Friday, August 08, 2008

Personal Holiness

Did you ever notice that sometimes religious people make up new terms that sound really spiritual and good? What I'm realizing more and more that often these terms are veiling something, they are decieving and are designed (not usually by men but by our enemy the devil) to help us believe a lie. We believe because it sounds like it's something God would say somehow.

I grew up in a holiness church, don't worry if you have no idea what that means hehe. I've very thankful for my upbringing so I hope no one takes this the wrong way...Anyway, personal holiness was a popular topic, often thrown in with talk of sanctification. Today I was just vacuuming (again!) and for no apparent reason God just put the term 'personal holiness' into my mind and then 'self-righteousness'. Then he turned on the lights and I was amazed I missed something to simple.

Self=Personal

Righteousness=Holiness

Is this glaringly obvious to anyone else???

If you think there's a Biblical reason to define the two diffently, I'd love to know about it. Right now I'm just not seeing 'personal holiness' as something we're called to as believers...I mean, I'm not seeing it in the Bible.

15 comments:

janelle said...

While I can see where you are coming from, I can't see what your saying:-) Are you saying that sanctification is self-righteousness? Maybe you could elaborate?

jul said...

Sanctification I would say is essentially growing in our understanding of grace. The more we know grace, the more we'll learn to say no to ungodliness, because grace is empowering and transforming, and ultimately grace is a person, Jesus, living his life in us.

I think maybe the term 'personal holiness' is not so familiar to you in your circles. It's probably more from my holiness background, I don't know. Maybe some others will comment whether they've heard the term used or not.

Personal holiness basically refers to christian morality, adhering to certian standards of living. I think it assumes that the holier we become (and I do believe we are being made holy as in Hebrews)the more our outward behaviour will reflect this by obedience to law, either the ten commandments or the so-called NT commands or church rules or some combination of these. A person who does not outwardly appear holy (because of some violation of the perceived standards of holiness) would then not be considered righteous or holy and even his salvation may be called into doubt.

Unfortunately sanctification,while certainly a Biblical term, is also misunderstood in a similar way. Sanctification is often taught, in direct opposition to Galatians, as 'our part'. By that I mean, God has justified us, wiping our slate completely clean, and sanctification is the process of us learning to maintain this cleanness by sinning less, confessing our sin more, and disciplines of all sorts.

I'm am NOT saying that true sanctification, a work of the Holy Spirit by grace through faith in exactly the same way regeneration is, is self-righteousness. True sanctification is embracing the righteousness that comes from God apart from works of the law and involves mind renewal and learning as we walk in the perpetually unhindered intimacy with God that the work of Jesus made possible.


I don't feel like I'm explaining myself very well at all! I hope I helped clarify something of what I'm talking about, but feel free to ask more questions if I'm still be unclear.

Glad you liked my feel-good religion bit haha!

07000intune said...

Julie,
It is very interesting the phrase you have highlighted today:personal holiness.
With all these things I guess it depends on the spirit behind the words,what is the belief structure
behind an idea of moving on individually in holiness.
if it's a self-effort thing ,(religion) or if it's more like flicking a switch deep down....Jesus, I'm undone again in that area of my life, I yield to you deeper than ever that You live the opposite through Me and break the wrong living off me.
==================
by the way I really like Alan Hiu's stuff...many thanks. I still think though there is a place in the New Covenant for Psalm 51...but again all this must be ON A FOUNDATION of GRACE, or else it will just be a religious groan.I don't think you can just toss scriptures away, saying "Oh it's the New Covenant now."
I had a pastor who, despite being grounded in the Brethren, tossed Ecclesiastes away. But Ecclesiastes is our present reality, matching perfectly with Romans 8 "All creation groans waiting for the sons of God to Come into their own" (AMP)
And yes, we're coming into our own,
but we've still a fair ways to go to a full 3D manifestation.
==============================
"I don't feel like I'm explaining myself very well at all! "
well if these 2 sentences are to go by, I'd hate to be with you when you start explaining yourself well. I think Dan could put these on his quotes pages

"True sanctification is embracing the righteousness that comes from God apart from works of the law and involves mind renewal and learning as we walk in the perpetually unhindered intimacy with God that the work of Jesus made possible."
"The more we know grace, the more we'll learn to say no to ungodliness, because grace is empowering and transforming, and ultimately grace is a person, Jesus, living his life in us."

Don said...

Maybe I'm saying what's already been said - but what's important is one's motive for "personal holiness" - what's the goal?

If someone adopts an ascetic lifestyle in order to gain God's acceptance, or to be better than someone else, that's not good. But if someone does this in order to clear away the "junk," to hear God better - and perhaps have more time for others due to less "junk" - then it could be a very good thing.

07000intune said...

I love that Don.

let's hammer that other thing I hate about pseudo holiness...

One of the conditions of the Fall was a horrible separateness..not just from God , but from each other.

