'A holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices. A holy nation, that ye may show forth the excellences of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.' -- 1 Pet. ii.5, 9.
Through the whole of Scripture we have seen that whatever God sanctifies is to be used in the service of His Holiness. His Holiness is an infinite energy that only finds its rest in making holy: to the revelation of what He is in Himself, 'I the Lord am holy,' God continually adds the declaration of what He does, 'I am the Lord that make holy.' Holiness is a burning fire that extends itself, that seeks to consume what is unholy, and to communicate its own blessedness to all that will receive it. Holiness and selfishness, holiness and inactivity, holiness and sloth, holiness and helplessness, are utterly irreconcilable. Whatever we read of as holy, was taken into the service of the Holiness of God.
Let us just look back on the revelation of what is holy in Scripture. The seventh day was made holy, that in it God might make His people holy. The tabernacle was holy, to serve as a dwelling for the Holy One, as the centre whence His Holiness might manifest itself to the people. The altar was most holy, that it might sanctify the gifts laid on it. The priests with their garments, the house with its furniture and vessels, the sacrifices and the blood, -- whatever bore the name of holy had a use and a purpose. Of Israel, whom God redeemed from Egypt that they might be a holy nation, God said, 'Let my people go, that they may serve me.' The holy angels, the holy prophets and apostles, the holy Scriptures, -- all bore the title as having been sanctified for the service of God. Our Lord speaks of Himself 'as the Son, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world.' And when He says, 'I sanctify myself,' He adds at once the purpose: it is in the service of the Father and His redeemed ones, -- 'that they themselves may be sanctified in truth.' And can it be thought possible, now that God, in Christ the Holy One, and in the Holy Spirit, is accomplishing His purpose, and gathering a people of saints, 'holy ones,' 'made holy in Christ,' that now holiness and service would be put asunder? Impossible! Here first we shall fully realize how essential they are to each other. Let us try and grasp their mutual relation. We are only made holy that we may serve. We can only serve as we are holy.
Holiness is essential to effectual service. In the Old Testament we see degrees of holiness, not only in the holy places, but as much in the holy persons. In the nation, the Levites, the priests, and then the High Priest, there is an advance from step to step: as in each succeeding stage the circle narrows, and the service is more direct and entire, so the holiness required is higher and more distinct. It is even so in this more spiritual dispensation: the more of holiness, the greater the fitness for service; the more there is of true holiness, the more there is of God, and the more true and deep is the entrance He has had into the soul. The hold He has on the soul to use it in His service is more complete.
In the Church of Christ there is a vast amount of work done which yields very little fruit. Many throw themselves into work in whom there is but little true holiness, little of the Holy Spirit. They often work most diligently, and, as far as human influence is concerned, most successfully. And yet true spiritual results in the building up of a holy temple in the Lord are but few. The Lord cannot work in them, because He has not the mastery of their inner life. His personal indwelling and fellowship, the rest of His Holy Presence, His Holiness reigning and ruling in the heart and life, -- to all these they are comparative strangers. It has been rightly said that work is the cure for spiritual poverty and disease; to some believers who had been seeking holiness apart from service, the call to work has been an unspeakable blessing. But to many it has only been an additional blind to cover up the terrible want of heart-holiness and heart-fellowship with the living God. They have thrown themselves into work more earnestly than ever, and yet have not in their heart the rest-giving and refreshing witness that their work is acceptable and accepted.
My brother! listen to the message. 'If a man cleanse himself, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work.' You cannot have the law of service more clearly or beautifully laid down. A vessel of honour, one whom the King will delight to honour, must be a vessel cleansed from all defilement of flesh and spirit. Then only can it be a sanctified vessel, possessed and indwelt by God's Holy Spirit. So it becomes meet for the Master's use. He can use it, and work in it, and wield it. And so, clean and holy, and yielded into the Master's hands, we are Divinely prepared for every good work. Holiness is essential to service. If service is to be acceptable to God, and effectual for its work on souls, and to be a joy and a strength to ourselves, we must be holy. The will of God must first live in us, if it is to be done by us.
How many faithful workers there are, mourning the want of power; longing and praying for it, and yet not obtaining it! They have spent their strength more in the outer court of work and service, than in the inner life of fellowship and faith. They truly have never understood that only as the Master gets possession of them, as the Holy Spirit has them at His disposal, can He use them, can they have true power. They often long and cry for what they call a baptism of power. They forget that the way to have God's power in us is for ourselves to be in His power. Put yourself into the power of God; let His holy will live in you; live in it and in obedience to it, as one who has no power to dispose of himself; let the Holy Spirit dwell within, as in His Holy Temple, revealing the Holy One on the throne, ruling all; He will without fail use you as a vessel of honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use. Holiness is essential to effectual service.
And service is no less essential to true holiness. We have repeated it so often: Holiness is an energy, an intense energy of desire and self-sacrifice, to make others partakers of its own purity and perfection. Christ sacrificed Himself -- wherein did that sacrifice consist, and what was its aim? He sanctified Himself that we might be sanctified too. A holiness that is selfish is a delusion. True holiness, God's holiness in us, works itself out in love, in seeking and loving the unholy, that they may become holy too. Self-sacrificing love is of the very essence of holiness. The Holy One of Israel is its Redeemer. The Holy One of God is the dying Saviour. The Holy Spirit of God makes holy. There is no holiness in God but what is most actively engaged in loving and saving and blessing. It must be so in us too. Let every thought of holiness, every act of faith or prayer, every effort in pursuit of it, be animated by the desire and the surrender to the Holiness of God for use in the attaining of its object. Let your whole life be one distinctly and definitely given up to God for His use and service. Your circumstances may appear to be unfavourable. God may appear to keep the door closed against your working for Him in the way you would wish; your sense of unfitness may be painful. Still, let it be a matter settled between God and the soul, that your longing for holiness is that you may be fitter for Him to use, and that what He has given you of His Holiness in Christ and the Spirit is all at His disposal, waiting to be used. Be ready for Him to use; live out, in a daily life of humble, self-denying, loving service of others, what grace you have received. You will find that in the union and interchange of worship and work, God's Holiness will rest upon you.
'The Father sanctified the Son, and sent Him into the world.' The world is the place for the sanctified one, to be its light, its salt, its life. We are 'sanctified in Christ Jesus,' and sent into the world too. Oh, let us not fear to accept our position -- our double position; in the world, and in Christ! In the world, with its sin and sorrow, with its thousands of needs touching us at every point, and its millions of souls all waiting for us. And in Christ too. For the sake of that world we 'have been sanctified in Christ,' we are 'holy in Christ,' we have 'the spirit of sanctification' dwelling in us. As a holy salt in a sinful world, let us give ourselves to our holy calling. Let us come nearer and nearer to God who has called us. Let us root deeper and deeper in Christ our sanctification, in whom we are of God. Let us enter more firmly and more fully into that faith in Him in whom we are, by which our whole life will be covered and taken up in His. Let us beseech the Father to teach us that His Holy Spirit does dwell in us every moment, making, if we live by faith, Christ with His Holiness, our home, our abode, our sure defence, and our infinite supply. As He which hath called us is holy, let us be holy in His own Son, through His own Spirit, and the fire of His Holy Love will work through us its work of judging and condemning, of saving and sanctifying. A sanctified soul God will use to save.
BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
Blessed Master! I thank Thee for being anew reminded of the purpose of Thy Redeeming Love. Thou gavest Thyself that Thou mightest cleanse for Thyself a people of Thine own, zealous in good works. Thou wouldest make of each of us a vessel of honour, cleansed and sanctified, meet for Thy use, and prepared for every good work.
Blessed Lord! write the lessons of Thy word deep in my heart. Teach me and all Thy people that if we would work for Thee, if we would have Thee work in us, and use us, we must be very holy, holy as God is holy. And that if we would be holy, we must be serving Thee. It is Thy own Spirit, by which Thou dost sanctify us to use us, and dost sanctify in using. To be entirely possessed of Thee is the path to sanctity and service both.
Most Holy Saviour! we are in Thee as our sanctification: in Thee we would abide. In the rest of a faith that trusts Thee for all, in the power of a surrender that would have no will but Thine, in a love that would lose itself to be wholly Thine, Blessed Jesus, we do abide in Thee. In Thee we are holy: in Thee we shall bear much fruit.
Oh, be pleased to perfect Thine own work in us! Amen.
1. It is difficult to make it clear in words how growth in holiness will simply reveal itself as an increasing simplicity and self-forgetfulness, accompanied by the restful and most blessed assurance that God has complete possession of us and will use us. We pass from the stage in which work presses as an obligation; it becomes the joy of fruit-bearing; faith's assurance that He is working out His will through us.
2. It has sometimes been said that people might be better employed in working for God than attending Holiness Conventions. This is surely a misunderstanding. It was before the throne of the Thrice Holy One, and as he heard the Seraphim sing of God's Holiness, that the prophet said, 'Here am I, send me.' As the mission of Moses, and Isaiah, and the Son, whom the Father sanctified and sent, each had its origin in the revelation of God's Holiness, our missions will receive new power as they are more directly born out of the worship of God as the Holy One, and baptized into the Spirit of Holiness.
3. Let every worker take time to hear God's double call. If you would work, be very holy. If you would be holy, give yourself to God to use in His work.
4. Note the connection between 'sanctified' and 'meet for the Master's use.' True holiness is being possessed of God; true service being used of God. How much service there is in which we are the chief agents, and ask God to help and to bless us. True service is being yielded up to the Master for Him to use. Then the Holy Ghost is the Agent, and we are the Instruments of His will. Such service is Holiness.
5. 'I sanctify Myself, that they also:' a reference to others is the root principle of all true holiness.