Archive for September, 2009

A ‘Face to Face’ Discussion on Holiness

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

by Kristin

A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook, asking “What does it mean to ‘strive for holiness’?

Here is the discussion that followed:

What does it mean to “strive for holiness”??

Kristin Kidd
Holiness means to be “set apart.” There should be an unmistakable difference between Christians and the world. We need to seek to be close to the heart of God, and because God is holy, this means we need to reject our sin, keep God’s law with a pure and right heart, and love as Jesus loved — sacrifice our selves for the good of others. (Not easy!)

J. T.
@Kristin, are Christians set apart *because* they follow a particular law or are Christians set apart *to* follow a particular law? What do you mean when you say we ought to “keep God’s law with a pure and right heart”? Which law? The Mosaic law? The Shema?

Kristin Kidd
@J. T., I’d say both, because I believe 1) that Christians are commanded to keep the law (John 14:15) and that we are known by our fruits (Matt. 7:17-20, Cf. book of James) and 2) that God is sovereign and that the Holy Spirit works in us, makes us new creations, and helps us to keep the law.
I said ‘pure and right heart’ to distinguish from the legalistic keeping of the law, which strains out gnats and swallows camels, and which neglects mercy and justice (Matt. 23:23-24).
If you ask me, the Shema is a summary of the Mosaic law (see Matt. 22:34-40). You have to distinguish between the ceremonial laws and the moral laws of the OT. The NT affirms the continued keeping of the moral law, but the ceremonial law (i.e. dietary laws, laws of animal sacrifices) were done away with through the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus and the instructions to Peter (Acts 10).

J. T.
@Kristin, I think you’ve made some helpful distinctions, however, I’m not sure that in John 14:15 Jesus is commanding his followers to keep the moral law. “If you love me, you will obey what I command,” (Jn. 14:15, NIV). Jesus expands on this a few verses later: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you,” and again, “This is my command: Love each other,” (Jn. 15: 12, 17 respectively). This seems to be similar to the Shema.
The Shema as seen in Matt. seems to be more than just a “summary” of the Mosaic law, the words Jesus uses, particularly in verse 40 seem to suggest that the Shema is a *fulfillment* of the Mosaic law.

Kristin Kidd
@ J. T. , Re: Love and law. Love is the fulfillment of the law, but love is shown through actions. Paul explains this in Romans 13:8-10. You cannot separate love from actions.
For example, you can tell your wife you love her, but if you steal from her (i.e. break the 8th commandment) you are not showing love. Your breaking of the law demonstrates your lack of love.
It’s the same with Jesus’ commandments to love. Love means keeping the law.

[Postscript: Just to clarify. Love (and the Shema) is a fulfillment of the law in the sense which Paul is talking about in Romans 13: if you love your neighbour, you will “fulfill” the law toward them by not stealing from them, not killing them, and so on.]