It was Evelyn Underhill, writing in the 1930s, but with lasting relevance, who said, “There is nothing high-minded about Christian holiness. It is most at home in the slum, the street, the hospital ward.”
Holiness is for every day, hour by hour. It is for the workplace and the shopping center. It is for our dealings with all manner of people.
Most of all, and often most testingly of all, it is for our home life. None can overestimate the value to God’s kingdom of a holy life lived out among one’s relatives, especially when those relatives are unsaved and perhaps even skeptical about the gospel. There is no effective argument against the silent eloquence of holiness.
So many folk have a sadly mistaken notion of what holiness involves. They seem to think it’s about pious conversation in serious voices. Far from it! Laughter abounds and a sense of humor is essential. A natural, healthy interest in the opposite sex is only to be expected, but lust is out and so too are all forms of sexual impurity. Holiness sharpens your mind and your opinions. You can speak your mind, but strife, self-indulgent anger or deliberately cutting words must go. Irritability as a mark of personality cannot coexist with the fruits of the Spirit, but natural tension and stress through tiredness are not sins.
The believer who has set out for holiness still needs to eat, but is no glutton. He needs to sleep, but is not addicted to indolence. He needs to earn and spend, but is not in love with money. He will dress appropriately, but undue pride in personal appearance or lack of modesty will have no place.
Holiness is not an exemption from temptation. It is not moral perfection or infallibility. Mistakes will still abound. Holiness does not make a man or woman all-seeing or all-knowing. Hence the believer needs to recognize that the holy life can still encompass error, and that our errors can still hurt others. In the holy life, “I am sorry, please forgive me” will be words readily upon the lips and frequently spoken.
The essence of holiness is that deliberately choosing to sin has stopped by the rich grace of God. Bramwell Tripp summed up the possibility of pragmatic holiness in three sentences:
To say “I must sin” is to deny my Savior.
To say “I cannot sin” is to deceive myself.
To say “I need not sin” is to declare my faith in divine power!
Shaw Clifton, Never the Same Again