Is holiness necessary to salvation?

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
"holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

If a person were to tell me holiness is necessary for salvation, my senses would immediately think of a works covenant. But a thing can be necessary for salvation and yet not the cause of it. Does the Reformed faith teach that holiness is necessary for salvation and without it in this present life, no man shall see the Lord?

"They are much mistaken in the Lord Christ, who hope to see him hereafter in glory, and live and die here in an unholy state. It is not privileges, nor gifts, nor church office or power, that will give an admission to this state." John Owen, Works Vol. 23
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Philippians 1:6
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 2: 8-10

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

1John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If it ain't that way ........ I'm in big trouble ........ :confused:
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
"holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

If a person were to tell me holiness is necessary for salvation, my senses would immediately think of a works covenant. But a thing can be necessary for salvation and yet not the cause of it. Does the Reformed faith teach that holiness is necessary for salvation and without it in this present life, no man shall see the Lord?

"They are much mistaken in the Lord Christ, who hope to see him hereafter in glory, and live and die here in an unholy state. It is not privileges, nor gifts, nor church office or power, that will give an admission to this state." John Owen, Works Vol. 23

Living a holy life does not cause you to be justified. Justification is not received by living a holy life. Living a holy life is one of the evidences that you have been born again.
 

Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
We cannot see the Lord without it; however, holiness is a consequence of regeneration and salvation. Henry hit it right on the head. We will have holiness, but it isn't ours. To illustrate my point, suppose A causes B and B causes C; does C cause A? No, cause A precedes all of these; similarly, justification precedes holiness. Justification is what gives us eternal life; if we're justified, we'll become holy; therefore, if we have eternal life we will be holy.
 
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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you for the replies. I've been thinking through them. I'm new to the Reformed faith and am learning a lot, but that also means unlearning some things that I take for granted. So please bear with me as I try to understand. And I'd like to post some more questions. They may sound confrontational, but please do not take them that way.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but faith is the alone instrument of justification. Why? Because it is passive and purely receptive. Would adding an active component such as repentance or holiness be a covenant of works?

What makes a covenant of works? When a person is expected to fulfill the conditions by his own merit. Faith is a condition in the covenant of grace. The Reformed teach that any condition in the covenant of grace is fulfilled by God. In this case, faith is given by God to the believer. So why can't active conditions follow the same reasoning: a believer must repent, be baptized, partake in the Lord's supper, sit under the ministry of the church, be holy, have faith in order to be justified. But it is not a covenant of works because these are a gift from God.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
What makes a covenant of works?

I think the questions you are asking can be answered, at least in part, by the phrase you cited from Hebrews 12:

"holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

Think of God's character and perfection. In order to stand in his presence as created beings, we have to be properly holy. Unholy things cannot come before him.

But, of course, because of sin, there is no way we could stand in his presence and be made a part of his household--our condition prevents it. We are quite naturally and properly rejected, just as the owner of a nice house would reject a sewer rat from entering his house.

Except in God's case, the intolerance of sin is more strict. No sin is allowed in his presence.

The covenant of works was originally made by God for sinless man to follow. Man, as a created rational being, had things to do--he was to work. He was to do his work in obedience to God and in so doing, have fellowship with God. (Walking with him in the Garden).

So we see 2 things: we are purposeful beings created for a purpose, and yet we are unable to fulfill that purpose because of sin.

Yes, we are required to be holy to be allowed into God's benevolent presence. There is not one thing we can do on our own to make ourselves holy. Yet God has granted his elect the right to be called holy and be made holy, but only by the perfect work of his Son, and only by faith in him.
 
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moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
"holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

If a person were to tell me holiness is necessary for salvation, my senses would immediately think of a works covenant. But a thing can be necessary for salvation and yet not the cause of it. Does the Reformed faith teach that holiness is necessary for salvation and without it in this present life, no man shall see the Lord?

