Misunderstanding Holiness

Too many people who self-identify as Christians fail to take God’s holiness seriously. Far, far too many of those same people think that God is similar to what a human is, just with superpowers.

They fail to understand that there is a more substantial difference between humans (as the created “creature”) and the Creator. We are made in His image and likeness, but that does not mean that we are the same as God.

Theologians describe this difference as one of “analogy”, in that the only way that we can truly comprehend the nature of God is by analogy, because the nature of God is so very different that the nature of humans.

We can see this in the struggle for holiness in the life of the Christian.

We cannot call someone who is not a Christian a person who struggles with holiness, because their nature continues to be one that is totally at odds with God, and therefore is not capable of being able to not sin. Luther put this in Latin with the formula, “Non posse non peccare”.

The Christian, however, being redeemed, revived by the Spirit of God and being given a new spiritual nature whereby the Spirit dwells within us, is “able to sin, and able to not sin” (Posse peccare, posse non peccare).

Once we reach glorification, either after death in the intermediate state or the resurrection at the return of Christ, we will be in a state like that of Christ, not able to sin (Non posse peccare).

The mistake we make is sometime using the language of glorification while we are still living on this side of the veil. We pretend that we are not able to sin any longer. This cannot be supported by scripture nor life experience.

Some reduce their definition of sin to that of “Any willful transgression against the law of God.” But sin is also defined as any FAILURE to do what we ought to have done, as well as thinking thoughts we ought not to have crossed our minds.

We try to downplay the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-48, where he shows that the thoughts of our heart are sin as well as the deed. So, when we understand that as the standard, we find the reason the reformers said that “The life of a Christian is a life of repentance.” To live is to repent of your attitude as well as your actions.

When we understand that, and take seriously the absolute holiness of God, we should take more care of our lives than before, and keep our lives “Coram Deo”.