Friday, November 29, 2019

The Timeless Beauty of Holiness

The Scriptures teach us about the beauty of holiness, which is critical for us to understand, especially in a world where the latest fashions determine what society considers beautiful.

As the psalmist prayed: "Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days." (Ps 93:5, NIV).

In this verse, the Hebrew word for "adorn" is nâ'âh (pronounced naw-aw'), which means "to be pleasant (or suitable), that is, beautiful: - be beautiful, become, be comely." (Strongs). In other words, we could say "holiness is what makes your house beautiful for endless days." Holiness is pleasant, beautiful, becoming, and comely. In fact, some English versions word it that way.

"O LORD, holiness is what makes your house beautiful for days without end." (GW).

"Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore."  (NASB)

"Holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever." (KJV)

Since the Scripture says that holiness makes the Lord's house beautiful forevermore, and since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then holiness is what makes us beautiful forevermore. It is holiness, not fashion, that makes us comely. Holiness is becoming of us as God's holy people, and pleasant -- not only to the soul of the one who possesses it, but pleasant to behold such a saint. Fashions may come and go with the passing of time, but the timeless beauty of holiness lasts throughout all ages.

Matthew Henry wrote:

"All his people ought to be conscientiously pure: Holiness becomes thy house, O Lord! for ever. God's church is his house; it is a holy house, cleansed from sin, consecrated by God, and employed in his service. The holiness of it is its beauty (nothing better becomes the saints than conformity to God's image and an entire devotedness to his honour), and it is its strength and safety; it is the holiness of God's house that secures it against the many waters and their noise. Where there is purity there shall be peace. Fashions change, and that which is becoming at one time is not so at another; but holiness always becomes God's house and family, and those who belong to it; it is perpetually decent; and nothing so ill becomes the worshipers of the holy God as unholiness."

I agree with Matthew Henry, yet today the Church has compromised with the world and accepted worldly fashions, so that believers adorn themselves immodestly, artificially, and impurely. Whatever is vogue for the world has become vogue for Christians, too. That includes makeup, jewelry, unnatural hairdo's, piercing, tattoos, and immodest or revealing clothing that can cause others to stumble.  Such things should have no place in the life of a true saint whose life is devoted to Jesus.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." (1Co 6:19-20).

Since our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, then whatever applied to the physical temple of Israel on earth, and whatever applies to God's holy temple in heaven, should also apply to our bodies. The Scriptures say that God's temple is in heaven (Heb 8:2, 5; 9:11, 24; Ps 11:4; 18:6; Hab 2:20; 2 Sam 22:7; Mic 1:2; Jonah 2:7; Rev 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 15:5-6; 16:1, 17), and that nothing unclean or impure is allowed there (Rev 21:27; 22:15). Likewise, there should be nothing unclean or impure allowed in our lives, including not just our hearts and minds, but also on our bodies.

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.' And, 'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'" (2Co 6:16-18).

We live in a day when the worship of humans is common place and it is normal for people to make women, as well as men, into idols. This ought not be so in the Church, which is the house of God. When men and women adorn themselves artificially to beautify themselves, it leads to idolatry. And the Scripture says there is no agreement between God's temple and idols.

This is true at all times, wherever we may be, but especially in the place of worship. Yet take a look at the way people dress and adorn themselves in the house of God, wherever the Church assembles around the world, and you will typically find worldliness and immodesty.

Albert Barnes wrote:
"The psalm seems to have been intended to be used in the sanctuary, as a part of public worship, and the word 'holiness' here would seem to mean a proper respect for God; confidence in him; a state of mind free from all doubt, and from all that is impure. Perhaps there may be here, also, the idea that in all the convulsions of the world; in all that threatens to overthrow truth and righteousness; in all the attacks which are made on the divine government; in all the efforts of the defenders of error, and in the midst of abounding iniquity, the church should maintain a firm adherence to the principles of 'holiness,' to that which is right and true. There should be one place - the church - where there would be no wavering in regard to truth and holiness; one place, where the truth would be defended whatever commotions might be abroad. The main idea, therefore, in the psalm is, that, in view of the fact that God reigns, and that nothing can frustrate his plans, or disturb his throne, we should approach him with reverence, with humble trust, with sincere and pure hearts."

"In a larger sense, also, in the largest sense conceivable - it is true that 'holiness,' purity, freedom from evil thoughts, from a wanton eye and a wanton imagination, from unholy plans and purposes, should prevail in the house of God, and should be regarded as indispensable to proper worship. As heaven is pure, and as there shall enter there nothing 'that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie' (Rev 21:27), so in the place where we seek to prepare for that holy world - the sanctuary of God - nothing should be allowed to enter that is impure and polluting; nothing that tends to corrupt or defile the soul. It may be added, that attendance in a place of public worship is calculated to make the heart pure, and to banish unholy thoughts and purposes from the soul. A man who feels that he is in the presence of a holy God, will not be likely to welcome into his soul polluted images and unholy desires."

John Wesley wrote:

"It becometh thy people to be holy in all their approach to thee."

The reason it is becoming of His saints to be holy in all things as we approach God is that He Himself is holy and He requires holiness in our lives. The Lord says, "Be holy, even as I am holy." Scripture also says, "From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth." (Ps 50:2, NIV). Not only is Zion perfect in beauty, but God Himself is perfect in beauty. The Brenton English Septuagint translates this verse to say, "Out of Zion comes the excellence of His beauty." (Psa 50:2). He is beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words. He is more beautiful than diamonds. David's one desire was to dwell in God's house forever, gazing upon His beauty and seeking Him in His temple (Ps 27:4). Therefore, God is both holy and beautiful, but He is never artificial. In fact, His holiness and beauty are perfect, and He makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecc 3:11). That includes man, who is made in His image.

Closing Words
As we have learned from Scripture, holiness adorns God's house forevermore, so that will never change. It's true of His temple in heaven and His temple on earth. That means  holiness is what makes us, His temple, beautiful. Since holiness is what makes us beautiful, then we must keep ourselves free from being polluted by the world with its ungodly fashions (Jam 1:27).

The Lord is not only concerned with our hearts, as is mostly emphasized in the Church today, but He is also concerned with our bodies as well.  He calls us to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Cor 7:1). This ensures that we remain beautiful in His sight. But it also has the added benefit of making us beautiful in the natural, wholesome way that God originally intended, when He made us in His image. This is the timeless beauty of holiness.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Garments of Godliness, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine RevelationsKeeping Your Body Pure and HolyCarrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Separation from the World, The Forgotten Sin of WorldlinessTattoos and Body Piercing, Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for PerfectionFollowing in His StepsCalled to be Blameless, Ask for the Ancient Paths, and Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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