Summary: a look at the experience of entire sanctification and the state of holiness
“Second Hand Holiness”
October 20, 2019
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
Nothing caused Wesley so much trouble and controversy as his teaching about Christian Perfection. And yet he maintained this teaching throughout his entire life. He even considered it to be the “Grand Depositum” or the key purpose to the people called Methodists. This phenomenon he yearned for had some different names: Christian Perfection, Sanctification, Holiness or Perfect Love. Although he always kept “Christian Perfection” as the proper name, he seems himself to have preferred “Perfect Love”.
The main difficulty with Perfection is its kinship with the Latin
‘perfectus’ with its meaning of something static, something achieved. The Biblical
references use instead the Greek word ‘teleios’ with its connotation of goal, or something to press forward to. Paul expressed this idea when he said,
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:12-16
The idea today when we hear the word “perfection” is more related to the Latin – meaning something achieved. “We did it! We are without sin or flaw!” Of course anyone who has that understanding of perfection would criticize those of us who believe in “Christian perfection”. No one is perfect in word, thought or deed – if perfection is defined as having the same will as God. Not even Jesus was perfect if that is your definition, for He prayed
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
Obviously Jesus’ will was different than the Father’s – but He did not sin because He did not do His will – but the Father’s will. He did not rebel and therefore His heart was perfect before God the Father. His goal was to please the Father; to walk in obedience to Him – therefore He walked in holiness and perfection.
Let us take another look at the Scripture I read previously from a modern translation – only now let’s read it from the King James Version.
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” Philippians 3:12-16
Notice instead of ‘perfect’ the newer translation uses “have already arrived at my goal” and mature. The change is because of our use and understanding of the word ‘perfect’ today. Our modern day connotation is more in line with the Latin rather than the Greek. This has caused a lot of confusion concerning this doctrine. Biblical holiness is a state of purity of heart rather than a purity of action. The Bible says,
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2