Day 222

Only Holiness Leads to Happiness

Wisdom Psalm 93:1-5
New Testament 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Old Testament 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30


The media is filled with stories of the rich, the beautiful and the strong. Our culture places these things on a pedestal and many of us aspire to achieve them. There is nothing wrong with these things – but they certainly don’t always lead to happiness.

The French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, spoke of three orders of greatness. Riches, beauty and strength fall into his first category of superficial ‘physical greatness’.

Above this is a higher, second level of greatness. It is the greatness of genius, science and art. The greatness of the art of Michelangelo or the music of Bach or the brilliance of Albert Einstein – these stand way above superficial physical greatness.

However, according to Pascal there is a third kind of greatness – the order of holiness. (And there is an almost infinite qualitative difference between the second and the third categories.) The fact that a holy person is strong or weak, rich or poor, highly intelligent or illiterate, does not add or subtract anything because that person’s greatness is on a different and almost infinitely superior plane. It is open to every one of us to achieve true greatness in the order of holiness.

The word ‘holy’ (hallowed, holiest, holiness) appears over 500 times in the Bible. God is holy. He gives you his Holy Spirit to sanctify you, and you are called to share in his holiness.

The word ‘saints’ means ‘holy ones’. In the New Testament it is applied to all Christians. You are ‘called to be holy’ (1 Corinthians 1:2). Holiness is a gift you receive when you put your trust in Jesus, receive his righteousness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Seek to live out a holy life in grateful response to God’s gift, through the imitation of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, only holiness leads to happiness.


Psalm 93:1-5

1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
   the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
   indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
2 Your throne was established long ago;
   you are from all eternity.

3 The seas have lifted up, Lord,
   the seas have lifted up their voice;
   the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
4 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
   mightier than the breakers of the sea—
   the Lord on high is mighty.

5 Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
   holiness adorns your house
   for endless days.


Holy God

God is the creator of all, but he is also set apart from the world he has established. He is greater and more majestic than all creation, even the thunders of mighty waters (v.4).

The climax of the psalmist’s praise focuses on God’s holiness. He concludes, ‘Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord’ (v.5). The NEB translates this, ‘Holiness is the beauty of \[your\] temple...’ The temple was a beautiful and impressive building, but the psalmist recognises that the holiness of God is the temple’s true inner beauty and glory.


Lord, we worship you in the beauty of your holiness. You alone are holy. ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’ (Isaiah 6:3).

New Testament

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Dealing With a Case of Incest

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”


Holy church

There are several pitfalls in talking about holiness in the church today. First, there is the danger of an attitude that is ‘holier-than-thou’. Avoid self-righteous superiority. Second, there is the danger of perfectionism. Only God is completely holy. Strive for excellence, but none of us will achieve perfection in this life.

Our holiness is the appropriate response to God’s holiness – and yet it is only made possible by the gift and the grace of God. Holiness in the church comes through the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

Because the church is meant to be holy, Paul is horrified by what was going on in Corinth. There was gross sexual immorality of a kind that would not be tolerated even outside the church (5:1).

He writes, ‘And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?’ (v.2, MSG).

In order for the church to be holy, discipline needs to be exercised. There are some extreme sins that should result in exclusion from the church (v.13). These sins are ones that are very obvious. For example, in the case of sexual immorality it is an extreme kind of immorality (between a man and his stepmother, v.1).

Paul writes about the need for discipline in relation to those who are ‘greedy, idolaters or slanderers, drunkards or swindlers’ (v.10–11). ‘Greed’ here probably carries the sense of avarice to the point of robbery or swindling. Other such sins include idolatry and slander (verbal abuse – maligning and reviling people).

‘Drunkards’ refers to those who willingly and persistently get drunk. Paul’s focus here is not on those who are trying to overcome alcoholism (or any other addiction), for whom the church should be a place of healing and not of rejection. The word here is associated with other vices – violence and unseemly sexuality.

Paul makes it absolutely clear that he is not speaking about people outside of the church (v.10). We are not to dissociate ourselves from even the most extreme ‘sinners’. Jesus was ‘a friend of sinners’. He associated with everyone. These are exactly the people we should be reaching out to.

Rather, Paul is saying that if people continue with these extreme and obvious sins in an unrepentant manner, they have no place in the church. Unless we deal with the issue, ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough’ (v.6) – it will affect the whole church.

