Heart Talk on Holiness – PT.3

Heart Talk on Holiness – PT.3

Editor’s Note: These articles, on holiness, although not perfect do merit for all who want to understand the fundamentals of practical holiness in everyday life.

Holiness. What It Is Not and what It Is

First of all. Holiness is not necessarily a state in which there is perpetual rapturous joy. Isaiah liii. 3 tells us that Jesus was ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,’ and Paul tells us of himself that he had continual sorrow and great heaviness because of the rejection of Jesus by his kinsmen after the flesh. Joy is the normal state of a holy man, but it may be mingled with sorrow and grief and perplexities and heaviness on account of manifold temptations. The low water mark, however, in the experience of a holy person is one of perfect peace — the high water mark is up in the third heaven somewhere; however, this third heaven experience is not likely to be constantly maintained. Jesus and the disciples had to come down off the Mount of Transfiguration and go to casting out devils, and Paul returned from the third heaven to be buffeted of Satan, and stoned and whipped, and imprisoned of men.

  1. Holiness is not a state of freedom from temptation. This is a world of trial, and conflict with principalities and powers, darkness’s and terrible evils, and the holy soul who is in the forefront of the conflict may expect the fiercest assaults of the devil, and the heaviest and most perplexing and prolonged temptations. Our Blessed Lord was tried and tempted for forty days and forty nights of the devil, and the servant must not be surprised if he is as his Master.

Paul tells us that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, and that He is able to succor us when we are tempted. It is no sin to be tempted; in fact, the Apostle James tells us to rejoice when we are subjected to all manner of temptations for the resulting trial of our faith will produce in us strength and force of holy character, so that we shall be lacking in nothing (Jas. i. 2-4).

III. Holiness is not a state of freedom from infirmities. It does not produce a perfect head, but rather a perfect heart! The saints have always been compassed about with infirmities that have proved a source of great trial, but when patiently endured for His dear sake have also proved a source of great blessing. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, an infirmity, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. Possibly it was weak eyes, for he was once stoned and dragged out of the city and left for dead, and in writing to the Galatians, he tells them they would have plucked out their eyes and given them to him had it been possible. Or it may have been a stammering tongue, for he tells us he was accounted rude of speech. Anyway, it was an infirmity which he longed to be rid of; doubtless feeling that it interfered with his usefulness, and three times he prayed to the Lord for deliverance, but instead of getting the prayed-for deliverance, the Lord said to him, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor. xii. 9).

Then Paul cried out, ‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong’ (2 Cor. xii. 9-10)

In the Epistle to the Hebrew iv, 15 we are told that Jesus was ‘touched of our infirmities.’ We may be faulty in memory, in judgment, in understanding; we may have manifold infirmities of body and mind; but God looks upon the purity of the heart, the singleness of the eye, and the loyalty of our affection, and if He does not find us faulty there, He counts us perfect men. It is not in the mere natural perfection that the power and glory of God are manifested, but rather in goodness and purity and patience and love and meekness and long-suffering shining forth through infirmities of flesh and imperfections of mind.

  1. Holiness is not a state of freedom from affliction. The saints of all ages have been chosen ‘in the furnace of affliction’ (Isa. xlviii. 10). Job and Jeremiah and Daniel and Paul and the mighty army of martyrs have, and shall always, come up through great tribulations. It is not God’s purpose to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, clothe us in purple and fine linen, and keep a sugar plum in our mouths all the time. That would not develop strength of character, nor cultivate simplicity and purity of heart: nor in that case could we really know Jesus, and the fellowship of His sufferings. It is in the furnace of fire, the lion’s den, and the dungeon cell that He most freely reveals Himself to His people.

Be continued tomorrow

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