CHRISTIANS SAY THEY WANT A NEW REVIVAL, A NEW OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, but many of them are not willing to leave their sinful behaviors behind and to begin seeking deep intimacy with God and to walk in His holiness in their daily lives. Think about it, if you have no intention of changing your life and to begin walking in holiness, then why should God baptize you in His Holy Spirit? God doesn’t just give His Spirit to be giving His Spirit. He does things for a reason. God is a Holy God, and He needs a Holy environment in which to freely move and dwell.
A DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH
But there are those who preach in our churches today that we are hidden in Christ, so God does not see our sins. This is a deception, a half-truth. Yes, our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3), but not our sins. Don’t you see that something that is only half-true is also half a lie, and is in reality a DECEPTION. And there are many Christians in the world today who are being DECEIVED.
This doctrine is just one of many examples of people taking the Scriptures out of context. Because just two verses later, we are commanded to
consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, [lustful] passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account on these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also ONCE WALKED, when you WERE living in them. But now you also, put them ALL aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you LAID ASIDE THE OLD SELF with its EVIL PRACTICES. (Colossians 3:5-9)
Think about this: If we and our life of sin is hidden in Christ, as these ministers erroneously teach, then why are we commanded to “consider the members of our earthly” bodies “dead” to these things? The fact is that our sins are not hidden from God. He can see them in ALL their SINFUL UGLINESS.
Also notice that Paul said, that this was what they WERE (past tense) like when they “ONCE WALKED” in them. This was no longer their lifestyle. They quit living this way, and started pursuing intimacy with God and a life of holiness.
WE NEED HOLINESS TO PREPARE FOR CHRIST’S RETURN!
Jesus is coming back for His church, a “spotless” Holy Bride. Therefore, we need to return to a message of Holiness. Our apathy towards sin has opened the door for the current situation in America. We’ve opened the door of the church to sin, abominations, all in the name of “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “love.” But biblical love is being faithful and true to God and ALL HIS WORD. It does not try to “do away with,” “annul” or even re-write or re-explain passages of the Bible because it contradicts the morals or “Political Correctness” of the Day. The Church was supposed to change the culture, but instead, in today’s world, the culture is changing the Church. And God is NOT Happy or Pleased.
GOD’S CALLING ON ALL HIS PEOPLE
From the beginning, the calling of God upon all those who are His people is that they be “a nation of priests and a HOLY nation” (Exodus 19:6; I Peter 1:15, 16; I Peter 2:5, 9). But today, there are many who call themselves “God’s people,” but they are not walking in this Divine calling. God did not call us to a life of extravagance, materialism, moral compromise, or to embrace the ways of the world, but He called us to be a holy people who walks and lives in holiness. Holiness, according to God’s definition, not our own.
ASA MAHAN & CHARLES FINNEY
It was the Holiness movement of the 19th century that emerged out of the Methodist church. It was during this movement that Asa Mahan, the President of Oberlin College, for example, experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1836. Many people may say, “I’ve never heard of Asa Mahann,” well, neither had I until I came across this account doing some research about the Holiness Movement. But Mahan believed that it was this experience that cleansed him from the desire and inclination to sin. Charles Finney also believed that this experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit would provide the solution to those who claimed to experience conversion, but then slipped back into their old ways of living. This occurred during what became known as the Oberlin-Holiness Revival.
This Holiness Movement was spreading across America, but it came to a temporary lull as a result of the American Civil War (1861-1865). But it was also because of this movement that many people joined the fight against slavery and became abolitionists. And it was also this movement that set the stage for the later Pentecostal movement.
ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT
We need a return back to the message of Holiness that set the stage for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that happened to Asa Mann in 1836, and at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, on Jan. 1, 1901, when Agnes Nevada Ozman, a 30-year-old student of Charles F. Parham, was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance (like in Acts 2:1-4). It was shortly after this when others there at the Bible College, including Charles F. Parham, was likewise baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was Charles Parham who formulated “the theological definition of Pentecostalism by linking tongues with the Holy Spirit’s baptism” (Larry Martin, The Topeka Outpouring of 1901, p. 8).
