The Christian Citizen Part 5: The Holiness of Heavenly Citizenship

Philippians 1:27; I Peter 2:11; I Peter 1:14-16
       Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.
       Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshy lusts, which war against the soul…As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.

Editor’s Note: The Greek word translated “conversation” in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians is a derivative of the Greek word “citzenship,” meaning “to behave or live as a citizen.” The word “conversation” in Peter’s Epistle is from a different Greek word which also means “behaviour.”    

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Peter here uses a different mode of speech from that of Paul―for every apostle has his own characteristic way of speaking…This is now the sense of the apostle, when he says, Dearly beloved, I admonish, beseech, you as sojourners and as pilgrims: Since you are one with Christ―therefore you are to follow Him and conduct yourselves as those who are no longer citizens of the world.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): This is the great design of God, to have His people holy.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): If you do not desire to be holy I do not see that you have any right to think that you are a Christian…Some tend to think that Christianity is a matter of being nice. But ‘niceness’ is purely biological―one dog is nicer than another dog!

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): I may be a person of blameless morals; of spotless reputation; a high professor of religion; a worker in the vineyard; a Sunday-school teacher; an office-bearer in some branch of the professing church; an ordained minister; a deacon, elder, pastor or bishop; a most charitable individual; a munificent donor to religious and benevolent institutions; looked up to, sought after, and reverenced by all because of my personal worth and moral influence. I may be all this and more; I may be, and I may have, all that it is possible for a human being to be or to have, and yet be unconverted, and hence outside the kingdom of God.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A man may not be morally evil, yet not spiritually good. He may be free from gross enormity, yet full of secret enmity against God.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Why, self-love will carry a man to perform all moral actions. A man, perhaps, will not get drunk for fear of making his head ache; a man may be honest, because it would spoil his reputation to steal. And so a man who has not the love of God in his heart, may do moral actions.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The natural man’s attitude towards morality is generally negative. His concern is that He should not do certain things. He does not want to be dishonest, unjust or immoral. The Christian’s attitude towards morality is always positive; he hungers and thirsts after a positive righteousness like that of God Himself.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): God is holy, and He calls upon all who believe in Him to imitate His holiness; and the reason why they should be holy is, that God who has called them is holy.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): We must imitate Him, though we can never equal Him. He is perfectly, unchangeably, and eternally holy; and we should aspire after such a state. The consideration of the holiness of God should oblige us to the highest degree of holiness we can attain unto.

J. N. DARBY (1800-1882): The motives given here show upon what entirely new ground, as regards the commonest morality, Christianity places us.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): The governing motives, the main-springs of action, in the sanctified and unsanctified man are totally different; and since God looks at motives, and since, in His view, the character of every action is determined by its motive, it is evident, that the same actions which are good when performed by a good man, may be altogether wrong when performed by a sinner…Hence we see, how greatly and fatally those are deceived, who found a hope of heaven on their naturally amiable tempers and moral lives.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Something more than morality is necessary…a radical change of heart is necessary to moral men, as well as to immoral and profane.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Except a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But all who are thus born of the Spirit have the kingdom of God within them. Christ sets up His kingdom in their hearts—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost…The regenerate have a spiritual nature within that fits them for holy action, otherwise there would be no difference between them and the unregenerate.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Holiness is better than morality. It goes beyond it. Holiness affects the heart. Holiness affects the motive. Holiness regards the whole nature of man.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Faith is a principle of life by which the Christian lives unto God; a principle of motion, by which he walks to heaven along the highway of holiness; a principle of strength, by which he opposes the flesh, the world and the devil.

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): Commune then with your own heart, and attend to the general current of your affections, whether they be towards God in Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The one thing we have to avoid above everything else in our Christian lives is this fatal tendency to live the Christian life apart from a direct, living, and true relationship to God…In other words, as you examine yourself before you go to bed, you do not ask yourself if you have committed murder or adultery, or whether you have been guilty of this or that, and if you have not, thank God that all is well. No. You ask yourself rather, “Has God been supreme in my life today? Have I lived to the glory and the honour of God? Do I know Him better? Have I a zeal for His honour and glory? Has there been anything in me that has been unlike Christ—thoughts, imaginations, desires, impulses?” That is the way. In other words, you examine yourself in the light of a Living Person.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): A Christian’s life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): And that morality which has no relation to Him, and which is not enforced on evangelical principles, is not Christian, but heathen.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Holiness is a Christian’s ornament.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, Ephesians 4:30―In this verse we have what really makes Christian ethics what it is, and differentiates it from every other kind of moral or ethical system. There is no other kind of moral ethical teaching which ever makes this kind of statement. This is the peculiar thing about Christianity. All the others will tell you not to lie, they’ll tell you always to speak the truth, they’ll tell you not to lose your temper, but always to be controlled and disciplined, they’ll tell you not to steal, they’ll tell you not to use bad language, or any kind of corrupt communication, and to be kind and good and helpful and philanthropic―they do all that! But what they never do is this: never in their systems do you find this: and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Never!

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): We may depend upon it as a certainty that where there is no holy living there is no Holy Ghost.


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