Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness

It can be quite easy to simply nod our heads when a topic such as holiness comes around.  We might nod our heads and deep down we really don’t understand much of it at all, we just don’t want anyone else to know.
I understand that, and I’ve been there.  Today on Pastorsponderings I want to delve into the topic Holiness AND be as simplistic as possible.

These are 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness:
1.  What is Holiness? 
Wesley taught that genuine faith produces inward and outward holiness. The regenerative process inwardly cannot help but find expression in an improved moral character outwardly. The doctrine of holiness is grounded in the command to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 19:2 and other Old Testament loci). Jesus commanded, “Be perfect therefore as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Jesus also taught that true Christian discipleship requires loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving neighbor as self (Mt. 22:34-40).” (Asbury University/Wesleyan-Holiness Theology – source: Wesleyan Holiness Theology)

We become saved, we perhaps kneel at the mercy seat and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.   What then takes place is the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence within your life.  We receive this “second blessing” – as He indwells among us.  With the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we are then forced to confront the “old self” still remaining within our lives.   I know of individuals who, at the moment of salvation, seemed to be completely changed.  I also know other individuals (myself included) who, at the moment of salvation, still struggled with the old life and with temptation.

Just because we have this passion and desire to become like the Christ doesn’t always mean it will happen over night, in fact, in my experience it is both a crisis and a process.  Holiness begins on our knees accepting Christ into our lives, and it progresses so that we become less and He becomes more day by day, minute by minute.

purify2.  What is Entire Sanctification?  
The Bible often speaks of sanctification, which basically means the total, lifelong process of becoming holy.  Because the process begins with the new birth (salvation), we call the spiritual growth immediately following regeneration “initial sanctification.”  That is, we begin walking God’s way.  The fruit of the Spirit in our lives becomes evidence that a change has taken place…Entire Sanctification is God’s gift.  We do not earn or deserve it any more than we earned or deserved regeneration.  We consecrate; God sanctifies.”  (Frank Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 68)

Is entire sanctification possible?  You bet it is!
Many will struggle with this concept because we can become so tied up in the notion of perfection.  Entire Sanctification doesn’t mean “Human Perfection”, it means that we have surrendered fully and we have died completely to the old self and have begun to completely live for Christ in every facet and in every way.  John Wesley even addressed the debate about whether or not”ES” was a process or an instantaneous second work of grace.  His answer?  “Yes“.   It is both a crisis and a process.  From my experience the Holy Spirit still have much to teach me in regards to this faith.  I am not completely like Christ yet…but I desire to be.  This crisis and process has to first be an individual holiness before it can be a corporate holiness.

The difference between our spiritual progress before and after Entire Sanctification centers on the removal of the hindrance of self-sovereignty” (Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 69)

bible3.  Renew, Refresh, Restart!
How do we renew?  How do we maintain this “Holiness” in our lives when there are so many distractions all around?

Samuel Logan Brengle describes the need to study and diligence –
If you want to hold the truth fast and not let it slip, you must read and read and re-read the Bible.  You must constantly refresh your mind with its truths, just as the diligent student constantly refreshes his mind by reviewing his textbooks, just as the lawyer who wishes to succeed constantly studies his law books, or the doctor his medical works.  John Wesley, in his old age, after having read and re-read the Bible all his life, said of himself; ‘I am homo unius libri’ – a man of one book.  The truth will surely slip, if you do not refresh your mind by constantly reading and meditating in the Bible.” (Brengle, Helps to Holiness p. 74)

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always understand these theological terms.
Be a faithful soldier of Christ.  Read the Bible.  Study.  Be mindful that life was never guaranteed to be easy post salvation and the second blessing.  Remember that there is more for us to learn, more room for us to grow.  Renew daily in Him.  Find a prayer closet, make it a discipline in your life.  Be aware of the distractions of life and perhaps fast from those distractions from time to time.  If He is to become more and you are to become less, then you must become disciplined in this path.

Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.” -Brother Lawrence, The practice of the presence of God

Wrapping It Up: 

In concert with Phil Laeger

Where are you in your faith journey?
Is Holiness important to you?
How determined are we to sacrifice self-sovereignty and take on the mantle of selflessness?
Are we committed to Entire Sanctification?
Is Christ-likeness truly our goal and passion in our lives?

