The holiness we are seeking goes much deeper than merely cleaning the outside of our cup (Luke 11:39). We are not seeking an antidote that deals with the effects but not the cause of our human condition. We are seeking the living God, for true holiness does not come from following rules; it comes from following Christ. The path toward true holiness, therefore, is a path full of both life and death, perils and blessings. It is a path upon which you will be challenged, empowered, provoked and crucified. But you will not be disappointed. If it is God you seek, it is God you will find.
Holiness and Humility
Jesus did not condemn sinners; He condemned hypocrites, people who excuse their own sins while condemning the sins of another. They are not merely "two-faced," for even the best of us must work at single-mindedness in all instances. Hypocrites, therefore, refuse to admit they are, at times, two-faced, thereby pretending a righteousness that they fail to live. Indeed, hypocrites do not discern their hypocrisy, for they cannot perceive flaws within themselves. Rarely do they actually deal with the corruption in their hearts. Since they seek no mercy, hypocrites have no mercy to give; since they are always under God's judgment, judging is what comes through them. We cannot remain hypocrites and at the same time find holiness. Therefore, the first step we truly take toward sanctification is to admit we are not as holy as we would like to appear. This first step is called humility.
Humility Brings Grace
The holiest, most powerful voice that ever spoke described Himself as "meek and lowly in heart." Why do we begin a journey to holiness and transformation with humility? Simply because holiness is the product of grace, and God gives grace only to the humble. And grace alone can change our hearts. Humility, therefore, is the substructure of transformation. It is the essence of all virtues. At some point, we will be confronted with the impurities of our hearts. The Holy Spirit reveals sinfulness, not to condemn us but to establish humility and deepen the knowledge of our need for grace. At this crossroads, both holy men and hypocrites are bred. Those who become holy see their need and fall prostrate before God for deliverance. Those who become hypocrites are they who, in seeing their sin, excuse it and thus remain intact. Though all men must eventually stand at this junction, few are they who embrace the voice of truth; few are they who will walk humbly toward true holiness.
Hypocrites love to judge; it makes them feel superior. But it shall not be so with you. You must seek earnestly for lowliness of heart. Many zealous but proud Christians failed to reach holiness because they presumed they were called to judge others. Jesus Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Anyone can pass judgment, but can they save? Can they lay down their lives in love, intercession and faith for the one judged? Can they target an area of need and—rather than criticizing—fast and pray, asking God to supply the very virtue they feel is lacking? And then can they persevere in love-motivated prayer until that fallen area blooms in godliness? Such is the life Christ commands we follow! To judge after the flesh requires but one eye and a carnal mind. On the other hand, it takes the loving faithfulness of Christ to redeem and save. One act of His love revealed through us will do more to warm cold hearts than the sum of all our pompous criticisms. Therefore, grow in love and excel in mercy, and you will have a clearer perception into the essence of holiness, for it is the nature of God, who is love.
Francis Frangipane is the author of numerous books, including Strength for the Battle; The Three Battlegrounds; The Shelter of the Most High; I Will Be Found by You; and Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God. Pastor Frangipane is also the founding director of In Christ's Image Training, an online ministry school with students in nearly eighty nations. His heartfelt prayer is to see Christlike pastors and intercessors in every city united before God and revealing the love of Christ to their communities. This article is an excerpt from his book Transformed in His Presence (Charisma House, 2018).
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