By T.M. Anderson
Holiness is a fitness. It capacitates one spiritually to fellowship with a holy God and holy beings. When the Scriptures say, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord," they have not stated this as an arbitrary decree; this is a fixed fact in the very nature of things. The dead cannot fellowship the living. The unholy cannot fellowship the holy. These are separated by a law that in the nature of things creates a great gulf between them, across which neither can pass. The blind cannot appreciate by sight the colors of the rainbow. The deaf cannot derive pleasure from the sound of music. These are wanting in that which makes such enjoyments possible.
God is a Spirit, pure in love, pure in all His virtues and graces as revealed in redemption. To enjoy Him one must be transformed into a likeness to all He is. Sin has nothing in common with God. Sin in the soul renders that soul incapable of eternal association with God.
Holiness is life. God is eternal in life. Only the living can fellowship with the living. Sin is death. It is utterly impossible to harmonize these two conditions. Entrance into the everlasting Kingdom is by the gate of abundant life. Jesus Christ is able to give life more abundantly because He can cleanse from sin. Life eternal can never be realized until the death caused by sin has been conquered. The hope for life rested on finding a cure for sin. The Blood cure has been found; holiness has resulted and life eternal is imparted through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Holiness is light. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." The holy are children of light and children of the day. They walk in the light of holiness as He is in the light of holiness; they have fellowship one with another. God's everlasting kingdom is a kingdom of light. Creatures of the darkness cannot be at home in it. They love darkness rather than light because it is their true element in which they live.
The sanctified dwell among the saints in light-light where no man approacheth, nor can approach, without immortality such as He can impart. Holiness includes all the elements necessary to make a redeemed soul at home in the city which needeth no sun. The light of the glorious gospel has shined into the heart, giving the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The everlasting Kingdom shall have no sundown; it will be high noon forever.
Every man shall naturally go to the place for which he is suited in character to live. Of Judas, the traitor, it was said, "that he might go to his own place." He went to the place for which he was qualified in character. The same will be said of all men, whether sinners or holy; each one shall go to his own place. It will not be necessary for a sinner to go down to go to perdition; he will be on the level with such a place as the result of his sin: It will not be necessary for a saint to go up to heaven; such a one will be already on a level with that place. The kingdom of God on earth is as heavenly in its nature as the everlasting Kingdom into which the saints shall enter. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. The place will suit the people, and the people be perfectly suited to the place. The same divine Architect who has gone to prepare the place is the same divine Architect who has built the character of the inhabitants for that place.
Therefore, entrance into the everlasting Kingdom depends on moral and spiritual fitness. Enjoyment of all that Kingdom includes depends on qualifications and capacities which only sanctification can impart. All future hope depends on a present fitness and worthiness. Holiness only can meet these requirements.
The seven cardinal virtues, which have engaged our attention in considering the truth of holiness, must blend into a unit and become the rule for practice and pattern in the life of the sanctified to assure them of entrance into the everlasting Kingdom.
Those who shall be accounted worthy of that Kingdom must prove their worthiness before God on earth. The manner of proving this is marked out by these seven things. These must be added to faith, by bringing them into everyday living as the ethics of holiness; and they must be in the heart to constitute the experience of holiness; and they must be developed in order to advance in the light of holiness. These things must be ever looked upon as the standard of holiness.
The issues confronting the sanctified involve great responsibilities. They are exhorted to show diligence, lest they fail to meet these responsibilities and lose the crown of life to be given to all who are accorded entrance into the everlasting Kingdom.
The apostle reveals these things in his admonitions which cover the salient facts under three headings.
Fruitfulness in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Mark that it is not sufficient that one have virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity in him: these things must be in him and abound. They must be kept at high tide always. They must be always at the front. They must be ever in use.
