The Holiness of God and Assurance That I Am a Christian -- By: Tom Wells

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: The Holiness of God and Assurance That I Am a Christian
Author: Tom Wells

The Holiness of God and Assurance That I Am a Christian

Tom Wells

It is no easy matter to define the holiness of God. For anything like a complete discussion of the content of God’s holiness you will want to look at the other articles in this issue of Reformation & Revival Journal. In this article we will narrowly confine ourselves to a single observation about God’s holiness: God’s holiness demands a corresponding holiness and righteousness in us. God Himself has plainly commanded: “I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). This, of course, was spoken to His ancient people, Israel, but when we turn to the New Testament we hear it repeated to the church of Jesus Christ:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be Holy, for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:14–16).

In other words, we are to be like God. We are to be like God in our moral character. Nor is this pious advice to be taken or left aside as the moment dictates. This is basic to the entire Christian life. If we are not holy we will never “see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). In the baldest of terms, “It is holiness or hell.”

But I find all this quite intolerable. It is not that it causes me intellectual problems as though it were somehow irrational for God to call on me to be holy. The command itself makes sense, but I have a problem of another kind. I am unholy, and try as I may I cannot convince myself that I shall ever measure up to this simple standard—the holiness of God. Certainly I fall far short just now.

How then can I be a Christian? I have examined myself to see whether I am in the faith (as 1 Corinthians 13:5 exhorts me) and I find that I can give no certain answer. I have sought to

take seriously Peter’s command to make my calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10), but doubt, based on uncertainty about the worthiness of my walk, dogs my footsteps and nudges me toward despair. I repeat, this time with still further apprehension: “How then can I be a Christian?”

In the last two paragraphs I have cast the experience of many Christians in the first person to bring it vividly before our minds. For such men and women the holiness of God that is to be reproduced in thei...

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