The Root of True Holiness

Wise and helpful words from Richard Lovelace in his classic, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, one of my most “marked-up” books from seminary days.

Much that we have interpreted as a defect of sanctification in church people is really an outgrowth of their loss of bearing with respect to justification.

Christians who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons — much less secure than non-Christians, because of the constant bulletins they receive from their Christian environment about the holiness of God and the righteousness they are supposed to have.

Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce, defensive assertion of their own righteousness and defensive criticism of others. They come naturally to hate other cultural styles and other races in order to bolster their own security and discharge their suppressed anger. They cling desperately to legal, pharisaical righteousness, but envy, jealousy and other branches on the tree of sin grow out of their fundamental insecurity.

It is often said today, in circles which blend popular psychology with Christianity, that we must love ourselves before we can be set free to love others. But no realistic human beings find it easy to love or forgive themselves, and hence their self- acceptance must be grounded in their awareness that God accepts them in Christ… [There is much evidence in our experience against the idea that we are children of God, but] the faith that surmounts the evidence and is able to warm itself at the fire of God’s love… is actually the root of holiness.

HT: Harvey Kirkpatrick