Going Deeper

Holiness Behavior

"Our holy behavior will flow out of His holy love that fills our hearts, minds, bodies and souls through mutual indwelling with Him (1 John 4:15-17)." by Reverend Diane Ury

When I first heard the concept of sanctification and of the possibility of living a holy life, I thought it was such a great thing! I had, like everyone, many sins that lurked within me and even dominated me. I hated them. I was embarrassed about the way I behaved and how I couldn’t seem to control my temper with my children and others. To think that God had power He would give to me to become my willpower over sin was great news! I asked Him to give me the power to stop behaving like a jerk. I went to the altar at least 50 times begging God to give me the experience of entire sanctification so that I would be changed. However, I continued to struggle.

The distortion of holiness that I fell prey to for years was focusing on my Christlike behavior as the goal of holiness. I so desperately wanted to be transformed, to have an attitude of kindness and gentleness and love—especially in my own home. Plus, there were many “holiness people” in my world whom I held up as examples of what my life should be like. I wanted to act like they did, to even have ministries like theirs. I wanted to like who I was. All my trips to the altar asking God to sanctify me and make me holy returned empty. I was in anguish. At last, my desperation was enough for Jesus to get access to me. He was saying, “What you’re clamoring after is unsatisfying. I have much more for you.”  

One morning during my quiet time with Jesus, He revealed to me that I had made “holiness behavior” an idol! I wanted to be pleased with myself and to have others think I was an impressive display of what God can do. I wanted that more than anything else. Even more than I wanted Jesus Himself for who He is. He spoke in my heart and told me that He didn’t want to merely give me an experience that would change my behavior. “But I will give you Myself if you will only want Me above anything else.”  

My sights were way too low. I had to die to that self-interest. I realized holy behavior is the outflow, the result of living in intimate oneness with Jesus, filled with His life. He is holiness! When we live utterly dependent upon Him, loving Him more than any other thing, obeying Him freely, then holiness will be our nature, because it is formed by His nature, filling and transforming us through His indwelling presence.

Focusing first upon “holiness behavior” is a distortion of biblical holiness. God wants us first to know Him, love Him, trust Him and to want Him; to live in an intimate, abiding love relationship with Him, acknowledging our continuous need of Him. He wants us to experience that He is enough. Christ is our holiness. We will be holy only when Christ’s life is our life (Colossians 3:1-17). Our holy behavior will flow out of His holy love that fills our hearts, minds, bodies and souls through mutual indwelling with Him (1 John 4:15-17).

Friend, if you’re hungering for holiness like I was, I want you to know that it is because that’s what you’re created for. Jesus is pursuing you so that He can give you Himself and make you holy. Don’t be discouraged. Lift your eyes and heart in love and give yourself to Him. 

Questions to ponder

  1. Is there something you want more than knowing Jesus? Do you want what He can do for you or give you more than your relationship with Him?
  2. Have you also sometimes thought that holiness is primarily about doing the right things and avoiding sin?
  3. Do you need to pause and ask Jesus to meet you just as you are?
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