God is perfect; he lacks nothing. God is holy; he is set apart and wholly separate from sin. As with many of God’s attributes, he desires to communicate perfection and holiness to his creation. So he did.
Lucifer, an angel of God’s, did not get enough of God’s perfection and holiness. He wanted it all. He rebelled against God and lost all of what God gave him. He became God’s nemesis—renamed Satan. Ever since, Satan wishes for holiness’s ruin.
He elicited the fall of Adam and Eve, depriving them of holiness. He continues on his rampage against holiness. He wants our help; he wants co-conspirators. And humanity is altogether too quick to comply, but that’s our nature.
God’s enemy employs five methods to ruin holiness: relativism, tolerance, contextualization, liberty and legalism.
Relativism conveys that there are no absolutes. This perspective legitimizes innumerable truths contradicting one another.
Relativism ruins holiness because there is no longer a supreme authority. One is not wholly other. Satan deceives people into thinking multiple acceptable authorities exist. Ironically, all options outside of God point to Satan. He is the only other authority people submit.
God rescues holiness from relativism’s ruin. John 14:6 says, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”
Relativism leads to tolerance. If you do not accept multiple worldviews, you must be intolerant, leading to the intolerance of intolerance. If you tolerate multiple worldviews and authorities, holiness is diluted as God’s glory is shared. God cannot be altogether wholly other because he shares his holiness with other worldviews and authorities, diminishing his glory.
God rescues holiness from tolerance’s ruin. Isaiah 48:11 says, “My glory I will not give to another.”
In God’s quest to rescue holiness, he selected Israel as a light to the nations. He made this people holy. God gave Israel a charge to be separate from other nations. By doing so, other nations would look to Israel and find God attractive. Israel failed.
This rescue initiative continues with the Church. The Church is meant to be a wholly set apart people testifying to God’s holiness. This is accomplished through the church’s union to Christ, who fulfilled all Israel ought to be.
Contextualization is when God’s holy people relate to their context. They connect to their context in meaningful ways. Contextualization is tricky. God’s people should contextualize without jeopardizing holiness. Our enemy wishes to see contextualization abused.
1 Corinthians 9:22 says, “…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Unfortunately, false teachers use this text to abuse contextualization, giving license to liberty.
God rescues holiness from contextualization’s ruin. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 he says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Our union with Christ gifts us with the Holy Spirit making us God’s temple. False teachers abusing contextualization beware.
Liberty, otherwise known as antinomianism (against law), says that God’s law is entirely abolished by grace. Humanity is no longer expected to cherish and keep God’s law. This makes way for license to abuse grace. Our enemy would like to see grace abused. Where relativism dilutes holiness, liberty dirties holiness. Liberty is fostered by foolishness.
God rescues holiness from liberty’s ruin. Romans 7:12 says, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Though we are incapable of keeping God’s law, it does not mean that we should not long to keep it. Here we are prone to ruin holiness with another abuse.
The flip side of liberty is legalism. Legalism has two parts. Legalism is not attempting to keep the law of God. It’s assuming we can keep it. Furthermore, legalism says God’s acceptance if found in keeping God’s law. Impossible! If that were the case, God’s grace in Christ’s death, resurrection and all the implications is nullified (Gal. 2:19-21).
Legalism is also when people make new laws, parade them as God’s law and expect others to keep those laws. Often these new laws are conceived to protect from sin’s temptation or affect. Legalism is often sown from fear. Worse, people believe that God’s acceptance depends on these fabricated laws of men. Legalism restricts faith.
Legalism is a tragic ruin to holiness because it restricts other attributes of God like beauty, creativity or power. Legalism restricts love.
As holy people we respond to God’s faithfulness and love in kind. Galatians 3:11 says, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith.” And Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The past few years have seen two significant doctrines under fire: the doctrine of hell and the doctrine of Adam. It will no doubt be long before the doctrine of Satan comes into question.
Nothing would be more satisfying and to Satan’s advantage then for him to convince the world he does not exist. He would have free reign to ruin holiness. Though it is uncomfortable to talk about God’s enemy, it is critical to recognize his handiwork.
Seeing Satan’s handiwork directs us to see God’s counter-offenses. In every way, God in Christ counters Satan’s feeble efforts to ruin holiness. Christ our King rescues holiness from Satan’s clutches.
Joey Cochran is a graduate of Dallas Seminary and a church planting intern at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois under the supervision of pastor Joe Thorn. You can follow him at jtcochran.com or @joeycochran.