Dear Soldier,
We are a Holiness Movement, we don’t wear this simply as a badge of honor, it should propel in all we are and all we do.  How is your faith journey today?

Something more for our Army to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Re-read this week’s conversation on Holiness here by clicking on the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace
Unpopular Holiness

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army – What Do You Know About Unpopular Holiness?

Dear Salvation Army,
It might feel good to hear the acclaims of the public, to receive accolades for the work that we do…these are certainly affirming to us…but we aren’t in the business of helping people for the purpose of accolades are we?

We didn’t sign up to wear uncomfortable uniforms for the purpose of basking in the limelight did we?
No, the purpose for our movement is MORE than just helping people!
We ARE STILL a Holiness movement!  Let us never forget this truth, may it never get muddied in our various pursuits to “do the most good” in our communities.

Holiness is not an easy road for followers of Christ.

In concert with Phil Laeger
In concert with Phil Laeger
It is not the popular route.  Why?  Because it actually demands more from Christ’s followers.  It requires each of us to ACTUALLY face our sins, our hidden sins, our indiscretions, those things which embarrass us and cause us great shame.  It demands that we not only look at them but we allow the Holy Spirit to cast his glorious light upon them.  When we have given up fighting the Holy Spirit and have finally surrendered to His pleas, (perhaps there are those of you who relinquished right away, and of that I am envious) He then can begin this new work, this revitalizing-restoring creation within us.  Entire Sanctification is very real – but it will undoubtedly be the most unpopular thing an Officer or Soldier could ever preach.

Why so unpopular?  
Because it is not simple.  It is hard.  There is sacrifice, and in the Western Church, sacrifice is not something many are willing to really fully commit to in a long-term capacity.  We live in a hedonistic culture, even in Church,  and dare I say that Holiness will always be in conflict with such a lifestyle.

Samuel Logan Brengle in his book “Helps to Holiness” puts it this way – “Dear brother, do not think you can make holiness  popular.  It cannot be done.   There is no such thing as holiness separate from ‘Christ in you,’ and it is an impossibility to make Christ Jesus popular in this world.  To sinners and carnal professors, the real Christ Jesus has always been and always will be ‘as a root out of a dry ground, despised and rejected of men.’ ‘Christ in you’ is the ‘same yesterday, to-day, and forever’ – hated, reviled, persecuted, crucified…He (Christ) will pronounce the most terrible, yet tearful, maledictions against the hypocritical formalist and the lukewarm professor who are the friends of the world and, consequently, the enemies of God…Do you not see the impossibility of making such a radical Gospel as this popular?  This spirit and the spirit of the world are as fully opposed to each other as two locomotives on the same track running toward each at the same rate of sixty miles an hour.  Fire and water will consort together as quickly as the ‘Christ in you’ and the spirit of the world.” (pg. 92, 93, 96)

Questions to Ponder today: 
Can we accept such an Unpopular Holiness?
Are we up to the challenge?
Are we afraid of this world’s ridicule and shame?
Which “spirit” will we select tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that?

Dear Salvation Army – We cannot separate the need for entire sanctification from what we do in our soup kitchens, social services offices or on the gym floor.  There should never be a distinction between what we do on Sundays from what we do the rest of the week.  The entire thrust of what “we do” is to bring people to Christ for the purpose of entire sanctification – through and through.

unpopularThis will be unpopular.
Many people, even soldiers will reject such a call…it’s too radical, it’s too much work, it requires too much study, patience and sacrifice…but isn’t that the purpose of becoming a true disciple of Christ – so that we become like Him in every way?!   Some are far too comfortable just coming to church on Sundays.  Some are happy with this familiar routine in life.  They don’t want to be shaken to the core.  They don’t want to be disrupted.  Some have stopped learning about Christ all together – internally they have become lazy in their studies of the Bible, they have thought in their minds “no one can teach me any more, because I already know everything there is to know about God and the Bible.”  -This is entirely far from the truth…I am ashamed to have even considered this phrase to be true in my own heart sometimes, yet God brings this spirit of conviction in me.  Dear soldiers, we need to humble ourselves once again.  We need to fall on our faces and repent.  We need to allow His Holy Spirit to renew us once more…and to allow Him to complete His work in us.

