Human holiness, the ability to enjoy the communion of Immanuel, begins with the Lord’s sacrifice. Before that, our only hope lie in the perfect adherence to the law in our hopefully acceptable sacrifices. Hebrews 10 speaks to this moment of change:
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, becasue by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. (Heb 10:11-18)
Holiness is a ‘now but not yet’ topic. Men and women are declared Holy by the blood of Jesus Christ and the righteousness we gain as a result of His sacrifice. But we are also going to grow in our holiness throughout the rest of time here in the world. It is a progressive process interrupted by our stumbles and steps backward but it is our calling. We progress in our holiness to stand as perfected as our Master desires us to be when we appear before Him.
The trouble we have, of course, is that the process of holiness doesn’t fit well with our current culture (anymore than it has fit with any culture throughout the history of humankind.) Today, we want things instantly and effortlessly and certainly without pain or struggle; Holiness often calls us to endure both. We cry out in prayer for God to remove obstacles, pain, stress, and suffering of any kind when it is these things that contribute to our holiness. They change us as people to seek closer communion with God and the purity that it requires.
Many of us have taken the first step. Shouldn’t this be the year that we commit fully to second and third and ….