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GodŐs Requirement and GodŐs Work
That which God demands God gives. He requires faith; and he gives faith. He requires atonement; and he gives atonement. He requires righteousness; and he gives righteousness. The same is true about holiness. God requires it. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. And God gives holiness. As Christ is our righteousness and our redemption, he is our holiness (sanctification).
God who is Ňglorious in holiness,Ó demands holiness in us. He cannot and will not accept anything less than perfect, pure, flawless holiness. God will not accept sincerity, works of benevolence, repentance, sacrifices, moral reformation, or even faith as a substitute for holiness. God demands holiness (Matthew 5:20; Hebrews 12:14; Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:16). God says, ŇWalk before me, and be thou perfectÓ (Genesis 17:1). The slightest deviation from perfect holiness ignites the fire of GodŐs wrath against his creatures. It was deviation from perfect holiness that: drove Lucifer from heaven, the angels into darkness, Adam from the Garden, and drives sinners into hell. It will take something more than a walk down a church aisle, a few tears, a prayer, and a decision of your free-will to get you into heaven. If you would live forever with God, you must be as good as God. You must be perfectly holy! That means that salvation by the will of man, the works of man, or even the worship of man is an utter impossibility, because you cannot make yourself holy!
God alone can make unholy, sinful men and women perfectly holy. Holiness is nothing less than the complete restoration of manhood to the image and likeness of God. Holiness is the complete, not partial, but complete conformity of man to the image of God in Christ. Men talk about practical holiness, about living holy lives, and of being holy. And that is alright, as long as you understand that holiness is not something you produce. It is something God gives. Not even faith in Christ produces holiness. Faith receives holiness. Faith embraces holiness. Faith loves holiness. And faith seeks holiness. But faith cannot produce holiness. Holiness is the work of God.
The whole purpose of God in the scheme of redemption and grace is to make his people holy, perfectly holy, for the glory of his own great name. Salvation is neither more nor less than God taking that which is common and unclean and making it holy (Ephesians 1:3-6; 5:25-27). There cannot be degrees of holiness. We are either holy or unholy. It is impossible to be partially holy. God makes his elect holy by three distinct works of grace: (1.) We have been made holy before the law of God in free justification by the righteousness of Christ being made ours (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21). (2.) We have been made experimentally holy in regeneration (sanctification) by the imparting of ChristŐs nature to us (2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:4-9). We do not become more and more holy by our works in progressive sanctification. We grow in grace, but not in holiness. Our sanctification (holiness) is the free gift of GodŐs grace in salvation (Hebrews 10:10-14). (3.) And we shall be made absolutely holy in glorification by the miraculous conformity of our nature (body, soul, and spirit) to Christ in the resurrection (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 John 3:2).