SCRIPTURAL HOLINESS: WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO OBTAIN IT.
By John Thomas
HOLINESS is a Bible word, and from Genesis to Revelation we see that:
(1) Holiness is commanded.
(2) Holiness is promised.
(3) Holiness is offered.
(4) Holiness is obtainable.
(5) Holiness is experienced.
In Hebrews 12:14 we read, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness is not optional; it is not an addendum. Holiness is a necessity because God is holy, and an unholy being cannot dwell with Him. Holiness is a necessity because heaven is a holy place. There is no need to elaborate the argument; the Scripture speaks for itself: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness is required in the Kingdom of God.
Many teachers put the standard of holiness too high, beyond the reach of God’s children, with the result that many give up the quest for it, and like the ten spies, magnify the difficulties and so lose sight of the God who never fails (Num. 13:17-14:24). Others put the standard too low, making excuses for sin; but these errors may be avoided by closely following the Scriptures. Deuteronomy 30:6 says that holiness is love governing the heart and life, controlling our tempers, words and actions.
WHAT HOLINESS IS NOT
(1) It is not absolute perfection — that belongs to God alone. The perfection of man is relative.
(2) Neither is it angelic perfection that is commanded. Angels never make mistakes, but we are liable to make mistakes.
(3) Nor is it Adamic¹ perfection that is commanded, but rather Christian perfection. According to Matthew 5:48,² holiness is having the same mind and possessing the same love as Jesus.
¹ Adam was the first man that God created.
² “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Mt. 5:48
(4) Holiness is not perfect knowledge. It is not perfection of the head, but a perfect heart that is promised. Not many mighty men can see the way of holiness, but some poor fisherman of Galilee did.* We have known hundreds of the Lord’s poor who enjoy this blessing, while many who are very learned could not understand it.
*The apostles of Jesus.
(5) Holiness is not freedom from infirmities. The Holy Spirit helps our infirmities, but never helps our sins. The apostle Paul gloried in his infirmities because the power of Christ rested upon him, but he did not glory in sin. Therefore holiness admits of many infirmities, but not one sin.
(6) Holiness is not freedom from temptation. Temptation is not sin unless you yield to it. We shall always be open to the attacks of Satan, for in no other way could our allegiance to God be proved than by trials and temptations.
(7) Holiness is not regeneration, which is the birth of the soul into the Kingdom of God.* Regeneration includes forgiveness of sins, the impartation of eternal life and the witness of the Holy Spirit concerning our acceptance with God. Holiness is the removal of indwelling sin from the soul. Holiness is a second work of grace, subsequent to regeneration. Holiness is not necessarily more religion, or more love, or more power, but a cleansing of the soul from the pollution of sin by the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire.
* The new convert is “born again” of the Spirit of God in regeneration, but sooner or later feels the remains of indwelling sin in the heart. Entire sanctification destroys these remaining evils.
(8) Holiness is not a state from which you cannot fall into sin, but a condition where you may be kept from falling as you walk in the light (1 Jn. 1:7). It is not that you are unable to sin, but by the power of God you are not to sin, though the liability to sin ever remains. Purity is not maturity. You may not understand very much or comprehend the deep things of God, but you can be pure in heart.
WHAT THEN IS BIBLE HOLINESS
Isaiah described it as a way within a way. “And it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it” (Isa. 35:8). David called it the “beauty of holiness” (Psa. 29:2).
Sin is ugly — holiness is beautiful.
Sin is a disease — holiness is health.
Sin is darkness — holiness is light.
Sin is filthy — holiness is clean.
The apostle John called it being “made perfect in love” (1 Jn. 4:17-18). Christ called it being “pure in heart” (Mt. 5:8). Paul called it the “destruction of the body of sin,” the “crucifixion of the old man,” “being made free from sin” (Rom. 6:6-7); a condition in which “the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psa. 32:2).
This is the kind of holiness commanded by God when He said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). This is the holiness provided by Jesus Christ through His shed blood (Heb. 13:12). Holiness is an experience imparted by the Holy Ghost, purifying and filling the heart with the love of God, so that, “we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75).
HINDRANCES TO THE BLESSING OF HOLINESS
A lack of teaching is a hindrance. We are living in days when there are diversities of teachers, contradicting each other, and quite bewildering to the simple soul. If this is your condition, and you are in confusion, quietly set aside a time for prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help you, and He will certainly give you light. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine” (Jn. 7:17). It is essential to get a scriptural foundation to base our faith upon, and to be certain of what God promises.
A lack of earnestness will hinder. Many run to this convention and to that meeting, ask for prayers, go through a form of consecration, but they do not get anywhere. They never have a definite experience of entire sanctification because they are not determined to seek it until they obtain the promised blessing.
Imperfect consecration is another reason why people do not get the experience of holiness. Like Ananias and Sapphira, they lie to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:1-4), as they keep back part of the price (some one thing that the devil tells them they cannot give up). God will not accept an imperfect offering, so they go away disappointed. Entire consecration is man’s part, and when this is done and faith is exercised, God always grants the blessing.
Having wrong motives is another reason why some do not receive holiness. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss” (James 4:3). Some ask in order to become a person of importance. God will only give this blessing to glorify Jesus. Others have failed through looking for some physical manifestation, or some wonderful experience, instead of accepting the blessing by faith. Many are afraid to trust God because they dread the reproach that would be theirs if they were known as “Holiness People.” These love the praise of men more than the praise of God (Jn. 12:43).
HOW TO OBTAIN THE BLESSING OF HOLINESS
You must be born again of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:7) before you are eligible for the baptism with the same Spirit (Acts 1:5). If you are not born again you cannot obtain the experience of holiness. Next, be sure that you are not a backslider in heart or life, because God will not sanctify backsliders. Seek a clear understanding of the doctrine of holiness. Examine carefully the promises of God. Make a complete consecration; let nothing be kept back.
Entire consecration means three things.
(1) We must be willing to be all that God requires.
(2) We must be willing to do all that He commands.
(3) We must be willing to suffer all that He may permit.
Such a consecration embraces reputation, friends, property and time. It claims spirit, soul and body.
“Here I give my all to Thee,
Friends and time and earthly store.
Soul and body Thine to be,
Wholly Thine forevermore.”
Believe the Scriptures: “The blood of Jesus cleanses now from all sin — that God is faithful to cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:7, 9). It is God’s will to sanctify you now by the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Faith takes Him at His Word. “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). Then go forth to witness that you have trusted God to fulfill His Word in you, since Jesus declares, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mk. 11:24). “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will (and we are sure that this is His will), he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 Jn. 5:14-15). Glorious truth!
THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CLEANSETH ME NOW FROM ALL SIN!
THE COMFORTER* HAS COME TO ABIDE!
*The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost)
Ye Shall Receive the Gift of the HOLY GHOST was revised and may be reproduced and distributed.