When we look at the Scriptures, we realize that they are called the Holy Scriptures. When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we must never forget that He is the Holy Spirit. When we speak about the Sabbath, we speak of the holy Sabbath; and God said of His people, “You are a holy people unto Me.”
The book of Hebrews dwells largely on the earthly sanctuary, which was the ritual, the process, that God gave to the Israelite people in the Old Testament, and then to us the heavenly sanctuary, to emphasize the plan of salvation—how it works and what the holiness of God really is. It is through this system that we learn how to approach a holy God when we have been involved in sin.
“For they [our fathers] verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He [God] for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.” “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:10,14
If we do not follow after holiness, we will never see the Lord; we will never be in heaven. It will only be a holy people who inherit heaven and the new earth. It therefore behooves us, in the day in which we live, and age like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, to understand by personal experience what holiness is. In order to do this, we must have our thinking shaped all the way through with the concepts of holiness from the Scriptures.
The time brought to view in Isaiah 6 was a time of crisis for the people of God. The outlook was dismal and the future looked dark indeed. But, the Lord gave to Isaiah a vision of His holiness and His majesty in that hour of crisis. “In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:1-3. What a message at an hour of darkness and crisis!
We are facing an hour of darkness on this earth when the darkness of the apostasy will become as black as midnight, impenetrable as the sackcloth of hair, but God’s people are called upon to, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1
It is interesting to note that the angels, in crying to one another, did not cry, “Love, love, love.” The Bible does not substitute love for holiness. Though love is God’s self-communicating attribute and character, His holiness always dominates, controls and directs His love.
Holiness is self-affirming purity, something that this generation has lost sight of. In the place of holiness, it has sought to substitute love, failing to clearly distinguish that holiness must dominate, direct and control love. As a result, we live in a generation that has lost its respect for purity and holiness and has immersed itself in the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah. This will inevitably result in a totalitarian world state.
Holiness, according to the Spirit of Prophecy, is wholeness for God. As it was not in Rome’s interest to promote holiness, she withheld the Holy Scriptures from the people. This understanding of true holiness involves separation from all uncleanness and impurity and, of necessity, from the world. It was the Puritans’ understanding of this concept, leading them to strive for obedience to the law of God, that made them so powerful in their opposition to the Papacy.
At Vatican II, the principles of communism gained control of the Catholic Church, and particularly of the Jesuit order. The position taken in Vatican II regarding the non-Christian religions called for involving everyone, even the pagan and spiritualistic religions, in the ecumenical movement. The Jesuits were deeply involved in fostering the peace and anti-war movement, as well as the hippie movement. It is always the concept of every revolution to gain the thinking of the young people, and immediately after Vatican II, we had the student generation in revolt. Youth who belonged to middle class families suddenly joined communes. This revolt was an international phenomenon, a tremendous twisting of the thinking of the young people. Very rapidly these principles expanded out over the youth generation.
It is interesting to note that it was at this time that the Youth’s Instructor was discarded for Insight magazine and major changes came into our own Adventist structure regarding how to deal with the youth. The battle cry on the college campuses (I was on them at that time) was, “You’ve got to be relevant.” What they meant was “relative to the world.”
Suddenly the message was no longer so much one of preaching salvation, calling people to the Word of God, calling them to holiness and purity and standing on the platform of the everlasting gospel, but rather a discarding of personal piety; a going into the inner cities, doing social gospel. The social gospel supplanted the everlasting gospel and the Jesuits were very fundamental in bringing about this change.
Just before Nazism took control of Germany, there was a hippie movement among the youth. Middle class young people suddenly left their homes, drifted around the countryside and read the philosophy of Nietsche. The philosophy of Nietsche, with his concept of replacing God with self, is now the main philosophy that Americans have accepted. The man on the street who does not even know the name Nietsche has accepted his philosophy. Now the psychiatry and psychology of our day has replaced religion, to a large extent. The self-help, self-esteem movement and the church growth movement which has brought into it these philosophies, is dominating the churches and the whole nation is being smothered with this.
