By Not Known
God has not only predestined all believers to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29), He also commanded us to be transformed into that image (Rom 12:2). To be transformed into Christ’s image means to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet 1:14-16). It entails much more than a change in our outward behaviour, involving a deep penetrating work of the Holy Spirit “from the inside out” – from the very core of our being, our heart.
Although the transformation process is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit, it also involves an earnest active pursuit of holiness into the likeness of Jesus, on our part. It begins when we ask Christ Jesus to be our Saviour and our Lord. The two are inseparable; we cannot want Jesus only to be our Saviour without wanting Him to be our Lord.
The Hebrew language (in which the Old Testament was originally written), uses repetition to show emphasis as we would use boldface type or italics nowadays in order to indicate emphasis when we write. Our Lord Jesus in the Gospels for instance, would often begin what He wanted to stress with “Truly, truly, I say to you….” (see Jn 3:3,5; 5:24, 25; 8: 31,34,51; 10:1,7 ESV).
When the Old Testament refers to God and His holiness, it uses a three-fold repetition, “Holy, holy, holy” indicating holiness in the highest possible degree (see Isa 6:3 ESV). Theologians call this “the infiniteness of God’s holiness”, meaning God is vast and without limits in His holiness. He is immeasurable and exceedingly great as far as His holiness is concerned, and He has called us to this degree of holiness.
In the classic passage in Isaiah 6, when God’s holiness is being described, it is seen in two aspects: His transcendent majesty (6:1) and His infinite moral purity (6:3). When He calls us to “be holy for (He is) holy” (Lev 11:45, 1 Pet 1:16), He is not referring to His transcendent majesty which He reserves exclusively for Himself. His transcendent majesty is impossible for finite human beings like us to follow. Instead, when God calls us to holiness, He calls us to emulate Him in His infinite moral purity. This is the only aspect of God’s holiness that we can seek to emulate howbeit only to a small degree. When measured against God’s standard of infinite holiness, all our righteous deeds are described as “like a polluted garment”(Isa 64:6).
In the days before he understood the Gospel, Martin Luther had been so angry with God that he was heard to exclaim in frustration: “Love God? I hate God!” He had thought that God was calling him to an impossible standard and then damning him eternally for failing to reach it.
When Luther understood the Gospel, he was set free by God’s word as he stood against the powerful Roman Catholic Church, bringing forth the Protestant Reformation, liberating those who followed in his footsteps with the truth of the glorious Gospel. Have you also been in the same manner, set free by God’s word as you place your trust in Him alone(Eph 2:8-9)?