(Excerpted from chapter two of Keepers of the Way)
We should, I think, refresh for ourselves this word holiness, and take away from it the “holier than thou” connotation it sometimes carries. We must reset it again in our vocabulary as something worthy of our pursuit and, biblically speaking, something possible and to be expected in the life of faith. We are set apart by God and we live for Him—never flawless, but wholehearted and holy, always growing and by God’s Spirit getting better at choosing what is right and saying no to the wrong. That is absolutely possible. It must be, if we are to become people who are “eager to do what is good.” That’s a great description of living with and in holiness, thinking of it not simply as moral perfection but rightly as continuous improvement. Doing right, yes, but also doing good.
This is what Paul’s talking about in Romans where, again, the blessing of baptism captures the core of this truth so well. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4) Just as Jesus was “buried” in that tomb—and didn’t stay there long—so we and our old self and our former life are buried—dead and gone—under the water in baptism. And just as Jesus was raised from death and from that tomb so He raises us from those waters and our old self and our former life to live a new life. “New life.” I love the sound of that. It’s the promise of the Gospel and the point of holiness.
In such newness and holiness, we see the preciousness and beauty of a life lived well by following Jesus. As we encounter Jesus, we see the contrast of our old life and decide to turn around and head a new direction, His direction.
So we walk the line, keep to the Way, because it’s so good. It’s not an agonizing trudging. The wind of the Spirit is at our backs and the energy of a renewed heart brings spring to our step. It’s not a stringent duty, but a joyful following, a conscious choosing of what’s right and good. Before, we couldn’t do it; now, we can.
“I’ve got to,” we used to tell ourselves. Now we happily realize, “I get to.” We get to live life as God intended it. We were powerless to do that without Him, now this Way is available to us. Now we see it as the resplendent thing it is, purchased by Jesus, paved by His sacrificial love, and offered to us. This is the perspective of the Resistance.
But let’s be honest, this perspective isn’t always clear to us. There’s a fog of false thinking that obscures our view. Its theme goes like this: