Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cultural Holiness

Lately I've been reading The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, and one of his comments in chapter 2 really struck me.
Many Christians have what we might call a "cultural holiness." They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them.
Isn't that true? Aren't we all tempted to look no farther than our immediate acquaintances to determine what is "acceptable" and even "holy?" After all, we don't want to appear self-righteous.

God said, "be holy, for I am holy." (Lev. 11:44) He didn't command us to "be holy as your brother is holy," but defines true holiness as conformity to His character, and His alone. Note the word conformity, not just acknowledgement. Bridges goes on to say:
But God demands more than that we acknowledge His holiness. He says to us, "Be holy, because I am holy." God rightfully demands perfect holiness in all of His moral creatures. It cannot be otherwise.
The truth is, we can never live up to that standard. It is only by the grace and mercy of God, through the sacrifice of Christ, that we can be cleansed of our guilt and made holy in His sight.

But that outpouring of grace may, ironically, tempt us to "continue is sin that grace may abound." (Rom. 6:1) Let us resist that temptation, echoing the words of Paul in verse 2, "By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

We must evaluate ourselves in light of who God is, realizing what He has done on our behalf, and seek to align ourselves with His perfect standard, not the standard of our Christian culture.
Strive...for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14)

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