So in the realm of sanctification this takes the form of a horrible "God and Me-ness"."I am better than you after all, and don't you forget it"

Jorge Pradas put a summary of much of his revelation about the Body of Christ into a book(for Spanish speakers) called "Congregados para darle Gloria".Gathered together to give Him Glory.He writes things like:

As we seek God's Presence, even personally, we will find we increasingly carry the Body of Christ and those who don't know the Lord in with us.We are more and more aware that it is not just about me....it's about God's glory, His manifestation in the Body. Although we are personally responsible for our own walk...it is not an "alone walk" anymore, as it used to be in the world.Me for Me. Now it must become Me for others.

This separateness is being smashed to smithereens. It is part of the effect of the junk that Don said.

07000intune said...

Julie,
I have ploughed through not only the numbers webpage but also other teachings on the hope of Israel site. I found it amazing from a Hebrew information point of view, but disturbing from a Trinity point of view, and sure enough, several Unitarian sects have come out of Bullinger's teachings over the years.

i believe in the Holy community of Father Son and Holy Spirit, not Father,Jesus and Church. I had a vision once of the three of them and it broke me, because of the non-religiousness of the vision, and their amazing love for one another. I believe God's amazing plan is to extend this community by creating and redeeming us, but One of them had to step up to the plate and say "I am willing to become Man, to reproduce a community clothed with God, and as Our elder Brother He is commanding operations right now before the Presence of the Father, with the prayers of the saints, both on earth and those ahead of us in heaven, rising before God as described in Revelation.
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What did you think?

lydia joy said...

"As we seek God's Presence, even personally, we will find we increasingly carry the Body of Christ and those who don't know the Lord in with us.We are more and more aware that it is not just about me....it's about God's glory, His manifestation in the Body. Although we are personally responsible for our own walk...it is not an "alone walk" anymore, as it used to be in the world.Me for Me. Now it must become Me for others"

Chris this was so wonderful to read, I am getting to this place where I can't help but have others on my heart. Especially when I receive something wonderful from the Lord through teaching or experiences with Him, time in His presence and I just want to go and get all these precious wonderful woman from my old church and let them be loved by Jesus afresh......
and you know what, I just can't help thinking about them, it must be God, he so wants His body to unite!!!

07000intune said...

Lydia Joy, I've just put a thing on Dan's blog about the nature of the Word.
Does anyone know about the phrase "The 7 Spirits of God?"
And in relation to Unity and what I just wrote about the whole Word,
could it be that one section of the Body hangs around 2 of the 7 spirits of God, another section hangs around a different 3 or 4 spirits of God...so ofcourse the twain never meet. Whereas perhaps we should be at home amongst all 7 spirits of God with everybody else.


Did you know that the Gospel info about Jesus was so important that God wrote it 4 times through 4 different character types. Bob Weiner's studies refer to them as the 4 main character types to be found in man. You've got Matthew who was really into ruling...probably a leader/organiser type...always going on about the Kingdom. You've got Mark, who wasn't really into writing at all(Bit like Scotty)...but if he must, let's get it down as quickly as possible...then Jesus did this..oh and then Jesus did this...Much more into action and serving than books. Then you've got the guy that liked writing so much he got asked to do Acts as well...Luke. Learned, teachery, Dan Bowen sort. Then you've got the spaced out artist prophet type, who is just on another planet, talking about Light and Love, and Water...and loads of spiritual stuff(more aesthetic use of the word spiritual) ...John.

And in the 3rd Level...for the first time in history...you are going to get the whole lot actually flowing together...which will be a flipping miracle.

jul said...

Don, I have to ask that if I replaced "personal holiness" with "self-righteousness" and asked the same question: "What's the goal?" is there any goal that justifies self-righteousness? Surely the Jews were sincere in their self-righteous efforts to come to God, but they continued to fail because there is only ever one way to God, Jesus and his righteousness.

Also, in the last part of your comment you talked about clearing out junk in our lives in order to hear God better. I have to say that I used to believe along these lines as well, that sin in my life hindered my relationship with God in some way or gave the enemy a 'right' to come into my life. The truth is, it was the lie of condemnation that I submitted to that hindered me from hearing God's voice. If I believe in Jesus and his finished work, then NOTHING can ever come between me and God again, because every single sin past, present and future is already gone and God is not counting them against me.

If sin did in some way come between me and God, I'd need saving all over again, trust me! My only hope is in the truth that he never leaves me or forsakes me and even when I'm unfaithful he remains faithful.

In my humble opinion, it has been my desire to 'clear away junk' in my life that has continually gotten me into trouble by getting me to take my eyes off Jesus and start looking at myself for the answers to my problems.

I'm still tempted to do this all the time, when I'm not sensing God's presence the way I want to or feeling close to him. I keep wanting to ask the question "what should I do?" or " what have I done wrong?" and this is utterly wrong. He is teaching me that he comes because he wants to, nothing more, nothing less. It's HIM, not me.

Yes, he wants me to want him but he knows that I don't know how to want him until he comes and shows me how wonderful he is! This new covenant depends on HIM ALONE. We have no part except to see what he's done receive the blessings,simply taking him at his word.

Our work is only and ever believing in the one he sent, it is the work of faith.

