Summary: We are to strive to holy like God not just be uncommon.
I have a co-worker who is trying to share with the folks at his church his understanding of holiness and spiritual warfare. When I first heard him, I was not very receptive for I thought he had fallen into the error of sinless perfection. In addition, he seemed obsessed by battling demons, which was something I would expect from some type of cult.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in spiritual warfare and demons but I have heard the folks that cast out the baby crying demon, the burping demon, the wart demon and the like so my shields go up and my phasers are fully charged when I hear something that sounds like that.
As I have listened to him over the years, I have come to believe that he has some things right and his perspective towards sin is more biblical than most Christians. He is at least strives for holiness and to be as sinless as possible. The modern church’s perspective heavily leans on mercy and grace after the failure instead of seeking the power to be victorious and overcoming the temptation. Outside of “Jesus wept” and John 3:16 the best-known and memorized verse among Christians is 1 John 1:9. We have taken it from the solution to “If we sin” to when we sin. The verse is not a blank check but more like accidental overdraw protection.
If we could get most Christians to be as afraid of sin as they are of holiness, we would see a much stronger church. Instead of expecting to fail, if we would concentrate on expecting victory and living in holiness as God gives us the power to do we would fail much less and thus sin less though we may never become sinless in this life. Sin should be a rarity in the Christian’s life not an inevitable event. My co-worker calls the current perspective the SRC, the sin and repent club.
Since my co-worker’s approach to sin and holiness does not fit the common consensus of seminarians or theologians, he is having a hard row to hoe at his church. He has been relieved of his teaching position in AWANA. His pastor has even preached two sermons slapping him in the eye without calling his name. However since many in the church know of the issue and his theological premise he may as well just said that Randy is a nutcase and avoid him. What a crime it is trying to teach children to be holy and live a victorious life versus a defeated and guilt ridden one like the rest of the Christians. How dare he?
The pastor’s take on holiness was interesting in that he wanted to emphasize that connotation of holiness that means to be separate or different from the world. He used the term uncommon in effect minimizing holiness. Separation is one part of it but God is more than uncommon and He is holy. In Hebrew holy also relates to brightness as well as separation. That is understandable since He is light and He has no shadow or gray area in Him. Somehow calling God the Uncommon One of Israel or our Uncommon Father does not match for He is past uncommon in all His ways.
7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
8 And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you. KJV
The Hebrew word for holy in this verse is another form of the word sanctify. Holiness and sanctification are intrinsically the same concept. If you want to be holy you have to be sanctified and all that includes being clean or pure and obedient to His Word or the commands and statutes. God commands His people to be holy.
44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. KJV
Note we are to be holy because He is holy. Holiness is more than just a list of do’s and don’ts though they are a part of the whole picture. To be holy like God entails much, much more than the external. That is where the Pharisees went wrong because they worked on externals, the letter of the law, to the neglect of the internal aspects or the spirit of the law. Albeit the modern church has gone too far the other way and made it all a matter of the heart or spirit, if you will, and have tossed out the letter or doctrine. There must be a balance.