Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Dog Holiness

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on April 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm

It is quite popular in many circles to perceive of holiness in outward terms only.  With this view we can tell the worldly person immediately.   If holiness consists in part, in a rejection of worldliness, then true holiness is conveyed through a host of things that we do NOT do.  The holiest people don’t have televisions, never go to movies, don’t listen to modern music, don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t smoke, and don’t chew.   There is a problem with having a view of holiness that merely focuses upon outward elements.  By the typical fundamentalist view of holiness, Amish people and even many Muslims can lay claim to holiness and in fact, have attained a superior holiness.  In point of fact, my dog (a wonderful fellow to be sure) has attained an even great degree of holiness.  He has never smoked, he never watches television, has never darkened the door of a movie theater, he does not walk around with headphones zoning out with an MP3 player.    His traits are such that he is quite often praised.  He hears, “Good boy!” as much as any other phrase.  But is he truly holy?  Is he godly?  Far from it.     My wife told me the other day that she is concerned when she hears phrases like, “Oh this woman is so godly!  She’s modest and she homeschools!”    You see it is possible for a woman to do that and yet be prayerless, loveless, and graceless.

We must have an understanding of the dynamics of true holiness and godliness which go beyond the mere refraining of certain morally objectionable things.  This type of holiness often produces pride, focuses on the flesh, and can fall into mere man-pleasing.  Please, do not get me wrong.  I am not arguing for license.  I am not seeking to soothe the conscience of any worldly professors of faith!   I am instead arguing that holiness is first and foremost a Godward issue.  It flows from a regenerate heart.  It is often seen only by God.   It is seen in things like love to Christ, a love for God’s people, patience, kindness, and mercy.  These are the true fruits of the Spirit!   Though my dog is good, he is not holy!

James Savastio

  1. Excellent article, brother, and brought to mind immediately a book that I have been reading over the past few days by R.C. Sproul entitled, “Holiness of God”. It’s a very plain little volume but in a simplicity that marks Sproul’s writing he spells out holiness in a very wonderful and understandable way. I would highly recommend it.

  2. Well said, Jim. Great illustration! I’ll have to share it with my chocolate lab.

  3. I believe that a Pastor’s task of maintaining the balance that is scriptural holiness is ongoing – a holiness that does change outward actions, but which is crucially sourced in true heart repentance. This balance can only be maintained by faithful weekly preaching from God’s word that aims for the heart and also contains practical applications to outward actions. Not only does God probe out true holiness through His word, but the difference between true and false holiness is more greatly illuminated with the balancing fellowship that only comes through meeting together with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you Lord for giving us the church!

    T Millar

  4. That was a great message. Holiness consists, not just of outward abstinences, but also of an inward desire to be pleasing to God.

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