“Follow … holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord”, Heb 12:14

The Christian way is surely a strange way to the eye of man. It seems to be full of contradictions. Nonetheless, it is a secure way. But, one is to realize just how hard it is, especially for God, to achieve holiness within people whenever they ask it from Him (for God will never grant it any other way at all – man has to ask for it from Him and not try his own) and man may want to get it some other private way. One thing is sure: it has to have and breed the consent of the vessel, as well as the approval of God. Holiness will not be possible unless it is the holiness of God, (for people may conceive an own one like abstinence or any other), and it has to bring someone to consent and to be handed over to it as well as its ways to achieve, fully. It has to be achieved by faith, the right one, I mean. None can reach the wrong one by faith, nor the right one his own way – it won’t work out either way. One and the same person will be able to do both things. I mean that the man who tries the wrong kind of holiness out by faith, will be the same man trying the right one his own way, because it is able to maintain self living either way.

The struggle between faith and holiness is huge, for unselfishness is to be achieved by faith. Right here it seems there is a contradiction all along, for many reasons. Let me explain shortly.

The center pole of sin is selfishness. Sin is to love oneself above God and neighbour. The lostness in sin is passion which goes beyond unfulfilment always unfulfilled and therefore craves for more, but the basic principle which leads to it is selfishness. Hence, if one gives of his own crop, it can, may never be regarded as love, for one may give of it without love. One’s life may be burned for others without love. Many uphold the work of nuns and priests as notorious and I believe God may just as well be disgusted against the whole of it, for it amounts to a loss in selfishness which resembles love. This one of the ways which seem right unto men and still lead to death, somehow, Prov.16:25.

When God comes into a life (if it really happens), His aim is to reach to the body which breeds sin from within. This kind of root to any sin whatsoever, may flirt or it may stand against flirting openly; it may give and it can steal; it can pray, it may curse. That’s why we should never be blinded by what it does, for the fruit of it being blessed by God alone should grant us some ideas about the whole of it though. I cannot regard as blessing one which says God has provided while people ask for money in church. If and when God leads, it may be regarded as blessing, yes, but, people easily regard silver and gold as the full blessing of a present God.

Because the headquarters of all sin is selfishness, here we find a huge and an obvious contradicting sign between faith and holiness. I mean that people go to God believing He will grant (which is true and worth believing), yet, the basic principle towards holiness is to get people off selfish greed and fulfillments. It is here, I believe, where the way narrows up as never before. One may ask God for marriage out of faith, and holiness demands, perhaps, that marriage be given up so the selfish monitoring of it may be driven out of man; one may ask for patience for fear of hell and not for the sake of being able to walk God’s way with all reverence and fear, calmly and faithfully. Impatience is more a fruit of sin than a sin. So is anger, wrath, lust, and whatever else the flesh is fully able to breed and bring to life – all of them are things which have been unknown to a Godly nature which man is created with and through as well. Man has become an unnatural being because of sin within as the root in his own being.

The way towards holiness, then, calls for thinking, for to receive from God may either glorify and magnify God or gratify greed. To give up upon the gifts of God may keep selfishness dormant within man. I agree that one who is able to come to the point of being able to receive all he is able to ask from God, has reached an outstanding point of holiness which enables such to receive all due to the absence of selfishness of any kind whatsoever within and in all his requests. Those gifts test him to the full. To give up upon something is not the solution against greedy eyes or sinful ways, for to cut a hand off or to pluck out a lusting eye may prevent sinning, but will never root it out forever. A rich man is to be tested, still, by his riches, just as any poor man will be proved through his own poverty. 

So, to unite receiving from God and holiness, faith and holiness, is a huge task. Without faith it is impossible to please God, we read in the Book of Hebrews. Yet, by taking away or by doing things His way, it seems God is working against faith and seems to be opposing what people expect as a reward for believing, as well as against what any selfish and greedy heart would desire to receive from God all along. People think it pays to go to church, it is worth it praying, but I believe the narrow way is not going to church, reading the Bible, even if it does all of that too. The way towards holiness is to go after all God promises and is able to grant within the mode of His will for us all, and particularly, to chase after it through the whole of a heart, so selfishness may be absent in the crop it receives from God by asking from Him alone. To be poor and wishing to be rich is the same sin as being rich and wishing to be poor so as to be able to live for God. So, to be poor and striving to be poor because we fear the heart we may have, is not holiness after God as yet. The absence of money does not mean there is holiness; the absence of sex does never mean one is made free from lust at all. It takes a rich man to be holy with his money and a poor man to be holy within his poverty. Only a slave can be holy towards and for his master, working as if his master’s things and possessions were his own, and it takes a slave master to love his own, unpaid, miserable servant as he loves himself. And it takes a holy servant to receive from his master due to his holiness above receiving it for self, because of need and self-pity. There are people who try faith while they are not able to believe, they live in an outward appearance of faith and holiness, lying even to themselves, while the heart and sin is embittering them inside and hibernating like a sleeping bear in the cold, hidden cavern of their own hearts. Coldness makes sin sleep and hibernate and heat makes laziness wonder why it is not sleeping.

Here we find, then, the way out, the solution for this seemingly opposing fight between faith and holiness: the glory of God. One may receive, give, attain, loose, have pain or relief, stand alone or be in a crowd, for the glory of God alone. To give up on such things may have and breed the appearance of holiness all along, because in the outward holiness looks like that (for it is never worldly or fleshly in whatever way it resembles holiness); yet, God will be the inner judge of all we are, and are able to do and think if we were not reprimanding and holding down the sinner inside us, the body of death within. Holiness is to go beyond that, it is to be free and holy at the same time, to charge after the riches of God the way He would grant it, as well as to receive it, but from God and to live them out for the sake of God in us.  Amen.

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José Mateus