“Holiness!” That word makes most of us squirm a bit, doesn’t it? It really shouldn’t. It turns out that Holiness is actually a favorite topic of mine— not because I have grown up in the Church of the Nazarene and it’s not because I just wrapped up a class on John Wesley’s Theology. I love the preaching and teaching of Holiness because I believe it is truth.
I believe with all of my heart Jesus made it possible to live a life above sin. Through His work on the Cross, Jesus made a way for us to be cleansed and that is a big deal. It is a big deal because sin hurts. Sin destroys. Sin confuses. Sin wrecks. Sin steals. Sin distorts. Sin perverts. Sin kills. Sin wreaks havoc. All too often I’ve heard Christians excuse their immoral- on-going- sinful-life-style by saying, “I’m not perfect.” But you know—I absolutely hate what sin has done to me, the people I love and to the whole beautiful world God created. Praise Jesus…we do not have to live in bondage to it. There is a better way to live!
Titus 2:11-14 is a great passage that teaches us about living a life of holiness for the here and now: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is He who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds.”
There are a lot of passages on holiness, but good grief- the one above is awesome! Take a look at a few highlights: First, notice the word grace. You know what it means: Unmerited Favor. We’ve heard it a million times. Grace is defined by Paul Zahl as “Unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.” So… the GRACE of God has appeared to bring salvation to all and then what? To TRAIN us to RENOUNCE IMPIETY snd WORLDY PASSIONS. God has given us the means to bring about change to our PRESENT lives! This grace is given for us to live lives that are SELF CONTROLLED, UPRIGHT and GODLY— right now while we wait for the end to come.
Since grace is unmerited and is available… what’s the problem, then? Obstacles. Obstacles to grace are anything that keeps us from enjoying a relationship with Christ: Idols. Disobedience. Pride. Unforgiveness. Resistance. The list could go on, but there are obstacles in our hearts keeping us from receiving an outpouring of grace.
What should we do? It is simple, but yet it is not. Surrender. That is the only way to remove the obstacles to receiving God’s grace. I sang a hymn upon request for a funeral a long time ago called “Nothing Between My Soul and My Savior.” Take a look:
Nothing Between my soul and the Savior
Naught of this world’s delusive dream
I have renounced all sinful pleasure
Jesus is mine there’s nothing between
Nothing between my soul and the Savior
So that His blessed face may be seen
Nothing preventing the least of His favor
Keep the way clear, let nothing between
Nothing between like worlds pleasure
Habits of life though harmless then seem
Must not my heart from Him e’er sever
He is my all there’s nothing between
Nothing between like pride or station
Self-life or friends shall not intervene
Thou it may cost me much tribulation
I am resolved there’s nothing between
Nothing between even many hard trials
Though the whole world against me convene
Watching with prayer and much self-denial
I’ll triumph at last with nothing between
(Charles Albert Tinley)
The key to being holy is to remove everything between our soul and the Savior. When we remove obstacles, then ask the Holy Spirit to pour His grace… upon grace… upon grace into our lives…He will. He will baptize us with the Spirit, cleansing us with grace. What happens next is pretty cool. We will become a person ZEALOUS to do good deeds.
We will stay on the right path if we ask the Holy Spirit every single day if there is anything in the way between us and Him. Whatever He reveals, we need to surrender immediately and stay on the Highway of Holiness. There is nothing the world could ever offer to compare to the riches of His grace.
I don’t know about you…but I surrender all! I don’t want a single thing between my soul and the Savior! I am just at a place in my life that if it means I walk the Highway alone, so be it. If I get made fun of…okay. It’s just that I have tased and seen that the Lord is really good. I am learning if there is something between me and my Savior, I am forfeiting a life of holiness. Incidentally—John Wesley would say holiness is linked to happiness, and I believe he was right!