The Pruning

Holiness Is What I Long For

In James Lee on May 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

by James Lee

There’s a praise song, “Take My Life (Holiness)” by Scott Underwood from Vineyard written back in the 90s. I remember first hearing this song when I was in high school and thought it was such a good song.  It has always been a meaningful song for its musical simplicity (just three chords over and over again), it’s lyrical simplicity (see below) and it’s pretty melody.

Recently, I’ve just been re-singing this song over and over again by myself in my home with different chords, and I even recorded a cover of it for fun!

I say all this because as much as I’ve liked this song, I don’t think I really thought about what the lyrics suggest…until now.  Just focusing on the first line: “Holiness, holiness is what I long for”……Do I really want holiness? I mean, do I really want to separate myself completely from sin and evil and be conformed to God’s will?  The reason why I ask this is because when I look at a book like Leviticus, which reflects the awesome holiness requirement of the Lord, it sounds very daunting and scary to truly be set apart.  The Israelites were called to be so set apart from defilement and evil that people had to be kicked out of the camp for a time being while they were “unclean” and some people could never get back into the community because of a permanent defilement.  And then there were others who had to die for committing certain sins.  They were constantly washing their bodies down and abstaining from certain foods and making sure they were squeaky clean.  It almost seemed like God was the biggest germaphobe because of all the cleansing laws put in place in order to remain in the community.  Even more, they had to constantly give up offerings of many kinds to stay in favor with God and to atone for their sins, which made for lots of animal blood splattered around and on the ground. And all this in order to stay holy before the Lord.  So I ask again, “Do I really long for holiness?  Do I really want to be so distinct from the world that I look kind of like a spiritual germaphobe?”

The second line of the song says “Holiness, holiness is what I need.”  I think this clarifies a little bit more what’s going on with holiness.  Holiness is not only something we’re supposed to long for, but it’s something that we truly need.  We need holiness. Why?  The third line of the song expresses the real truth, “Holiness, holiness, is what you want from me.”  We need holiness because God wants holiness from us.  Leviticus 11:45 summarizes the whole reason for the book of Leviticus, “You shall therefore be holy for I am holy.” Peter then restates this calling in 1 Peter and basically says that it still stands today for every Christian.

To be holy is a pretty scary thing when you think about it.  It means separation from the world, from evil, from sin, from those things that seem so “natural” and common to us. To be holy is to put away earthly things or even to put to death sins.  To sing, then, “holiness is what I long for” is scary that I would actually long and delight to be separated from everything that I’ve been so used to and let God take all of my life and form it, transform it, conform it to his will.

I pray that this song would become a joy for every Christian’s life as it reflects God’s holy heart for us as expressed in Lev. 11:45 to “be holy for I am holy.”  I pray that there would actually be a longing and a DELIGHT in all of our hearts to be holy because we need it and it’s what God wants from us.  It’s not to make us miserable but for us to experience the abundant life in Jesus Christ, a life that has nothing to do with sin or evil but everything to do with goodness and holiness.

Take My Life

by Scott Underwood

Holiness, holiness is what I long for 
Holiness is what I need 
Holiness, holiness is what You want from me 

Faithfulness, faithfulness is what I long for
Faithfulness is what I need 
Faithfulness, faithfulness is what You want from me 

(So) Take my heart and form it
Take my mind, transform it 
Take my will, conform it 
To Yours, to Yours, Oh Lord 

Righteousness, righteousness is what I long for
Righteousness is what I need 
Righteousness, righteousness is what you want from me

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