Righteousness and holiness…opposite (but complimentary) sides of the same coin.
Righteousness speaks of doing what is right in God’s eyes – walking in obedience to what He wants us to do.
Holiness speaks of keeping one’s self unspotted by sin and the world – walking in obedience to what God does not want us to do; in other words, the daily striving to keep one’s self pure (I John 3:3 “And everyone who hopes in Him purifies himself because He is pure.”)
However, to practice holiness takes us into greater and greater measures of the spiritual, because to be holy does not just mean to be “set apart,” but to be set apart unto God, it speaks of a complete consecration of the whole man, mind, body and soul. It means that we do not just live this life separating ourselves from sin, it means that the whole person dedicates his/her life to walking in obedience to God in every way humanly possible…just like Jesus did.
After all, this is part of the purpose of God in delivering us from our sins and the sin nature…Luke 1:68-75 says…
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
Our enemies are sin and satan, and (praise God) BOTH are defeated in the life of the believer who aligns themselves in God in His covenant. There is no refuge from either enemy outside of the New Covenant. Furthermore, we were not delivered from these enemies just to “rest in Christs work upon the cross” like so many without spiritual discernment these days proclaim. No, we were delivered to “serve Him without fear” of those defeated enemies. if one is walking in obedience to God (serving Him), then one has no fear of his shortfalls and momentary slippages into sin, because all such happenings are taken care of as long as we remain abiding “in Christ” (I John 1:7).
We are told that we are to serve God “in holiness and righteousness” without fear of the occasional “missing the mark.” Holiness – to serve God by keeping yourself from sinful and worldly things that keep us distracted from what God does want us to do…serve Him by doing what is right in His eyes (righteousness). Why? As some without spiritual insight like to claim, why do we need to do anything?
Because Ephesians 4:20-24 says…
But that is not the way you learned Christ! Assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Why? Because the goal in this life is to be more like Christ, to be created after the likeness of God, which is only done so by practicing righteousness and holiness…by practicing doing what is right in God’s eyes, and by practicing TOTAL and COMPLETE CONSECRATION to God in holiness.
Granted, how do we do this in today’s world? It is hard, for one must “take up his own cross” in order to follow Jesus…the standard is the same today as it was the day Jesus spoke those words. It is harder today, only because we have become an “I want it now” generation…a modern generation with all kinds and sorts of worldly distractions calling our name, fighting fiercely for our attention…because even if your Waverunner isn’t sinful in and of itself, satan is using it to keep you from following Christ, no matter what you might argue or think.
1 John 3:10
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness – without which no one will see the Lord.
If we do not practice righteousness and holiness…
It is reported that the great revivalists Smith Wigglesworth and James Dunn both had encounters with Jesus right before their ministries took off in fire…that while praying for the infilling of the Spirit and for the gifts of the Spirit in operation in their ministries, the Lord said to them, “Stop praying for that, and pray to be more like Me.”
What was He saying? Jesus Christ modeled the fullness of human practice of righteousness and holiness…He was fully and completely consecrated to God in purity and walked in obedience to God, in the power of the Spirit, manifesting all the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus was HOLY, and what He told these two great men of God was to be like Him…practice holiness.
“Separate yourself from your sins, wholly consecrate yourself to God, to do what He wants you to do rather than the things that YOU want to do…THEN you will be a vessel of great usefulness to the Master.”
My First pastor had a great saying…”The world today has not seen what God can do through a man completely consecrated unto Him.”
That saying is true.
However, in a modern world where practicing righteousness and holiness is lain aside because “we don’t have to”…where does that leave us?