In the end, being made holy is simply becoming more like God. We become like him by being with him day in and day out, hearing his voice, experiencing his love and goodness, basking in his grace and mercy, and trusting him with childlike abandon.

Hope you can understand Don, hehe, I'm what you might call hypersensitive to anything remotely reminding me of self-righteousness or law or 'shoulds'. I don't think it's necessarily a reflection of what's behind your comment, but a reflection of what's going on in my head...

jul said...

Chris, I didn't look over that site, just saw the one page with the info I was looking for.

I like your description of the relationship in the trinity, it reminds me a bit of "The Shack" which I just finished reading. Have you read it?

It certainly got my wheels turning and there was quite a bit of good stuff in there, as well as some controversial and not quite so Scriptural stuff. Overall I enjoyed it and see no reason to have to agree 100% with the things I read or listen to...I can still learn something.

janelle said...

Jul,

You explained very well, thanks. The only thing I continue to be confused about is your definition of santification...you said it is growing in our understanding of grace so we can say no to ungodliness, and then you said that it is a work of the Holy Spirit, by grace, through faith. This sounds to me like justification...? Maybe I'm still misunderstanding you?

jul said...

Janelle, I think you're understanding me, but maybe I'm not understanding you... Would you mind giving me your definition of sanctification and how you think sanctification happens? Maybe then I can see better where you're coming from.

RJW said...

For what it's worth...if there is anything God requires of me other than faith, I'm sunk! If holiness, sanctification, whatever, is dependent on my doing it, then it wasn't finished at the cross.
Who among us is going to look God in the face and tell Him Christ's holiness and righteousness aren't enough? I am not going to be more of anything through anything I do! I already have everything pertaining to life and Godliness in Christ.
If God was reconciling the world in Christ and not holding men's sins against them, why do we? Isn't unbelief the only sin that is of spiritual import as to our "standing?"
I just don't believe in separate works of grace such as saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Spirit. It's a one time deal.
The renewal of my mind by the Spirit might experientially cause my walk to change, that's maturity, but God sees me as finished and I'm resting in that.

janelle said...

Jul,

I wrote a post in June...here are some things I wrote (instead of just linking to it)

"But what of sanctification? What does it look like? Is it something that happens instantaneously by the power of the Spirit? I fear that justification and sanctification can be confused, and this cannot happen. Both are important, but both are different. John Piper has a lot to say about this, and most of the below points I take from him.

1) Both are of faith. "We believe that justification and sanctification are both brought about by God through faith, but not in the same way. Justification is an act of God’s imputing and reckoning; sanctification is an act of God’s imparting and transforming."

2) We can never be completely sanctified on this earth. That future joy awaits us in heaven. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

"[He will present you blameless] if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister" (Colossians 1:23).

3) Sanctification is empowered to us by the Holy Spirit, yet requires that we act upon it.

"I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. …But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life" (Romans 6:19, 22).

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith" (1 John 5:1-4).

All of these Scripture either directly or indirectly touch upon sanctification. But the most compelling is this one:

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13).

God supplies the will, but what do we have to do? Work! This is not a works oriented Gospel, for those who would like to point that out (Paul would certainly never tell someone that.) Instead, let's read what Wayne Grudem has to say in "Bible Doctrine."

"The role we play in sanctification is both a passive one...and an active one...unfortunately this "passive" role in sanctification, this idea of yielding to God and trusting Him to work in us...is sometimes so strongly emphasized that it is sometimes the only thing that people are told about the path of sanctification. But this is a tragic distortion of the topic of sanctification, for it only speaks of one-half of the part that we must play, and, by itself, will lead Christians to become lazy and to neglect the active role that Scripture commands them to play in their own sanctification.

"That active role that we are to play is is indicated by Romans 8:13 which says 'If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.' Here Paul acknowledges that it is 'by the Spirit' that we are able to do this. But he also says that we must do it! It is not the Holy Spirit that is commanded to put to death the deeds of flesh, but Christians! Similarly, Paul tells the Philippians 'Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.' Paul says that obedience is the way in which they 'work out their own salvation' meaning that they will 'work out' the further realization of the benefits of salvation in their Christian life...But there is more: the reason why they are to work and to expect that their work will yield positive results is that 'God is at work in you'--the prior and foundational work of God in sanctification means that their own work is empowered by God; therefore, it will be worthwhile and will bear positive results."

Jonathan Edwards also chimes in: "In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some and we do the rest. But God does all, and we do all. God produces all, we act all. For that is what produces, viz. our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active."

All of this points to one thing: confession of sin and accountability are the primary means that WE, as a set apart people, can act to continue to progress in our sanctification, started by the Holy Spirit, acted upon by us, and brought to fruition in eternity. Justification does not trump sanctification; rather, justification will bring about our eventual completed sanctification."

If you read all of this...kudos:-)

RJW said...

I could list some scripture, but instead may I recommend Bill Gillham's fabulous book "What God Wishes Christians Knew About Christianity." Esp.,Ch.10, p.181. Mr. Gillham presents our identity in Christ so beautifully and accessably.
Love your blog.:)