The Shining Challenge


Holiness, as taught in the New Testament, is no mere negative concept - a being freed merely from the disfigurements of sin. Besides the negative aspect of being rescued from the tyranny of hereditary depravity, there are all those wonderful positive traits which accompany the Holy Spiritís deeper renewal of the mind into the image of Christ. According to the New Testament picture of holiness, the garden is not only cleared of ugly weeds, it is filled with fragrant flowers and rich fruits. Christian sanctity is no mere frigid inhibitionism or austere self-repression; it is release from the wretched bondage of egocentricity into the liberty of a Christ like otherism, through a pervading of the soul with the magnanimous love of God. It is a refining of the whole moral being, and a lifting of the whole life to a level on which pure thinking and gracious behavior are spontaneous.

In other words, the New Testament emphasis is not so much on our being ridded of something (though that is necessarily included), but rather on our being filled with a spiritual vitality and health which leave the sin-disease no environment in which to thrive. That life of victorious fulness is the shining challenge of the written Word to every Christian believer. It is a fulness of new spiritual life which is positive holiness - brought about through an invasion of our being by the Holy Spirit Himself (wonderful mystery!). One has only to glance through the New Testament to know whether many or few Christians today are living according to the divine standard.

Look again at the New Testament photograph of "a man in Christ." He has within him "the peace of God which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7). He rejoices "with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). He has "the wisdom that is from above" (James 3:17). He "walks in the light as God is in the light," having continuous "fellowship with the Father and with His Son" (1 John 3:7). He is renewed in knowledge after the image of God" (Col. 3:10), and is renewed into "true holiness" (Eph. 4:24). He "beholds with unveiled face the glory of the Lord, and is changed into the same image" (2 Cor. 3:18). In him "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). "He dwelleth in God and God in him" (1 John 4:16). He is "filled unto all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19). He lives the "more abundant life" (John 10:10).