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!