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HOLINESS is the natural and expected result of the experience of salvation. There is both a negative side and a positive side to holiness. The negative side is the living without committing sin; the positive side is living in complete obedience to everything one knows to be the will of God. "'Ye shall be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:8. But what does this imply? Why, to be saved from all the power, the guilt, and the contamination of sin. This is only the negative part of salvation, but it has also a positive part, to be made perfect--to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, to be filled with the fulness of God, to have Christ dwelling continually in the heart by faith, and to be rooted and grounded in love. This is the state in which man was created; for he was made in the image and likeness of God. This is the state from which man fell; for he broke the command of God. And this is the state into which every human soul must be raised who would dwell with God in glory, for Christ was incarnated and died to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Adam Clarke)
Christians are not in complete agreement on the subject of holiness and opinions range from theoretical holiness at the liberal end to fanaticism and enthusiasm at the conservative end. Theoretical holiness places emphasis solely on God with the belief that believers are considered to be holy because of their position in Christ and that, while the holiness of Christ is imputed to them, there is actually no ethical affect on their lives. Fanaticism and enthusiasm, on the other hand, place the emphasis on the human response to Christ either through legalistic behavior or emotion coming from their feelings.
The moral state of the believer that results from an experience of salvation is best described by the biblical word perfection. Perfection is like a coin in that it must have an obverse and reverse side to make it what it is. The two sides of perfection are holiness and righteousness. While there are subtle differences in the meanings of these words, they can be used virtually interchangeably in conversation and preaching. Being righteous and living a holy life constitute biblical perfection.
One argument people make against holiness is that those who try to live a holy life do so by depending on their works, as if they are trying to earn salvation. Nothing could be farther from the truth where holiness is properly understood. "God is holy, and this is the eternal reason why all his people should be holy--should be purified from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (Clarke) Salvation is the work of God in the believer ministered solely by His grace. This work of God must have its ethical response in the outward behavior of the believers as stated in 1 Peter 1:15, "but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct." The holiness enjoyed by the believer is God's holiness, not his personal holiness (of which he has NONE). As believers, we are to let God reveal His holiness in all our conduct, our behavior. If all of our conduct must reflect the holiness of God, there can be no place for disobedience or sin in our lives. We are not to TRY to be holy in all our conduct, but to BE holy in all our conduct and only the indwelling presence of God can produce such ethical conduct in our lives.
"Many make a violent outcry against the doctrine of perfection, that is, against the heart being cleansed from all sin in this life, and filled with love to God and man; because they judge it to be impossible!" (Clarke) Matthew 19:26, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."