Among the few English books that remained in one of our overseas appointments was a Salvation Army songbook published in 1953. As I flipped through the subject titles, I discovered one very interesting section entitled, “Holiness Enjoyed,” a section in Salvation Army songbooks as early as 1907.
Over the years we have debated holiness, considering its pros and cons. Is it possible to be holy? We seem to be afraid of what it means. Not so in the early days of The Salvation Army. We rejoiced in the knowledge that holiness could be enjoyed! They firmly believed that the Holy Spirit wants nothing more than to lead us first to forgiveness, and then to sanctify and cleanse our hearts.
In John 16:13 we find Jesus sharing with His disciples just before His crucifixion and resurrection: “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” In John 17:17, Jesus prays, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” The Holy Spirit of truth comes to purify us and set us apart unto God. Jesus died on the cross that you and I would be sanctified, and His sending the Holy Spirit was a great gift to us.
General William Booth in Purity of Heart recognizes that before salvation, “sin is the master of the soul.” After salvation, we “not only receive the pardon of sin, but deliverance from its bondage.” However, there are “evil tendencies left in the soul, involving the soul in constant conflict” until we cry out and God creates in us a new heart (15-17). This is the sanctified, set apart, heart that says “no” to sin and “yes” to all God calls us to be.
Samuel Logan Brengle in Heart Talks on Holiness reminds us that holiness is not perpetual joy or freedom from illness. It is not a state that requires no further growth and not a state that stops us from falling from grace but “holiness is a state of conformity to the divine nature” (7-11). We love to obey God and we give Him every part of our life because He first loved us.
The Handbook of Doctrine, (1923), states the tenth doctrine as, “We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be ‘wholly sanctified,’ and that ‘the whole spirit, and soul, and body’ may be ‘preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ That is to say, we believe that after conversion there remain in the heart of the believer inclinations to evil, or roots of bitterness, which, unless overpowered by divine grace, produce actual sin; but that these evil tendencies can be entirely taken away by the Spirit of God, and the whole heart, thus cleansed from everything contrary to the will of God, or entirely sanctified, will then produce the fruit of the Spirit only. And we believe that persons thus entirely sanctified may, by the power of God, be kept unblameable and unreprovable before Him” (pg. 122). How clear is this invitation to be entirely sanctified, surrendered, and fully yielded to God!
The Holy Spirit is the One who will guide us into all Truth. He convicts us when we start to make the choice to sin, teaches us and reminds us of all that Jesus said. This is the way of freedom in Christ! We need not fear the Holy Spirit. Jesus died on the cross, rose, and ascended so that the Holy Spirit would not only be with us but in us (John 14:17). The Holy Spirit leads us to salvation, and we are forgiven. The Holy Spirit convicts of our selfish focus and leads us to sanctification and we are cleansed. Do not doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to save and forgive you of sin. Do not doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse and sanctify you. Salvation forgives us for past sin. Sanctification is a yielding and surrender to the Holy Spirit who then continues to cleanse, teach, and guide us into all Truth every day. Sanctification is the starting point of a lifetime inviting Him to continually create in us a clean heart.
Hear the passion of General William Booth in Purity of Heart: “Do you enjoy this rest, my comrades? Is the inward strife over? Oh, make haste and let the blessed Spirit, who waits to sanctify you wholly, cast out the enemies of your soul” (pg. 22). “Oh, will you not go down now before God and give yourselves fully over into the hands of your precious Savior? He is waiting to sanctify you. Cast overboard all that hinders. It is God that purifies the heart. Will you let Him do the work?” (pg. 12).
Enjoy this holy living. Listen for the voice of the precious Holy Spirit as He calls you to a joy filled life!