The Scriptures teach that there are two kinds of holiness,—true and false. (Eph. 4:24.)
True holiness, wherever found, is essentially the same. In matters not essential there may be a wide difference, but in the essentials there is agreement. An English sovereign [coin] and an American eagle [coin] were not cast in the same mold and have different inscriptions, but the metal of which they are composed is the same. One could be easily converted into the other. Whatever form gold is made to assume it retains its qualities. So, true holiness has, among all people, and in all ages, the same characteristics.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit. No education however Scriptural, no training however religious, can produce it. He who is truly holy is sanctified by the Holy Ghost. He has ceased from his own works. As God works in him he works out his own salvation. Hence, since true holiness has nothing in it of human merit, it is always found in connection with deep humility. There is nothing of self in it, and it does not seek self-glorification in any form.
This humility is manifested in every manner. Its possessor dresses plain. Nothing is worn for show or ornament. It cannot be told from the appearance of a soldier in the ranks whether he is rich or poor, so the dress of a saint does not indicate his temporal condition. He is unassuming, not claiming superiority over others.
Another element of true holiness is an all-absorbing love for God and man. God is loved, adored, obeyed. Man is loved as the image of God, the representative of Christ, and however fallen he may be, he is pitied, instructed, helped and elevated.
True holiness is obtained through faith in God, and it is never separated from an unwavering trust in Him. The car separated from the locomotive on an up-hill grade soon loses its motion in the right direction, and begins to run down hill; the soul which lets go its hold of God by unbelief, loses holiness, falls into sin, either of the heart, or life, or both, and takes the downward track to perdition.
False holiness may be classed under several heads. There is an aristocratic, self-indulgent holiness. It gives its influence to build up fine, costly houses of worship, with popular preachers, choir singing, select congregations from which the poor are excluded as regular attendants, by selling or renting the seats. It puts on airs, dresses sufficiently in style to make the impression that it does not belong to the common people. It seeks the society of the upper classes, and endeavors to explain away the requirements of the Gospel to suit their tastes. It goes as far in self-indulgence as public sentiment will permit. Tertullian, about the year A. D. 207, in cutting irony, refers to this class of holiness professors “Who, among you, is superior in holiness, except him who is more frequent in banqueting, most sumptuous in catering, more learned in cups? Men of soul and flesh alone as you are, justly do you reject things spiritual.” This kind of holiness is not generally persecuted by the world. If it is, it is ready to apologize, and to put on a less offensive form.
There is a fanatical holiness. It lays the greatest stress upon that for which it has the least reason and Scripture for its support. Its self-denial is great, and is only equaled by its self-will. It has in it an element of sincerity, but it is vitiated by being consecrated to its own will, rather than to the will of God. It lacks the great quality of submission. It does not know how to yield, even in matters the smallest and most indifferent. It must have its own way in every thing. Every one must submit to its dictation or receive its fiery denunciation.
There is a covetous holiness. It wears cheap clothing, but it is to avoid expense. It has sharp criticisms for every project that calls for an expenditure of money; but it is because it is unwilling to bear its part. It may have little, or it may have much, but what it has it holds on to with a miser’s grasp. Frequently it opposes all church organizations, really because it wishes for some excuse for refusing to support them. It is mighty at tearing down—it never tries its hand at building up. It may burn palaces—it cannot rear a hovel.
See to it then that you have true holiness. Let your consecration be to God. Give yourself up for a habitation of the Holy Spirit. Let Him lead you into all truth. Let the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount be as much to you as “the exceeding great and precious promises.” Let them dove-tail together in your experience.
Take pains to be clothed with humility It is not enough not to feel proud, you should not look proud. Be of an humble spirit, then every thing about you will show forth that spirit.
Whatever you lack, do not lack that sanctification
“without which no man shall see the Lord.”—Heb. 12:14.
If you are without it be in haste to obtain it. There is no time to be lost. Eternity is at hand. The great preparation for it is true holiness. It must be obtained here. The death-bed may be too late. Consecrate yourselves fully to God. Obey the leadings of the Spirit. Make every confession He prompts you to make. Take any position He directs you to take. Trust fully in Christ. Rely on Him. Believe His every promise, but, above all, believe in Him.