About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Attaining Holiness  


I was raised in the Methodist tradition.  John Wesley is considered to be the founding father of the Methodist Movement.  He was instrumental in bringing many changes to both the church and culture during the period of time known as the First Great Awakening that spread throughout England and North America.  One area of change Wesley's teaching brought to the church was a whole-hearted dedication to live a holy life.  This gave birth to what has been called the Holiness Movement, from which many of today's Evangelical denominations are rooted.  Although I do not embrace the Methodist doctrine of Entire Sanctification, I do embrace the Biblical mandate for Christians to mature into holy living.


How one attains to a life of holiness has been the subject of debates for years.  Methodists in the past, at least in my opinion, have strived for holiness through legalistic means.  Obedience to rules and church traditions were equated with holiness, something the Apostle Paul might have called "another gospel," a term he coined in Galatians 1:7.  He called such attempts at holiness human effort in Galatians 3:3.  "Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal through human effort?"  Biblically speaking, attempts at holiness apart from the Holy Spirit's involvement in your life are humanistic and do nothing in the pursuit of a holy life.  The Holy Spirit is not only instrumental in getting us saved, He is instrumental in working our salvation out into a life of holiness.      


The Apostle Peter tells us how holiness is achieved in our lives.  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3).  Peter makes it clear.  Once knowing our Lord Jesus Christ we have the power within us to live a godly life.  The Greek word "dynamis" is translated as "power" in this verse.  We derive our English words "dynamite" and "dynamic" from this Greek word, and for good reason.  If, therefore, you have the Spirit of God living within you, you have the divine dynamic ability to empower you to live a life of holiness.


Peter goes on to say this.  "Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4).  According to Peter, a disciple of Jesus participates in the divine nature.  We share, through the Spirit of God, the essence of who God is.  Think about this.  We, as born again believers, have the divine nature residing within us that enables us to escape the corruption of the world.  It is the participation in this divine nature that causes us to be totally set apart for Jesus, resulting in living a godly life. 


The Apostle Paul concurs with Peter on this issue.  "If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).  As born again believers, we are not who we once were.  We have been transformed by the divine essence of God living within us.  We are a distinct creation among God's creation.  As a man is distinctly different from a woman, so a Christian is distinctly different from a non-Christian.  We have no excuse.  Submission to this divine nature produces a life of holiness. 


In my early years of Methodism we spent many Sunday evenings at an altar of prayer in an attempt to be entirely sanctified, entirely set aside for Jesus in a life of holy living.  We expected an instantaneous miracle that would produce this holy life.  It was called Entire Sanctification.  Little did I understand back then that the dynamic power to living the holy life I was seeking was already resident within me, and is in you as well, assuming the Spirit of God lives in your mortal body.  Many of us have underestimated the divine power within us long enough.  Let us be those who allow the very nature of God within to reconstruct our lives into a life of holiness. 

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