How Holiness Theology Transformed My Understanding of Christianity by Justin Steckbauer

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” -1st Peter 1:14-16 ESV

Let me begin by saying that you should trust the scriptures over the words of any men. We must trust the scriptures much more than Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield or any Pope or bishop. Our faith in the scriptures must rise far, far above any allegiance to a theology, whether it be Arminian, Calvinist, Molinist, or Catholic.

But we often struggle with an incomplete view of the scriptures. We ignore or disregard scriptures that make us uncomfortable, or even those that don’t fit neatly into our theology. This is not good my brothers and sisters. The scriptures are our highest authority, with God himself being above the scriptures of course, and the scriptures helping us to receive all truth, wisdom, and God’s will from God. Trust the scriptures. That’s my mission for life.

For the past few months I’ve been learning about holiness theology. And it’s rocked my world. I was originally trained in the dispensational, Calvinist-leaning Liberty University. My greatest influences in Christianity have been Calvinist preachers, people like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, and John MacArthur. But in my time in the Salvation Army, and now studying at Olivet Nazarene University’s graduate program, I’ve come to learn about holiness theology, and it has changed my life.

I’ve come to believe that holiness to the Lord is the great missing piece of Christianity in modern evangelicalism. In the face of so many multiplied evils in our world, many of us have thrown up our hands and rejected the truth of the scriptures: That we can be holy in a fallen world.

The blood of Jesus Christ has washed away the sins of those of us who believe. But dare we believe that his blood is worth much more? Dare we believe that the Holy Spirit, through our new birth, can really change our deepest desires and longings, so that we can live holy as He is holy?

For the longest time I thought this was impossible. I thought it was completely and truly impossible. Why? Because I struggled with sin everyday. And to say that I struggled with sin, is to say that I lived in willful sin. And I taught my mind to tolerate it. I searched for scriptures that would defend my failures.

I repeated mantras like: His grace is enough. His grace covers all my sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

I conveniently ignored scriptures that talked about continuance in sin as deadly to the Christian. I trembled at the scriptures that read: “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” –Hebrews 10:26 ESV

Sexual sin, lustful thoughts, and the like were always knocking at my door. And here and there I would open. But I would repent immediately after! But this was not a true repentance. This was simply playing games with God. I was living in willful sin, while playing word games with God.

‘Once saved always saved’ is a doctrine that gave me permission to sin. It distorted my understanding of the word of God. We must reject that doctrine as the body of Christ. (Scriptures: John 151 Tim 1:19Hebrews 3:14). Link to “scriptures on falling away.” Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. I had to look past what I preferred, or what gave me blanket assurance, and look to the truth of the word.

I like many believers struggled greatly with sin, in private. But I wasn’t willing to stay there. There was a dogged unyielding dissatisfaction. There was a constant conviction of the Spirit within me, refusing to be ignored or silenced.

By God’s grace, I soon found in the scriptures something that could help me overcome sin: The fear of the Lord (Matthew 10:18, Proverb 1:8, Eccle 12:13). And so each night I began praying a simple prayer: “Teach me to fear you Lord.”

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[a] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
-1 John 3:4-10 (ESV)

God answered my prayers over several weeks. I began to truly tremble before God. This fear spiked change, through discomfort. Sin sent me running, or more accurately, the fear of the Lord sent me running. And I found myself with increasing desires to be holy.

At that time, visitors came to our chapel and spoke on holiness. Dr. Bill and Diane Uri spoke for the weekend in several sessions regarding holiness. And I think for the first time I truly understood what holiness, and sanctification really meant. Holiness is about a total yielding to the Lord, wherein He perfects our hearts and His Spirit lives fully through us. I realized that holy living was not a work of man, or a list of rules, or a constantly unattainable goal, but that it was a work of God, and I must simply open myself up to it and be willing to respond to the Spirit’s leading. During one of the sessions I listened to Diane preach, my eyes intently focused on her and for a moment I saw the face of Christ flash over her. And I was stunned. Of course I didn’t tell anyone, because I knew no one would believe me.

At the conclusion of the weekend, a friend and I prayed privately, asking for the blessing. I prayed with Dr. Bill Uri at the mercy seat, asking for the blessing. And so something very special began in my life.

During that time we had begun studying sanctification in doctrine classes. These classes provoked my imagination, and I eagerly began to embrace the concept of sanctification. Though few seemed as enthused as I! I found myself studying the handbook of doctrine carefully. And I found myself mesmerized by a book by Diane LeClerc called “Discovering Christian Holiness.”

At this time I was also beginning to study the concept of hell (on my own time) and I began to force myself to read scriptures about the wrath and judgment of God. I realized that despite my discomfort with the scriptures about God’s wrath, I knew if the Bible said these things about God they were true, and right, and good. I began to dare to trust God in areas of serious friction.

I wrestled in prayer with God about heaven and hell and an increasing reality coming into my mind, that most people in our modern times who call themselves Christians, who live in willful sin, will not receive eternal life, but will be condemned to hell. Today I tend to believe that were Jesus to return today, it’s likely that only about 20% of His church would be ready. I can’t prove that number of course, but I’d bet on it.

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Source: Christian Post


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