Where to Find Holiness

Holiness. When some think of this word we think of something that we are not, something that we can never be; we think of God. Yet, some people think of this as something to attain, something to work for, something that is hidden and to be found away from our daily life. Some have even gone to far lengths to live in seclusion in order to attain a level of holiness. Yet, that too, will never work.

Even when we are alone, our sinful nature is right there with us, we can never attain a perfect holiness on our own this side of heaven. However, that isn’t to say that we cannot be holy on this side of heaven. Our daily Christian life is a daily downing of our old Adam in baptism and a new man in Christ daily rising again. This continues our discussion on being simultaneously sinner and saint. There is a quote by Martin Luther that reads as follows:

It is a matter of necessity that we be destroyed and rendered formless, so that Christ may be formed within us, and Christ alone be in us. […] Real mortifications do not happen in lonely places away from the society of other human beings. No! They happen in the home, the marketplace, in secular life.

-Martin Luther

In For All the Saints: A Prayer Book for and by the Church, Vol. 3, P. 1011

Mortifying the flesh. That sounds so gruesome but it is our daily life as a Christian. This is the life of repentance. This is the life of holiness. Notice how he says this happens in our regular mundane daily life. We don’t need to go on pilgrimages or live the life of a hermit; we live our repentant life in our daily vocations as employees, employers, husbands, wives, children, etc. Luther continues:

“Being conformed to Christ” is not within our powers to achieve. It is God’s gift, not our own work.

-Martin Luther

In For All the Saints: A Prayer Book for and by the Church, Vol. 3, P. 1011

How do we attain this holiness? We don’t. It is a gift. This is the fruit of repentance. This is joyous news. Everyone in the world thinks that holiness is something to attain. Even some Christians think this way. Yet, it is a gift. Christ crucified and risen for you, for the forgiveness of your sins, to declare you justified, to declare you holy, is the promise of the Gospel. This promise is given in Faith. This faith is a gift wrapped in the Word and Sacraments.

It is all God’s gift, not our own work.

Where do you find holiness? In the Word and Sacraments, in your daily life as a baptized child of God. In your daily sanctification, your good works, done in faith, are holy; because of the gift of faith.

Think of it in terms of the Third Commandment. How are we to keep the Sabbath day Holy? By the Word and Sacrament. Holiness isn’t far away or something to attain. Your Christian life is holy because it is sanctified, set apart, made holy by the precious body and blood of Christ given in faith. There, in your daily life, in your vocation, following the commandments, you find plenty of holy works to do for your neighbor; all done because you are a baptized, forgiven, righteous child of God; through the gift of faith.