The call to holiness is always lingering in my heart. God is holy. If He is in us and we are His Temple, holiness must be implied. One of the main reasons God led me to write "The Crossroads: Asking for the Ancient Paths" was to encourage the church to return to holiness of life; not by definitions of our own, but by the power and presence of God indwelling the believer. Today, I'm posting an excerpt from the chapter on "Holiness." If you like this excerpt, the book can be purchased right here on this website. Just CLICK HERE. God bless you.
Pastor Brett Heintzman
The death that comes before death.
When Jesus looks at us He sees something worth dying for.
When we look at Jesus, do we see something worth dying for?
Do the scriptures support this idea of “death to self?” Yes, indeed they do. Consider the following passages:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" (Matthew 19:27)
Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." (Genesis 22:2)
Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 21:13)
The inner rebellion will either prevail or suffer defeat at the crossroads of self and surrender. Those who choose surrender over self die in advance of their death. Paul was able to say he was “crucified with Christ” because he chose surrender over self. Peter acknowledged that he had left everything to follow Jesus because surrender won out over self. Abraham took Isaac and fully intended to sacrifice him because he was on the path of surrender. Paul verified his surrender when he said, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 21:13) Even though it took me a long time to arrive at the place of death in my own life, God proved this truth of entire sanctification to me in two ways. First, through the scriptures, so I could know about sanctification in my mind, and then through my personal experience as I surrendered all to Him and subjected my will to His.
For the longest time, I never understood what must go through the mind of someone who is martyred for the sake of Christ. I can recall youth group meetings as a teenager where a mock-hijacking would occur and people would storm into the room demanding that we renounce our faith in Christ or die. We were all familiar with the drill. We knew the correct answer, but it was a set-up, not real life. But what if our lives were threatened simply because we knew Jesus? I believe that no human is capable of the martyr’s response without first dying in advance of their physical death.
Dead to the world and alive in Christ. Dead to self and surrendered to God’s will and ways. That is the essence of holiness, and holiness is needed now more than ever.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
It is this amazing combination of inner devotion and death, alongside the outward supporting evidence, all done through the power and inner working of the Holy Spirit, that produces holiness in unholy flesh. Is this possible? Is it possible to be “entirely sanctified?” Based on the biblical accounts and the power of God, I will answer with a confident “Yes.” Will I roam this earth telling anyone who will listen that I am entirely sanctified? I will refuse to use those words. Rather, I’ll allow my inner devotion to remain dead to self before my God, and allow Him to be alive in every outward deed of my life to do the speaking. And, should anyone see holiness in me, may all the glory, honor and praise go to God the Father, who gave us Jesus, His Son, and sent the powerful Holy Spirit.
A Church without holiness?Is it possible to have a church without holiness? Perhaps if we are studying literal definitions of the word church, we would have to say “no.” Perhaps the question should be rephrased. Is it possible for a group of people to claim to be a church and do churchy things without holiness? Yes, absolutely! When a person or group of people claims to be part of a holy church and has neither the inner devotion and death, nor the outward fruit, the damage that is caused is beyond troubling.
In the year 1879, author J.C. Ryle penned these words: “Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless — if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt.”
Verbal, Christian professions of faith which are not supported and evidenced by holy living do “positive harm.” This statement is beyond true. This statement speaks to the foundational truth behind every comment ever uttered claiming the church is full of hypocrites. Wherever our actions do not align perfectly with our words we become hypocrites. When we speak of holiness and our lives do not show the inward devotion or outward evidence of the Spirit’s presence, we are agents of “positive harm.” For this reason, holiness of life, surrender to Christ, continual growth in knowledge and grace, and an urgency from the pulpit to align our actions with our words is, vital.
The one and only thing keeping any church from a life of holiness is the failure of the pastor to die to self.
 Booth, William ; Wesley, John ; Bonar, Horatius; Ryle, J. C. ; Brengle, Samuel; Taylor, Jeremy; Law, William (2012-02-27). Top 7 Classics on Holiness: Purity of Heart, Heart Talks on Holiness, Holiness, God's Way of Holiness, Christian Perfection, Serious Call, Holy Living (Top Christian Classics) (Kindle Locations 2465-2467). . Kindle Edition.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.