Some may cast this pondering aside today, because it will certainly be unpopular.
But I want to call us back to the Altar.  I want us to recognize the work we have left unfinished in our hearts.  We cannot go any further in our mission if we do not first stop here and ensure our hearts, our lives are completely His once more.  I know there is still work to be done in me…how about you?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today, to God be the glory!

To read more on this week’s topic of Holiness click the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army – Let’s Talk About Sin & Holiness…

I do not wish to meddle in your life, my life has its own problems, but I wanted to touch upon an important topic that I believe we pass on all too often – sin

It’s not easy to truly confront this head on…and mean it.
We all talk a good game, but when it comes to the follow-through, I think most of us fail.
I’m really not here to beat you up today, I just want to peel back the veneer that we have erected around this topic.  I want to expose this wound and bring it out into the light.  It won’t be comfortable, but it is necessary.
I believe that we as an Army aren’t progressing forward as we once were because we are too invested in our communities to confront sin as we once did.

If we don’t hold the standard high (with grace infused) we become more than bystanders, we become accessories to sin.  I don’t say this lightly, because I have work to be done in my life with this as well.  I merely want to poke at this festering wound so that perhaps it might heal if we expose it to the right kind of healing.

For the devoted Soldier: soldiers
What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  (Romans 6:1-4)

Jesus has given us victory over sin, so why is it that sometimes we act like we’re still stuck in it?  Could it be that we don’t truly believe Christ has delivered us, or that we can be truly delivered?  I don’t mean to say that we won’t still struggled with temptation, but it doesn’t mean we have to act upon that temptation.  We have been delivered, shouldn’t we act and live like those who have been given a second chance?  We have been granted this new life, isn’t that something to be joyous about?  Why is it then that we still struggle with this doubt?  Why is it then that we still feed the old, sinful ways?

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:5-6)

I will be the first to confess that I do not have it all together yet.
I know that I have my many flaws as a Soldier of this Army as well as a Child of God…but I do know that Christ’s death and resurrection has transformed my life!  Do I still struggle?  Yes, but I also know that I have this new creation – and because of it, I deeply long to resemble Christ…but it MUST become more than that.  I should want others to see Christ and not me.  I should want this life to be Christ and not me.  If we do not have this deep desire to see lives transformed by His Holy power that once transformed us, then I do not know why we are still engaged in this Army.   That may be a bold statement, but this ought not be an army of mediocrity and wishy-washy doctrines that incorporate tolerance of sin within its ranks.  We are born of something far bigger than ourselves in this “New Creation”!  We are an Army of Salvation hell bent of fighting against sin – not embracing it.

Dear Soldier, this does not mean that we discourage and forcibly condemn those still struggling with sin in their lives, but it does mean that we stop placating to the culture of habitual sin.  If we ignore these chains will they still be chains?  Of course!  We can’t simply ignore the metal bars that hold in the prisoner, we must fight with all of our strength to open the prison doors – and this is only possible with the power of the Holy Spirit!

Get On With It! 
Dear Solider, band
Please don’t use the phrase – “Well I’m only human” – this, I feel attempts to excuse our behaviors and indiscretions.  We were made for so much more – if we have accepted this amazing gift of salvation.  If we have allowed His transforming power into our lives through the workings of the Holy Spirit then we are indeed a new creation.  He might still have work to be done in us, but we must be patient and continually pray for deliverance from sin as we avoid temptation.  

These are bold words today, but I believe that we as an Army are up for this challenge!
Either we believe the Holy Spirit can transform from the inside out or He can’t…which is it?

Doctrine # 10 says this, “We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
                                                                              So where are you today?
sin1This is both a personal and corporate question.
Are there still strongholds in your life?
Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit access to those strongholds?
He longs to sanctify you completely…but it requires your willingness to sacrifice every aspect of your former self.

My prayer is that we might all be challenged to live out this new creation as Soldiers of Salvation!
Something more for our Army world to ponder today!

To God be the glory!

Disclaimer:  “The Views and Opinions shared in Pastorsponderings are strictly the writer’s views and opinions and do not necessarily ALWAYS reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.”

3 Pitfalls of Holy Living


I grew up within the context of a “Holiness Tradition”.  If you have grown up in this too, perhaps you will understand the importance of sanctification.  This is the second blessing – the Holy Spirit’s anointing and subsequent cleansing of the soul.  Holiness is the willful acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s prodding to become who we were intended to be.  It is the act of complete surrender which leads us on the path of reflecting Christ in every fiber of our being.  It is the beginning point of surrendering our old sinful self completely as we long to become complete in the image of Christ – which is our “new creation” image.  