"They are much mistaken in the Lord Christ, who hope to see him hereafter in glory, and live and die here in an unholy state. It is not privileges, nor gifts, nor church office or power, that will give an admission to this state." John Owen, Works Vol. 23

I think the context of the verse is mainly telling us to pursue peace with all men, but not to do so at the expense of sanctioning their evil deeds and lowering the standards of our own.
We must maintain the bar of holiness for ourselves, for holiness is what God fellowships with, not sin.

See Calvin on the topic: "Follow peace, etc. Men are so born that they all seem to shun peace; for all study their own interest, seek their own ways, and care not to accommodate themselves to the ways of others. Unless then we strenuously labor to follow peace, we shall never retain it; for many things will happen daily affording occasion for discords. This is the reason why the Apostle bids us to follow peace, as though he had said, that it ought not only to be cultivated as far as it may be convenient to us, but that we ought to strive with all care to keep it among us. And this cannot be done unless we forget many offenses and exercise mutual forbearance.
As however peace cannot be maintained with the ungodly except on the condition of approving of their vices and wickedness, the Apostle immediately adds, that holiness is to be followed together with peace; as though he commended peace to us with this exception, that the friendship of the wicked is not to be allowed to defile or pollute us; for holiness has an especial regard to God. Though then the whole world were roused to a blazing war, yet holiness is not to be forsaken, for it is the bond of our union with God. In short, let us quietly cherish concord with men, but only, according to the proverb, as far as conscience allows.
He declares, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; for with no other eyes shall we see God than those which have been renewed after his image."


Now, of course, Christ's holiness is what we currently wear as believers, and it is what we will always wear before the Father in all eternity.
We will never shed his holiness and stand before him on our own, even in the Kingdom.
Yes, we will be perfect someday as Man (once we shed this sin-infested carcass). The angels are even perfect within their nature as Angels.
But these perfections are not of the same measure and glory as that of Christ, the Son.
Christ's perfection is infinitely greater as he is an infinite being.
His perfection will always cover us throughout eternity, and we will share a nearness/oneness to the Father that the Angels do not have...a nearness that not even Adam had prior to the Fall.
This is how it is said that we will judge Angels, and that the Angels are said to be ministering spirits sent to render service to those who will inherit the Kingdom of God.

I think I remember reading these thoughts in Calvin...perhaps his Institutes, but I can't remember the reference.


What unfathomable grace the Father has decided to bestow upon us!

Blessings!
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
As I studied the passage mentioned above through the years I came to the conclusion that holiness is a real important issue in the life of the believer. Our holiness matters. It doesn't save us but it is a result of knowing Christ. I came to understand the Hebrews passage in light of something Jesus said during His sermon on the Mount.

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The Pharisees and scribes were no slackers in trying to obey the law. But their obedience and performance of it seems to be a bit off kilter as a matter of the heart. In fact the passages following the quote above signify a deeper understanding of the Law. The issue isn't that I have never committed physical adultery but that Adultery is a matter of the heart just as is the issue of cursing a brother and hating someone being equivalent to murder.

Does our righteousness matter? Of course we can't measure up but we start to see things differently and obey Christ and do righteous deeds so that he may be Glorified instead of us trying to be holy for our glory alone and justification. Our Holiness Matters. But it is a matter of the heart.

I think Jesus shows us a difference between the righteousness of the Pharisee and that of the just in the following passages.

(Mat 6:5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

(Mat 6:6) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The difference is a matter of the heart. Holiness matters. Without it we need to be cautious.


I really appreciated what Josh noted above. Let me add to that from the Westminster Confession of Faith to see if it can illuminate us any farther.

CHAPTER XVI.

Of Good Works.
I. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.


II. These good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.


III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.


IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.


V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God's judgment.


VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God's sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.


VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.



Our righteousness is important as it is a fruit of the Spirit. Without holiness of this sort there is much to be worried about if we examine who and what we are. This is one of the reasons we are told by Saint Paul to examine ourselves at the Lord's Table in 1 Corinthians 11 and in 2 Corinthians 13:5. In fact Jesus basically says the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount which I spoke of before. Here are the two quotes.

2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Mat 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Mat 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I would caution at the same time that we must not compare our holiness, or ability to perform against our brothers capabilities. That is dangerous. St. Paul tells us this here.

