By Curtis Going
“What does holiness look like to a blind man?” A pastor-friend of mine asked this thought-provoking question not long ago. Jesus warned against those hypocrites who “are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” A blind man would not be impressed with white-washed graves, especially if he could smell the stench of dead men’s bones buried there. A blind man would not see a carefully groomed appearance or an outward display of pretend-piety, but he could sense the attitude of a person’s life and the tone of their conversation, and he would be able to discern whether or not the fruits of holiness were growing in that life. The Apostle Paul declares that we are not to clothe ourselves in gold and pearls or in costly and flashy attire (an admonition that we interpret literally) but that we are to be clothed in the beauty of humility. Peter said that our adornment is to be “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” This is a beautiful adornment that even a blind man could see.
Two times we are urged in the Psalms to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2, Psalm 96:9). Another rendering of that phrase is “worship the Lord in holy array.” Some scholars have suggested that this phrase is simply a reference to the clothing worn by the Levitical priesthood as they carried out their responsibilities in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. However, when you consider that the Levitical priests’ clothing served as a picture of the holiness of God (Exodus 28:2), it seems apparent that the Psalmist is not simply admonishing the priests on their wardrobe. He has something much deeper in mind.
Coupled with the significance of the clothing worn by the priests, there are multiple times in the New Testament that Paul compares the transformation of salvation with a change of clothes:
• Romans 13:12—“…let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
• Galatians 3:27—“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
• Ephesians 4:22-24—“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
• Colossians 3:9-14—“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
When we are born again, we trade the rags of our sin with all of its defilement and depravity for a robe of righteousness that is beautiful in holiness. For now, what we see are the fruits of godly living flowing out of a holy heart, but the book of Revelation indicates that one day, the bride of Christ will be clothed in clean, white robes—robes of righteousness, and in that day we will see with our physical eyes the dazzling beauty of holiness.
We could never begin to understand the beauty of holiness without looking at the source of all holiness which is God the Father. Holiness is a reflection of the very nature of God. Exodus chapter 15 and verse 11 tells us that our God is “glorious in holiness.”
Dr. Yocum noted that the holiness of God the Father “…is more than the absence of wrong; it is the perfection of excellence and rightness in all things.” There is a very real sense in which God’s holiness seems unreachable and unattainable. When Moses approached the burning bush, God said, “Come not nigh hither…Don’t come close!” (Exodus 3:5) But then He sent Jesus so that we could have a living, breathing illustration of what the beauty of holiness looks like lived out in a sinful world. And through Jesus we are welcomed to “…draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22) With the example of Jesus, suddenly it does not seem impossible that the beauty of holiness could shine out of our lives. But God was still not done revealing Himself, and so He came in the Person of the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and to radiate out of our lives in the beauty of holiness. How amazing that “I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!”
That beauty of holiness begins to radiate from your life at the moment that you are saved. On the first day of conversion, when you confess and forsake your sins and the Holy Spirit takes residence in your life, the tiny blooms of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance begin to grow on the branches of your life. From that day, as you grow in grace, the fruit of the Spirit continues to develop from those first little blooms, and then there comes a time when God calls you to a full and complete surrender of all that you are and all that you have, and your self-centered heart is turned completely in God’s direction. You are cleansed through and through, and you begin to live under the control of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of full surrender the fruit of the Spirit begins to grow in deeper ways then were ever possible before the moment of full surrender.
The concept of a life that radiates the beauty of holiness is more than just words on the pages of your Bible. It is more than a dusty theological concept and more than a high ideal to aspire to throughout a lifetime. Your life can really and truly radiate with the beauty of holiness! This beauty can decorate your life in a very substantive way!
We live in a dirty world, surrounded by the pollution of sin and selfishness, and up against the backdrop of all that is unclean and unwholesome we have been called to radiate the beauty of holiness.
In a world of anger, we are called to be peace-makers.
In a world of lust, we are called to be pure.
In a world of despair, we are called to be joyful.
In a world of prejudice, we are called to be kind.
In a world of filth, we are called to be clean.
In a world of hatred, we are called to be loving.
In a world of deceit, we are called to be honest.
In a world of apathy and indifference, we are called to live carefully.
In a world of pride and arrogance, we are called to be meek and humble.
In a world of selfishness, we are called to deny self.
What could be more beautiful than that? In stark contrast to the ugliness of a sinful world we have been called to something so much better!
Would a blind man know that you are a holy person simply by spending time with you? Does the worship of your life, the nature of your conduct and the tone of your conversation radiate the beauty of holiness? Or is there still a part of self-centeredness that is obstructing the beauty of holiness from shining out of your life as brightly as it should? There are times you need a fresh touch of power from the Spirit of God to brighten the light that has dimmed. You must have the Spirit’s fullness if your life would truly reflect the beauty of Jesus.
“Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine, May I truly be Thine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”