Addi and Holiness
The following study written by Lois E. Johannes was referred to me from a friend who thought it could be used as part of the commentary for this week. To introduce the story the author quoted, Psalms 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew the right spirit within me." The story follows,
"Addi wasn't really her name, but it served to identify our wrinkled, little Aborigine patient. Entering the hospital, Addi straightened her slight shoulders and without so much as a glance toward the registration desk, passed all the patients waiting their turn to see the doctor, then stationed herself just outside his office door. It was evident she understood that no one enters a doctor's office while he is seeing a patient. When the door opened, she darted in, seated herself by the doctor's desk, and began a vivid description of her infirmities.
"An examination suggested that she did have reason to complain but that the difficulty was not life-threatening. The doctor could correct it by a relatively simple surgery without charge to her. She was to go with her nurse to the supervisor to schedule the surgery.
"Addi and the nurse left the doctor's office. Moments later the nurse returned with the information that Addi had gone home, refusing to set up a time for surgery. Before the week ended, Addi, following the same pattern, again sought the doctor's attention and received the same response. After repeating this procedure two or three times a week for a month, the doctor advised her that he was unable to do much more for her until she was willing to schedule her surgery.
"Bristling, Addi left the office in a little flash of fury, only to return shortly, plop her arm on the doctor's desk, and demand, "Well, then, you can take my blood pressure!"
"Her blood pressure duly checked, she left the hospital seemingly happy.
"We all smiled at little Addi's naivete! But as I considered the episode, I realized that possibly I was somewhat like Addi. How many times I've prayed, "Lord, take away my unpleasant disposition, especially my hasty and unreasonable temper. Please take it away, Lord."
"God responds, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you" (Eze. 36:26).
"A new heart?" I ask. "Nothing's wrong with my heart, Lord. Why, a new heart might completely change my personality, and one thing is certain, I do want to be me! No, Lord, no new heart. Just take away this disagreeable temper."
"But God indicates He really wants to give me a new heart and a new spirit to enable me to walk in His paths with Him. Then, He says, I shall be one of His distinctive people, and He truly will be my eternal God (Eze. 11:19, 20). I can become a totally whole, committed, victorious Christian. Yet I've been insisting on a blood pressure check when I could have had restorative surgery!"
In the surface the story has nothing to do with holiness. But, as we examine closer and perhaps deeper, we need to ask ourselves if we had holiness where would it be? To answer that question let us learn more about holiness. Then, we will answer that question.
According to Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; and Hebrew s 12:9, 10, 'God is holy', and He wants us to be holy as He is holy. Thus, we can state with assurance, that holiness is an attribute of God, and that holiness not only belongs to Him, but that it is something tangible He wishes to share with us. Hebrews 12:14 states, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."
As you can see, defining holiness is not a simple task. In the context of defining holiness, how do we define God? I John 4:8 says that God is love, His nature or essence is Agape, and that if we do not love, we don't know God. Paul describes this self-denying love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
"Agape suffers long, and is kind; Agape envies not; Agape vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own way, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Agape never fails."
If holiness is what God is, and God is love, then it stands to reason that I Corinthians 13 also describes holiness. We typically think of I Corinthians 13 in terms of performance, but, what God does is always a reflection of who He is. There is no inconsistency between God's essence or character and His performance. Furthermore, God's character is in evidence when you see Him. In other words, when you see God, you see His character (Exodus 33 & 34). However, since the advent of sin, shame and fear are the primary emotions our suspicious and untrusting nature experiences. But when we see, through the scripture, that His work has been to redeem us, to reestablish the pure intimacy He had with Adam and Eve prior to the fall, we will see I Corinthians 13 personified. Holiness and Agape are not separate attributes of God, He possesses them both, and when He inhabits us, we too will embody them both.
How will this happen? The Lord told Jeremiah how this will happen: "I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33). Since, love is the fulfillment of the Law, and what describes love, describes Holiness; we could argue that writing the Law in our hearts is making our hearts holy. Therefore, the essence of God making us Holy is for God to "put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts." In other words, He give us a new heart. Our old natural hearts cannot produce holiness nor be holy. Only a new heart from a Holy God can be holy.