I just bought The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. I read it while I was in college and was enthralled until I read that R.C. Sproul was a Calvinist! I lost some of my Arminian respect for him at that time. But I digress.
This post is not about Calvinism and Arminianism. It is about holiness. It is something I want to strive for, but something I find hard to apply in my life. The most striking picture of God's holiness and it's effect on a human being is the description of Isaiah receiving his call from God.
When Isaiah entered God's presence he seemed to have a total breakdown- according to Scripture he became "undone":
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 6.1-5 KJV)
Isaiah was in the presence of the true definition of holiness: the Sovereign God and King of all that exists. The effect was that he came into the realization of his utter sinfulness and the overwhelming holiness of God.
People have tried to demand holiness from themselves and others by being legalistic throughout history- i.e. the Pharisees, Pentecostal Holiness (some forms), etc. But God imparts holiness through Christ and His Holy Spirit dwelling within us. A picture of this is Isaiah's cleansing in Isaiah 6:
Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:It took God to cleanse Isaiah. He could not do it on his own. Likewise, on a quest for holiness we need God's help. We need to submit ourselves, but He is the One who empowers us. It is His Holy Spirit inside of us who gives us the power to grow into holiness. We cannot do it without His help, we would choose sin without God.
And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. (Isaiah 6.6-7 KJV)
To preach holiness and seek after holiness does not mean that we have arrived. We still fall short. It comes with being in this earthen vessel- the flesh- and dealing with it's influence and the mixed signals from our senses. The truth is that on our quest for holiness we should be growing into holiness progressively.
We should strive for holiness "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (I Peter 1.16 KJV) God sets the example with His overwhelmingly transcendent holy status. We should stand in awe and take Him seriously.