According To The Spirit Of Holiness
By: J. T. Pugh
Rom. 1:3-4: “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness . . .”
Two elements of Christ’s personage are here thrown in sharp contrast upon the pages of Holy Writ. Revealed here in the unity of Redemption are two contrasting laws: the law of the flesh and the law of The
Spirit. “-our Lord-was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” This was not miraculous. David had many sons. Such was “according to the flesh”. a mere matter of lineage and reproduction, the world itself being made up of long lines of ancestry. But when Paul called Him the Son of God with power a higher law than simple reproduction had to be called into play. We are told that great declaration was made “according to the spirit of holiness”. Because of that, “-it was not possible that he should be holden-” of death. It was promised. “-neither wilt thou suffer thine HOLY ONE to be corruption.” Since he was holy, death could not hold Him nor could justice allow Corruption to taint him, He had “-offered Himself with out spot unto God”. The sonship of God was according to the spirit of holiness. It was initiated and declared according to or in harmony with the spirit of holiness.
Jurist are often of necessity compelled to pains-takingly point out the difference between the letter of a law, which the unscruplous often wrest and the real spirit of the laws original intention. Behind both divine and civil laws there is a conscience, a spirit, a purpose, else such enactments become only a ruthless force without reason. Verily “the letter killeth”. but God’s commandments were never meant to be taken in the legalistic sense of the cold letter. “Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Create in me a clean heart O god; and renew a right spirit within me. For thou desirest not sacrifice else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart. O God thou wilt not despise.” Ps. 51:6,10,16,17.
If Abraham saw Christ’s day and was glad. David saw it and was sad.He recognized God’s requirement that a man be thoroughly sincere. He saw above all things that genuine Godliness was to be a work of the heart. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel-I will put my laws unto their mind, and write them in their hearts.”
The carnal man is a one miler, a selfish stipulator. “love and, spirituality goes two. Carnality ask. “What MUST I do.” Spirituality asks, “What MAY I do?” The carnal individual, void of the true spirit of holiness is exemplified in the woman who boasted that since her birth of the Spirit she had never put scissors in her hair yet she used the razor blade at will. The president of the Bible School uniquely ruled that only that which was under ones belt was to be taken from the dining hall. A young man promptly stuffed his shirt with cookies. The law was kept but the spirit was broken. We could all well pray David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Saul gave a plausible reason for not killing the best of the cattle and the sheep. They were marked for sacrifice unto God. It was only a matter of a little delay, and then they were to be slaughtered as a glory unto God. Legally he might have gotten by with man, but the sword of the Spirit cut sharply through all pretense and flowery externals and laid the cancer bare. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” “Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts.” sobbed David.
The Spirit Of Holiness Enables Us To See Christ As Christ Is
The declaration of Christ sonship was made according to or in harmony with the spirit of holiness. O that we all as individuals and as a church could harmonize ourselves with the sanctified glory of that great life. What strange lessons he taught concerning worldly honor, money, ones enemies and holy living! How easy it is to forget the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew!
A show woman lay dying. For years she had been the life of every party she had attended. Now in her last hours her friends such as they were come to see her. Their shadow frivolity was shockingly present event in the bed chamber of the dying. At length the sinking woman groaned upon the bed, “Won’t somebody give me something to take hold of?” She began to see life as it actually was. Carnality causes us to forget that “the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal in the heavens.” The spirit of holiness helps us give the world its right evaluation, looking at it through the eyes of Jesus.
