Doctrine is extremely important. It defines who we are and what we believe. Acts 2:42 says, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” But doctrine must be kept in perspective. Some Christians get their heads so deep into doctrine that they fail to see the light anymore. There is ‘Armenianism’ vs. ‘Calvanism’. ‘Absolute Eternal Security’ vs. ‘Total Backsliding’. Doctrinal arguments go on-and-on. One thing that most Christians from both sides agree on is that the Lord will judge you according to the truth of His Word and not what you think the truth is. I personally like to take the safe route on everything. To me, it is not a matter of how I got my name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Pre-destination or not) or whether I can have it blotted out or not. What is important is that I am instructed to lead a holy life. Very simply, I do not even want to do anything that is in doubt or questionable. I do not want to indulge in alcohol simply because there are examples in the Bible that when the Holy Spirit set aside certain individuals like John the Baptist, he was not to drink any wine or strong drink. Since I want to be all I can be in the Lord, I protect what I do, what I say, even what I think. Hebrews 12:14 reminds us, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
Hardness is not holiness. ‘Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?’ is not holiness. Holiness is very simply realizing that the Lord knows what I do and think, even in secret, and that I want to be pleasing to Him in every aspect of my life. I not only want a life of holiness, but I must also live my life accordingly. It even goes so far as that sometimes I am called to give up some of my liberties in order to fulfill the purpose of what I am called to do. Romans 14:15 says, “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.”
If I do fail the Lord, I must immediately take it to the throne of grace and allow the blood of Jesus to wash it away. I see many Christians pulled down by besetting sins. They dwell on the sins rather than seeking an overcoming faith. That is what fervent prayer, fasting, devotion time, and fellowship is all about. Conviction will humble us by guilt and sorrow over our sin. But we are not supposed to settle into those feelings. They’re meant to drive us to the end of ourselves and to the victory of the cross. Whereas, condemnation, which is of the devil, will throw us into the pit of despair and leave us there.
The one thing that changed my attitude about living a life of holiness was fully coming to the realization that ‘the Lord of Heaven & Earth dwells inside of me’. When I allowed that thought to consume me, I began to look at everything with a whole new aspect. I no longer struggled with certain sins because, instead of just trying to overcome the sin, I learned to hate the sin the way God hates sin.
I have included a sermon from the 1700’s by John Wesley on holiness. I hope it can shed even more light on the subject.