Yet, all too often, when the topic of holiness is discussed there are pitfalls that creep in and threaten to undo or destroy this transformation of the soul.  These pitfalls come in the form of erroneous thoughts or beliefs which can make ones attempt of complete surrender to the Holy Spirit impossible or at the very least extremely difficult.  

I would like to address three major pitfalls of holy living which always seem to cripple and strangle this vital growth process.  I use the term “process” for lack of a better word, though I mean this walk of holiness and complete surrender.  I also find myself using the words “holiness” and “complete surrender” either together or interchangeably only because “complete surrender” is what is required of us when we allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us through and through.   

These pitfalls seem to be the three most influential concepts hanging around today that can cause the most damage and deter a person from accepting and receiving this second blessing:

Pitfall #1 – Holiness is about Perfection



I cannot count how many times the term “perfection” comes up when discussing “Holiness” with Sunday School classes and Bible study groups.   Holiness and “human perfection” are not synonymous.   When we talk about becoming Holy, we do not all of a sudden become devoid of our imperfections while suddenly becoming perfect in every way physical shape or physical form.  Human perfection is not our goal when we talk about becoming holy.  The pursuit of human perfection is impossible improbable.  We need to recognize that this pitfall of associating human perfection with holiness will only cause us to become frustrated and long for an easier route in the spiritual life.  

Although we recognize that human perfection is not our goal we should also, in the same breath, acknowledge that it does not let us off the hook within the realms of our moral living.  The old scapegoat of “I’m only human” cannot be our excuse when we make mistakes and stumble upon this path of righteousness.  Yes, we will not be humanly perfect, but the Holy Spirit can sanctify us through and through while providing us aid and strength to avoid the trappings of the old life.  

Pitfall #2 – Holiness is all about working harder



Truth be told this pitfall leads to a lot of burnout among Christ-followers.  Some feel as if they must do more for the “glory of God” and when they consider what “do” is, it entails longer hours of sweat and toil.  Don’t misunderstand me here, the Holy life does include many sacrifices and effort, but simply working harder is not the sole pathway to holiness.  

We can dress up in our uniforms and act the part and still not be any closer to being sanctified through and through.  
We miss the point.  Sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s work within those who are earnestly willing to surrender everything from within and without.  No effort unto our own will ever suffice.  No measure of extraneous “works” will earn us holiness.  We must begin with a humble, seeking heart and a willingness to be taught by the Master.  When we are on our knees before Him, longing to be made whole through the Holy Spirit, then and only then may we experience the all consuming power of sanctification.  

The working harder doesn’t come first…it comes second.  This isn’t to say that we maintain our holiness through working harder, but rather it is a response of love and devotion to the One who cleanses us through and through.  All physical appearances for the benefit of others within the realms of our “works” may very well still fall within the old life.  Working harder in the hopes of attaining holiness will only cause frustration, burnout and disillusionment.  Instead worthy pursuits to consider would be – humility, complete surrender, the discipline of prayer & supplication.

Pitfall #3 – Holiness is only available to smarter more capable saints.



Believe it or not many come to the conclusion that holiness is only reserved for the wisest and the smartest of the saints.  Thankfully (in my case and perhaps yours) this is simply not true.  Jesus even told His disciples when they were attempting to shoo off children who were climbing all over Jesus this:  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)  I recognize the context here but to me this also indicates the child-like faith we need in order to receive the Holy Spirit. 



Here’s a comforting thought: We don’t need to be a scholar to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and that of Sanctification.  We do not need to have degrees on our walls or wear a specific color of trim on our shoulders to pursue Christ-likeness.  A lot of people have the head-knowledge but when it comes to the heart-knowledge the mettle of sincere intentions and devotion are formally revealed.  This is first a personal matter.  A private conversation with God Himself.  It is a one on one appearance with God in the holy of holies.  He shows up.  He will never forsake us, and His desire for us all is to avoid these pitfalls as we pursue His holiness in our lives.  Yes, Holiness is possible and attainable to all who are willing to surrender fully to Him.  

-Just another some to ponder today.




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