During our recent Holy Ghost Forum the spirit of prophecy was prominent. The following utterance released the fear of the Lord. Please watch it. He that has an ear let him hear.
“Pursue … holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb. 12:14-15).
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
The subject of holiness has taken a bad rap. It has almost become a dirty word, an outdated and primitive theme in many Christian circles. Nowadays Christians equate it with living by rules and dos and don’ts. Many equate it to legalism, salvation by works, or attempting to earn God’s approval from a system of works. But what does the Bible say about true holiness?
First of all, holiness is not salvation. Holiness is not something you pursue in order to obtain salvation; it is something you are set apart for after salvation. It is what true converts pursue and perfect in their new life and walk with God.
Holiness is the likeness of God. It is the total summation of all His attributes. It is to be as Jesus is. He is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person, and so we are to be conformed to His image.
What many Christians fail to realize is that holiness, like a lively flowing stream that cuts through a dense forest, is the theme that runs through all the epistles. It is to be our post-salvation and post-Pentecost life and walk with God. It is what one Pentecostal scholar called “Pentecostal Pedestrianism” or “rule of the road”. It is the walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16) (Rom. 8:13), and the pursuit of God and sanctification that we are to walk in for the rest of our lives, especially as the Lord’s coming draws near (1 Thes. 5:23).
We affirm again that indeed holiness and sanctification are the supreme themes of the apostolic letters to the churches. The emphasis being on the gracious sufficiency of every saint to live a life of victory over the flesh, the world, and the devil in every area of life – whether it be at home with family, at work with employers and employees, or within the church and community. The epistles are full, full, full of such instructions while many churches today are nearly empty of any.
The overall body of teaching in the New Testament epistles implicitly implies that believers who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit still needed to “put off the old man and put on the new man”, “be doers of the Word and not hearers only”, “be diligent to make your calling and election sure”, “contend for the faith”, and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. There was no automatic rule that once they had started well they were certain to go on well and finish well. The very opposite was true – their going on was dependent upon a constant appropriation of sanctifying grace and power through a continually renewed fullness of the Spirit, and faithful obedience to the Word.
It was also the regular care of the ministers of Christ in the early Church to remind and exhort the believers in the various local assemblies to “not receive the grace of God in vain”, to “not be deceived”, “to not drift away”, “to stir one another to love and good works”, and to “be rich in good works”. Even in Christian churches that were throbbing with the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit it was the habit of its ministers to expound on sound doctrine and teach and exhort the saints with all authority on living an exemplary life of holiness lest their testimony spoil their witness.
Beware of those who make light of holiness and water down the necessity of it with greasy grace, lollipop love, and mushy mercy that are void of the spirit of truth.
Our books are forerunners to personal holiness, the move of God, and the return of the Lord. They also combat the departure from the faith and the turning away from the truth we are seeing in our day.
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Thank you, and may God’s richest and best be yours.