Cultivating Holiness -- By: Joel R. Beeke
RAR 4:2 (Spring 1995) p. 81
The godly farmer who plows his field, sows seed, fertilizes and cultivates, is acutely aware that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent for an assured crop on forces outside of himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, the rain to fall, the sun to shine. But he pursues his task with diligence anyhow, both looking to God for blessing and knowing that if he does not fertilize and cultivate the sown seed his crop will be meager at best.
Similarly, the Christian life must be like a cultivated garden in order to produce the fruits of holy living unto God. “Theology,” William Ames wrote in the opening words of his classic, The Marrow of Theology, “is the doctrine or teaching of living to God.” 1 God Himself exhorts His children, “You shall be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Paul instructs the Thessalonians, “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:7). And the author of Hebrews writes, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). The believer who does not cultivate holiness diligently will neither have much genuine assurance of his own salvation nor be obeying Peter’s call to seek it (2 Peter 1:10). 2 In this article I will focus on the Christian’s scriptural call to cultivate Spirit-worked holiness by using diligently the means God has provided to assist him.
The Call to Cultivate Holiness
Holiness is a noun that relates to the adjective holy and the verb sanctify, which means to “make holy.” 3 In both biblical languages holy means separated and set apart for God. For the Christian, to be set apart means, negatively, to be separate from sin, and positively, to be consecrated (i.e., dedicated) to God and conformed to Christ. There is no disparity between Old Testament and New Testament concepts of holiness, though there is a change in emphasis on what holiness involves. The Old Testament stresses ritual and moral holiness;
RAR 4:2 (Spring 1995) p. 82
the New Testament stresses inward and transforming holiness (Lev. 10:10–11; 19:2; Heb. 10:10; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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