During the first four months of 2016 the IPHC focus is on “The Source of Holiness: God.” In this column I want to continue that emphasis by focusing on the eternal Son of God, Jesus, the “only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9), who is the “fullness” of the revelation of the Father’s will, character, and being (see John 1:16; Ephesians 1:23; 3:19; 4:13; Colossians 1:10; 2:9). The spirit of the world wants us to discover, know and experience God but without reference to Jesus Christ. That approach manifests itself as “the spirit of Antichrist.” The biblical descriptions of this spirit and the coming historical figure known as “antichrist” are found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 and the letters of the Apostle John (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7).
This spirit, which has always operated in the world but especially since the incarnation of Jesus Christ, is characterized by rejecting that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. The New Testament makes it very clear that the confession that Jesus is the Son of God is essential to the core of Christian Faith and to salvation. Let’s examine how the New Testament reveals the holiness of Jesus and what that holiness means for us.
First, Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit” in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:30-35). Thus the holiness of the eternal Son of God, who existed before creation and by whom all things are created (Colossians 1:15, 16; Hebrews 1:2, 3), is made clear by the very act of conception. Jesus, the Son of God becomes the Son of Man for our sake. His holiness is known in the earliest days of His life when brought before Simeon in the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord. This presentation, reflecting back to Exodus 13:2, recalls that this child, like all first-born males, is “called holy to the Lord” (Luke 2:23). Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophetic holiness revealed to Israel.
Second, while the word “holy” is not used in the temptations of Jesus, the fundamental issue relates to Jesus’ identity as the Son of God (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). This was Satan’s attempt to turn Jesus as he did Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3). By His holy call and character, Jesus of Nazareth over a 40-day period rejected the various temptations of Satan, all of which were based on misunderstandings and manipulation of the clear Word of God.
Third, in the Gospels unclean spirits discern that Jesus is “the Holy One of God.” Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34 reveal that before people recognized Jesus, the powers of darkness recognized Him and were terrified of His power and had to submit to His authority.
Fourth, Jesus “sanctified” Himself “that they (the disciples, including us) also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19). In verse 17 Jesus revealed that it is the Word of God, the truth, that sanctifies us.
Fifth, Acts 2:27 quoting Psalm 16:10, affirmed that God’s “Holy One” will not “see corruption in the grave.” In other words, though Jesus’ body was bruised, pierced, and bloody on the cross, when He died Satan was not able to initiate corruption against His flesh. The triumph of the resurrection, by the “Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4), was God’s redemptive triumph over all that Satan stole in the Garden.
Sixth, in Paul’s letters he recognizes that the church, the Body of the risen Lord, “is a holy temple,” “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 2:21; 5:27). This is an amazing statement given what we know and experience about ourselves, the members of Christ’s body. We “have this treasure in earthen vessels,” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:7, to a body of believers that by most standards were anything but holy. Yet, because of the all- surpassing holiness of Jesus, the church is nonetheless a holy reality in anticipation of the full revelation of the glory of God. This is why Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 is so important. Jesus “became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, that as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’” This is why Jesus continues to work in His church, sanctifying and washing us for His glory (Ephesians 5:26). This is why we, as members of the Body of Christ around the world and through the generations, do not exalt ourselves or glorify ourselves. We exist in this world to glorify God through our Holy Lord Jesus Christ!
Seventh, Revelation 3:7 and 6:10 remind us that the Lord of history, Jesus, is “holy and true.” There is a “right side of history.” But it is not determined by the self-will of politicians, economists or anyone else. It is determined by the One who is “Holy and true.”
Finally, Hebrews 2:10-18 reminds us of the great mission of Jesus as He brings “many sons to glory.” Jesus is the “captain of [our] salvation” because “both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one.” This is why Jesus “is not ashamed to call [us] brethren!” He declares to the Father, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me” (Hebrews 2:13/Isaiah 8:18).
The source of holiness is not some theological abstraction known as “God.” Our source, Jesus, has “shared in our flesh and blood, that through death He might destroy Him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). That is the good news that we have received and that we share with the world!
This article was published in the March 2016 issue of Encourage.