What is True Holiness?

Sunrise over Coeur d Alene Lake, photo taken by Michael Clark

 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10, ESV2011)

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them that they may be one even as we are one.” (John 17:22, ESV2011)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1Pet 1:14-16, ESV2011)

I was about 23 years old when, out of desperation, I walked away from the Catholic Church never to return. I had been brainwashed by the nuns in Catholic schools about who Jesus is and what He required (abject obedience to the Church, its hierarchy and its laws), but I had no peace in my heart, nor did I know that God loved me or even the meaning of biblical salvation. I had a deep spiritual hunger that drove me to find peace with Him, so I ended up in what some call “a holiness Bible church.” We heard a lot of preaching on holiness there, but we saw very little of it. You see, true holiness is not walking around with our hands up our sleeves with an ornate cross hanging around our necks. Nor is it looking down our noses at all the sinners with a holier than thou attitude. I had seen both but what I saw of “the church” left me empty and did not satiate the deep hunger within me.

No one was/is holier than Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, and He was not like what I had seen at all. What set Jesus apart from the devout Jews that worshiped in their temples and synagogues was that He was touchable and in touch first of all with His Father and secondly with the common man and woman and the pains that they suffered. And He is still in touch with us today as our High Priest in heaven.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are… (Heb 4:14-15, NIV)

Who is to condemn [us]? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Rom 8:34, ESV2011)

Someone once said, “Christians seem to have a vested interest in the misery of others.” Much to the chagrin of many in this world who count themselves as “holy,” God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but rather that it might be saved through Him (see John 3:17).

Living a holy life is living a life that is wed to Christ within us. This unity with Him by His Spirit is why God can rightfully say, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” Holiness is not something we have to generate on our own, but it comes through our unity in spirit with Jesus Christ just as He was in unity with His Father.

This unity with Him can often take us to that place where we pray as He did, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Paul wrote that the flesh in us wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against our flesh. Just as water wants to escape from being under pressure, there seems to be a constant temptation within us to take the easy road and not the path that God has set before  us to walk.

God desires to reveal His Son in us and if He who had the power to do almost anything he wanted, denied that power, how much more should we in our weakness? Paul wrote,

“…it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me from my mother’s womb… to reveal his Son in me…” (Gal 1:15-16, ASV)

The outworking of Paul doing the good pleasure of God through His Son within was to grow into the place where he could say, “For me to live IS Christ and to die is gain.”  THIS dear saints, is what Holiness really IS. We give up our wills to our Father on a daily basis and He does the rest (see Hebrews 8:8-12).

the adoration of the golden calf

The Adoration of the Golden Calf 1633-4, Nicolas Poussin

We by nature are creatures that desire comfort, pain and suffering is to be avoided by all means. Yet, it is this very thing that God uses to weaken our self seeking wills so that Jesus might be more readily manifested in us. I am not speaking of self inflicted pain and flagellation here, but rather the pain and suffering that God allows in our lives that defies any quick fix. Many of us who have unconditionally surrendered our lives to Christ know this kind of walk. God uses many kinds of pain to accomplish His work in us and some of it is not just physical. Sometimes it is the pain of the loss or serious injury of a loved one. Sometimes it is sorrow for doing something we deeply regret later. Some of us end up marrying our crosses. We, like Paul, pray that we might be delivered from our “thorn in our flesh (even the thorn of our flesh),” only to find out that the more Christ reveals Himself in and to us in a very real way, the more suffering we encounter.

grow where you are planted

Root Out of Dry Ground- photo by Michael Clark

Remember that Isaiah prophesied of Jesus saying, “…as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”

Yes, this life not only includes suffering and grief as Jesus freely lives in us, but rejection by our families, our fellow man and even by Christians. We need to contemplate such things before we glibly pray, “Lord, I just want to be like Jesus.”

