I have been reading a book by Andrew Murray entitled: ‘Holy in Christ: Thoughts on the Calling of God’s Children to be Holy as He is Holy’ (which I would highly recommend). While I was reading today riding the train in to work, I was struck by something that Murray said. He said that while we, Christians, can search for holiness, and very well we should, that those who are often the most holy are those who do not think about it. At first I was puzzled by what he could mean, but as I continued to read I came to better understand his statement and the meaning behind it. He states that while we should strive to be holy here on earth, it should not be our goal. He says that even though we are called to be holy as Christ is holy, it is not holiness that we must seek. Rather, we should seek Christ, first and foremost.
Holiness is not developed and cultivated by a desire to be holy in and of itself. It is developed through an insatiable desire to become more like Christ, to fill oneself with nothing but the Holy Spirit. Murray says, “As you hear the command, Be holy, as I am holy, let faith claim the promise, and answer, I will be holy, O Most Holy God! if Thou, the Holy One wilt dwell with me.” It is only through our sanctification that we become holy, or more Christ-like. It is because Jesus is the God-Man that He is able to save us and provide for us a path to holiness. If He were only a man He could only save Himself, however, since He is the God-Man He is able to save to the utmost.
Murray, in discussing holiness, reflects on those who are humble and the ways that their humbleness is caused and affected by Jesus’ holiness. He says,
“The humble find the Holy One. Just when the consciousness of sin and weakness, and the discovery of how much of self there is, makes you fear that you can never be holy, the Holy One gives Himself. Not as you look at self, and seek to know whether now you are contrite and humble enough – no, but when no longer looking at self, because you have given up all hope of seeing anything in it but sin, you look up to the Holy One, you will see how His promise is your only hope. It is in faith that the Holy One is revealed to the contrite soul. Faith is ever the opposite of what we see and feel; it looks to God alone. And it believes that in its deepest consciousness of unholiness, and its fear that it never can be holy, God, the Holy One, who makes holy, is near as Redeemer and Saviour. And it is content to be low, in the consciousness of unworthiness and emptiness, and yet to rejoice in the assurance that God Himself does take possession and revive the heart of the contrite one. Happy the soul who is willing at once to learn the lesson that, all along, it is going to be the simultaneous experience of weakness and power, of emptiness and filling, of deep, real humiliation, and the as real and most wonderful indwelling of the Holy One.”
The idea that we must be holy is not a suggestion from Scripture. It is a command. However, there is nothing that we can do to be holy in and of ourselves. We must be changed and filled with something completely foreign to our own selves; otherwise we would never become holy. In discussing the way that God is holy, Murray says this,
“Holy, the Father, God above us, High and Lifted up, whom no man hath seen or can see, whose Holiness none dare approach, but who doth Himself in His Holiness draw nigh to make holy. Holy, the Son, God with us, revealing Divine Holiness in human life, maintaining it amid the suffering of death for us, and preparing a holy life and nature for His people. Holy, the Spirit, God in us, the Power of Holiness within us, reaching out to and embracing Christ, and transforming our inner life into the union and communion of Him in whom we are holy.”
Therefore, let us strive to be holy as God is holy, yet without human strength. Let us lean upon the mercies of our Savior as the Father pours out the Spirit in and through us. It is only through searching for Jesus that we will become holy, for we have nothing to bring to the table in order to partake of any holiness or to become such in our own standing.