Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1959

The Way Of Holiness


Vaughn D. Shofner, Tucumcari, New Mexico

The Bible was written by the pen of inspiration, dipped in the burning indignation of God against the wicked, on the one hand; and in the melting fountain of love for the good, on the other. As a system of morality and religion, every effort of man to add to its transcendent beauty, or omnipotent strength, is pure presumption, and as vain as an attempt to bind the wind or incarcerate the seven seas. Its holiness stands in lofty grandeur, towering high above the noblest conceptions of purity from the mind of man, and thus points out the way for mortal beings to live and die.

None but the fool denies the Bible this singular place as Chronicle, Counselor and Compass, but countless thousands who profess to believe the fact blindly pass the living signs of its "highway", and rebelliously refuse to be kept in the separateness of its "way of holiness" (Isa. 35:8.) Loud hosannas are heard, echoing from the camps of these rebellious pilgrims, as the thousands shout in united praise to the "Holy" Book of Books. But the sad commentary of these tenting sojourners is seen in their misconception of the meaning of "holy", and their erroneous evaluation of what "holy" does. Evidenced "by their fruits" (Mt. 7:16), they think the "holy" of the Good Book is no more than a pious-sounding adjective they are privileged to tie to any social endeavor or philanthropic action of man, and the greatness of its value is in the worldly respect it commands.

Gentle reader, the hundreds of times "holy" and "holiness" are used in the Bible, with the exception of less than a dozen times, the words denote the "separateness" resulting from being set apart from the world by Jehovah God.

Coextensive with God's dealing with man, the separateness from the world described by "holiness" has been the primary requirement of a covenant relationship between man and his Maker. When Abram was called from the Ur of the Chaldees, God's purpose was to separate and keep separate from the world a physical nation from which the Savior should come. Preparing them for the Promised Land, in which land Jesus was to be born, God delivered them into Egypt, rescued them from that land, and pictured in symbol and shadow the separation he would require in the holiness of the Savior's spiritual kingdom which was to come. In making Canaan the fit setting for symbolizing this separation from the world, God forbade his people to marry the people of the world, commanded them to destroy their altars, break down their images, cut down their groves, and burn their graven images. "For", said he, "thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all the people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deu. 7:6).

They were a "holy" people because God had set them apart, separated them from the world unto his service. To help them keep this "holy" station, God mercifully gave the feasts, in observance of which they might be reminded of their "holiness" and strengthened in their separation. Of the several feasts and sabbaths, God said, "Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is a sabbath of rest, an holy convocation . . ." So, the sabbaths, passover, pentecost, tabernacles, were holy convocations set up by God (Lev. 23), to remind them of what He had done and point forward to other blessings which were promised, and thus assist them in the struggles of keeping "holy", separate.

In the fulness of time God's Son came according to purpose and promise. From the opening of his ministry on earth to its close, Jesus emphasized the separateness from this world, the "holiness" of his church, and the reward that is beyond time and this world. "My kingdom is not of this world", he unequivocally preached. Completing the way of "holiness", he died on the cross, was buried, arose and ascended back to heaven, earning for frail and failing man the way of "separation" from sin and the corruption of this world. He unlocked the vaults of death and hades, and gave unto man the complete way of "holiness", eternal separation from the ways and wages of this world.

The church of the Lord and its activities present the anti-type of all the types the activities of the physical separation, "holiness" of old symbolized. The people of God are now complete in Christ, "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices" (I Pet. 2:5), "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling" (Heb. 3:1). Thus the members of this spiritual anti-type are separated "from the power of darkness, translated into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col. 1), and are required to keep themselves "separate", and "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12).

My gentle reader, in view of the redeeming price, the love and mercy shown us; in view of the physical types being removed by the cross (Col. 1), do you wonder that Paul became alarmed about the return of some to the beggarly elements of the world, and the types observed by a physical nation to keep separate that physical people? Hear him, "Wherefore if ye be dead (separated) with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, after the commandments and doctrines of man, touch not; taste not; handle not; which are all to perish with using" (Col. 2). They should have known, and people today should learn, in the Old Testament God's people were physical Israel! In the New Testament God's people are spiritual Israel! To bring into the spiritual realm, those things which could help only a physical nation, is to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4); to "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).

Now to the crux of the matter, my fellow sojourner: Did you ever wonder why God gave us the privilege to work and worship in his church? Why for the reasons typified in the "holy convocations" of old! The battle of God's people today is fought in keeping "separate", "holy", apart from the fleshly appetites and the ways of the world, and the church is God's means of helping man! The church, with authority only in God's New Testament law, is God's means of assisting frail man in the continuous battle between the spirit and the flesh! The "holy convocations", the group worship, work and study in the church, edifies, lifts up above this world, and is therefore the God-given restraining power to keep us "separate" from the world!

There is no other reason for the church and its worship, good friend. Therefore, you see why we do not use man-made instruments in our worshipful music. God's law for his spiritual kingdom did not authorize them, because instead of helping man stay "holy" from the world, they, the creation of man, would help entangle him in the world. We can thus see why the holydays, pageants, incense burning, cantatas and all worldly trappings and baggage of man are not used in worship, because instead of pointing up to God, away from the world and fleshly appetites, they point to man and fleshly lusts and engulf man in the world. Every act of worship is stripped of fleshly fanfare, vanity and pride, and is simple and strengthening as it looks only to God in its origin and purpose.

But, honest soul, the thing which is beyond my understanding, is how my giant-brethren can fight against the encroachments of the sectarian tinsel mentioned above, and then add the beggarly elements of this world to the activity of the Lord's spiritual church, in the form of kitchens, recreational halls and other such things which offer no help to the battle against the flesh, but make it impossible to wage such a war. I understand not how they can war against the encroachments of man-made governments and at the same time change the form of government given by Almighty God, as they place elders over anything in the catalog of their desires. It's beyond my ability to see how they can fuss about the organizations of Denominationalism which usurp the power and place of our Lord's church, while they are just as busy organizing and creating institutions which attract the emotions and fleshly appetites of this world, and by which they do the work of God's glorious church! They thus destroy God's means of helping man in his battles against the world by mongrelizing the church with the world! They have degenerated the church from its 'holy", separate, place to the bewildering, mixed-up, hopeless plane of human wisdom, and God's restraining power has been lost!

Every act of the church was intended to assist man in his battle against the world, and for that grand purpose only. Friend, that's why those who look to the Bible with complete respect; those who still see the lofty grandeur of its holiness, and watch as it is besmirched by professed believers of it, behold them make havoc of its separateness from the world — that's why such a group weeps bitter tears as they fight on to save a part of spiritual Israel!