It is interesting to note, that, according to Professor Allen Bloom, the very concept which originated over in Europe, resulting in Nazism, was imported into America right about the time of World War II with the flight of many German professors from the universities in Germany. They were fleeing from Hitler, but they brought with them the germs of the same thinking that brought Hitler to power. Upon their arrival, they took significant positions in our American Universities, spreading their ideology throughout society.
In the Review, July 1, 1993, the question is asked: “How should we warn the world; with billboards, magazine inserts, and books like The Great Controversy?” The article goes on to question whether we should rent billboards, place ads on subway cars in the U.S. capital or buy inserts in secular magazines to openly unveil error or question churches as being false. The question is posed: Shall we mass distribute Ellen White’s book, The Great Controversy, which clearly calls the Roman Catholic Church the dragon-controlled beast of Revelation 13? It is then pointed out that in years past, certain Adventist groups and individuals have tried all of these methods.
I can understand that people who have had their thinking developed along certain lines might have a problem with billboards, but it is shocking, to say the very least, to have the distribution of The Great Controversy questioned.
The article, written by Paul Gordon, had as its basic thrust that, because we live in an ecumenical age when it is not welcome within the Christian community to speak against another church or its doctrines, we must, therefore, have a very careful approach, and he seems to be questioning the mass distribution of The Great Controversy. That which makes this most interesting is the fact that he is the secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate at Silver Springs, Maryland.
I would submit that if we do not understand what holiness—wholeness for God—really is and define our position and our activities solely with reference to a position of wholeness toward God and the Word of God, we will ultimately come to the other side of the great controversy.
God wants not only truth preached, but He wants error exposed so that people can find their way. The question we must consider is, are we going to let our activity be dictated and molded by ecumenical consciousness or will it be dictated and shaped by holiness—wholeness for God—and a complete dependence on His Word? Will we be daily asking, “Lord, what is the message that You want me to preach?”
The generations of Americans who made America great were generations that were founded in Christian concepts. They were founded in concepts of right and wrong, of personal purity and holiness. In our nation, we have a heritage that rests upon the effort of thousands of men of God over a period of centuries seeking after practical holiness. This is particularly true of the Puritan era. It was this seeking after practical holiness that developed the quality of character that led to obedience to God’s law—self-control under God. It was this quality, more than any other, that ultimately gave them the ability to found a great nation on these shores; a nation that promoted liberty and justice for all.
Holiness is fundamental to liberty, for involved in holiness is integrity and justice. These qualities of holiness confirm the soul in its fullness for God, who is the only source of liberty. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” 2 Corinthians 3:17, and that is the only place where liberty truly is. When, however, people forsake the concept of God’s holiness and fail to understand what personal holiness is by experiencing it in their own lives, those people are headed for totalitarianism and slavery.
The demise of these Christian principles has changed the whole face of an entire generation in this nation, and we now have a baby-boomer president, as well as vice-president, with these same kinds of philosophies. We are facing an onslaught of the New Age Movement with its spiritualism that is going to suffocate the exercise of conscience in our nation.
Holiness is the quality that our generation has lost. They wanted to supplant love for holiness, but what happened? They were the love children, the flower children. They had Woodstock, with all types of impurity being practiced. Those of you who have any knowledge of anyone who was involved in that movement know the degradation and impurity of that culture and thinking. And, even the people who were not hippies, per se, were still influenced in their thinking process by this movement.
The destruction of holiness in the baby-boomer, hippie generation has rendered its soul to the machinations of Satan and we see a flood of the occult. Whole sections of bookstores are now devoted to this type of material. Thinking of academia is being shaped by it, as is that of the churches. The eradication of holiness leaves the soul defenseless and open to demonic influence.
What has happened to music is another dimension of what has been taking place in our society, because the impact has been felt in every area of culture and the arts. This generation has abandoned holiness and has opened up its soul to rock music, inspired by demons, and is setting itself up for control under the tyranny of Satan.
The most fundamental attribute of God is His holiness, and this holiness of God is the attribute of God that is most damaged in people’s understanding by the hippie, New Age, occult and spiritualistic philosophy.
