanctified and live by it, in communion with God according to what is revealed - are so far sanctified to Him.

176 It may be well here to note the way in which sanctification is used in the Scripture. It always means separation to God, consecration to Him; but it may be, in us, sanctification of our persons, or of the state of our souls. As soon as we are believers, we are set apart to God, sanctified - all Christians are saints; and hence, strange as it may seem, when sanctification and justification come together, sanctification comes before justification.

But then there is, or ought to be, as to our actual state, a perfecting holiness in the fear of God, as growing up to Him who is the Head in all things, - the enlargement of spiritual apprehension of the objects on which the Holy Ghost fixes our affections - an enlarged acquaintance with them, and living in that new creation, and, as to our path here, senses exercised to discern good and evil, more confidence in

{Found in this unfinished state.}

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NOTE. - In general the heavenly millennial blessedness is far more largely brought out in the New Testament, as well as the Old, than the time when God shall be all in all. But the blessedness of the latter has struck me as being amazingly great in this way. There is not so much conferred, not so much official glory, relative excellency of position, conferred glory, if we think of being with Christ, though indeed that will never cease, but see where we shall be. The Lord is as second Adam, the proper human Head of the whole blessed race. They stand as His brethren, are like Him, He the Firstborn no doubt, and channel of blessing, but still the Firstborn among many brethren, in the same place, state, and image, though He at the head of it. They are all of one, and now completely like. Yet He with whom they are thus connected - one common race, though He be the head of it - is One with the Father in the unity of the divine nature. What a place to be in, how close the association! surely leading to adoration, for the nearer we are, the more we adore; yet still how wondrously near! How intimately associated with divine things, not merely conferred blessings, though all be conferred, and so doubly appreciated, yet still how near for enjoyment! How deep the peace, and full the blessing, when we are fit and competent to enjoy it! I apprehend our millennial nearness will be education for this, as our present state for that. But it is a wonderful place, and near enough to be peaceful enjoyment.

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177 NOTE. - We ought to think of the joys of Christ as well as His sorrows. Nothing shows where a man's heart is and what it is, more than when oppressed, distressed and full of sorrow, where his heart finds its joy and if it finds a joy unreached by it. We see these joys in Christ a secret comfort in the midst of His sorrow. He had meat to eat which man knew not of. Besides His communion with His Father there was this working of love to us. Paradise shone in upon His heart in comforting the poor thief. "Go in peace" refreshed His spirit in the house of the Pharisee. "She hath done it for my burial" justified Mary against the reproach of selfish man. "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes" was His joy in the sense of the heartless rejection to which the wickedness of man subjected Him. How blessed to the heart besides learning where His joy was to think that He found it in the working of love to us!