A woman stood up in a Pentecostal church and related how that after she had enjoyed the close companionship of Christ had drifted away from Him and had lost the fervour of His Spirit. Then one day her doctor told her she was dying with cancer. From that moment she began again to pray and searchingly feel her way back to her former place of fellowship and devotion. “And now.” she said, “I enjoy the services again. The testimonies are wonderful. My pastor’s sermons bless me again. “I feel that warm closeness of God now like I used to. Wasn’t God good to me to give me cancer? He could have let me alone and I would have died away from Him, but He loved me and gave me cancer so that I would seek His face again.” A Pentecostal girl who through selfishness and carelessness almost lost the heart of her fiance, woke to the fact that he was the finest young man she had ever known. She set about to win again his love and respect, and she did. She confided in a friend after her marriage, “I almost lost him.” She came to regard him as a rare treasure that had almost slipped through her fingers. So with the cancer victim. She almost lost Him, but He loved her and gave her cancer. He wooed her back by extraordinary means. She fell in love with Him all over again She valued the rare treasure of Christ’s concern, and became possessed with the spirit of holiness. The things of earth grew strangely dim. She was approaching the abode of her loved one and was in the process of arraying herself in the garments she knew he liked best.
A young man of my acquaintance stepped inside the door of his church on a hot mid-summer night. He could go no further. His conscience that had been nagging him since leaving home rose up and smote him. He had on a short sleeved shirt. He turned on his heel, hurried home and changed it. What ever be my or your convictions on that point I feel that we should all appreciate the conscientious concern of a Christian who so wanted to do the right thing. One Sunday morning the sermon God gave me was so heavy. so full of rebuke, so bitter to my mouth that I had not the heart to meet the fine people at the back- door of the church to shake their hand as was my custom. I slunk into a back room to search my heart, to get my self together. Like a bright ray of sunshine one of the young married men of the church came back to me. He said: “I was
ready to go home but I could not go home with out first coming back here and telling you I appreciated your message. Take me, Bro. Pugh, and mold me and make me what I ought to be.” I have wept several times over the unselfishness of such a request. Such a spirit is indeed precious. a far cry from the attitude of another man who told his pastor. “Yes” I have a television and I don’t care how you feel about it because I’m planning on keeping it.” Me-thinks the intervening years drop away and I hear the distant lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep and the rustle of the prophet’s garment, “Sauls rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness-” From the hoar past I hear the wail of the mourners, bearing a baby boy to his grave. The sighing admission of a tearful father rises from beside the casket, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart.”
The Spirit Of Holiness Is A Firm Spirit
Six times in the 51st Ps. David made mention of the heart and the spirit. His prayer was, “Renew a right spirit in me-” This means a constant spirit, a firm spirit. The word “right” is used to indicate the shortest distance between two points. As a “right angle” a straight stead fast spirit is what David wanted. Such was the spirit of the three Hebrew children who because of convictions had to kindly tell the king after he had given them a second chance. “We will not bow down.” True holiness cannot compromise with sin; it can never agree to that which is expedient at the coat of that which is pure. This “Right spirit” sustained the New Testament Christians on the flogging block and in the blood soaked arenas of ancient Rome. The Apostle Peter urged the Christians of his day to add to their faith “Virture” which means “Manly vigor.” True holiness is not a pale trembling thing, but is the will and fear of God, inspired Peter asked, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken to you more than God, judge ye.”Acts 4:29 records a portion of their prayer after the encounter with the Sanhedrin Court. “And now Lord behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, THAT WITH ALL BOLDNESS THEY MAY SPEAK THY WORD.” There was no quavering whimper for pity in that prayer. “Renew a right (steadfast) spirit in me-” prayed David. In my day I have known of more than one clean, staunch, sure-footed fellow, labeled as having “a bad spirit.”
The steepled tombs of other organizations, haunting our streets today whisper the warning of Apostle Peter, “Ye therefore seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS.” The soft, slushy, conceding religious process of today cannot be according to the true spirit of Holiness.