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:19-20, ESV2011)

What I am sharing with you here is the message of the true gospel, not that of the prosperity preachers or professional “healers” who get rich and fat off the funds they can bilk out of the gullible who follow them by listening with their fleshly ears  to what they want to hear. Remember, Jesus said, “If you would be MY disciple, you must take up YOUR CROSS and follow Me.” I think it is obvious that many believe in Him as a historic figure, but few are truly His disciples. I question the depth of spirituality of those who have to run off to some temple, or big crusade or Christian conference or even go on a “Holy Land” tour so they can get a special touch from God (I was also a conference junky once in my immaturity). I wish it was all that easy to become holy, but it is not. Jesus warned us saying,

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (Matt 24:24-26, ESV2011)

When Jesus first started to do miracles He had many who “believed in Him” but only in a fleshly way. They wanted their worldly desires fulfilled, but they did not want HIM as their Lord. The closer He got to the cross that was set before Him, the more they rejected Him. They wanted a Messiah that was a conquering king that met all their needs and expectations, not a suffering Savior that was crucified in weakness.

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, MANY BELIEVED IN HIS NAME when they saw the signs that he was doing. BUT Jesus …did not entrust himself to them, because… he himself knew what was in (the heart of) man.” (John 2:23-25, ESV2011- emphasis added)

Do we want to be entrusted by Jesus with the spiritual treasures of heaven and His very life being manifest within us? We need a NEW heart from God within not the heart of that old Adam we were born with (our carnal natures). This is what it means to be born of the Spirit and not just being born of a woman. There are “believers” and then there are those who BELIEVE– that is they; cling to, trust in and totally rely upon Him (read John 3:16 in the Amplified Version)! We can be “believers” in Christ on an intellectual or religious level and still not have that new heart with His daily commands written upon it, to whom His spiritual treasures are revealed. Hearing and obeying His voice is what a “holy life” is all about.

As I shared my thoughts about suffering with Susanne Schuberth on her current blog article (1) she pointed out that Christians are not the only ones who suffer, but suffering seems to be common to all of mankind. She is right. Suffering seems to be the lot of the human creature since the fall of man. The difference is the heart within us. Do we have a heart that has been made new by our Father or is it still that old heart that is a home for our adversary? A changed heart will only become more beautiful through all it endures, but that old adamic nature will only become more bitter and vile by the same suffering. The same sun that shines down upon wax makes it soft and pliable, but it makes clay hard and brittle. John wrote about a great company of people he saw in heaven saying,

revelation ch. 7 vs.13-14

Revelation ch. 7 vs.13-14, artist unknown

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” And I said unto him, “Sir, thou knowest.” And he said to me, “These are they which came out of great tribulation [Grk. thlipsis – pressure; anguish, burden, persecution, and troubles], and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:13-14, KJV- emphasis added)

In this life we are not only immersed in troubles, but we also come out of them and are a transformed as the filth of this world is washed away and are made His holy people by His blood.

“Father, do whatever it takes to completely transform us that we may also be found with this assembly who hears and obeys your voice before your throne. Amen.”

(1) Called to Live a Holy Life  (As I meditated on this recent article by Susanne Schuberth, this blog article I share here came to life within me. Thanks you Susanne for obeying Him.)

25 comments on “What is True Holiness?

  1. Michael, I am glad to see you also wrote a blog post about holiness. 😇 I like the description of your personal experiences in the RCC and in this other pseudo-holy church. 👍🏻

    I wonder how could something that only fills our (five) natural senses ever satiate our spirit that was given by God Who is Spirit? 🤔 Our spiritual senses must be trained by Himself as we spend time in His presence – not in churches where His Spirit is absent.

    Personal prayer times and fellowship with one another in His Spirit will give us rest and peace as our hearts are drawn toward the heavenly realm more and more. This is not a pipedream but the real thing as we walk this earth as sober-minded as can be. 🕊👡👡👟👟🕊😉

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael says:

      Good question, Susanne. The more that religion is about our five natural senses, the further it is away from worshiping God “in Spirit and in Truth.” Man would rather worship the works of his own hands than rest in the arms of our Father. It is so good to be resting in Him with you, dear heart. You are in my prayers that we might completely be made one in the Father and the Son.
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Amen to your prayer, Michael! 😇🕊😇

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A profound lesson, Michael. As you say, human beings do everything we can to avoid suffering. Yet God often uses it to focus our attention on Him and reveal aspects of Himself to us (His power to sustain us, among them).

    Liked by 4 people

  4. wow, what a great testimony and story! very touching to hear! God Bless 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Sarah. God bless you as you seek Him with all your heart.

