Holiness and Our Human Problems

by | May 1, 2016

Holiness does indeed have a bearing on our human problems.

But it does not automatically solve them all. Basically and essentially, it solves the greatest: the problem of inner sin—that “law of sin and death” that is “hostile to God” and “does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so,” about which Paul writes in Romans 8:2-7.

This in itself is a tremendous victory. But it isn’t the end of the war. Sin within may be destroyed by the stroke of the heavenly Executioner’s sword; but sin without is still very real, and the devil does not die when we are sanctified.

To borrow terms from the logic of science, perhaps we should say that the experience of entire sanctification is a necessary condition for the best solution to our human problems, but a sufficient condition only for the sin problem. A necessary condition is one that must be present for the desired result to occur. A sufficient condition is one that always and without fail produces the given result.

To illustrate: Gasoline in the tank is a necessary condition to run an automobile, but it is not a sufficient condition. One may have gas in the tank and still not be able to run the car if the battery is dead. On the other hand, a hole in a tire is a sufficient condition for a flat. You don’t need anything else. Whenever there is a hole in the tire, it goes flat—however good the valve or the tread may be.

It must be admitted that a necessary condition is indeed necessary. You can have all the gas your tank will hold and still be stalled if you have no spark. But you may have all the spark that high-powered plugs will deliver and still not move an inch if the tank is dry.

To claim that holiness is a necessary condition for spiritual victory means that if it is neglected or rejected, defeat is certain. No Christian can win his spiritual warfare if he must fight on two fronts—the enemy on the outside, and the fifth column of a carnal disposition on the inside. But we must face the fact that there are some human problems for which holiness is not the sole answer.

The best of saints still have a long road to travel. There are rough places to be smoothed, kinks of mind and personality to be straightened out, infirmities to be faced, and weaknesses to be strengthened. Weakness is not necessarily wickedness. One may have the fullness of the Spirit and still need help with personal problems of emotional adjustment….

We must also clear away our own false expectations. It is probably not possible to expect too much from the experience of fullness in the Holy Spirit; but it certainly is possible to expect too sweeping results. We may be hoping to see in full salvation (sanctification) what can only rightly be anticipated in final salvation (glorification).

We could be expecting in a moment of time what really comes only from a lifetime of growth. Then when the expected results do not occur, disillusionment, discouragement, and depression set in. More spiritual fatalities occur through discouragement and depression than through pride or deliberate disobedience.

We have had heroic models of the sanctified life. Many of its advocates have been men and women of unusual dedication and outstanding gifts. One unexpected result is our tendency to feel that if we had what they had in the measure of the grace of God, we should be as outstanding as they. But this is not necessarily the case….

Peter preached in Jerusalem on the first Christian Day of Pentecost and 3,000 were converted (Acts 2:14-41). Paul preached there on the same spot 30 years later and they almost killed him (Acts 22:1-25). The difference was not in the measure of grace possessed by the speakers. It was in the circumstances and condition of the hearers.

W.T. Purkiser (1910-1992) was a Nazarene preacher, scholar, and author. He was editor of the Herald of Holiness for 15 years prior to his retirement in 1975. This is a selection from These Earthen Vessels (Introduction, pp.13-16), Beacon Hill Press, 1985.