When we examine the spiritualistic, love doctrine from the Biblical perspective, we see that the idea of love, love, love, without it being controlled and informed and having its substance in holiness, means being involved in the spiritualistic, spiritual love doctrine of the last days, the most dangerous form of spiritualism.
“He who could appear clothed with the brightness of the heavenly seraphs before Christ in the wilderness of temptation, came to men in the most attractive manner as an angel of light. He appeals to the reason by the presentation of elevation themes; he delights the fancy with enrapturing scenes; and he enlists the affections by his eloquent portrayals of love and charity. He excites the imagination to lofty flights, leading men to take so great pride in their own wisdom that in their hearts they despise the Eternal One. That mighty being who could take the world’s Redeemer to an exceedingly high mountain and bring before Him all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them, will present his temptations to men in a manner to pervert the senses of all who are not shielded by divine power.” The Great Controversy, 554
As the people of God enter the end of all things on this earth, they will proclaim the Sabbath more fully. (See Early Writings, 85.) It is for one reason: the Sabbath is a holy day. It is a continual reminder of the call of God “Ye shall be a holy people unto Me, for I the Lord am Holy.” Leviticus 20:26. The Sabbath separates the Sabbath-keeper in holiness because separation from all iniquity is fundamental to holiness.
Sanctification, the experience of true holiness, was hit hard by the new Theology in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The New Theology, form the perspective I witnessed it from in the seminary, made it clear to me that we had a whole generation of preachers coming out who were going to be moving into the structure, who had the concepts of the New Theology and wanted to take over the church from the inside out. This is what has happened.
This change can be traced back not only to the doctrine regarding the nature of Christ, the nature of sin and righteousness by faith, but to the loss of the concept of personal holiness. When the concept of personal wholeness for God is lost, which is one of the most beautiful concepts in all Scripture, sanctification is gone. For the New Theology, sanctification was just good advice but it was not fundamental to salvation. Only justification was necessary for salvation, and that was only forensic, or “legal only” justification. A person did not want to even think about it too hard, lest works would be involved and the works would violate grace and your salvation would be lost.
The concepts of the New Theology, regarding forensic, or legal only justification, came right out of historical criticism, which Ellen White condemns as being the doctrine of Satan himself. Satan taught it, she says, to the people who advocated it. It denies the inspired dimension of the Bible as being the Word of God, placing it on the level of the common and the profane, which is another attack on holiness, because holiness means a separation from the common and the profane.
We are to sit in heavenly places with Christ. We are going to be a separate people. We must be separate even in the way we think. We will have to be separate even in our presuppositions.
Presuppositions are like glasses. When we wear glasses, the whole world looks different. Every person has presuppositions. This generation, particularly of the young children, is being shaped at the prepositional level. You see, Christianity is an exclusive religion. There is only one true God—the Creator. What does Hinduism teach? Many gods. Pantheism teaches that God is in everything, which is a part of the New Age movement. It is these concepts that are shaping children; concepts that dissolve and diffuse the laser sharp focus of true Christianity that there is one God and one Savior, Jesus Christ—something that is regarded as selfish and bigoted today.
Today, Hindu, new eastern toleration has spread through our society, making the idea of an exclusive truth very unpopular, smacking of bigotry. Suggestions that the papacy must be exposed raise fears that this will offend the ecumenical brother.
Have you ever been termed selfish and unloving because you have principles from the Scriptures that guide you along the narrow path of sanctification and holiness? This has been Satan’s charge since the very beginning. The unyielding purity in the life and cleanness, which is involved in and so fundamental to holiness, leading to separation from all impurity, is a fundamental principle that God’s people must have. This is particularly true as they enter into the final conflict.
What did Paul say the gospel is? It is an offense. It is an offense because it cuts across the grain. That is what it means to lift up your cross and follow Christ. It is offensive to the carnal heart.
The Lord has a message to break up the thought patterns, to break people out of the fog—out of the confusion of Babylon, out of the mold they have been molded in—to carve them out. It is the work of the three angels’ messages to carve a people out, to cleave them out of Babylon. It prepares a separate and distinct people. That is why the doctrine of the nature of the church is so important. It all rests upon these concepts of God’s holiness because God’s holiness demands exclusivity for God. Our soul must be solely God’s; the church must be solely God’s; and all of our affections are to be directed to Him.
