The Pursuit of Holiness

 

Dear Friends

In Psalm 119:9, that great and wonderful acrostic poem of the Old Testament, the Psalmist asks the question, “how can a young man keep his way pure?” It’s a question which has been asked and answered many times over the years – see, for example, Aristotle’s “grave and severe lectures of morality” – yet, sadly, far too little asked by evangelicals today. This is a great shame given the central place played by purity or holiness in practical lived-out Christianity. For as the Bible makes clear:

Holiness is the reason Jesus died for our sins (Titus 2,14); in order that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works.

It’s what God clearly commands – 1 Timothy 4:7 have nothing to do with silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness.

And is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to live an effective life in service of our Master (2 Tim 2:20-21).
So how then can a young man (or old woman, or old man, or…) keep his or her way pure?
Certainly not by “trying harder”. For we can’t transform ourselves by our own efforts any more than we can learn to fly (the command in Rom 12:2 is in the passive, “Let yourself be transformed” by God).

Nor by participating in some cleansing ritual or church programme.

Nor even by reading the latest self-help book from Koorong.

Of all many possible answers we find in Scripture (Titus 2, 2 Cor 4, 2 Pet 1:3, 1 Pet 1:25, Gal 5:16ff, Eph 4:17ff; 1 Tim 1:3ff; 3:16), the Psalmist gives us one: by “guarding it” or “taking heed” according to “Your Word” (9). What does that mean? Thankfully, the Psalmist unpacks his answer further for us in the in following verses. Guarding our way by the Word involves:
• seeking God with our whole heart (10);
• storing up His Word within us so that we might not sin (11);
• speaking His rules (13) and delighting mightily in His statues (14);
• meditating on His precepts (15). Not just reading and forgetting – reflecting on and applying what we read to our lives; and
• fixing our eyes on His ways (15).

For the more we do these things and so draw near to our loving Heavenly Father in the pages of His Word by the power of His Spirit, the more we behold His “glory in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6), the more we will be “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Nothing new. Nothing unexpected. Yet something wonderful. And not at all out of reach. “Open our eyes, O LORD, that we may behold wondrous things in your Law (Psalm 119:18)!”

In His grace,
Mike Clark

p.s. Thanks again to those who contributed to the refugee work among the Afghans and Iranians in Munich! Because of your generosity, we were able to raise 6,281 Euros which will be used for meeting various needs (legal and otherwise) of our newly Christian brothers and sisters in Germany and the group was greatly encouraged!