Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, “The Gaze of The Soul”
This idea of holiness continues to rattle around in my head. It will not let me go. So I will continue to pursue it until I can come to some sort of conclusion or at least get my arms around it. That is, how do I know what holiness looks like in my life or that it is something that is being “achieved”? After all, if it is to be a “goal” – in a manner of speaking – it should be something that can be “measured” – in a manner of speaking.
It appears that there are two critical elements regarding holiness:
1) Faith – “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6); “…looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2)
Faith is the cornerstone on which we build our life of holiness. It is, as Tozer puts it, “the gaze of the soul” on Christ that keeps us outwardly focused on Him and thus inwardly successful in developing Christ-likeness. As he describes it in his book:
“While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with this soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do”. (p.91)
The Psalmist talks about it in these terms, something that we have looked at before:
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, do I seek. (Ps. 27:8)
It is in seeking God that we find the life that pleases God. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” is our objective and the benefits of that are what God desires for us! Most of us zero in on “…and all these things will be given to you…” However, it is the “AS WELL” that is critical to the passage (Matt. 6:33). The “things” are a bonus. They are not the focus. It is the kingdom and the character of God that is our goal. That is what we are striving for.
How do we get there? That is point number two.
2) Learning and Leading (Psalm 27:11)
“Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path…”
Some way or another, it always comes back to the Bible. If I want to know what “holiness” is, keep my eyes on Jesus and feed on God’s word. [“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17)] Then I should be able to walk on a level path, “the street called Straight”. I should be able to do, think, and most of all be what is pleasing to God. That may not always coincide with what others think, but that is not the issue. I do not have to answer to them.
I do not have to be told that adultery is wrong. I know that. I do not have to be told that lying is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that killing is wrong. I know those things – men everywhere know those things. They may justify doing them, but that does not change that fact that they know they are wrong.
What I struggle with is the finer things of life. Getting my priorities in order; honoring my wife; doing my best at my job whether it makes me “happy” or not; living at peace with my extended family; balancing “needs” with “wants”; etc.. Things like keeping my ego in check and my tongue under control. Those are what nag at me and keep me from approaching God with confidence. These are the things that are the elements of holiness.
Therefore, let the character I desire dictate to my conduct. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2Cor. 5:17)
Let me provide an illustration. I have been known to dip a bit of snuff from time to time over the years. When I started racing bicycles and became serious about that sport, I worked out regularly and rode about 200 miles a week. One day, while I was starting my daily ride, I reached in my jersey pocket for “a little pinch of snuff”. Then it hit me, I am out here almost every day, working like crazy on this bike to get in shape and be competitive, all the while, I am sabotaging my body with this stupid snuff! So I stopped immediately.
In other words, what I wanted to achieve was in direct conflict with what I was doing. My conduct was in direct conflict with my character. Now, I could still race my bike and dip snuff. Just like, I saw men on the circuit that smoked cigarettes and raced. However, I could never be at my highest level of performance and dip snuff. Just as I could not drink a six-pack of beer before a race and expect to win; or eat cheeseburgers and fries everyday; or never work out.
Holiness, godliness, Christ-likeness, is not attained by accident. It requires commitment on my part and a willingness to “do” what I have been taught and “go” where I have been lead. If I desire that “character” then I must conduct myself in a way that reinforces that character. Ouch….now that makes the heart cringe!
Oh my, Father Spirit, I act sometimes as though what I do does not really matter because no one sees. However, if you are present at all times you see. I see. In addition, what I do conflicts with what I desire to be-come. Help me to redirect my eyes on your Son. Amen.