Holiness 101 - Part 3
Southern Spirit columnist
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
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
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
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