      ​”Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. ​He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Ps 37:4-6, ESV2011)

      Liked by 3 people

      • Michael thank you so much for the encouragement and for the verse. I do not know you at all yet, as I read the verse that you have said to me, I sit with tears in my eyes because of the way in which God speaks, it is a beautiful way. The verse you sent me is one which God placed in my heart, since the beginning of the year, about giving everything to Him. This was truly the word of God and I cannot thank you enough.
        God Bless,
        Sarah.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Michael says:

        Sarah, Your reply really blessed me. I try to pray and hear His leading before I reply to a comment and this is exactly what He told me to send. I don’t always get it right, but your reply was what I needed to hear. ⭐ Thank you so much!

        “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1Thess 5:9-11, ESV2011)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Gloria a Dios por esta bella enseñanza Michael. Esto es de lo que el Señor ha estado hablándome. Solo la vida de Cristo en nosotros hará que nuestro corazón sea dócil para Él. La santidad es una Persona, Cristo mismo viviendo dentro de nosotros, separados para el uso exclusivo de Él, viviendo para los intereses del Señor. Cuando entendemos esto, ya no lucharemos por querer “ser “en nuestras fuerzas, porque sabremos que Cristo vive Su vida en nosotros. Muchos luchan para ser santos vistiendo de una manera especifica, comiendo ciertos alimentos, hablando de cierta manera y esto realmente apesta, vivir para Él, en Él y por Él es lo que hace la diferencia.

    Hace poco hablaba con un buen amigo del tema del sufrimiento y decíamos que el mundo sufre, pero nosotros Sus hijos entendemos que el sufrimiento es necesario para llegar al final de nosotros mismos y trascender a una vida de resurrección. Si le permitimos al Señor obrar en nosotros, podremos ver como el sufrimiento en Sus manos nos transforma. He visto a muchos en el mundo sufrir, pero sus vidas siguen siendo las mismas. Cristo y Su vida hacen la diferencia.

    Un abrazo mi hermano. Gracias por transmitirnos lo que el Señor te enseña.

    Patricia wrote:
    Glory to God for this beautiful teaching Michael. This is what the Lord has been telling me about. Only the life of Christ in us will make our heart docile to Him. Holiness is a Person, Christ Himself living within us, separated for the exclusive use of Him, living for the interests of the Lord. When we understand this, we will no longer fight to want to “be” in our forces [in our own strength?], because we will know that Christ lives His life in us. Many struggle to be saints by dressing in a specific way, eating certain foods, speaking in a certain way and this really stinks, living for Him, in Him and by Him is what makes the difference.

    Recently I spoke with a good friend about the subject of suffering and we said that the world suffers, but we His children understand that suffering is necessary to reach the end of ourselves and transcend to a resurrection life. If we allow the Lord to work in us, we can see how suffering in His hands transforms us. I have seen many in the world suffer, but their lives remain the same. Christ and His life make a difference.

    A hug my brother. Thank you for transmitting what the Lord teaches you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dear Patricia,
      Thank you for your comment on what I shared. It is good to hear that the Lord has been teaching you these same things. I like the way you see how weakness in and of ourselves makes way for Christ to more perfectly manifest Himself with and through us. Very few understand this. The devil says, “It is a great life if you don’t weaken.” God says just the opposite.

      “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Cor 12:9-10, KJ2000)

      You are in my prayers, dear sister,
      Michael

      Like

  6. Gracias Michael por tus oraciones, mi madre y yo las necesitamos. Un gran abrazo mi hermano.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Michael
    First of all, Thank you for your blog posts. Each one I read blesses me so much. The more I move away from performance based teachings the more love I can receive from the Father and the more I am set free. It has been a long road much like yours but I am coming to the point of learning and experiencing true rest. Thank you for being part of my journey with Christ through your exhortations of wisdom and truth. These are like rare jewels these days, but its very precious when I find them.

    This blog post in particular spoke to me. I also like what Susanne said. It’s gives me peace to know that God doesn’t place demands upon Me to be holy, or place huge burdens on my shoulders, rather He helps me know which things are mine to carry and which things are not. As a person tending toward co dependency, this has been a huge breakthrough. I love how the Lord knows us each so intimately and knows how to speak to us as individuals.