In our society today, Satan’s counterfeit for this experience of personal holiness is existentialism. Most people in America do not even know these terms. They are not philosophically oriented like the Europeans are. But this concept of existentialism—the philosophy that God is not actively, personally involved directly in human life, that life is basically absurd and meaningless and meaning can only be found in having an experience—has worked its way into the church through the church growth movement. The concept of the caring church in the church-growth movement rests upon the language of existentialism, and a modified form of existentialism. These concepts are well nigh all persuasive through our society.
The charismatic movement, in reality, rests upon this tenant that holiness can be achieved only through the experience of emotional excitement. Christian existentialism leads to the idea that you have to whip yourself up into an emotional excitement, but Ellen White said that holiness is not rapture; it is the entire surrender of the will and the heart and the entire being to God. We are to worship God in the beauty of holiness.
For the true Christian, holiness is the fundamental attribute of God. It is inherent in His being. It is exercised in his relationship with His creation. It is received by righteousness by faith when the soul makes an entire surrender to the Lord, and thus is wholly the Lord’s.
This concept of holiness, when it is accepted by people and the culture, shapes the culture. This is what makes love in marriage and family wonderful; it is guided by holiness. It is the absence of this concept that has so debased the romantic life of the culture that there is no substance left in the relationship, leading to transitory relationships. As people fail to understand the holiness of God, they are unable to partake of His righteousness through faith, therefore, there is no substance to their love. When there is an understanding of the holiness of God, it completely alters the human race.
Holiness is the great Christian defense. Holiness is the characteristic that protects all of the other attributes communicated by God to the soul through faith. It is God’s holiness that moves Him to protect His people, and when His people abandon holiness they abandon His protection. When, however, they are interested in receiving that holiness by faith, the mighty arm of God is moved to act in their defense and all the power of human will throughout six thousand years of earth’s history is as nothing compared to the mighty will of God, which wills His purity, which wills His holiness, and which acts to defend and protect the integrity of the soul in holiness.
This abandonment of holiness is one reason why our generation has no sense of personal identity, leading them to feel as though they are nothing. They go to the psychiatrist and get even more deeply involved in existentialism and all these philosophies of self, self-help and self-esteem. They do not know who they are because they do not understand holiness.
Holiness is what protects the purity and integrity of the person in the wholeness of their surrender to God. To the extent that our generation has forgotten what holiness is, it has no defense against the demonic influences that are assaulting the souls of people throughout all society.
In order for souls to be saved, they must be renewed in holiness. They must be renewed in and partakers of the holiness of God. They must perfect holiness in the fear of God.
There is the enormous power of omnipotence in holiness. Holiness is the great guardian of liberty and purity, for where the presence of God is, there is liberty, and there is stability. As human relationships are breaking down among the people of God, there is to be a drawing together in holiness, a desiring to communicate holiness to other people and establish them in holiness, which is what true love really is.
“holiness of heart and purity of life was the great subject of the teaching of Christ. In His Sermon on the Mount, after specifying what must be done in order to be blessed, and what must not be done, He says, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ Perfection, holiness, nothing short of this, would give them success in carrying out the principles He had given them.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 445
So, if we would have success in carrying out the principles of the Sermon on the Mount, we must possess holiness by faith in Christ’s righteousness.
“Without this holiness the human heart is selfish, sinful, and vicious. Holiness will lead its possessor to be fruitful and abound in all good works. He will never become weary in well-doing, neither will he look for promotion in this world. He will look forward for promotion to the time when the Majesty of heaven shall exalt the sanctified ones to His throne. Then shall He say unto them: ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ The Lord then enumerates the works of self-denial and mercy, compassion and righteousness, which they had wrought. Holiness of heart will produce right actions. It is the absence of spirituality, of holiness, which leads to unrighteous acts, to envy, hatred, jealousy, evil surmisings, and every hateful and abominable sin.” Ibid.
“’No man receives holiness as a birthright, or as a gift from any other human being. Holiness is the gift of God through Christ.” Our High Calling, 214