Closer Look at Scripture

4 Characteristics of “The Way” of Holiness

This is a picture of a lone highway with a bright shining sun to represent "the way" or Highway of Holiness.

In John 14:6, Jesus makes one of the seven “I Am” statements in the Book of John. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Apostle Thomas thought they were having a conversation about a physical location, but Jesus was identifying Himself as the God who was and is and is to come. In fact, the phrase “the way” isn’t just a New Testament idea at all. It goes back a lot further and does much more than assert the exclusivity of Christ as the only Savior of mankind. It also shows believers how to live in light of it and gives four characteristics that mark life on this road.

Jesus Declares Himself to Be God

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

John 14:6

The Book of John contains not just one but seven “I Am” statements that identify Jesus as God. In Exodus 3, God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. He told him to go back to the people of Israel and let them know that He was with them. He identified Himself as “I Am That I Am.” He said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I Am hath sent me unto you’” (Exodus 3:14). For those who knew scriptures and were watching for the Messiah, these two syllables spoke more than a thousand other words could have. Just like when He spoke in parables, Jesus chose His words so that those with “ears to hear” would know and understand. 

The Two “Ways” in the Old Testament

A “way” is a method or manner of doing something as well as a comparison to a road by which we travel. It’s how people got to where they were going back then as well as now. 

“A Way”

“A” is an indefinite article that means that the noun on the other side of it is general or unknown. In this category, there can be any number of “ways” that fit this description. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Any way that is not “the” way falls into this category.

“The Way”

“The” is a definite article. According to a Butte College grammar tip sheet, the word “the” indicates “that the identity of the noun (that follows) is known to the reader.” In this case, there can be just one of something, and we have knowledge of what it is. Proverbs 15:10 says, “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”

Specifically, “the way” spoken about here is the way of the Lord. Genesis 18:19 says, “…they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment…” It might also be called “the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6), “the good way” (Jeremiah 6:16), or “the way of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8).

The Way of Holiness

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness.”

Isaiah 35:8a

The word “holiness” means the state of being completely consecrated, or set apart, to God. It means we are sanctified (and being sanctified), conformed to God’s divine nature and will. In reference to Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16 says, “Because it is written, ‘Be ye holy for I am holy.”

For those who live in the Age of Grace, our permit to enter the “holy way” is made possible not by works of the law but by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He alone is our righteousness. He is THE WAY by which we enter into an eternity with our Lord. When we walk in earnest on this road, we will be blessed as it says in Psalm 119:1a. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord” (here not the Old Testament law but the law of Christ as in Galatians 6:2).

Characteristics of the Way of Holiness

1. The Way is Marked by Separation

The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those.”

Isaiah 35:8b

This highway, set apart and separate from other ways, is marked by God’s sovereign CHOICE of occupants. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This road is only for a few. Those who have been washed and made clean by the blood of the Lamb. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Those who travel this way are different from the world and don’t conform to it. We are but strangers and pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11), keeping ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27). Our eyes face forward to our final heavenly destination and our ears are alert to our Lord’s call.

2. The Way is Marked by God’s Guidance

The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”

Isaiah 35:8c

God guides His people on our journey. Isaiah 30:21 says, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’” Even those who are “fools” won’t get lost. Jude 24 says, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” People are not dependent on their own intellect, strength, talent, or “luck” to get to the end of this road. Our hope is in Jesus and His ability to lead us safely Home.

3. The Way is Marked by God’s Protection

No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.”

Isaiah 35:9

God is well able to protect those He loves from the enemy. That’s not to say that nothing bad will ever happen to the child of God. It means that nothing bad will ever happen apart from God’s allowance of it. In a previous blog called Under the Shadow of the Almighty: An Analogy, I explained the difference between the evil that is allowed against the child of God and the evil that befalls the world. One is like trash burning in a barrel. Trouble is contained, closely watched, and for the purpose of refining or “burning off” the refuse in our lives. The other is like a forest fire for the wicked. Its purpose, if there is one, is only for destruction and may burn out of control.

4. The Way is Marked by Joy

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Isaiah 35:10

This verse speaks of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after the Syrian invasion. But it can also apply to believers on our journey to that Heavenly City, New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Notice that the ransomed of the Lord didn’t wait until they got to the city to be joyful. They rejoiced the whole way there. For those of us who have been bought with a price, our journey should also be marked by singing and everlasting joy on our heads. God is with us and for us and will never forsake us. We are on a journey to our forever home in Heaven and should never forget to rejoice along the way.

Jesus is “The Way” of Holiness

Jesus is the way, the only means by which we will enter into an eternity with God. He provides the propitiation, the substitutionary atonement, that allows us access to the the way of holiness. As God’s people, we are set apart for God and His purposes. We are led and protected by God, and no matter what happens on our journey, we must always remember to sing with joy, for we are on the way Home.

Enjoy articles about the Bible? Try A Different Interpretation of the Pearl of Great Price or What Did Jesus Write in the DustPlease sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.

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