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Sunday, March 29, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

That which makes Christianity unique in religious faith is its accent on holiness. God has said for His children to be holy as He is holy.

Further, God has made His Holy Spirit available as the resource by which a damaged mortal can live out the holy life.

In addition, God has provided ample counsel in His eternal Word regarding the practics of the holy witness.

Yet the Christian Church has been remiss in regard to this challenge of the holy life. Why? Chiefly because in our entertainment-crazed era the church has been enamored with its own pleasure.

However, according to the Bible, our chief pleasure as believers is to be about God's pleasure. It is to be whatever makes God happy. Obviously that which makes God most happy is His children being obedient to His moment-by-moment plan. That is, in simple definition, Christian holiness.

In the last several decades much has been made over the Holy Spirit. His name has been evoked for our own protection and pleasure, to bless us, to heal us, to encourage us. All that is fine. But with that emphasis on what God can do for us by way of His Spirit, there is an urgent need to balance out the matter. We need to ask ourselves daily what we can do to evoke indwelling power by which to live the holy life before God.

Of course, with the spiritually fallen human, it is most difficult to achieve balance in anything earthly. Our problem is continually tilting too much in one direction or another.

Once realizing this malady, the earnest believer then corrects the matter by retraining his allegiance. Instead of seeking self-pleasure from the Spirit, one
then seeks service-to-God empowered by the Spirit.

How can I do the work of Jesus today more effectively because of the Spirit's holiness upon my soul?

How can I be kinder and more sympathetic because of the Spirit's indwelling holy presence?

How can I become more humble, more meek and pliable to the Lord's will, because of the Spirit's housing within my spirit?

How can I experience the Spirit's baptism, not for self-anything, but for God-everything?

One can prostitute the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as surely as was sought by some in the Early Church. There were those who wanted the Spirit to further their own agendas. That can occur in any age. But the Spirit will not honor that motive.

Much of today's soft underbelly in the church is due to motives that are carnal while at the same time praying for the Spirit. Such a contradiction cannot stand up before God's eternal throne. God's integrity will not tolerate a tawdry motive that is basically self-centered.

The church will retrieve its Early Church gusto when it cleans its own motive house. That is accomplished when pulpits preach the balanced perspective regarding the Spirit's holiness. That is practiced when the pew puts into operation such a balance.

Whatever happened to "holiness" in the Holy Spirit?

The answer is to be found in motive--intention. The church has tended to "use" the Spirit of God for the church's own earthly purposes instead of the holy life inhabiting every believer.

When holiness returns as the ultimate goal of the believer's prayer, then the Spirit will gladly respond with His agenda--holiness lived out in an evil world. Then believers will become the saltiness God intended. Then believers will shine as heaven's light as God has wished.

Holiness is the chief purpose of our being here in this life. Holiness is the primary desire of the divine in equipping His offspring for gospel good. Then holiness preached and taught should be the continued accent when gathering for worship.