Sound Advice On Holiness

Sound Advice On Holiness
By David Gray

Question. A young man in our church claims he has a call to the ministry. As the new pastor of the church I questioned him about the length of his hair, permanents, and mustache. He told me that God had not convicted him about these, and then said, “I have been told that every generation must have their own convictions of holiness. This is a new day, a new generation, and we must decide for ourselves whether we are going to have standards like the previous generation or not.” Brother Gray, what do you think of this? What answer can I give him?

Answer It is true that every generation (in fact, every individual) must have convictions of their own. I would not give two cents for the salvation of someone who claims to be a Christian that does not have
convictions that he would live by and die by.

Having said that, let me now ask the question, Where did we, the older generation, get our convictions?

I remember vividly at General Conference when Brother Oliver F. Fauss presented the resolution that our ministers were not to have television sets in their homes, and he prefaced it by saying, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us that we take this strong stand against this evil”. That conviction came not merely from our minds, but from the Holy Ghost. In this we follow the example of the Early Church when the issue at that time was the salvation of gentile Christians (Acts I5:28, 29).

If an individual, or a group, or a generation goes to God for their convictions, do you think God has changed His mind and will give them different standards and convictions from that which He gave us? I do not think so.

It seems to me (and please forgive me if I misjudge), the problem oftentimes is that the individual who says that he cannot go by the convictions of his elders, that he will get his own convictions to go by really does not want any standards at all – he resents them and rejects them. As a result he is in confusion, floundering, and muddled. He is like a ship in a storm that has lost its anchor and its rudder. It is blown around by every wind that comes and is at the mercy of the surrounding elements, and will wind up on the rocks, shipwrecked and broken.

I am reminded of what Brother C. M. Becton said at the Texas District Camp Meeting in 1989: “Never tear down a fence until you know why it was erected. Yet, it seems to me, that is exactly what many of this generation are doing. It is recorded that a similar situation existed in Israel’s day:

“…All that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods…” Judges 2:10,12.

They may have said that we cannot go by the standards of the previous generation – we will get our own. But the end result was tragedy and the judgment of God. They were delivered into the hands of their enemies.

On the other hand we have the inspiring story of the Rechabites. To test them the Lord told Jeremiah to offer them wine to drink: “And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever.  Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters…’ Jeremiah 35:5, 6, 8.

They knew their father Jonadab was a godly man, they knew his teachings and convictions came from God, so although Jeremiah, a prophet of God set wine before them and invited them to drink, they refused. Their father’s convictions were now their convictions! What did God say about it? Was he pleased?

“… Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God Of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.” Jeremiah 35:18,19.

Can you think of a greater benefit, that one of them would always stand before the Lord! What an honor!

I believe God will likewise honor every individual of this younger generation who stands for “the old paths, the good way, and walks therein…” (Jeremiah 6:i6). God says that they will find rest for their soul.

The spirit of the world today is lawlessness: “I’ll do everything I want to do. Nobody can tell me what to do or what not to do. Things are only wrong if you think they are wrong.” It is called “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (EphesiansZ:2).That spirit, the spirit of the world, is now getting into the church.

Someone may say, “You are making a big deal out of a young man with hair a bit too long, who gets permanents and wears a mustache.” Perhaps, but those things are not the disease – they are the symptoms of the disease. The disease is that worldly spirit that wants to tear down the fences; who says, “This is a new day, a new generation, and we must decide for ourselves whether we are going to have standards or not.”

Really, it seems to me that this young man does not have the same Holy Ghost that I got. The Holy Ghost I received cleaned me up from top to bottom, gave me a teachable spirit, respect for my elders, and a love for holiness. Say, Young Man, if the spirit you received did not do that for you, then what kind of a spirit do you have?

The above article was published in The Gospel Tidings, August, 1991, p.11

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