“Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile.” That goes against the grain of popular culture, which has the pursuit of personal happiness as its mantra and false message.
Recently, in a conversation with a young woman, I questioned her about the choices she was making, which were going against the grain of all the values she had been taught, and which were going against God’s teachings that she knew so well.
Her reply was “Well, everybody tells me to do whatever it is that makes me happy.”
I wondered in my heart if, indeed, she was happy, given she was going against all that she once held so dear. I wondered what had happened that caused her to lower her standards and get caught up with people who were encouraging her to participate in activities which she never would have dreamed of doing before.
At one point in time, she would have cringed and said that there would be NO way she could ever be with a person who asked her to do things that went against her morals and beliefs; at one point in time, she would have remained faithful and steadfast in her faith and her beliefs.
But staying holy in this day and age is very difficult. There are so many pressures from different areas—from peers, from TV and the movies, from society in general, and even from older people who are still caught up in the old “if it feels good, do it” mentality.
To remain holy means to seek out people and sustain relationships with those who have similar beliefs and convictions. Convictions which hold to the fact that it is imperative to follow God’s will at all times, and not be a slave to your own desires. The true Christian ideal is NOT to be happy, rather, it is to be holy.
The temptations out there are great. The promise of happiness, if you do what your heart desires, is the prevalent message—from engaging in premarital sex, to spending a lot of money, to drinking and smoking and doing drugs, to pornography, to addictions. But as Campbell Morgan points out, “Holiness is not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome temptation.”
So, how does one overcome these temptations? Through God’s grace and through prayer. By surrounding yourself with other Christians. By going to Mass or to church on a regular basis. By joining Bible studies. What one doesn’t do is stay close to people who are leading you astray. The longer you engage in sinful behaviors, the easier it is to continue on with them because your conscience is rubbed away a little bit more each time you participate in them. Your soul grows further away from Christ.
There is a connection between sin and sorrow, between holiness and happiness. Making godly choices makes a person holy and happy. Ask anyone who has been entrenched in ungodly behaviors—are they happy? Is the young woman I mentioned above truly happy? Her eyes are very sad. She’s angry at God. She feels disconnected from her family because her behaviors not only hurt her relationship with God, but also her relationships with her family members. That disconnection is very painful to her, even if she doesn’t recognize it as such. What she needs to realize is that God is willing to take her back into His fold. Her family will welcome her back wholeheartedly. All she has to do is ask for forgiveness and get back on track again.
“The holy man is not one who cannot sin—a holy man is one who will not sin,” per A.W. Tozer. It’s a conscious decision to sin or not to sin. God’s special gift to us is holiness. It is ours for the asking, if only we follow His will.
Let us pray for those people out there who are struggling, wanting to follow their own desires rather than God’s will in their lives. Let us pray for those people who find it hard to break free from the shackles of their sins. Let us pray for parents who are trying to teach their children God’s way, while fighting against the message from the world’s way. For without holiness, we will never see the kingdom of God.
Holiness is the state of the soul in which all the powers of the body and the mind are consciously given up to God.
©2008, Valerie Wolff