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  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15 


Holiness Movement

The Holiness movement teaches that mankind can reach a stage where sin is completely eradicated.  They teach this as a two fold method of being saved.

The first step is, when saved, by grace, by believing in Jesus, the son of God, that your sins are forgiven up to that point. (Justification).
The second step is to never sin again, by another act of grace, and you have to keep like that forever so that you can go to Heaven (Sanctification).

A popular church which teaches the Holiness Movement is the Church of the Nazarene.  It's often found in the Methodist church too.

It's amazing such a movement exists at all, as it is in complete disagreement with biblical teaching.  Let's have a quick look at some scripture.

The Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest Christian that's ever lived, still struggled with sin, 
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Romans 7:24

The Bible teaches us that when we are born again, that is, recognising we are guilty sinners and saved by believing in Jesus, the Son of God, who without sin, sacrificed Himself on the cross for us so that we can be saved, paying the price for our sins because we can't, that we become new creatures and the Holy Spirit lives in us as born again believers. The first birth is of the flesh (ie being born), the second birth (born again) is to become Spiritually alive.

Being born again, we are new creatures, spiritually alive, however, until such time that we have our Glorified bodies, we still have the fallen sin nature of the first birth, flesh.  We are born again spiritually, a new creature, but still have the old carnal body.

This is known as the battle between the Spirit and the flesh.
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" Galatians 5:17

The Bible teaches us that as born again believers, we are to try to abstain from sinning, but so often is the case, as shown by the Apostle Paul in both the scriptures above, that the mind within is willing, but the flesh wants to do something else.  If Paul still had to suffer the old nature, our corrupted flesh, and hadn't managed to eradicate all sin, what hope does anyone have?  Here again we are taught in the Bible about the war between the Spirit and the flesh,

"For I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Romans 7:22

The Bible does not teach us that we will never sin again, nor that we have to NOT sin again to be saved.  The Bible does teach that we will, as born again Christians, receive rewards for the good works that we do,
"If any man's (Christian only) work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward." (1st Corinthians 3:14)
But that for any bad works done, he will lose rewards, but not salvation itself,
"If any man's (Christian only) work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (1st Corinthians 3:15)
If a man had to refrain from doing bad works in order to be sure of being saved, why then does the Bible tell us in the above scripture of 1st Corinthians 3:15 that he will suffer loss, but that he himself will be saved?  It's because all you need to do to go to Heaven is to recognise your guilt as a sinner and to BELIEVE on Jesus as your only way to eternal life.

The Apostle Paul had not eradicated sin, because he still had the old man, the old corrupted flesh.  A born again believer will receive rewards for the good they do, and loss for yielding to the old nature, but salvation is still there, because the blood of Jesus has already washed us of our sins.

How to stop sinning?


No Christian who's right with God wants to sin, but the old nature is still there, so there will be a battle, the old carnal flesh fighting against the new nature that is from God.  What can we do to try to stop sinning?  Considering the old nature, we can't really turn around and say, 'I will never sin again!!" and expect it to last, as much as we would want to!  Consider someone going on a healthy eating plan.  They may make a vow never to eat chocolate again, but how long will it last for?  Often the case occurs that the person becomes so consumed in thought about the thing they are denying themself that after a few days, or weeks, they end up gorging on the chocolate!  A far better way to live a healthy life is to acknowledge our tendency to slip up, but to make changes gradually.

So it is with trying to clean up our lives and yielding to the Holy Spirit as born again Christians.  It takes time to grow and to make changes.  If we keep ourselves humble and remember that we can slip up, and just live for the day and make gradual changes to our life, we will eventually achieve much more than boom or bust.

Here's a quote by Dr Harry Ironside, who realised the fallacy of the Holliness movement and moved away from it,

'Since turning aside from the perfectionist societies, I have often been asked if I find as high a standard maintained among Christians generally who do not profess to have the 'second blessing' as I have seen among those who do. "My answer is that after carefully, and I trust without prejudice, considering both, I have found a far higher standard maintained by believers who intelligently reject the eradication theory than among those who accept it. Quiet, unassuming Christians, who know their Bibles and their own hearts too well to permit their lips to talk of sinlessness and perfection in the flesh, nevertheless are characterized by intense devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, love for the word of God, and holiness of life and walk. But these blessed fruits spring, not from self-occupation, but from occupation with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.'

To say that we do not sin is indeed commiting a sin, for at the least it's the sin of self-righteousness!  Like Dr Ironside says, after careful observation, those that know their Bibles and their own hearts know too well to permit themselves to talk about sinlessness and perfection in the flesh, yet with their humbleness and honesty, they maintain a far higher standard than imagining and claiming oneself to be sinless and blameless.

Instead of focusing on ourselves, focus on our redeemer.  A devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, a love for the word of God, will result in blessed fruits, not from self-occupation, but from occupation in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

25th July 2017


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