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CHAPTER 35

BE YE HOLY

No matter how brilliant a beginning one may make in the divine life, if he does not learn to act from a sense of his obligations to God, his religious career will, in all probability be a short one. A road all the way down hill is not generally long. Good impulses are often of only short duration. When Lord Nelson, the greatest of England’s naval heroes, opened battle upon the combined fleet of France and Spain, a fleet nearly double the size of his own, he nailed at his mast head the signal, “England expects every man to do his duty.” If veterans in the excitement of battle need the inspiration which a sense of duty only can impart, much more do Christians in the conflicts which come upon them in the midst of depression and discouragement. Our course, as followers of Jesus, should be determined by what we ought to do, and not by what we feel like doing. We must, then, pay the highest respect to the commands of God. Let us consider one of these commands.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”—I Pet. 1:15.

This is not an isolated command. It is found in varied forms in every portion of the Bible. It stands out prominently in every dispensation. Some of the early patriarchs furnish bright examples of obedience to its requirements. “Enoch walked with God” so closely that he was taken up bodily to the abode of the blessed without ever tasting death. Job demonstrated to the world that it is possible for a man to keep holiness, though he loses everything else. Daniel proved that a man can live a holy life in the courts of kings, surrounded by every temptation that pleasure and ambition can furnish. No command of the Bible is stated more clearly, and few more frequently, than the requirement to be holy.

It is an important command. Viewed in whatever light it may be, it is one of the most weighty of all the requirements which God has made of man. Obedience to it is crowned with the greatest blessings God can bestow, disobedience to it makes the transgressor wretched for time and for eternity.

You who have been accustomed to look upon holiness as simply a privilege which can be neglected with impunity; be convinced of your mistake. If you neglect it, you neglect it at no less a peril than the loss of Heaven.

And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”—Rev. 21:27. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”—Heb. 12:14.

These are plain statements. The whole Bible is in harmony with them. No contradictory teaching can be found between its hallowed pages. Let us examine briefly a few of the features of this command.

1. It requires a holy nature. It calls upon us to be holy. It demands nothing less than a complete renovation of our moral natures. For this, the Gospel has made the most ample provision. The avowed object of Christ’s coming was that,

We, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.”—Luke 1:74, 75.

Our sins are our greatest and most dangerous enemies. The angel who announced the coming of Christ said,

Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt. 1:21.

Then ask the Lord, for Christ’s sake, to save you from all your sins, and make you holy. All admit that he can save from the greater and grosser sins—from murder and theft and profanity. Why can He not then save from the more subtle and refined sins, from envy and pride and discontent? What reason is there that He cannot? What text of Scripture is it which goes to prove that Christ cannot save from every sin, to which man is subject, those who obey Him? When God makes a requirement, He gives the ability to meet it. The two go together. He is not a hard master. He does not attempt to reap where He has not sown.

All that is said about the natural weakness and depravity of our natures is true. But the Gospel proposes to make us new creatures. So the bare fact that God commands us to be holy is proof conclusive that He has made ample provision for us to be holy. Exceeding great and precious promises are given, on purpose that we may avail ourselves of them, and thus become “partakers of the divine nature “—that is, become holy. (II Pet. 1:4.)

The command we are considering requires us to be holy in our whole manner of living. Our holiness must be not only experimental but practical. It must manifest itself in all the ordinary affairs of life. The word “conversation” is one of the few words which have changed their meaning since King James’ translation of the Bible was made. Then, it meant one’s general conduct, or behavior. Now, we restrict its meaning to familiar discourse with each other by word of mouth. In both senses God requires us to be holy.

Our language must be on all occasions chaste and pure. Here is a general rule for all Christians:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”— Eph. 4:29.

A holy heart employs a holy tongue He is deceived who thinks his heart is holy while his conversation is unholy. The state of the heart determines the character of the language. Corrupt communication proceeds from a corrupt heart.

If we are holy in conversation we shall be careful not to say anything to the injury of anyone, unless the law of love requires it, in order to prevent him from injuring others. He that shall dwell in God’s holy hill

backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.Ps. 15:3.

A holiness that does not save from evil speaking is of little worth. As a rule, if you cannot say something good of the absent, then say nothing at all. When tempted to cast some reflections upon those who are not where they can explain what is calculated to lower them in the estimation of others, then resist the temptation and find something good to say of them and you will find a blessing to your soul.

The holiness required must manifest itself in all our business matters. It demands the strictest honesty; but it goes beyond that. Men who borrow money through the influence of representations which they know are not strictly true, should not make any profession of holiness, nor even of justifying grace. A religion devoid of honesty is utterly worthless. No pains should be taken to keep it; for it is not worth keeping. We must exercise a good conscience in every business transaction with which we are connected. The directions which Paul gives to Christian servants, if carried out, would make their services in good demand by all who have need of service.

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, us unto Christ; not with eye-service, as menpleasers: but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”—Eph. 6:58.

There are two remarkable things in this passage. What we do for others conscientiously, those for whom we do it stand to us in the place of Christ. That for service thus rendered God will reward us.

This is the holiness that God requires of us. It must be professed by word of mouth. It must manifest itself in our love for the saints, in our love for the Bible and for communion with God in prayer. It must take on the most thoroughly practical character before the world, and show its influence in the bargains we make, in the fidelity with which we discharge every trust committed to us, in the dress we wear, in the manner in which we walk and talk in our families and in the various relations of life. It will carry an element of sincerity and honesty into the smallest, as well as into the largest transactions of life. “Is this right?” will be a question that will come up repeatedly before the mind; and if the answer is in the negative, no matter what pleasure or profit the proposed action may promise, it goes no farther.

One who is thus holy will be persecuted,—there is no help for that—but he will be respected.

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men.Rom. 14:18.

Beloveds, do not say that you cannot be thus holy. If there were not a single promise in the Bible that God would make you holy, the very fact that He commands it, is, in itself, the best promise that He will bestow all the grace needed to those who seek it. Then, from this moment begin to seek holiness. Every gain that you make inwardly, manifest it; outwardly. Let those around you profit by every blessing that God sends upon your soul. Prove to the world, by leading a holy life, that the doctrine of holiness is true.

No arguments of geologists can raise the price of real estate in any section of country so rapidly as can a well sending up its hundreds of barrels of oil a day. Scripture proofs of the doctrine of holiness cannot convince the people that it is attainable so unanswerably as a holy life. Then, do not be sinning and repenting any longer. Consecrate your life to Him, not only in general but in the detail. Live wholly for Him. “Be ye holy in all manner of living.”

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