Summary: A sermon addressing a few misconceptions of holiness and what it is or isn’t with the aid of theologian, preacher, and founder of The Salvation Army, William Booth. The inroduction is from my personal experience and can be left out if being used in your c
“Holiness is like a diamond. It has many facets”
– Dr. Roger Green at Holiness Ablaze, 2010
Holiness. Holy is defined by Dictionary.com as, “1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred. 2. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy person, and, 3. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose: a holy place. That’s an easy answer to the following question. What is holiness?
I (Matt Stacy) learned a lot about holiness when attending Holiness Ablaze, a Salvation Army conference in Boston, Massachusetts with Holiness as the theme during the second week in January 2009. I traveled there with my class from Railton School for Youth Worker Training which is located on the campus of SFOT where Salvationists are educated in ministry as well to eventually become ordained ministers. While there, we were required to record notes for a reflection paper as part of a graded assignment. This was done for a couple reasons. First we get to practice taking notes and second it keeps us focused on what was being presented at this retreat for Salvationists. It would have been an obligation if what I learned wasn’t so profoundly intriguing, convicting, and insightful. I gained a lot that will, for quite some time, expand and reveal a truer idea of holiness as my life as a Christian continues. Especially now, that I’m on the frontline of the ministry. As I dig deeper into the concept of holiness, should you join me, we will find that holiness might not be what you have always thought it was.. It’s better…
During the weekend my Railton class attended almost a dozen lectures about the idea of holiness including the history of influences such as Samuel L. Brengle, William and Catherine Booth, John Wesley, and others who’s theology and philosophy helped shape the theology and mission of The Salvation Army and it’s views on holiness.
One- What Holiness Isn’t
The second lecture I attended was presented by Dr. Roger Green, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. His presentation described the development of William Booth’s theology on holiness. Dr. Green presented William Booth touching an important point in his preaching of holiness. Above we have asked the question, “What is holiness”. Finding the answer to this question is integral to a life long faith in God, but I also find that it’s important to find out what holiness isn’t. William Booth gives us a good look at some insights and misconceptions about holiness.
First, holiness is not having a heart that can’t be tempted to do evil. We suggest that being holy or sanctified means that you are never sinning or tempted to sin. This simply isn’t true. In actuality holiness isn’t being invincible to the influence of evil. We acknowledge Jesus Christ as the very Son of God and our divine atonement for our sins and He, out of all of us, is the perfect example of holiness. And still we read in the scriptures of the account when Jesus was tempted by Satan in three books of the Bible. It is in written in Matthew 4:1-11,
“1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! or the Scriptures say,‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’ 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.”(NLT Study Bible)
Even Jesus is recorded in Scripture as being tempted, but not once did he question God’s wisdom or decide to sin. Holiness does not require us to worry about being tempted as much as it does for us to be fully obedient and trust God. It is when we submit to temptation that we are hindered from being holy and building a relationship with God. God sees us struggle and he promises in Hebrews 2:8, “18 Since he himself (Christ) has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” (NLT Study Bible) This brings me to my next point.