“Disciples” – 1.2 – Holiness
(This is a blog series following the high-school Awana Journey curriculum of 2016, available from Awana.org . Click here to return to the other posts in the series.)
“Holiness” is an interesting word.
The bare meaning means “different,” with the implication being that something”holy” is set apart and special – the Temple was holy because it was unlike other buildings, and set apart for the service of God. (When I was in Awana High School as a student, our curriculum was called AKX – the Greek acronym of the words “Fit for the Master’s Use”).
But this is all just a description of the word. 1st Peter calls us to something far stranger: to be holy like God is holy.
What? How can that even be possible? What does that even mean?
How? Only through the grace of God. What does it mean? Well… it means to be made like Christ. And not just like Him… it means to be filled with Him. 2 Peter 1:4 tells believers that God has promised that we can be made “partakers of the divine nature.” It is not our external attempts to be good that make us holy. Awana puts it well: “Holiness is a state of being that is established and governed by the finished work of Christ to bring mankind back into unity with Himself.”
I would put it this way: Holiness is not something you achieve by trying hard to be good for God. It’s something you receive in communion with the Holy Spirit. Where else, really, would we think “holiness” comes from?
That unity/communion is achieved when you yield to God. He is pursuing you. Even as a Christian, He is pursuing a deeper unity with you. In an inner motion of your soul, you can open yourself to Him and trust Him to continue to purify you and transform you. You don’t deserve it, I don’t deserve it – it’s just God loving us even though we hardly dare to ask for such an intimate connection with Him. But we need it. We need God to burn away our sin and selfishness and to inflame our hearts with His love. Moses observed a burning bush which was not consumed. We may become a human being illuminated through with the glorious Fire of God, yet not consumed.
Doing everything in the glory of God can only be realized by union with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, through faith. To glorify Himself most fully, God desires to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4); to glorify us with Himself: “the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:22). God does not give us His glory apart from Himself, but He does desire to share Himself with us and so glorify every believer.
It is only in Jesus that this occurs. Salvation is “in Him”, for it is only n Him that we are blessed with “every spiritual blessing…in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), we are chosen “in Him” (Eph 1:4), it is only “in Him [that] we have redemption through His blood,” (Eph 1:7), our inheritance is “in Him” (Eph 1:11), we are “buried with Him” in baptism (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12), and likewise “raised with Him through faith” (Col 2:12), so that we “may walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4), a life characterized not by the demands of the law but by “the newness of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6). Every promise of God finds its “Yes” in Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to communicate to us the treasures hidden in Jesus Christ, and to supernaturally “shine the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” into our hearts (Col. 2:3, 2 Cor. 3:18, 4:6). “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The Holy Spirit communes with us and imparts to us this miracle if we will receive it, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17). It is only when we are truly filled with Him that we will be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:11), because this fruit is through Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit will likewise be produced by the Spirit within our heart. This Trinitarian union of loving purpose will be carried out in a miracle of sanctification within your soul, if you will trust God to do it, and surrender to Him utterly and continually. Even this act of surrender is a grace wrought by the Holy Spirit by the mercies of Christ, if we will but ask and let Him perform it.
This being a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4), abiding in Jesus like a branch in the vine (John 15:5), shining like the sun (Matt. 13:43), bearing “the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Cor. 15:49), and ultimately being “made like Him” (1 John 3:2) is God’s loving purpose for human life. It is not a gift God gives you apart from Himself, nor could it be. It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). Glorification is not something God does to you – it is something that happens as God dwells in you. Christians in the East have called this “Theosis.”
To read more about this concept, please see the article: Trinity…Love…Theosis. The last four paragraphs above are taken directly from it.