“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this — to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
Holiness means separation unto God. The life which belongs to Christ — must be kept from sin. The hands which are held up in prayer — must not touch any unclean thing. The lips which speak to God, and sing His praise — must not be stained by any sinful or bitter words. The heart which is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit — must not open to any thought or affection which would defile God’s temple. The feet which Christ’s pierced hands have washed — must not walk in any of sin’s unhallowed paths. A Christian’s life must be holy.
Unholiness is very subtle. It creeps in when we are not aware. It begins in the heart. At first it is but a thought, a moment’s imagination, a passing emotion, or a desire. Hence the heart should be kept with unremitting diligence. Only pure and holy thoughts should be entertained.
It is in the thoughts, that all acts begin. All acts are first thoughts. Our thoughts build up our character, as the coral insects build up the great reefs. “As a man thinks in his heart — so is he.” If we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, as we pass through its foul streets — we must see to it that no unholy thing is for a moment tolerated in our heart. A crime stains one’s name before the world; a sinful thought or desire stains the soul in God’s sight, and grieves the divine Spirit within us. “Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
J.R. Miller was a pastor and former editorial superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication from 1880 to 1911. His works are now in the public domain.
PHOTO CAPTION: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, oil on canvas by Georges Seurat, 1884–86; in the Art Institute of Chicago. Public Domain