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 Holiness 101 - Part 3

By Major Barry Corbitt

Southern Spirit columnist

Editor's note: Third in a three-part series

A little legalism now and then is not always a bad thing. I speak, of course, of legalism in terms of self discipline, the cornerstone of holy living. Show me a Christian who lives a disorderly, undisciplined life, and I'll show you someone who struggles daily to maintain a holy lifestyle. God doesn't do it all for us. We too bring something to the table in this relationship of holiness.

It begins with our sincere desire to be pure and Godly, and it grows within the framework of everyday Christian restraint and self control. The practical fact of the matter is that sanctified living requires that we make holy and sometimes sacrificial choices. God calls us to task for our behavior and has, despite what present-day mores reflect, defined a higher standard for his children. As societal conditions change, the worldly standard morphs to keep up with the times. Meanwhile, the Godly standard remains fixed through time and beyond. It is more than a lofty ideal. It is indeed the criterion for Christian morality. The modern church is reluctant to return to such basic principles and finds itself at a difficult crossroads. In the days ahead we will be hard-pressed to find a congregation willing to hear and apply the mandate of the straight and narrow.

But to walk the path, we must ask the obvious question: How do I live a holy life? First of all, we change our perspective. Too often, we think of obedience in terms of rules and regulations - a type of entrapment that squelches our right to exercise free will. Actually, it is God's intent to give us total freedom within the liberty of his regenerative salvation through Christ. While we were once dead in our sin and enslaved by the same, his sacrifice conquered the power that sin held over us and has opened our eyes to what true freedom is. It is time to embrace the paradox and stop living within the futility of our slavery condition. The Holy Spirit wants to take away our desire to sin. Are we willing to commit to the change?

The commitment takes discipline. Yes, we're back to that word again. It may require that we change habits, lifestyle, schedule, goals, ambitions and relationships. So be it. The soul that lives to please God allows nothing to impede or stand in the way of holiness.

The Psalmist reminds us that "all of our fountains and springs of hope are found in him and him alone." I hope I didn't lose you there. Such language does sound a bit archaic by today's liberal vernacular, but holiness sometimes requires the hard-line reminder that the redeemed child of God takes every step in consultation with the Spirit.

Let me be clear. Conditioned behavior does not make us holy. If it did, the law of Moses would have been enough. But the Christian who is owned and controlled by the Spirit conditions his behavior to conform to purity. If my behavior is in conflict with the sinless nature of Christ, I am not holy. Holiness seeks and finds conformity with God's perfect nature. Any lesser appetite will never be satisfied, content to scrounge for crumbs and morsels.

I'm thankful for the time we've spent together this summer discussing the subject of holiness. We have but skimmed the surface of the matter with many fathoms of depth yet to explore, but it's a beginning. Perhaps your interests have been stirred and you will delve deeper into the pages of God's word for true insight. Whatever direction you choose, please remember this - God's intent is that we share in his nature and that our hearts overflow with His presence. When we commit to that end, we will know the miracle of holiness.


Blind since birth, 12-year-old boy receives spiritual sight


By Major Frank Duracher

Southern Spirit staff

Joseph Villarreal has been blind since birth, the result of optic-nerve hyperplasia.

Joseph, 12, lives with his family at the Hope Center in San Antonio. He has enjoyed attending the Center of Hope Corps and recently asked for a Braille Bible.

While Salvation Army staff members worked on the request, Joseph attended summer camp at the Texas Division's Camp Hoblitzelle. He is most proud of winning a special prize for archery, with the help of a camp worker who helped him shoot. Joseph hit the target and said he will never forget his experience.

When Joseph got home from camp, his Braille Bible was waiting for him. Joseph keeps it at his side whenever he goes to corps activities.

"I want to follow along in my Bible whenever Scripture is read in church," Joseph said.

Joseph, Julia, Vincent and Isabelle Villarreal, with their mother, Julie Zupec, have been living at the Hope Center for two months. Her husband (not pictured) is now working and the family will be moving into an apartment soon.




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