His Without Reserve
Teaching Holiness

Holiness: My Personal Discovery

          My spiritual journey began when I was about 12. My father gave me Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps. It’s the story of what occurred in a congregation when the pastor challenged the members to ask, when they faced a problem, “What would Jesus do?” I took that penetrating question to heart, and all through my life I have heard its echo.

          About the same time, while listening to a vespers speaker at the college where my father taught, I was struck by the challenge of a text he read: “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4, 5).

          Throughout the years that have followed, the positive influence of these two experiences of the heart served as divinely designed restraints that have held me back from nurturing sin in my heart. I had no idea that when I conformed to the principles learned in childhood, I was on the highway of holiness.

          Many years passed in good Christian fashion before I stumbled across “holy” in a very significant context: eternal life. I read: “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Then “holy” showed up again in another very significant context: an order from the Lord: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44).

          My reaction was a mixture of denial and perplexity. If being holy meant what I thought it meant, I faced a spiritual dilemma: (a) these scriptures are a mistake, or (b) I need to learn what holiness really is.

          I asked myself several leading questions and searched for answers. I had heard that there are several conflicting views about Christian holiness, so in my research I did not check into what other writers had written. I limited myself to the Bible and Bible-study tools.

          I soon discovered that Bible writers considered holiness very important. It was important for the Children of Israel, and, according to Peter, it was important for the early Christians. Moses relayed this message from the Lord to the Israelites: “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). Peter quoted Leviticus when he wrote: “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Naturally, I had to find out whether holiness is important for us today.
          Other questions soon followed:
                    If God is holy, how could I a sinner be holy?
                    Why are we called to holiness?
                    Does my holiness benefit me? Does it glorify God?
          I had heard that for some Christians “holy” had taken on the connotation of “perfect” or “sinless.” I wondered about that. Then when I discovered the correct meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words translated “holy,” I was greatly relieved.

          As I researched concordances, Bible dictionaries, Bible commentaries, and my Greek lexicon, two principal meanings became apparent: (1) set apart from the common for God’s special use (consecrated), and (2) growing morally so as to reflect the character of Christ.

          Could it be, I wondered, that the doctrine of holiness (sanctification) should be the daily guiding principle for every Christian?

          Remembering that each of us is made up of the intellectual, the physical, the spiritual, and the social, I realized that the attitude of holiness resides in the inner self, in that secret sanctuary where our conscience functions and where we make our moral decisions, the place we often call the “heart.” Here we are invited to choose to answer “Yes” when God asks: “Will you turn your thoughts and your life over to Me without reservation? Will you surrender yourself, accepting My will for you every day?”

          Since those days of praying, learning, and opening my inner self fully to the abiding Christ, I have been journeying with Him in inexpressible joy.

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