Today there is a void of serious teaching about holiness in life. There is, of course, a general teaching on holiness that everyone agrees on. "Let us be holy," they say, "we need to be more holy. Why not have a holiness conference?" But when you get specific about what that means, everything boils over.
"Follow peace with all men," the writer of Hebrews tells us, "and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Does anybody believe this? A pastor says, "But I have been blamed so often for teaching 'works' religion." This goes back again to the principle of regeneration and the providence of God. If God truly converts a man, He will continue working in that man, through teaching, blessing, admonition, and discipline. He will see to it that the work He has begun will be finished. And that is why the writer says that without holiness, "no man shall see the Lord." Why? Because if there is no growth in holiness, then God is not working in your life. And if He is not working in your life, it is because you are not His child!
Look at the difference between Jacob and Esau. "Jacob have I loved...Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13). Yet God fulfilled all His promises to both of them. Jacob was blessed; Esau was blessed. How did God demonstrate His judgments and wrath against Esau and His love toward Jacob? First, He let them both run wild. But in Esau there was no work of discipline, no work of godly correction--nothing. This was the wrath of God on him! But God severely disciplined Jacob almost every day of his life. This was the love of God for him! It was the loving discipline, the correction of God, to bring him to holiness. And it is the same for all true believers today.
Furthermore, the Lord says through Paul,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye trans- formed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:1-2)
Why does he say to "present your bodies"? I think the reason is to avoid all this "super-spirituality" of today. You say, "I have given Jesus my heart, and you can't judge a book by its cover. You can't judge my inner condition by my outer works." But, as a matter of fact, you can judge a book by its cover. Jesus never said you could not judge a man's inner condition by his outward works. He specifically said that you could: "The tree is known by his fruit" (Matt. 12:33).
If you think that you have given Christ your heart, then He will have your body too. And I will tell you why. The heart, my friend, is not some blood-pumping muscle or some figment of a poet's imagination. In the Bible, the language of "the heart" refers to the very essence or core of your being. Do not tell me that Jesus has the very essence and core of your being and that it does not affect your whole body and life. It just does not happen that way!
We need to go through Scripture not legalistically and not just drawing inferences but rather by standing on its clear commands. Commands about what? What sort of commands guide us?
I do not agree with everything the Puritans said, but I do love the Puritans. One of the reasons why I love them is because I believe they honestly made an attempt to bring everything in their lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Everything, such as their minds! They wrote eight-hundred-page books on what we should think about according to the Scriptures and what should not enter our minds according to the Scriptures. They wrote about what we should do with our eyes. They wrote about what should go in our ears and what should not go in our ears. They taught about how the tongue should be ruled. They talked about the whole direction of our lives and its details.
It might scare you, but the Bible also talks about how we should dress. I am going to be careful here, and I do not want to speculate. My wife says it this way: "If your clothing is a frame for your face from which the glory of Christ springs forth, it is of God. But if your clothing is a frame for your body, it is sensual, and God hates it." The nature of God guides our decisions in every detail of our conduct.
The aim of this little book is not to address everything to do with our holiness. We know that holiness is not just outward expression. Nevertheless, we have come to be people who use the interior work of the Spirit as an excuse to say that nothing needs ever to happen on the outside. That is simply not true! Some of you may cry out that the Spirit of God would fill you and work in you, but it takes only a half hour of television to so grieve Him that He will be miles from you. If water is 99 percent pure, and 1 percent sewage, then I am not drinking it!
At one time I was struggling, and a friend of mine reported it in a conversation with Leonard Ravenhill. When he heard about the situation from my friend, he sent a tract to me. I still have that tract. I will never, never part with it. It said, "Others can; you cannot." I may not agree with everything in that tract, but I do know this: there are places I do not go, there are situations into which I do not put myself, not because I am holier than other people but because I know what I am!
You may know the story of one of the greatest violinists in Europe playing his final concert as an old man. When he finished, a young man, also a violinist, walked up to him, and said, "Sir, I'd give my life to play like you." And the old man said, "Son, I have given my life to play like me."
You say, "I want the power of God on my life." Do you? Then something has to go. "I want to know Him," you say. Then some separation from the world has to occur! Perhaps you need to get alone in the wilderness with God, fasting for seven days on your knees and studying the book of Psalms. You need to be alone with God, belonging to Him. To be a man of God there must be times when even your wife-- who is of your own flesh, one with you--looks you in the eye and knows that she cannot go with you into that hid- den place with God into which you go.
Today in our churches there is a silence on separation from the world. The Scriptures are not silent. They demand from us an answer. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" (2 Cor. 6:14). None! What fellow- ship has light with darkness (v. 14)? None! Darkness is the opposite of God's revelation. What harmony does Christ have with devils (v. 15)? None! What has the believer in common with the unbeliever (v. 15)? Nothing!
The Lord says, "Come out from among them" (v. 17). Come out from the midst of what? Come out from the midst of lawlessness, darkness, satanic devices, and the life and worldliness of the unbeliever. Come out from it!