What is holiness?
Many people think we become holy by the eradication of something evil within. No, we become holy by being separated unto God. In Old Testament times, it was when a man was chosen by God to be altogether His that he was publicly anointed with oil and was then said to be ‘sanctified’. Thereafter he was regarded as set apart to God. In the same manner even animals or material things a lamb, or the gold of the temple could be sanctified, not by the eradication of anything evil in them, but by being thus reserved exclusively to the Lord. “Holiness’ in the Hebrew sense meant something thus set apart, and all true holiness is holiness “to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36). I give myself over wholly to Christ: that is holiness.
Presenting myself to God implies a recognition that I am altogether His. This giving of myself is a definite thing, just as definite as reckoning. There must be a day in my life when I pass out of my own hands into His, and from that day forward I belong to Him and no longer to myself. That does not mean that I consecrate myself to be a preacher or a missionary. Alas, many people are missionaries not because they have truly consecrated themselves to God but because, in the sense of which we are speaking, they have not consecrated themselves to Him. They have ‘consecrated’ (as they would put it) something altogether different, namely, their own uncrucified natural faculties to the doing of His work; but that is not true consecration. Then to what are we to be consecrated? Not to Christian work, but to the will of God to be and do whatever He wants.
David had many mighty men. Some were generals and others were gatekeepers, according as the king assigned them their task. We must be willing to be either generals or gatekeepers, allotted to our parts just as God wills and not as we choose. If you are a Christian, then God has marked out a pathway for you a ‘course’ as Paul calls it in 2 Timothy 4:7. Not only Paul’s path but the path of every Christian has been clearly marked out by God, and it is of supreme importance that each one should know and walk in the God-appointed course.
‘Lord, I give myself to Thee with this desire alone, to know and walk in the path Thou hast ordained.’ That is true giving. If at the close of a life we can say with Paul: “I have finished my course”, then we are blessed indeed. There is nothing more tragic than to come to the end of life and know we have been on the wrong course. We have only one life to live down here and we are free to do as we please with it, but if we seek our own pleasure our life will never glorify God. A devoted Christian once said in my hearing, ‘I want nothing for myself; I want everything for God.’ Do you want anything apart from God, or does all your desire center in His will? Can you truly say that the will of God is “good and acceptable and perfect” to you? (Romans 12:2)
For it is our wills that are in question here. That strong self-assertive will of mine must go to the Cross, and I must give myself over wholly to the Lord. We cannot expect a tailor to make us a coat if we do not give him any cloth, nor a builder to build us a house if we let him have no building material; and in just the same way we cannot expect the Lord to live out His life in us if we do not give Him our lives in which to live. Without reservations, without controversy, we must give ourselves to Him to do as He pleases with us. “Present yourselves unto God” (Romans 6:13).