Church discipline is therefore very positive in the sense that it enables the person to confront their own conduct and deal with it (v.5). It is also positive for the church as a whole in that it stops evil spreading through the whole church community (v.6).

Thankfully, forgiveness is possible: ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ (v.7). None of us are holy except through the gift of God. Jesus died as the Passover lamb in order that we can be forgiven and cleansed. Holiness is a gift from God. When we fail we need to come back to the cross without delay and receive forgiveness.


Today Lord, I come to you again and ask for your forgiveness and cleansing. Help me to lead a holy life. May your church be a holy place.

Old Testament

1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30

David’s Plans for the Temple

28 David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men.

2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many —he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12 He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 13 He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. 14 He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: 15 the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; 16 the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; 17 the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; 18 and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan. ”

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

Gifts for Building the Temple

29 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. 2 With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colours, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. 3 Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: 4 three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, 5 for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?”

6 Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. 7 They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. 8 Anyone who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

David’s Prayer

10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord,
   the God of our father Israel,
   from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
   and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,
   for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
   you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honour come from you;
   you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
   to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
   and praise your glorious name.

14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king.

Solomon Acknowledged as King

21 The next day they made sacrifices to the Lord and presented burnt offerings to him: a thousand bulls, a thousand rams and a thousand male lambs, together with their drink offerings, and other sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. 22 They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the Lord that day.

Then they acknowledged Solomon son of David as king a second time, anointing him before the Lord to be ruler and Zadok to be priest. 23 So Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king in place of his father David. He prospered and all Israel obeyed him. 24 All the officers and warriors, as well as all of King David’s sons, pledged their submission to King Solomon.

25 The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him royal splendor such as no king over Israel ever had before.

The Death of David

26 David son of Jesse was king over all Israel. 27 He ruled over Israel forty years—seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honour. His son Solomon succeeded him as king.

29 As for the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer, 30 together with the details of his reign and power, and the circumstances that surrounded him and Israel and the kingdoms of all the other lands.


Holy temple

David was called to prepare for the building of a holy temple (29:2–3). Because the temple was holy, David himself could not build it, since he had ‘done too much fighting – killed too many people’ (28:3, MSG).

However, God did guide David in the exact plans for building the temple. The plans were ‘put into his mind’ by ‘the Spirit’ (v.12). This is often how God guides us – he presents reasons to our minds for acting in a certain way.

David entrusted the work to his son Solomon. He called him to serve God with ‘wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts’ (v.9). God calls you, as he did Solomon, to a holiness that goes beyond action, to the heart, the motives and the thoughts.

David said that God is a God who tests the heart and is pleased with integrity (29:17). David was a man of ‘integrity of heart’ (Psalm 78:72). This is a good definition of holiness.

It has been said that everyone has three lives – a public life, a private life and a secret life. Holiness is about living an integrated life, rather than a dis-integrated one. Holiness is where there is ultimately no difference between our public, private and secret lives and no difference between what we profess and what we practise. Holiness is linked to wholeness. When God calls you to be holy, he is saying ‘be wholly mine’.

David prayed, ‘Give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided’ (1 Chronicles 29:19).

It is interesting to note in passing that in order to build the temple they needed to raise a large amount of money. They achieved it because the leaders led. The overall leader gave first (v.3). The other leaders gave next (v.6). Then all the people ‘gave willingly’ (v.6) with ‘a sense of celebration’ (v.17, MSG)

God wants you to give willingly. If you are not willing, you can pray, ‘Lord make me willing to be made willing’. And as Sandy Millar often says, at least you can pray, ‘Lord make me willing to be willing to be made willing’!

As God’s people gave willingly, they were filled with great joy. Everything you have comes from God in the first place (v.16). As you give your resources to the work of God generously and freely, you are filled with great joy.

The holy temple which David and Solomon built was only preparation for the holy temple of the church where the Holy Spirit dwells. Not only does the Spirit live in the church, he also lives in you. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).


Lord, fill me today with your Holy Spirit I pray, and help me to be holy.

Pippa adds

1 Chronicles 29:9b

‘… for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.’

I am always amazed by God’s provision and the incredible generosity of the people of God. Time and again we have seen God’s extraordinary provision for the work of the church just when things began to look impossible. I don’t think I thank God enough for his wonderful generosity.



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Blaise Pascal, Pensees (Penguin Classics, 1995).

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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