Shortcuts to holiness have a way of turning out to have been a wrong turning.
To guard against all such blasphemous chumminess with the Almighty, the Bible talks of the fear of the Lord – not to scare us but to bring us to awesome attention before the overwhelming grandeur of God.
What gives us conviction of sin is not the number of sins we have committed; it is the sight of the holiness of God.
Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read of or hear of to be gone to heaven, went thither because they were so good and so holy…Yet not one of them, not any man that is now in heaven (Jesus Christ alone excepted), did ever come thither any other way but by forgiveness of sins. And that will also bring us higher, though we come short of many of them in holiness and grace.
We put it as our most sober judgment that the great need of the Church in this and all ages is men of such commanding faith, of such unsullied holiness, of such marked spiritual vigor and consuming zeal, that their prayers, faith, lives, and ministry will be of such a radical and aggressive form as to work spiritual revolutions which will form eras in individual and Church life.
Holiness is the centerpiece of God’s attributes. Of all the things God is, at the centre of His being, God is holy. Never in the Bible is God called, “love, love, love,” or “eternal, eternal, eternal,” or “truth, truth, truth.” On this aspect of His character, God has laid the most stress.
Holiness is not an option. We are called to live holy lives, and that means it is a divine requirement. Anything else is disobedience. That is why the Word is so strong on this subject: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in works of charity and piety, and neither will excuse us from the other.
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.
A biblically balanced view of worship must take into account both God’s transcendence and his immanence, his exaltation and his nearness, his majestic holiness and his unmeasurable love. This balance is not always easy to maintain. Churches that focus on divine transcendence are in danger of making God appear distant, aloof, unfriendly, unloving, devoid of grace. Churches that focus on God’s immanence sometimes lose sight of his majesty and purity, his hatred of sin, and the consequent seriousness of any divine-human encounter. To maintain this balance, we must go back again and again to the Scriptures themselves so that we may please God in worship rather than merely acting on our own intuitions.