The Heart of Holiness

Written by Dr. Christi Butler – Aug. 2019 – Living Flame Christian Ministries

Over the decades of church history, a multitude of teachings have been published related to the subject of holiness. I have often found these teachings helpful, descriptive, informative, stimulating, even basically — “interesting.” However, in all honesty, I always felt something was lacking. I could never quite put my finger on it. I could not define what the problem really was.

             I would hear preachers preach about holiness and walk away feeling like I ate half a meal and was somehow cheated out of the most important ingredient. I would think, “This is true, but not complete. What is it that the church is missing?”

            Finally I found it. I understood it. The light bulb went off. You see, over the years, I have been taught about the need for holiness in the Christian life. I have been taught about the need to live pure before God and walk in obedience to His Word. I understand that above all else, holiness is an issue of the heart. I understand God requires moral and ethical purity in the inner being and that inner purity should result in a lifestyle consistent with what one claims to believe.

            These truths are self-evident. This is all well and good. I am in complete agreement. However, there is still something more. The more has to do worship. In Psalm 29:2 NKJV, King David writes, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

            You see, there is something about true holiness, real holiness, “complete biblical holiness,” that attracts God and causes Him to receive it as worship. The commentary notes on Psalms 29:2, in the Holman Study Bible (2015) say, “The word for beauty can mean ‘adornment,’ such as the ornate clothing worn by rulers or dignitaries” (p. 899).

            In other words, David was declaring that believers should worship God by putting on the beautiful and ornate spiritual clothing of holiness. Christians are called to be “decked out” in holiness before God. This makes me wonder, “Why is holiness so closely related to worship?”  

            Even in Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul writes, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Living holy is part of true and proper worship. Why is that?

            The answer has everything to do with the heart condition that should be the source and impetus for true holiness. Scripture teaches that God the Father is by nature holy. In other words, He is absolutely morally and ethically perfect and pure in every way. He is perfect and good in all He says and does. On the other hand, human beings are born with a sin nature in the flesh. They have been corrupted by sin. They have missed the mark. They have fallen short of the glory and are desperately dependent in every way upon grace for salvation.

            Understanding the holiness of God always leads Christians to a revelation of grace. It is grace that causes the human heart to respond to God with saving faith. It is grace that is responsible for removing sin and recreating the human spirit. It is grace that enables the Holy Spirit to live within the believer. In fact, one of the names of the Holy Spirit is “The Spirit of Grace” (Heb. 10:29; Zech. 12:10).

            This Spirit of Grace empowers the believer to live the Christian life, and when believers miss the mark in the process of working out their salvation with fear and trembling, it is grace that seals them and keeps them in the mighty hand of God. There is no salvation without grace.

            Everything about holiness in the Christian life is entirely dependent upon grace. This revelation should bring us to our knees in perfect humble surrender. There should be nothing left for us to do but cry out in worship, praise, adoration, and endless thankfulness towards God. Grace has saved us and nothing else. We should be so filled with love and worship in our hearts, that now our only concern in life is how to live to please the King. And so, a revelation of holiness begets holiness. We live holy because we love God and it is our reasonable act of worship.

            Living holy before God was never supposed to be about legalistically keeping rules in some vain attempt to earn favor or right standing with God. Earning our way to heaven by keeping the law has never been possible. Righteousness and sanctification (or holiness), has always been something granted by grace through faith. This is the entire argument of Paul and the Apostles throughout the scriptures. Therefore, the final conclusion is this: holiness was always supposed to be the natural byproduct of a heart that is desperately in love. When you love someone, you would never willingly seek to break his or her heart. A Christian in love would never willingly choose sin because it would hurt the heart of God. Love is what must motivate holiness and this is why God equates holiness with worship. It in the end, its all about love.

“Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!”1 Chron. 16:28-29 NKJV.