Monday, May 20, 2013
The Spirit of Holiness
Rom. 1:4 and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
In this opening greeting to the church in Rome we find this section which is a defense of the nature of Jesus Christ. He is fully God and he is fully man. Most affirm that the statement, "the spirit of holiness" exists to affirm the divine nature of Jesus Christ. However, there are those who would argue that the term ought to simply be the Holy Spirit -- or they read it to be the Holy Spirit. But this is not the case. This is not a description of the action of the Holy Spirit, but this is a description of the very nature of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ's nature is a spirit of holiness. It is holiness which defines who he is, and if this defines his nature -- then the invitation which we find later in 2 Peter 1:4 takes on clearer meaning:
2Pet. 1:4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.
We are invited to become participants, or partakers of the divine nature. If the divine nature is a spirit of holiness, then this is the nature of which we are to partake. The spirit of holiness was used to describe Christ, but it also becomes available to become a descriptor of those who have united with Christ and are participating in his nature. And this nature includes resurrection power, a power that can transform any life. This is why Paul declared:
Phil. 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,
To know Christ is to participate in the spirit of holiness.
The word "holiness" has not been the most popular in the last number of years. Popular culture has not been kind to the concept of "holiness" depicting people believing in holiness as crazy snake handlers, or rigid, legalistic dirty old men. On the other extreme "holiness" seems to mean saints who live such extraordinary lives that there is nothing to relate to the ordinary individual. Therefore the word is reserved for places like the Roman Catholic Church where we can refer to the Pope as "His Holiness." In the meantime the ordinary "Holiness" church has become increasingly reluctant to use the term. But could this be a problem of our own making?
Could it be that we have allowed the faulty concepts of "holiness" to so win the day that we have stopped seeking our personal participation in the spirit of holiness found in Christ? This would be the worst thing that could happen to us! Personally, I think that the message of holiness is so powerful and so transformational that it is exactly what the world needs today and that probably most people would be shocked if they discovered what true holiness means. This is a call to every single follower of Jesus Christ, that we are invited into this spirit of holiness. It is the spirit of Jesus Christ, it is his nature, and we are to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ so that his very nature flows from every single one of us. That means that we are called to live in the spirit of holiness. It is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Holiness is not some option for just a few individuals, it is the calling for all of God's people. We are called to be a holy people.
If God's people would lean into this life of holiness in the way in which he intended, I think that the popular perception could be changed. We shouldn't be afraid of what God wants for us because of what others might say. The world said all kinds of bad things about Jesus. We should move forward in boldness and in resurrection power, embracing the spirit of holiness.
Lord, please help me to live in the power of your spirit. Amen.