The Pursuit of Holiness

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Written by Bishop Redfern II – Executive Director, City Light, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Any serious discussions of Holiness is without meaning, if it does not consider the underlying question that permeates the thought, or life pattern, of every living thing. That question is: “What is the meaning of LIFE?” Holiness is a container in which life should reside if it is to be lived in perfection.

To consider LIFE outside of Holiness, is to consider it between its extremities, which is say – its beginning and its end. The perceived start of each life is not its true beginning – the end of life is not its true end. Life is related to all things and all things are related to life.  Life exists in context of matter or, as we might say, in a body – but the body is not life. The body can be considered a vessel of life but not life itself. Scientists tell us that matter can not be created nor destroyed in
an isolated system.

Antoine Lavoisler’s discovery of the law of conservation of mass has led to many great revelations about the properties of matter and the body but offers us very little to even begin to understand life – let alone Holiness.

Life is not matter, but rather, a relationship to matter. It is recorded in the book of Genesis that the breath of God had a profound impact on matter (dirt) – in such a way that the spirit (breath) of God transformed inert matter (dirt) into the active, self-aware, self-conscious, free willed living creature called man.

Taking a substance where no life existed, then shaping it into form, and then breathing life into it has defied scientific explanation since the creation of man. To understand Holiness, we must first have some insight into the beginning of this vessel called man and the meaning and purpose of this gift called life. Who is this giver of Life? Who is this initiator of the species called man? This is the one we call God. Then the question surely must be; “Who and what is God?”

How can this question be answered in such a way as to bring us some degree of satisfaction? The question is answered in the Gospel of John. John identifies God in a word, as a matter of fact, he identifies God as THE Word. A definition that is so singular that – it is true only because it is true. In other words, it is true by definition. There is no way for the finite mind of man to functionally identify God, except as He has revealed Himself to us. We can know of Him by how he revealed Himself to Moses when He said, “I am that I am.”

John describes his God given revelation as to who and what God is, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, verses one through five:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John is a witness to the source of Life – and the creation of the context in which it is lived. It is clear that God is the true source of all life and the creator of all things that were made. This is to say that, God created the body, the mind, the spirit – the habitation in which we live, the earth, and the fullness thereof. He created the universe.

Every thought, every reality, every imagination, and even every altered dimension – was created and is maintained by Him.

As part and parcel of His creation: we are a part of His wholeness. In His perfection: we are a puzzle piece designed to eternally compliment the whole of everything. Holiness is the highest execution of God’s design for life. Holiness is right relationship with God and all that is, was and ever will be.

State of the World

The pursuit of Holiness is not to be considered in a vacuum. Whether we are holy or not, impacts everything. It impacts God’s eternal plan for the existence of everything. The nature of our existence in relation to a loving God and the order He has prescribed for His Universe. This affects the state of the nation, world and universe. It is man, at his smallest level, balancing the lever of power instilled within him by His creator on the fulcrum of random circumstance – against the will of all that is the antithesis of God.

The pursuit of Holiness is not the pursuit of a better, more Godly behavior. Holiness is right relationship with God. It is relationship with God that determines behavior. Holiness is perfect submission. Holiness is not what we do – but who we are when we surrender to the perfect will of God. It is when the matter, out of which we were made, and the light of His spirit overcomes our personal darkness. It’s not our pursuit of God but rather the acceptance of God’s Holiness pursuing us.

Absolute vs. Relative

Holiness demands a response to absolute Truth. John describes it as light and darkness. A life filled with the light of Holiness, the person of Jesus Christ, can not – will not, be overcome by darkness because as John said, “the darkness has not overcome it.” There are those who subscribe to life filled with relative truth. A truth that attempts to color the darkness of sin with excuses. They say there are no absolutes. They desire a truth that allows for abortions, adultery, tax evasion, racism, slavery, stock manipulation and government by the will of the people.

Holiness is absolute, in that, God is absolute. Responding to God is responding to an absolute, unchanging, uncompromising Truth about all things. The truth of God is the same today, yesterday and forevermore. It is God’s Holiness, His completeness pursuing us across the eternal time and space continuum. It is not your pursuit of Holiness but rather God’s pursuit of you.

There is no uncertainty in what is right relationship with God. John reports to us that “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” By His hand, all things were set in their proper place. By His will, all of creation is ordered and substantiated in his beauty –  and Man? What about Man?

You are the completion of His creation. You are the highest expression of His glory.

Holiness is relative, in that, everything that exists can only exist in relation to Him. God is the creator of all things and all things exist in relation to Him. Holiness demands man’s full attention. Holiness is not a theory of Relativity; Holiness is Absolute Relativity. It is by definition: God’s relation to all things.

Political conventions

There is always a desire by man to capture and enslave Holiness in something we call the Body Politic. There is always an attempt to codify Holiness – to make it a set of rules, ordinances that we can use to contain the darkness of this age. Holiness pursues us, not to be made into commandments. Holiness pursues that original matter that was turned into flesh, full of the spirit of its creator: to so completely fill us with the very nature of God Himself. Holiness is not the power to contain darkness, it is the power to conquer darkness.

Holiness is not a political philosophy. It is not a political party. It is not a form of government. Holiness is God in pursuit of man’s heart not his political creations. Holiness is not the measuring tool for judgment. It is God loving us more than our body politic. Holiness is God’s total disregard for all the geo-political subdivisions created by man. Holiness is His absolute love for us beyond ourselves.

Sin causes separation from God and disfiguration of all that he has created. Sin is a return to the time that darkness covered everything. Holiness is the light of reconciliation. Holiness seeks each one of us on an individual level because God has life planned for each one of us. God’s design for our life is in such detail that even the numbered hairs on our head have been considered in the alignment of everything that exists.

Holiness is the absolute expression of God’s love. It is the manifestation of the person of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. Man’s love of God comes from the finite – while God’s love for man comes from the infinite. When the imperfect love of man reaches to connect with the infinitely perfect love of God, the glory of God blossoms into the beauty of Holiness.

Holiness is not a corrected world order of political jurisdictions. Holiness is not to be trapped by the conventions or ordinances of a finite mind, but rather, Holiness brings man into a spiritual position that illuminates God’s love for His creation. Political motivations are all based on man’s subdivisions of God’s creation – while Holiness lifts man to a region of the heavenly realm where God has called all things into perfect order unto Himself.

Societal Norms

The life of an individual, or the collective life of all the individuals who have ever lived, has always been an experience described in geo-political-social and cultural context in a time/location dynamic. Established patterns of living give rise to specific national, ethic, racial, social and economic entities. Man has always desired to legislate Holiness in the political, economic and social institutions of society. Holiness transcends societal peculiarities because God’s being is not subject to the conventions of the mind of man. God’s Holiness is greater than society created by man. God’s gift of Holiness is not to the society – but to the individual. Each individual in society has his own perfect path to right relationship with God. It is Holiness, the fullness of the Spirit, that transforms man. It is the person of Jesus, Holiness personified, that changes everything. We do not find the meaning of Life in the norm, customs, or institutions of society. The meaning of life is found in Holiness. Holiness is being one with God, the King of Kings. You don’t pursue Holiness, He’s pursuing you. Holiness is reconciliation with the Kings of Kings.

One with God… Holiness

I’d like to close with the words of the late Dr. S. M. Lockeridge, a pastor from San Diego, California. He describes the King of Kings this way…

“He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s Savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That’s my King. 

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King. 

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you . . . but He’s indescribable. That’s my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.

I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can’t contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.

He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!”

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