2Co 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

We all are babes when we come to Christ and are only able to digest so much. We all are different and mature differently. Each of us have different issues. Some of us have deep sin and deep inclinations toward different kinds of sin. Some are much harder to overcome if we have participated in particular sin. Everyone starts off in the faith with different struggles due to our involvement with different kinds of bondage to sin. Deliverance is of the Lord and we are to work out our salvation. That will look very differently for some than others. But God will do things and he will pity us as his children.

Through the Years Psalm 130 has become important to me.

Psa 130:1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
Psa 130:2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
Psa 130:3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
Psa 130:4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
Psa 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Psa 130:6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Psa 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Psa 130:8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

I hope this helps.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
The imputed holiness of Christ is necessary for our justification.

A sincere but imperfect sanctified life because of the impartation of Christ's holiness is the holiness of the believer in this life. He will never attain to that perfect holiness in which he will see the Lord on judgment day, until death.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Is holiness necessary to salvation? is perhaps the wrong question. Holiness is not a condition but an integral part of salvation. We are saved from the penalty of sin in justification, are being saved from the power of sin in sanctification, and will be saved from the presence of sin in glorification.

"Imputed holiness" tends to confuse justification (which is complete in this life) with sanctification (which is incomplete in this life).
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is holiness necessary to salvation? is perhaps the wrong question. Holiness is not a condition but an integral part of salvation. We are saved from the penalty of sin in justification, are being saved from the power of sin in sanctification, and will be saved from the presence of sin in glorification.

"Imputed holiness" tends to confuse justification (which is complete in this life) with sanctification (which is incomplete in this life).

I asked is it necessary in the sense - without it, is salvation possible? I think you affirm as you said it is "integral." My second post I think I started to follow a rabbit trail in my thoughts as to why only something passive and receptive, i.e. faith, is the condition (requirement, instrument) of justification. I find the Roman Catholics I interact with reason in this way: active components such as love, holiness, etc. may be conditions since they are likewise by the grace of God and, therefore, cannot be a covenant of works.

I mostly ask because, when I find myself doubting my salvation, I'm confused as to what my duty is. A person is passively justified by faith and then actively participates in sanctification. When I doubt that I am in a state of grace because: I find I am not progressing, my heart is dull to my sins, I don't strive after being like Christ or fearing God, should I actively try harder to "close with Christ"? Or should I passively rest upon Christ? I guess it would be both as there is no time that a Christian does not rest upon Christ, but when I think about justification, sanctification, and glorification chronologically in a subjective sense, I get confused.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I mostly ask because, when I find myself doubting my salvation, I'm confused as to what my duty is. A person is passively justified by faith and then actively participates in sanctification. When I doubt that I am in a state of grace because: I find I am not progressing, my heart is dull to my sins, I don't strive after being like Christ or fearing God, should I actively try harder to "close with Christ"? Or should I passively rest upon Christ? I guess it would be both as there is no time that a Christian does not rest upon Christ, but when I think about justification, sanctification, and glorification chronologically in a subjective sense, I get confused.

These are important issues to resolve.

We are passive in regeneration. In regeneration we are given faith to receive and rest upon Christ, but receiving and resting upon Christ are our actions, being enabled by divine grace. Therefore we must conclude that we are active in believing. God does not believe for us.

No person can squeeze grace out of God. At the same time, God is ready to be gracious, and has given us His word for it, which is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. On the basis of that word we may go to God and seek the work of regeneration and faith that we need. As it says in Ezekiel, For this shall I yet be enquired of. He who seeks finds. God is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XIII
Of Sanctification

[emphasis added]

I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection,[1] by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them:[2] the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,[3] and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified;[4] and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,[5] to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.[6]

II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man;[7] yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part;[8] whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.[9]

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail;[10] yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome;[11] and so, the saints grow in grace,[12] perfecting holiness in the fear of God.[13]
.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
I read "Holiness" by JC Ryle a number of years back. I am now listening to it again on "Audible.com". This is must-read material for today's Christian.
 
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