THE SPIRIT OF HOLINESS IS A WILLING SPIRIT
“Up hold me with thy free (willing) spirit,” pleaded David. The Greek rendition of the verse is, “The willingness to perform God’s commandments without force.” It is in the realm of the will that we stand or fall. The willing spirit sets us free from the solitary reign of self and the mob rule of passions. Do we really have the true spirit of holiness or just a few stipulations? “- thou desirest truth in the inward parts,” acknowledged David. Paul spoke his longings Phil. 1:10. “That we may approve things that are excellent: that we may be
SINCERE AND WITHOUT OFFENSE till the day of Christ.” The word “sincere” comes from two Latin words. Sin Cera, which literally means, “without wax.” In the absence of clear glass in that day the question was often asked concerning the leathern bag of stone container of honey. “Is it Sin cera?” or “Is it strained? is it pure honey?” Later the word was used in connection with pottery which might have had wax rubbed into a crack in it. “Is this bowl sin cera?” a prospective buyer would ask. The exterior of the bowl might be ever so lovely but no buyer wanted a covered up job. Nor does God. The covetous man in the light of the New Testament is a thief, he that lusts is an adulterer and the hater is a murderer. O for “truth in the inward parts”! “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”, Paul urged the Corinthians. There is both a filthiness of flesh and spirit. The observance of mere stipulated rules alone does not please God. When I was a boy some friends and I had two pet baby buzzards. They were as white as snow and really not bad looking. Their menu was our chief worry since they would not have the scraps from the table, but glutted themselves on rabbit entrals and what ever bits of carion we found along the road. Outwardly they were pretty, but they had a filthy nature. “Full of dead men’s bones” was the keen edged judgment of Jesus concerning the outward conformist of this day. Jesus told us of a good man who left church unjustified after praying a long prayer. His heart had never gotten into his prayer. There was no “truth in the inward parts.” Could it be that some of us could come to the judgment as this man? I am well aware that the absence of certain sins and practices which our organization frowns upon, and the absence of a television set from my home alone will not assure me of the rapture. In that day I want to be found, “without wax,” my life having been lived “according to the spirit of holiness.” I have tearfully prayed many times for a revival to sweep our great organization. A revival that would not only sweep away the worldliness that is so prevalent, but also the black bitter enmities and dark somber grudges that will send our good people to hell more quickly than drink or blasphemy.
THE SPIRIT OF HOLINESS IS A CALVARY SPIRIT
Since Christ’s sonship was according to the spirit of holiness and his life lived in harmony with the spirit of holiness we must come to Him to discover the true measure of holiness. He must remain at the center. It is not enough to be Pentecost, we must be a Christian.
The shadow of calvary falls across every call to holiness. How easy it is for us to quote. “For the grace of God which bringeth salvation has appeared unto all men teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lust we should live godly, righteously, and soberly in this present world.” What was the basis of appeal here that Paul here used in his call to us for this consecration? “The grace of God.” which is the unmerited Love and favor of God. He stated that. that great act of love taught us to make this denial mentioned here in this verse. O why can’t calvary teach us? “Do I have to do that?” a woman asked me. My heart wrung within me. I knew she had never seen calvary. She had not the true spirit of holiness. Holiness was nothing more to her than the observance of a few rules of the church.
Then we can practically all quote. “I beseech ye therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable service. That scripture certainly teaches holiness. Almost any known sin could be thundered against using this text. Upon that authority did Paul make this challenging request? “By the mercies of God” we are asked to so live. Because of Calvary we are called upon for this consecration. The spirit of holiness is a calvary spirit. A glimpse of Calvary would cure our ills. The worldly carnal man is a selfish small soulded individual who cares very little that the gaunt arms of a wooden cross ring out the life of his Saviour one day. How cheep can we get?
Certainly we Pentecostals know well these familiar words: “-and ye are not your own for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit. which are God’s.” “Bought with a price” I can almost hear the ring of a hammer falling upon huge spikes every time I read that. And since there was a price, a glorious price, a costly price, paid for such a slave of sin , such as you and I. Paul adds that we should “Glorify God in our body and spirit which are God’s”. How basely ungrateful we are if we love not the message of holiness!
We are told that all we do should be done for the glory of God. Can you picture a young lady the day after receiving the Holy Ghost, realizing. That her body belonged henceforth to God. getting down on her knees and asking His guidance as to what color shorts would bring the Lord the most glory that day? Nor can I feature a family kneeling in prayer and praying God’s blessing on a parade of virtueless -stars or the brutal bloody boxers that appear on the television set. To me such can never be. I cannot find Calvary or the true spirit of holiness there. O Pentecost whither goest thou and what will the terminus be?