By Doug Beacham
Holiness is at the core of our relationship with God. Psalm 96:9 says: “Oh worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth” (NKJV).
The IPHC has chosen to focus this year on “The Beauty of Holiness.” From Scripture we discover God’s holiness, how God makes us holy, what it means for us to be holy and how holy people share God’s love in this world.
The IPHC was birthed in 1898 as part of a holiness revival that swept the world. That revival emphasized God’s holiness and His command and provision—because He provides the ability for us to “be holy, as I (God) am holy” (see Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 1 Peter 1:16).
That emphasis included the command that we personally live holy lives reflecting the character of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:22; 3:12; 1 Thessalonians
4:3, 4; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:15). It also included the command that the church, the Body of Christ in the world, live holy as a light to the nations (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2, 21; 26:19; 28:9; 1 Peter 1:16).
Our movement was birthed in the Wesleyan holiness perspective of Christian theology. John Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, as well as the insights from those who followed him, is how we have historically viewed holiness in the Scriptures.
Wesleyan holiness provides us with a two-fold work of grace through Christ’s redeeming blood. First, in pardon of sin, the guilt we carry for our actual sins are forgiven through Christ. We receive this gift of pardon and justification by faith. We do not earn forgiveness of sins; rather we receive by faith what Christ as provided for us in His death and resurrection.
Second, though we are forgiven of our actual past sins, there often remains a war between our new birth nature and our carnal, fallen nature. IPHC theologians have consistently interpreted Romans 7 as the Apostle Paul’s description of the believer’s struggle in the flesh following conversion. Victory over our fallen nature comes as we fully surrender our will, thoughts, and desires to Christ, and receive by faith the gift of sanctification provided in Jesus Christ (Romans 6–8).
This is how we experience deliverance from the bondage of sin and its addictions that so easily ensnare us (Hebrews 12:1). This is the hope and joy of our present life: Though we experience temptations of varying degrees that seek to have dominion over us, Christ has provided the way for us to resist sinful dominion and live under His righteous and holy dominion (Romans 6:11–22).
The IPHC Articles of Faith 9 and 10 state our position on sanctification. The phrase, “second definite, instantaneous work of grace,” refers to God’s grace in Christ that brings victory over our carnal nature. While this can occur at pardon and justification, it often occurs later in our walk with Christ, subsequent to regeneration. Sanctification is God’s provision for dealing with our carnal nature through Christ purifying our minds, hearts, will, and bodies.
Sanctification is definite and instantaneous. This refers to a spiritual awareness in time when we surrender fully to Christ. As N.J. Holmes wrote in his book God’s Provision for Holiness in 1902: “The crucifixion (of our flesh) will not take long when we are ready to submit to it. It may take us some time to get ready for the cross.”
It is important that we be clear about the meaning of the phrase “work of grace.” It is not about our work; it is about the work of Christ. We surrender—God sanctifies! We receive sanctification the same way we receive pardon and justification, by faith in Christ’s work in our behalf.
This is why the holy life is about joy, peace, love and hope in Christ. It is not about legalism, judgmental attitudes, spiritual defeat and hopelessness. This is why the IPHC identified “The Beauty of Holiness” a core value and focus. This phrase, the beauty of holiness, occurs in 1 Chronicles 16:29; 2 Chronicles 20:21; Psalm 29:2; and Psalm 96:9. It describes the glory, honor and adornment of the Lord. Throughout this year and beyond, insights from these passages, as well as from the totality of Scripture, will help us on this journey with our holy God.
I am convinced that our witness to Jesus Christ must be rooted in holy living. I mean this in two ways. First, the beauty of holiness invites us to exhibit holiness as the body of Christ, the church, living holy in the world. While holiness and sanctification denotes separation from the world, it is not isolation from the world.
Our separation unto Christ as His body, prepares us to live the midst of this confused, hurting and hell-bent world. As a movement, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will birth in us a corporate sense of holiness, which speaks to every aspect of our witness in the world.
Second, holiness needs to be viewed as a significant element in evangelism. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:14 speaks of the power of a believing spouse to sanctify an entire family. In the most intimate of human relationships, marriage and children, holiness is greater than unbelief! I believe this is true across the social needs of our world.
The beauty of holiness is greater than immorality, greater than injustice, greater than human trafficking. It is greater than hunger, racism and greed. The beauty of holiness is greater than any corruption of sin. In the light of that beauty, the corruption that is in the world is seen for the devastation it is, and this beauty draws people to Christ. May the body of Jesus Christ arise with joyful and life-giving holiness as a witness to this dying world!
This article was published in the January 2016 issue of Encourage.