No Happiness Without Holiness

April 22, 2013

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“There is No Happiness Without Holiness.”

This is a statement made by Michael Horton in his book Gospel-Driven Life, The: Being Good News People in a Bad News World.

I stared at those words for quite some time. Is this true?

I began to think of all the people I knew who were pursuing holiness in their own strength. The legalists, the moralists, the “do gooder”, and the “do the right thingers”.

Are they happy?

No.In fact, many are miserable.

Holiness pursued by our own strength leads to the opposite of happiness.

But what of Biblical holiness? What of the holiness which is given as a part of salvation by God? (1 Cor 1:30) The holiness which is defined as coming from God, but still involves a “working out” or a process of becoming more Christ-like. The holiness which depends on faith and trusting in God as the giver of every good and perfect gift.

The type of holiness which proclaimed a broken Ephesian church as holy and blameless (Eph. 1:3) or the sanctification which caused Paul to declare the Corinthian believers saints (1 Cor.1:2) in the midst of dealing with their many sins and lifestyle issues.

This type of holiness can bring happiness.

When the source of all growth and change is God we can find peace, satisfaction, and holiness.

When we pursue holiness as a response to grace rather than as a means to achieve it, our focus is on our heavenly Father and not our self-effort.

Perhaps we could say:

– There is no happiness without True Holiness
– There is no happiness without a God-Centered, Grace-Based Holiness
– There is no happiness when it is up to us to meet the perfect standard of God based on our efforts.

Then I agree.

This contains all the elements of the gospel package.

Faith, Trust, Grace, God-Centered, and Not based on Self-Effort.
All these ultimately lead to Peace.

And it is in the place of peace, the place of rest from our own striving, which we can find happiness.

– We will be desire the “acts” of holiness, because we trust our Father.
– We know his commands are not burdensome, but all have our best interests at heart.
– We understand that doing things God’s way works.

The words of Jesus echo in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The focus is on love, rather than obedience. Holiness flows out of love, not the other way around.

We will have embraced the truth which says grace does not give us an excuse to sin, but our greatest reason not to.

The same is true with my children. Sure, I hope they obey me. This would make life easy. But ultimately, I want something more than their ability to follow orders. I desire their love. If I have their hearts, obedience will follow.

Does God have our hearts? Are we obeying out of obligation and duty or love and gratitude?

The Pharisees kept the rules, but no one would have accused them of being happy. Even Jesus had some harsh things to say.

They were doing the right things, but for the wrong reasons.

Happiness is holiness done for the right reasons. The right things with the right perspective.

What do you thing about Horton’s quote, “There is No Happiness Without Holiness?” Share your thoughts as we discuss.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God