As we continue the second half of our spiritual life series, in which we are examining what it means to have a “CHRIST-centred, OTHERS-focused” faith, we turn to the transformation of holy living (H) in discipleship.
To be holy is to be set apart. In the July/August issue of Salvationist, Lt-Colonel Andrew Morgan, who took up a new appointment as the officer commanding of the Italy and Greece Command on September 1, reminded us that “Because of my response to the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in me, guides me and has control of my life as I give him control. He sets me apart as different … my everyday life should show I am different.” Holy living is more than what we stay away from; it encompasses all of how we choose to engage life. Holy living reflects God’s character and how he engages the world he loves.
Throughout Scripture, we see that God’s holiness is our source of life, but also that it can be a dangerous reality to those continuing to live according to our fallen nature, corrupted by sin. However, when we turn to God in repentance and faith, his holiness also brings new life and transformation to what was once dead apart from him.
At the risk of over-simplification, holy living is the lived experience of disciples who are being made more and more like Jesus. It is marked by what early Salvationists termed “full salvation.” It’s our “blood and fire” theology—salvation and sanctification—expressed in daily life: a living demonstration that “Now, I belong to Jesus. I am his.”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Holy living testifies that my identity is found and determined primarily in and by Christ. Having been set free through the blood of Jesus, I find salvation from the power of sin. I no longer need to fall prey to the schemes of the devil. I can stand and live victorious in Christ. I have turned toward God, put faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and have been brought to new life, in and through him.
William and Catherine Booth were influenced by the American evangelist Charles Finney and used his revival teachings often in the early years of The Salvation Army: “Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s own will to God in deep humility.”
Renewal and revival can be experienced today as we give ourselves wholly to Jesus, surrendering all we have and are to him and his purposes in our lives.
Lord, my will I here present thee
Gladly, now no longer mine;
Let no evil thing prevent me
Blending it with thine.
Lord, my life I lay before thee;
Hear this hour the sacred vow;
All thine own I now restore thee,
Thine forever now.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
I have given my all to God;
And I now have full salvation
Through the precious blood.
(Charles W.L. Christien, SASB 602)
Being purified and recreated in Christ’s image through the fire of the Holy Spirit, we can experience sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes in and through our lives. This is a daily commitment: a resolve to live enlivened and empowered by God’s Spirit, allowing him to shape us more and more in his image, reflecting who he is to the world we live in. This requires abiding, as Jesus impresses on his disciples: “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Holy living demonstrates the reality that we are set apart. We are his. And we are becoming more like Jesus as we seek to live continued, obedient faith. Holy living is not about attaining a level of moral superiority, and certainly not about exhibiting a “holier-than-thou” attitude. It is a humble, lived recognition that all we are, and all we are becoming in Christ, is through him. As Paul reminds his readers: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).
Our holiness is only “good enough” through and because of God’s holiness, imparted to us through Jesus. His holiness becomes ours. As new creations, we are called and enabled to live that reality.
Kevin Slous is the territorial secretary for spiritual life development.
Photo: thanasus/iStock via Getty Images Plus
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