“The world’s greatest need is the personal holiness of Christian people.” J.I. Packer made this bold statement back in the mid-1980s, and it is no less true today. Some may argue that the world’s greatest need is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I would agree. But we cannot separate the message from the message-bearer. God, in his infinite wisdom, decided to make us his ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5). A gospel-transformed life is the most powerful apologetic. Jesus calls his sheep, and his sheep hear his voice. The Holy Spirit draws men and women to repentance and faith in Jesus, as they hear the good news carried by the beautiful feet of those who also have heard and believed. The following is taken from Packer’s book, Keep in Step with the Spirit. I would encourage you to read it carefully, and prayerfully ask the Lord if there are areas in your life that need to be transformed by the work of his Spirit. If you enjoy these two paragraphs, pick up a copy and read the whole book!
HOLINESS OPPOSING WORLDINESS. Flooding Christian communities today is the anarchic worldliness of the post-Christian West. The gigantic corporate immoralism called “permissiveness” has broken over us like a tidal wave. Churches most closely in touch with their heritage have baled out more of the invading tide than others have been able to do, but none have been very successful here, certainly not among their younger members. Christian moral standards on the sexual, family, social, financial, commercial, and personal fronts have spectacularly broken down, and “new moralities” currently offered prove to be the old pagan immorality, traveling under various assumed names. “The place for the ship is in the sea,” said D.L. Moody, “but God help the ship if the sea gets into it.” That is an uncomfortable word to hear, for the waves of worldliness have got into the contemporary church and waterlogged it to a very damaging degree.
Christians are called to oppose the world. But how, in this case, can that be done? Credible opposition to secular ideologies can be shown by speaking and writing, but credible opposition to unholiness can only be shown by holy living (see Ephesians 5:3-14). Ecumenical goals for the church are defined nowadays in terms of the quest for social, racial, and economic justice, but it would be far healthier if our first aim was agreed to be personal and relational holiness in every believer’s life. Much as the modern West needs the impact of Christian truth, it needs the impact of Christian holiness even more, both to demonstrate that godliness is the true humanness and to keep community life from rotting to destruction. The pursuit of holiness is thus no mere private hobby, nor merely a path for a select few, but a vital element in Christian mission strategy today. The world’s greatest need is the personal holiness of Christian people.