Why Should We Be Holy?
By Samuel L. Brengle
We should be holy because God wants us to be holy. He commands it. He says, "As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). God is in earnest about this. It is God’s will and it cannot be evaded. Just as a man wants his watch to keep perfect time, his work to be accurate, wants his friends to be steadfast, his children to be obedient, his wife to be faithful, so God wants us to be holy.
To many, however, the command seems harsh. They have been accustomed to commands accompanied by curses, kicks or blows. But we must not forget that "God is love," and His commands are not harsh but kind. They come from the fullness of an infinitely loving and all-wise heart. They are meant for our good.
If a railway train could think or talk it might argue that running on two rails over the same road year after year was very commonplace. But if it insisted on larger liberty and jumped the track it would certainly ruin itself. So the man who wants freedom and refuses to obey God’s commands to be holy destroys himself. The train was made to run on the track and we were made to live according to God’s commandment to be holy. Only in that way can we gain everlasting good.
Oh, how tender are His words! Listen. "And now...what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes...for thy good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).
For thy good! For thy good! Do you not see it, my brother, my sister? It is "for thy good." There is nothing harsh, nothing selfish in our dear Lord’s command. It is "thy good" He is seeking. Bless His name! "God is love."
Jesus Died to Make Us Holy
We should be holy because Jesus died to make us holy. He gave Himself to stripes and spitting and cruel mocking, the crown of thorns and death on the Cross for this purpose. He wants a holy people. For this He prayed. "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). For this He died. "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).
He "loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it...that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27). Let us not disappoint Him. Let not His precious blood be spent in vain.
Holiness Makes Us Useful
We should be holy in order that we may be made useful. Who have been the mightiest men of God of all the ages? They have been holy men. They have been men with clean hearts on fire with love to God and man; unselfish men. They have been humble men who forgot themselves in their love and toil for others. They have been faithful men whose lives were "hid with Christ in God."
Moses, the meekest of men, Paul who would gladly pour out his life a sacrifice for the people, Luther, Fox, St. Francis, Wesley, General and Mrs. Booth and ten thousand times ten thousand other men and women who were "great in the sight of the Lord," were the ones whom God has used.
So long as there are any roots of sin in the heart, the Holy Spirit cannot have all His way in us and our usefulness is hindered. But when our hearts are clean and the Holy Spirit dwells within we have power for service. Then we can work for God and do good in spite of all our ignorance and weakness. Hallelujah!
A plain, humble young Irishman heard about the blessing of a clean heart and went alone and fell on his knees before the Lord, crying to Him for it. A man happened to overhear him and wrote about it saying, "I shall never forget his petition. ‘O God, I plead with Thee for this blessing!’ Then, as if God was showing him what was in the way, he said, ‘My Father, I will give up every known sin, only I plead with Thee for power.’ And then, as if his individual sins were passing before him, he said again and again, ‘I will give them up; I will give them up.’
"Then without any emotion he rose from his knees, turned his face heavenward and simply said, ‘And now, I claim the blessing.’
"For the first time he now became aware of my presence and, with a shining face, reached out his hand to clasp mine. You could feel the presence of the Spirit as he said, ‘I have received Him; I have received Him!’
"And I believe he had, for in the next few months he led more than sixty men into the Kingdom of God. His whole life was transformed."
To be holy and useful is possible for each one of us. It is far better than to be great and famous. To save a soul is better than to command an army, to win a battle, to rule an empire or to sit upon a throne.
Again, we should be holy that we may be safe. Sin in the heart is more dangerous than gunpowder in the cellar. Before the disciples got the blessing of a clean heart and the baptism of the Holy Spirit they forsook their Master and fled.
Remember that holiness is nothing more nor less than perfect love in a clean heart for God and man. If we love God with all our heart we will gladly keep all His commandments and do all His will as He makes it known to us. And if we love our fellowmen as we love ourselves, we will not do, knowingly, any wrong to them.
So we see that this holy love is the surest possible safeguard against all kinds of sin either against God or man. We cannot count ourselves safe unless we have it. Without it, Peter and David fell; but with it, Joseph and Daniel resisted the temptations of kings’ courts. The three Hebrew children and the fire-baptized Stephen and Paul gladly faced death rather than deny their Lord.
Finally, we should be holy because we are most solemnly assured that without holiness "no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). God has made all things ready so that we may have the blessing if we want it, thus leaving those who refuse, trifle and fail without excuse.
I praise Him that years ago He awakened me to the infinite importance of this matter. God sent holy people to testify to me and explain the experience, enabling me to consecrate my whole being to Him and seek Him with all my heart. Thus I got the blessing.
Will you have it, my friend? If so, receive Jesus as your Sanctifier just now.
My idols I cast at Thy feet,
My all I return Thee, who gave!
This moment the work is complete,
For Thou art almighty to save!
O Savior, I dare to believe,
Thy blood for my cleansing I see;
And, asking in faith, I receive
Salvation, full, present, and free.
– From The Way of Holiness by Samuel L. Brengle. Samuel Logan Brengle (1860-1915) of the Salvation Army was a preacher and world evangelist.