I am committed to seeing proper personal holiness re-established in The lives of ordinary Salvationists and I accept Railton’s definition of holiness:
“I conclude that to be holy is simply to be given up to God, and that man cannot become holy in any other way than by giving himself up, and not only wishing to become, but becoming wholly the Lord’s.” (GSR Christian Mission Magazine May 1873)Carol raises an important point about the heart’s ability to deceive, and says…
"I am delving into "heart matters" at the moment which you can read about on my blog. The Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things. With that in mind I am sure that we can kid ourselves quite easily about the level of our devotion and even really mean it when we say that we give our all. We just don't expect God to take us that seriously or realise how precious something is to us until we are at the point of letting it go. We can then wriggle out of turning our words into action quite easily by comparing ourselves with others."It is certainly difficult to place the ‘consecration’ bit of ‘entire consecration’ into a contemporary setting. What does it mean to surrender all in the 21st century? These are old questions and the debate has rattled on for years. However, there are some pointers we should heed, for example take ‘worldliness’ - in 2000 years of Christianity worldliness was always seen as something that should be avoided but in the last 50 years it has dropped off the radar completely! Was the church wrong? Is morality determined by the attitude of society rather than by the bible?
I recently read the following in Isaiah 1:16-17
“wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”This verse (for me) settles the crisis/process debate once and for all. I can’t stop doing something by degrees – fulfilment of the command ‘stop’ must include actual cessation! Neither can I ‘learn’ instantly. Stopping should be instant (crisis) and learning should be gradual (process). There is so much biblical support for this view one could write a book on it!
The ‘sin’ that Israel was guilty of was largely two-fold, idolatry and a lack of concern for the marginalized – the prophets are full of this stuff.
The problem we have is that our definition (or maybe I should say appreciation) of holiness has been largely shaped around our moral history rather than God’s power . Herbert B. puts it very well – “All the memories of deed gone by, rise within me and thy power deny”. As a result of our inability to be good and because we see no one else being good we think that goodness (this side of the Jordan) is something we should strive for rather than expect to achieve.
Carol is right to mention the unreliable nature of the heart and that is why holiness depends upon God fulfilling his promise in Ezekiel (11:19-20)
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”
However, as with most biblical promises there are conditions attached and in the preceding verses we read…
“And you will know that I am the LORD, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you." (verse 12)
“They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols.” (verse 18)
We are in a catch 22 situation! In order to obey we need a new heart, in order to get a new heart we have to repent, repentance means a practical commitment to obedience… but we will always struggle to obey from out of an old heart. Where do we go from here – I would suggest Romans 8!
- God’s not going to condemn us for trying (verse 1)
- If we fail along the way Jesus has carried the can for us (verses 3-4) ).
- We must yield to the Spirit (verses 9-17).
- We must faithfully obey (the whole chapter!)
With the comfort of knowing that we are allowed to ‘learn to do good’ and with the awareness that we must immediately stop ‘doing wrong’ let’s (in faith) dump everything we know is wrong and consecrate everything that is left as and when we are prompted – once we ask God to define ‘all’ it’s amazing how quickly he starts to demand - in fact in some cases the whole ‘process’ can take place in a moment.
This is an important debate and coming to the proper conclusions will determine how quickly we are allowed to enjoy the revival which we are all so eagerly waiting for!
Yours, set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army. A