The Links Between Holiness and the Standard
Coming from an Apostolic background that can be accused of being “legalistic” people tend to term us legalistic because we do have standards of dress and conduct that are taught in the scripture to help us preserve or protect our holiness. Doing or not doing something doesn’t necessarily make someone holy, but can help preserve the holiness. Our view of holiness has a deep correlation to our standard. Some view a standard as a limitation. I personally view the standard as a means of protection, a buffer as it were, against worldly influence. Abiding by the standard as set forth by God, not man, I invoke a spiritual protection over my life.
The deeper you go into study about holiness; you’ll find that the flesh and spirit are intertwined. Overall, yes, holiness is a matter of the heart, but often is displayed physically by our choices of entertainment, dress, conduct, morality, etc. In Matthew 12:33 Jesus says it like this, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.”
Fit for His Glory
I am going somewhere with this. Some would argue, “well it doesn’t matter what happens to my body or what I choose to do with it.” Paul would disagree in I Corinthians 3:16 – Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
We have a mandate, as Christians, to live a holy and separated life from the world. To defile something means, “To make unclean or unfit for ceremonial use; to desecrate.” The effects of our choices in the above-mentioned entertainment, dress, conduct, and morality, can certainly lead us to become defiled and unfit for use by God. Holiness is not a question of how closely we can live to the world’s standard and still be used of God. Rather, it is a conscious decision of how closely we live for God and how far away from the world we can remain.
The Physical Side of Holiness
Our bodies are a canvas on which the holiness that we pursue is displayed. A person who pursues holiness is unmistakable. Their demeanor, their behavior, their choices are reflected physically as a result of a spiritual encounter. Paul who was by far more spiritual than I ever profess to be stated in I Corinthians 9:24-28 – 24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. The best way Paul found to run the race was to bring his body under subjection. How do we do that? By denying ourselves fleshly pursuits, appetites, lusts, and affections. These all will be demonstrated both spiritually AND physically.
The Body Does Matter
This is the last thing I’ll say about the “physical nature” of holiness. The brutality of Calvary was not just spiritual. The bloody torturing and scourging that took place absolutely was physical in nature. Yes, we glean spiritual liberty as a result of the suffering of Christ, but that never would have happened unless he endured the agony physically. The scripture again teaches us that, “by his stripes, we are healed.” Those stripes were endured physically but had a spiritual impact. The salvation we enjoy is a direct result of the physical blood that was shed from wounds that were physically imposed upon Christ’s body. So, it stands to reason that the effects of what we endure, and what we pursue physically will have a direct spiritual manifestation and impact.