Charles Parham later took a group down to Houston, Texas, with His “Apostolic Faith” message, and it was while they were there that William Joseph Seymour, an African American Holiness evangelist, heard this message about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, believed it, and then after accepting a pastoral position in California, but then didn’t work out, opened instead a mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. From there, this new “Pentecostal experience” happened again, and then spread quickly across the country. And it was in the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement that Holiness again was preached and taught.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “HOLY”?
Now I’ve heard Christians say that no one can be holy, but that is because they don’t understand what holiness is. They think the word “holy” means “pure,” but the word “holy” means to “be distinct, different, other than.” God is “holy,” because He is “distinct, different, other than” anything that we know or have experienced within this world. And as His people, we are called to be “holy,” to be “distinct, different, other than” the people that are around us.
If we are living by the same standards, morals, and beliefs as unsaved people in America, then how are we being “holy”? We should be reflecting God in our lives to others, not reflecting ourselves or the American culture. And just because “holiness” was abused by people in America during the 1930s-1960s, thinking that it just meant dressing a certain way, women not wearing pants or having their hair a mile-high in a bun on their head, or even just mentally agreeing with a certain list of do’s and don’ts, it doesn’t mean that holiness is wrong or bad; instead, it just means that people didn’t understand what it is, just like today.
Holiness does not begin by us not doing certain things. It begins the moment His Holy Presence comes to live within us. It is His Holy Presence in us that should result in changing who we are, how we think, how we speak, and how we act. Holiness is a condition of the heart. God says in His Word, “BE HOLY,” It does not say, “DO HOLY.” Holiness begins with God coming to live in us and transforming us. It begins on the inside of us and then moves outward; it does not start on the outside and move inward. This was the problem with the Pharisees. They thought as long as they did certain things and didn’t do other things, then that is what made them “holy.” But Jesus told them, “You blind Pharisee, first clean the INSIDE of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26; Emphasis Mine).
Think about the Burning Bush in Exodus 3. Moses saw the burning bush and went aside to check it out. When he got there, God spoke to him and told him to “take off your sandals, for the ground you are standing on is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Ask yourself, what did the ground do to become “holy”? Obviously, it could not do anything, because it is dirt. But one moment it was ordinary dirt, and then the next moment, it’s “holy ground.” What made the difference? God did. The ground was holy because when God showed up and was there on that piece of ground, the ground became something “distinct, separate, other than” the other ground around it.
And the same is true of everyone who is a true believer of Jesus Christ. Before being transformed by Christ and the power of God’s Spirit, we were like everyone else. But now, afterwards, we are a “holy people,” because we have God living in us. It is His Presence in us that makes us “holy.” For example, in Exodus 33:16, Moses is interceding for the people of Israel after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:1-10), and Moses is asking God to reveal “His ways” to him, “that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight” (Exodus 33:13). Moses is desiring intimacy with God. The word “know” here doesn’t mean “know about,” but to “know intimately,” “to be close.” God responds by saying that He’ll be close to Moses, but not to the people. Moses then says,
If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, MAY BE DISTINGUISHED FROM ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16; Emphasis Mine)
What is it that distinguishes us today as “God’s people”? Is it that we meet in churches? Is it that we call ourselves “Christians”? No, none of these things distinguish us as “God’s people.” What distinguishes today, as it did during the Exodus, is the Presence of God in our lives. Without His Presence, we are no different than any one else.
And just like the tabernacle of old, we have to provide Him with a “holy place” to dwell and a “holy environment” to move and flow through. That’s right, we have a role to play in our holiness. Didn’t Jesus tell the Pharisees, “to clean the inside of the cup and of the dish”? Notice, He didn’t say, God would clean it for you, but He told them to “clean it.” I was told by a Pentecostal minister, that God is the “super” and we are the “natural,” and it is only when we work together with God that we experience the “supernatural.” If we don’t join in the process, then ultimately we will “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30), and even worse “quench the Spirit” within us (2 Thessalonians 5:20).
Remember, ALL of God’s word, including God’s laws and commandments, are needed to teach us God’s definition of holiness and how to live that holiness out in our day-to-day life. The book of Hebrews tells us that “without holiness, no one shall see the LORD” (Hebrews 12:14). I pray that all those who call themselves “Christians” will repent and seek God, and return to a lifestyle of Holiness before it’s too late.