    My prayer for this year is that the Lord would stir up His fiery love within us – that the flame of passion and desire would burn brighter and that we would become less and He would become all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Cathy,
      Thank you for your very encouraging comment. Yes, it sounds like we have been on much the same journey as God has set us free of our Christian task masters into His glorious liberty in Christ. The further we go on this “called out” journey with Him, the fewer people we find we can share His treasures in Christ with, but God is good and faithful to provide a few (even one or two) that we can have a deeper fellowship with. Jesus said, “”Where two or three (not two or three hundred) are gathered together in my name (in His spiritual character), I am there in their midst.” And it doesn’t get better than this. 🙂

      May He give you such precious saints to fellowship with in the depths of His love, dear sister.
      Your brother,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  8. alan haungs says:

    Michael, I am never sure if I am doing this correctly, so this is a test comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. alan haungs says:

    Micheal, looks like I got the hang of this, I had to go through my wordpress and touch up my gravitar and now it seems easy to post on your site, previously it would ask me questions about my website that left me confused.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. alan haungs says:

    Micheal,

    for political discussions regarding left versus right politics, the right invented a phrase to describe the left’s stance on certain matters as being merely “virtue signaling”.

    In other words, a more left leaning person might say, “I hate poverty so tax the rich more” (but not me)…..= virtue signaling.

    I think this phrase very well fits for what many Christians (including myself) have done, we DO or ATTEND or JOIN or SPEAK such and such to merely VIRTUE SIGNAL.

    But as christians we of course would not use this phrase for we rather call what we do as devotion or holiness or sanctification or obligation or obedience.

    One big difference between a mere virtue signaler and the real deal is what goes on where eyes cannot see and ears cannot hear. Time has a way of exposing true holiness versus false holiness. This is probably because time brings waves of suffering followed by relief by suffering by relief. The real deal remains after each wave and grows stronger, but the mere virtue signal gets exhausted.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic of holiness; which topic I believe we all will have to deal with even up to our final dying breathes.

    Al

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Alan, that was a good analysis on the state of the human creature that says they are following God. I agree that it is an ongoing process as we go through trials and testing and more dying to self. But we who have committed ourselves to be His habitation have a process — that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.

      Like

  11. alan haungs says:

    With regards to holiness I would like to make further comments. At age 19 I read the book TWO BABYLONS from cover to cover TWICE. I also read other books describing the pagan origins of typical Christian holidays. As a result I strongly forsook such holidays as did many of the saints in the church movement I was apart of. THIS HOLIDAY EXODUS GAVE US A HOLINESS EDGE. Now I am old, decades have passed and I have gotten to see how deep the holiness we wore outwardly (a good testimony) how deep it affected the lives of the holiday forsakers. Long story short, I saw divorces, competition and other works of the flesh by the holiday forsakers as one might also expect from the holiday practicers. My conclusion, holiness is much harder to achieve than merely forsaking or adopting practises. I am not telling anyone what to do with holidays, but for myself I place all practises, either forsaking or adopting as possessing very low impact. We hoped we were a “good testimony” for others to see, but I have concluded that without TRUE growth within our fallen nature eventually finds its way out. I suspect many are in situations where they are told the key is that forsaking something is the fast way to holiness, instead of a slow organic change by the Divine breath actually killing and resurrecting something in our hidden part, teaching us not to love something and rather to learn to love something else that interests our Owner.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Alan, thanks for sharing a part of your journey with us. You wrote, “I suspect many are in situations where they are told the key is that forsaking something is the fast way to holiness, instead of a slow organic change by the Divine breath actually killing and resurrecting something in our hidden part, teaching us not to love something and rather to learn to love something else that interests our Owner.”

      I know by experience that religious flesh will do anything to survive and still appear “holy.” Thus all the false teachings in Christendom today that focus on things which are only temporal (touch not, taste not, Sabbath keeping, tithing, focusing on observing or NOT observing feast days, etc.), instead of yielding to those things which are eternal, Life IN Christ “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” I think the only “fast track” to true holiness in the sight of our Father is the daily inworking of the cross and the rise of the preeminence of His Son’s life in us. Obedience to the leading of His Spirit in us is what will bring many sons (and daughters) into His glory, not for their own glorification, but for His. I know that I still have a long way to go but, there is hope:

      “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know this, when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”

      Paul’s prayer applies to us all, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” (Eph 1:17-19, ESV2011)

      Thanks for you input, Alan

      Like

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