These things are in the soul as the result of sanctification; but they must be developed and made to abound by ceaseless praying, careful watchfulness, and faithful serving. Such a person will not be barren and unfruitful in this experience, which is the perfect knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sanctification, as has been stated, is that perfect experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ. All that He has provided in His death on the cross to cleanse from sin is experienced in sanctification; for what is provisional in Christ can become experimental in the heart. When cleansing takes place, the heart comes to a perfect knowledge of Jesus as the Sanctifier. It then becomes the duty of the sanctified to be fruitful in this knowledge. It means that they are to let shine out in good works what Christ has wrought within them. Making these graces, that Peter mentions, abound in the life will fulfill the responsibilities devolving upon the sanctified, and save them from barren and unfruitful lives.
No certain one of these virtues is to be emphasized to the stunting and ignoring of the others. These are to blend in unison to form an abounding life. They constitute a choir which must be made to produce harmony in uniting their voices as one. No one is to be a soloist. All are to serve together. Virtue will shine more and more as knowledge is developed and enlightenment comes to the heart. Self-control fixes the boundaries for every desire of body and mind, beyond which they must not pass. Patience adds her perfect work to keep one from fainting in the race. Godliness silences the opposition by its well-doing. Brotherly kindness helps the whole family of God in all its varied needs, and charity holds all together in the bond of perfectness, and keeps the wheels of toil so well oiled that work is made pleasant. She keeps the heart fervent in love for God and man. Such as abound in these things will bear their full measure of fruit, and shall hear the Lord say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant ... enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Progress after holiness has been obtained constitutes growth in grace. Growth in grace is necessary to an increased fruitfulness. The sanctified are to be "filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
Abounding in these graces, through a diligent application of self to holy living, advances one from one spiritual level to another still higher. To illustrate: The capital city of a certain state is situated on a river. On this river the government has constructed a series of locks and dams. To ascend this stream and reach this city a steamer enters a lock; the gate behind her is closed, and the water is let in from above, lifting the steamer to the higher level. From one level to another that is higher the vessel is lifted up until the level on which the city is built is obtained.
The sanctified enter the stream of spiritual life which ends at the eternal city of God. In obedience to light received, and by diligent application to add these things to their faith, as they ascend this stream from day to day they are lifted from one level to another which is more advanced; on the rising tide of these things they reach the plane on which the city is built; and "Ah entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"
He that lacketh these things.
"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
A grave mistake is made if the sanctified fail to appreciate the importance of doing these things. To "lack" these things means to run by them unheeding, or to let pass as being unimportant, or to become feeble in an effort to practice and develop them. Such a one that lacketh these things becomes blind to the point of nearsightedness. "He cannot see afar off," says the apostle. Here then is a cause of backsliding from holiness. This may be an explanation of the reason why many who start well in the way of holiness do not maintain their holy estate very long.
There is an exhortation for some "to awake to righteousness." To those who are fully aroused to righteous living Christ has promised to give light. The giving of more light by the Lord through the Spirit to the sanctified is necessary to their growth, and to their safety. But to fail to meet the added responsibilities which come with more light will result in blindness. It is only by walking in the light that fellowship with God is maintained. This is not only a walking in the light received at the time they were sanctified, but it is a continual obedience to all light that shall be given afterward.
Mistakes made by the sanctified cease to be mistakes after light has come. To offend in them the second time in the face of light will incur guilt, resulting in grieving the Spirit, with serious consequences. There is a grave reflection on the doctrine and experience of holiness when one makes no perceptible growth in knowledge and no marked advancement in the art of holy services. For years, many good people have lived subject to their feelings and emotions, rather than by advanced faith. The eye of their faith is weak for want of use.
A sanctified man is like a mariner who sails the seven seas. A mariner cannot stay always in sight of land if he would have commerce with all nations. He must know how to take reckonings of his position by the stars. A sanctified person cannot stay near the shore of things, and assure self by feelings. He must put out to sea, and by the perfect eye of faith steer his course by the bright and morning Star. One must be able to see afar off. Eternal riches are not comprehended by the nearsighted. These things are seen clearly by the eye of perfect faith.
He that is feeble in his devotion to do these things is blind to their present and future worth to himself, to all men, and to Christ. His own present and future happiness depends on his doing them. It will result in untold blessings for others if he does them. The one great purpose of redemption, the glorifying of God, will be accomplished if he does them.
