Holiness: you shall be perfect

You shall go to the ball…

If you are married, it is very likely that you and your spouse became man and wife because you loved one another. If your marriage is successful, one of the reasons is probably the fact that you were attracted to the qualities you saw in your spouse. You loved – and hopefully still love! – your spouse because of who they are, and because you love the qualities and the attributes that characterise them. We worship God, and tell Him we love Him. It’s reasonable to say that God’s standout attribute is His holiness. So do we love holiness?

If we put a poster on the wall saying Be holy, for I am holy,” our response to it at any given time would be a good litmus test of whether we are walking in the flesh or in the Spirit. The flesh is corrupt so it will always want to avoid even the thought of holiness, so in the flesh we would most likely just want to take it off the wall and put a photo frame there instead. If we want to run from the poster there is no point praying about anything, because we won’t be praying in the Spirit and our prayers will have no Life – unless of course we are praying about not wanting to run from the poster. However in the Spirit we will see those words and be drawn to Jesus, and coming from our heart will be a cry that He will continue to work in our lives to remove anything that stops the light of His holiness shining in our lives. That would be a good time to pray.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus sets us a goal which is more or less interchangeable with Holiness, when he says “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) Seated in heavenly places, as we are, it is true that our spirits are “the righteousness of God in Christ,” and when the Father sees us in His Son all He sees is perfection, and the Beauty of Holiness. But earlier in the same chapter (verse 16), Jesus exhorts us to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our mission on Earth is to live our lives in such a way that the world also sees what God sees. Paul uses the same Greek word for perfect – telios – when he writes to the Ephesians that the purpose of ministry is “the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ep 4: 12-13)

As we have already explored, the words of Life that Jesus is sowing, the seeds of the Kingdom of God, would not be activated until the Holy Spirit came and watered them in. So we too need to hear them in the Spirit: perfection, just like holiness, comes by faith and by intimacy with Jesus – “the knowledge of the Son of God.” The pursuit of perfection is for the Church on earth: now, so that the light of Christ in us is not clouded by the flesh but shines strongly into the darkness that covers the nations; and ultimately so that when the groom returns He finds His bride pure, spotless, and “without blemish.” In these last seconds, (see “three seconds to midnight”) the Holy Spirit is reminding the Church that Jesus meant what He said in the sermon on the mount. And if we listen with the hearing of faith, we hear the promise as well as the instruction: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven in perfect.”

Cinderella church, you shall go to the ball. But in our story, the ball starts at midnight…

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