Are There Degrees of Holiness?
Living Stones has reached a turning point in the book of Exodus (Ch. 19), where God’s holiness is now broadcast to the world through smoke, fire, stone tablets, and giant tents.
God's holiness means that
He is completely separate from evil.
He is completely devoted to his own glory.
He has eternally existed this way.
There has never been a worse question in the history of questions.
Because of even one act of sin a person is fundamentally unholy. It’s been said that God is “allergic” to sin because it contradicts his very nature. Sin cannot mingle with him like darkness cannot coexist with light, so even the most worthy prophet falls into the fetal position when confronted with his presence because sin gets magnified to terrifying proportions.
Through God-initiated faith in Christ as the resurrected king and savior of the world we are fundamentally changed. We are now separated from sin and death. We can now enter into the presence of God unashamed and unafraid. This initiating act of God enables us to access something of Christ's that is foreign to our nature.
It is true that upon conversion we are inducted as members of a holy nation, a people distinctly marked by God as his, but the individual journey has only begun, my friend.
After conversion you’re still you - with lingering desires to be your own god (i.e. sin) - but you’re a new you, enabled to become less and less affected by sin that cripples intimacy with God. The Christian life is one of progressive freedom from sin and transformation into the image of Christ's character - growth in holiness.
Holiness could be described as moral purity and unchained devotion to God . As this holiness increases, it
enables us to be content despite our environment,
enables the utter enjoyment of things God enjoys,
Holiness is not a lifestyle or a set of activities. It is a new state of being that is cultivated through participation in the Christian life. Growing in holiness is both passive and active - God is working in us and we are cooperating with him. Hoping for spiritual growth without an active faith is like hoping for sexy abs without getting off the couch. Pipe. Dream.
With God, life inside of obedience to his moral commands is fulfilling and life-giving. Without him, it’s impotent.
Example: Giving money away is a powerful means of increasing holiness because it teaches us to worship God, not money, trust God, not the nest egg, and serve others, not ourselves. But the act of giving money does not make you holy, nor is not proof that you are holy. Anyone can fake a good behavior. This kind of superficiality has many names – legalism, repression, hypocrisy, etc. But while you might be able to fool others about holy you are, God sees right through it. It's not even a matter of good intentions - for an act like giving money to increase holiness the Holy Spirit must be guiding it and working through it.
We must depend on God for growth in holiness.
Growth in holiness is not what gets our hand stamped to enter the Kingdom of God - it is proof that we’ve already been escorted in by Christ. We can water our little soul-plants with good works until they are swimming, but only God makes them grow into tall faith-trees (sorry, I tried to think of a better metaphor than this).
Christians exist in various states of maturity, and holiness increases at varying rates and intensities. Sometimes we can experience a quantum leap. Most of the time, just baby steps. But while holiness is the goal, we won’t reach it in this lifetime. Therefore, no one can ever claim that they've "arrived."
Until Christ arrives again.