The Nature Of True Practical Holiness (3)

l. Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-minded-ness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people - these things will be the holy man's chiefest enjoyments. He wilt value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God. He will enter into something of David's feeling, when he says, 'My soul followeth hard after Thee'; 'Thou art my portion' (Psa_63:8; Psa_119:57).

Such is the outline of holiness which I venture to sketch out. Such is the character which those who are called 'holy' follow after. Such are the main features of a holy man.

But here let me say, I trust no man will misunderstand me. I am not without fear that my meaning will be mistaken, and the description I have given of holiness will discourage some tender conscience. I would not willingly make one righteous heart sad, or throw a stumbling-block in any believer's way.

I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin. No, far from it. It is the greatest misery of a holy man that he carries about with him a 'body of death'; that often when he would do good 'evil is present with him'; that the old man is clogging all his movements and, as it were, trying to draw him back at every step he takes (Rom_7:21). But it is the excellence of a holy man that he is not at peace with indwelling sin, as others are. He hates it, mourns over it and longs to be free from its company. The work of sanctification within him is like the wall of Jerusalem - the building goes forward 'even in troublous times' (Dan_9:25).

Neither do I say that holiness comes to ripeness and perfection all at once, or that these graces I have touched on must be found in full bloom and vigour before you can call a man holy. No, far from it. Sanctification is always a progressive work. Some men's graces are in the blade, some in the ear, and some are like full corn in the ear. All must have a beginning. We must never despise 'the day of small things'. And sanctification in the very best is an imperfect work. The history of the brightest saints that ever lived will contain many a 'but' and 'howbeit' and 'notwithstanding' before you reach the end. The gold will never be without some dross, the light will never shine without some clouds, until we reach the heavenly Jerusalem. The sun himself has spots upon his face. The holiest men have many a blemish and defect when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. Their life is a continual warfare with sin, the world and the devil, and sometimes you will see them not overcoming, but overcome. The flesh is ever lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and in many things they offend all (Gal_5:17; Jam_3:2).