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Helps to Holiness

By Rev. David Blunt

This Editorial was published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue No. 19, July-September 2000.

I T is the desire of God's true children that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They remember with shame what they once were. As the fallen sons of Adam they were perverse in their will and in their ways, averse to God and all that is good. When first awakened they tried to approach God by way of mount Sinai, only to be driven back by the thunderings of His holy law in their conscience. They were led at length to a precious place called Calvary, encouraged by the word of grace, and found there the new and living way to mount Sion and the city of God.

When the arm of the Lord is revealed to us, the Redeemer in whom we once saw no beauty becomes for us the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely. Looking upon our beloved Saviour with the eye of faith we are keenly aware of what we ought to be like ourselves, and, one day soon, even shall be (1 John 3:2).


Christ is lovely to us because of the cross and His precious blood which was shed for our sins, but He is lovely first in His own personal character. He is the holy Lamb of God, "without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:19). Because in His earthly life the Lord Jesus was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26). His soul could be made an offering for sin. He gave himself for us "that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit. 2:14). The atonement of Jesus Christ then was designed not only to remove His people's guilt but also to make them inwardly holy. Salvation for sinners involves a change of nature as well as a change of state – the believer is a new man in new robes. Personal sanctification is now his life's work.


What a standard is set for our sanctification – nothing less than the likeness of Jesus Christ! "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). This exalted end which God has purposed for us we must steadfastly pursue, with the help of His grace.

In the life of our Lord we see an exact conformity to the demands of the moral law, in the inner man as well as in the outward actions. Each and every thought and intent of His heart was perfectly pure. As followers of Christ holiness must be our serious aim, our constant endeavour. We are to walk even as He walked. Nothing else has such a priority for the Christian, for without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).


The present experience of believers is typified by the account which is given in Scripture of the nation of Israel, taken by the mighty hand of God from cruel slavery in Egypt to happy liberty in Canaan – by the difficult way of the wilderness. We too have been delivered from the country of our nativity, the place where we were held in spiritual bondage; we too are on our way to a land of promise – heavenly promise – where we shall enjoy perfect liberty. But presently we are found in a barren world, with countless temptations and spiritual dangers in our path. Only those who are Israelites indeed, having "their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14), will not stumble and finally fall in the way. They alone shall enter the New Jerusalem at the close of their pilgrimage. These are the pure in heart and they are blessed.

Are you discouraged, believer, as you view yourself? Confident of your standing in Christ, that for His Son's sake God has declared you to be a "just man", yet at the same time bemoaning your state – that you are not yet "made perfect"? Are there any helps to holiness as you face the many hindrances in your path? What is there to spur you on?


The trials encountered in our earthly walk tend to make our souls weary and cast down. In the face of difficulties and disappointments we may be prone to a complaining attitude. We begin to say bitterly, "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency" (Psa. 73:13). Sacred truth seems to lose its power and the great realities of life, death and the judgment to come are felt less keenly by us. We become slothful, indifferent and even careless in our conduct. Is this your state?

Friend, open your eyes and see! The fault is in you, not in your Saviour. It is we who are fickle and changeable, not He. Everything about our God, His love, His covenant, His promises, remains forever true. His word is a faithful beacon to guide us through time's perplexing mists. Hold fast to it!


One of the most alarming trends in the church today is a growing worldliness. If we are not much mistaken this is the greatest obstacle to spiritual prosperity in the land. In our natural state we are conformed to this world. Proper sanctification always requires, not monastic exile or a mystical experience (both of which may leave a man with his same corrupt nature) but a powerful renewing of the mind. The effect of this work of grace is a thorough transformation which enables us to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2). The only holiness pleasing to the Lord is a sincere, heartfelt, loving obedience to His own revealed will.

This "present evil world" (Gal. 1:4), whether actively or passively is in opposition to "pure religion and undefiled" (Jam. 1:27). Oh, it will be quick to flatter those whose 'holiness' is such that they can sit comfortably alongside carnal men. But see what such false servants of God and slaves of Mammon do together. Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, gathered together against Christ (Acts 4:27). Their successors do the same.

What strong warnings are given to shun worldliness! "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (Jam. 4:4). When tempted to enjoy its delights we should say to ourselves, "This is the world that crucified my Lord! How can I have fellowship with it? It is passing away and I am passing on to a better world, where Christ is."


The converted man soon finds that although he is a new creature yet he continues to carry the world about in his own flesh. He has the same conflict as Paul, the "law in my members, warring against the law of my mind" (Rom. 7:23). We should remember that we are crucified with Christ that "henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6:6). The cross of Christ represents the ultimate in striving against sin. We who are His should therefore say inwardly; "I have made my choice. It is the Lord and His precepts. My heart is not, will not, be divided; it is fixed upon Christ."


Behind an evil world is the evil one, constantly trying the weaknesses of our flesh. But why do we give him such help? Why do we allow him entry into our hearts? He cannot come in except we drop our guard at his entrypoints, letting our senses be captivated by his charms. Our attitude ought to be: "I will not assist my adversary but resist him. Nothing which has the appearance of evil shall pass my eyes or ears."


The return of Christ provides a great incentive to live a holy life. In this light the question is asked, "What manner of persons ought ye to be?" (2 Pet. 3:11). There is but one answer: we should be found "in all holy conversation and godliness."

Though beset with sin we may even now shout for joy; God is giving us the victory. The same Saviour who has cast all our sins into the depths of the sea will subdue all our iniquities by and by (Mic. 7:19).