Five Attributes of Our Relentless Pursuit of Holiness
“Holy non-sequiturs, Batman!” exclaimed Robin.
Burt Ward (Robin) proclaimed holiness over more tangible items and bizarre circumstances than my feeble mind can dream up or imagine, addressing targets ranging from “Holy Agility” to “Holy Zoro.” Wikipedia notes 368 “Holy ___” exclamations made by Ward over the three seasons the original Batman series ran (1966–1968). Interestingly enough, neither “Holy Cow!” nor “Holy Toledo!” is among them.
With each over-dramatized, intense experience, or in a moment of utter astonishment, Robin would construct a holiness phrase to highlight that moment: “Holy astringent plum-like fruit, Batman. What are we going to do now?” Many of the superlatives expressed by Robin are quite amusing.
Holiness, for the Christ-follower, however, is a very serious matter. We are called to be a holy people. Referencing Leviticus 11, the apostle Paul said…
“…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” — Romans 9:20, ESV
Peter echoed this same sentiment, saying…
“…as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” — 1 Peter 1:16, ESV
In these repeated calls for holy conduct, what is it we are being called to do?
Holiness has nothing to do with being perfect, sanctimonious, or pious. It has nothing to do with revival meetings, or particular activities or behaviors carried out in praise and worship. It has nothing to do with a style of music, prayer, or preaching.
The term we translate “holy” is hagios (haa-gee-aas). It is the same root word from which we translate saint, and sanctified. It simply means separated, set apart, usually for a specific purpose.
Every two weeks, I set aside a portion of my paycheck as a tithe. It is separated from the remainder of my net pay for a specific purpose. It is consecrated; holy. Sometimes a room is set aside for a specific purpose, and as such the room is hagios — holy. In reality, it is simply a room, but I have chosen to set it apart for special purposes. The Hebrew people were chosen of God and set aside as a holy people. It is not that they were more pure, superior, or in any way deserving. They were simply chosen and set aside for God’s purposes, and as such, they were holy.
As Christ-followers, what does holiness look like? Though volumes can be, and have been written in answer to that, today, we will focus on just five attributes of holiness that we should pursue as Christ-followers. And I want you to note that none of these are “don’ts” or prohibitions. Holiness is a positive action; a pursuit.
We Pursue Purity
Purity is a beautiful word. It conjures up the lovliest images in my mind. Something that is pure is untainted, uncut. It has no fillers, is unmixed and devoid of anything that would defile it.
“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” — 1 John 3:3, ESV
What makes us holy is not that we are pure, but rather that we pursue it. The world does not do that. The world pursues filth, pressing the edge to the greatest extent possible. The next move has to be just a little more raw than the last one. “If you thought that was sick, wait till you see what I do next!”
As a follower of Jesus, we pursue the opposite edge. We pursue what is lovely, what is pure, what is kind, what is gentle, those things that are worthy of admiration.
We Pursue Light
We pursue light because because God is light (1 John 1:5), and we are pursuing God. We pursue light because Jesus is the Light of men (John 1:4), and we are pursuing Jesus. The world does not pursue Jesus, and it does not pursue light. The world does not even understand the light (John 1:5). Light makes no sense to those who exist outside the body.
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” — John 1:5, NASB
As Christ-followers, we not only understand and pursue the light, it is the light that cleans and purifies us.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” — 1 John 1:7, ESV
We Pursue Love
We pursue love with relentless passion. Love is the greatest and second greatest commandment from God. If I cannot do anything else, I must pursue love. The apostle Paul said…
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” — Galatians 5:6, NIV
Since that is true, I need to apply myself to learning to love, and to love well! Consider the implications of the reality that not only does God love, but that God IS love!
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” — 1 John 4:7–8, ESV
We Pursue Service
We diligently pursue a life in which we serve others. It is not that we are willing to do service to others. We actually pursue it. We look for opportunities to do so. We call Jesus Master, and we call him Lord. No servant is greater than his master (John 13:16, 15:20), and our Master is a man who serves. He washed the filthy, dusty feet of those who looked to him as their master, teacher, leader (John 13:14–15). He served.
“But I am among you as the one who serves.” — Luke 22:27b, ESV
Jesus patterned a life of service for us and he bids us to walk in that pattern. A holy man and woman will do so willingly, gladly, not begrudgingly.
We Pursue Forgiveness
Many years ago, I was contemplating a grevious sin that was committed against me. I say, without qualification, it was enormous. I was wounded, vulnerable, and bitter. I wrestled with the knot in my gut as I struggled to know how to forgive this extreme betrayal. In the midst of that battle, God made it clear to me, “Consider the depth of your own sin, Damon. If I can forgive you all of that, then you can likewise forgive this.” The logic of that was irrefutable.
Jesus has forgiven each of us times beyond numbering. And just as the sin against me wounded me deeply and painfully, my sins wounded Jesus. Yet, he forgives, and he invites me into fellowship as he calls me to forgive others and invite them into fellowship.
“Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:32, ESV
“Srive for . . . holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” — Hebrews 12:14, ESV
Victoriously in Christ!