The dire results and fearful consequences that follow such a lack of these things are that such persons forget that they were purged from their old sins. They forget the pit from whence they were lifted when they fail to give earnest heed to these things. They fall again into the same pit of sin through the blindness resulting from their own neglect, and utterly forget their lost estate. This is apostasy from holiness. It is sinning willfully against the knowledge of the truth.
Such can be the terrible ending of all who have been purged from their old sins if they run past these things, seeing no necessity for doing them by adding them to faith. Reader, do not start for heaven, and through neglect of your known duty to maintain holiness, and live it out to the glory of God, end in hell.
"If ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
The salvation of all persons is conditional upon their own wills. Their continuation in a saved relation to God is also conditional upon their wills. The often heard, "If a child once, always a child," is not analogous to the truth that obtains when a soul is spiritually born. The natural birth is not conditional upon the volition of the child born. Such had no choice to make: the laws that brought it into being did not operate because of any act of its will in the matter. But when a soul is spiritually born, the birth is conditional upon the acts of the individual's own will in meeting the conditions which God enjoined as being necessary to salvation. Hence the relation that exists ever after that is continued subject to the volitions of the person saved. It is not a question of "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" The answer to that question is, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God." This is a question of what can or may be done by the individual himself that will forfeit his state and standing.
That there was a danger of falling the apostle himself clearly shows when he issues the warning, "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall." Furthermore, there is an exhortation for these to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure." If their calling and election were sure, being independent of their own will, then why give diligence? "Beware, lest ye be led away with the error of the wicked, and fall from your own stedfastness."
Entrance into the everlasting Kingdom will be accorded those who diligently strive to maintain their purity at all hazards.
These seven cardinal virtues resident in the heart and soul of the sanctified are seven avenues for the outgoings of holiness in heart. These constitute seven phases of a sanctified life which must be watched diligently lest there be a dropping below the high plane on which they move. A breakdown at any point will be attended with fearful losses.
Let virtue shine in all her glory as a witness unto Jesus. Be the product of the faith confessed. Show what is believed by what is lived out in everyday life. Take time to be holy, even at the sacrifice of pleasure or recreation or business. Be poor if need be, but be holy at all costs. Suffer persecutions rather than depart from the path of virtue. Cut off a hand or a foot, rather than sacrifice virtue. Be a martyr if it is necessary; but be a saint by all means.
Advance in spiritual knowledge. Develop the mind along lines that will afford profits in the end. Keep the mind employed, but let it be employed in holy pursuits. There are many things which one does not need to know in order to be saved eternally. Employ the mind in things that accompany salvation. Make no excuses for ignorance in the art of holy living; deplore it as if it were sin. Ignorance is inexcusable since the Holy Ghost is come to make the saints wise, "understanding what the will of the Lord is."
Let self-control be developed along all lines. The body must be kept under, and all its appetites suppressed. They are not sinful, but can afford the devil an avenue of approach to defile the soul. Let the sanctified keep a grip on themselves in all their physical inclinations, and a great battle will be won in the daily life of holiness.
Be patient unto all men. Patiently wait on the Lord in all matters. If He is not in a hurry, why should we hurry?
Let godlikeness be revealed in every manner of life. Be godlike at the cost of appearing peculiar. To cultivate godliness requires wisdom and persistence. Let godliness peep out from under the rough exterior of an uncultured body. It will make up for all the deprivations that have been suffered.
Let brotherly love predominate. Let it be a shield of protection against the rough edges encountered by contact with others. Love can keep the grit out of the bearings, that life may run smooth. It can pour oil on troubled waters, and effect a great calm. It can change the course of an onrushing storm of strife, and hang the rainbow of peace across its retreating clouds. Charity shall cover the multitude of sins. "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
Oh, may it all my powers engage
To do my Master's will.
Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And, oh, Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give.
Help me to watch and pray,
And on thyself rely,
Assured if I my trust betray
I shall forever die.
-- Charles Wesley -