Why Should We Pursue Holiness?
Titus 2:14; Daniel 12:10; I John 4:20; I Timothy 6:6
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT (Written by Rick Raymer, Major)
Before Brenda and I went to officer' training, then–Cadets Sam and Nancy Henry (now retired as lieutenant colonels), gave us a set of books by Samuel Logan Brengle, the Salvation Army’s “apostle of holiness.” I didn’t read them until we were in training. In these books, Brengle talked about living a life of holiness with a clean heart. He referred to this as the “second blessing.”
Brengle wasn’t the first to use the term second blessing. I can’t be precise as to its origin, but I do know that it at least goes back to the 1700s and to John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church.
For some people, including Brengle, holiness is a complete infilling of the Holy Spirit that happens all at once.
“My sanctification was a DISTINCT second work of the Holy Spirit,” says Major Carlyle Gargis, active officer presently serving as Area Commander and Corps Officer of the Ft. Myers community. “I did not evolve into it, and it was done completely by the Holy Spirit. My holiness experience changed me through and through instantaneously, and the addictions that held me were broken.”
For others, holiness is a progressive work of grace. For me, attaining holiness was not a one–time, on–the–spot thing. Although I had sought it sincerely on that Sunday morning in Albany, I did not actually obtain it that day. For several years I played what seemed like a game of lost and found. So, for me, it was a long process of being purified. To me, the second blessing is the special joy and peace that comes from turning the corner on holy living and recognizing that the more one forsakes evil and chooses righteous living, the more one experiences a deeper relationship with Jesus, the rewards of which remove the desire for returning to the old way of living in favor of the holiness of God.
That’s what the pursuit of holiness is all about—being purged of our unholy ways and our sinful habits and being made progressively pure for the work God has planned for us in His kingdom.
The Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to his fellow worker, Titus, that Jesus “… gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14 (ESV)
Daniel wrote of the same thing, recording the words of an angel who told him, “Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:10 (ESV)
Warnings and Corrections
The Lord guides us to holiness through His Spirit within us by warning us of sin’s danger and by shaping events in our lives to get our attention when we’re off course.If our lives are not running smoothly or if our hearts are unsettled, we should consider whether Jesus is alerting us about something we need to correct. Think of it as driving on a highway that has grooved pavement on the shoulders to warn you when you are about to drift over where it’s unsafe. When we sense the “grooved pavement” in our everyday lives,
it’s time to pay attention.
It’s no wonder it took me multiple tries to consistently live a life of holiness. As humans, we’re conditioned to follow the bumpy course everyone else is on. I was brainwashed from childhood to the ways of this world. Those ways kept luring me back to the mire again and again. It takes some time to rip away this world’s tightly wound vines that wrap themselves around and around our souls and restrict us to a way of life and a set of values that cannot stand. Those vines can choke off our access to eternal life.
Can I be ‘perfect’?
The important thing for me is that I eventually claimed holiness. That’s not for me alone; you can claim it too. But you may not be able to see yourself as being holy. You might hear words like “holiness” and “sanctification” and think that such a state is completely unobtainable for you as an ordinary human. You might see others as holy but find it hard to envision the word applying to yourself. The word “holy” might call to mind the idea of being “perfect.”
In his Sermon 40, written in 1739, John Wesley wrote,
“There is scarce any expression in Holy Writ which has given more offense than this. The word perfect is what many cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them. And whosoever preaches perfection (as the phrase is,) that is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican.”
Rather than think we must be perfect all at once, you and I must shed the things in our lives that do not pertain to God because when we do, I believe we will experience holiness.
It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. We start with the big sins on the outside, peeling them away first. Then we discover that under the outer, most obvious layer, there’s another that needs to be peeled away. The more we peel, the more layers we find, so we work at peeling them away too. As we continue peeling, we notice that our lives are taking on more and more peace and tranquility as we become more and more like Jesus. But after we peel away the onion’s layers and get to the core, we discover that the onion is still an onion. At our core, we are still humans. Even though we are saved by the precious blood of Jesus, we will always face temptation and testing of the humanness that is our essence.
The ‘onion’ of self–centeredness
We must deal with the fact that at our very core, at the root of all the sins we’ve worked to peel away, is our human propensity for self–centeredness. The undesirable behaviors that continue to manifest themselves in our lives are simply an outgrowth of our desire to exalt ourselves and to put our own wants and needs ahead of those of others. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But so often we’re prone to forget about God and forget about our neighbor in favor of remembering what we want.
John wrote, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” I John 4:20 (NLT)
Why should you and I pursue holiness because without it, we can’t see the Lord, and I believe we will not be able to see clearly what it is God wants to do in our lives for His Kingdom.
The greatest benefit of living holy is the joy of having a clear conscience before God. True peace and contentment can come no other way. Paul wrote of this to his fellow worker, Timothy, saying, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6 (NIV)
(Today's devotional comes from the book "Living Holiness Out Loud in The 21st Century" by Major Rick Raymer. ( If interested, this book can be purchased through Trade South.)
OUR CORPORATE PRAYER
Father, thank You for being a loving God who so wants to impart Your character upon Your Children as we seek to be better equipped to serve You in the places You plant us. May all who see us see the God of all creation as we live out loud Holiness each and every day. This we pray in the name of our Holy God, Jesus Christ, amen.
OUR WORLDWIDE PRAYER MEETING FOR APRIL 27, 2023 - ANGOLA TERRITORY
REACHING OUT TO OTHERS
Take time this week to pursue Holiness for yourself. Seek this second blessing that God so wants to give you, and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in your life. As you walk in Holiness, in His Spirit daily, people will see the love of Christ in you and be drawn to the Master.
"Holy is the way God is. To be holy, he does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because he is holy, all his attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy."