The Holy Way
Bible Teaching by
“Stature of a Perfect Man”
Mark the perfect man,
and behold the upright:
for the end of that man is peace.
— Psalm 37:37 —
The Word of God recognizes a “perfect man” as the standard. We are told to “mark” him. Jesus told us to “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Paul classed himself with those who were perfect (Philippians 3:15), though he did not claim resurrection perfection (Philippians 3:12). The word provides that the “man of God may be perfect” (2 Timothy 3:17). James 3:2 tells us, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.” So it must be that there is a kind of perfection that belongs to a man. What is it? How can it be gained?
In looking at the matter, it should not be forgotten that the question is not to be settled by what people may say about it, or what people may understand about it, or even by what “they” believe about it. Nor is the matter settled by whether anyone living ever saw such a person. It is evident:
- That Jesus commanded it (Matthew 5:48). He cannot command an impossibility, nor a thing unneeded, nor a thing wrong. It is, therefore, right, wise, and possible to be a “perfect man.” Indeed, it is a great sin not to be, if God commands it, as He does.
- It is evident that it is a perfect man that God requires of us, and not the perfection of an angel, or an archangel, much less the perfection of Deity, that is required of us.
- To be less than a “perfect man” is to be an imperfect man; and that God would not allow, sanction, or bless. It would be unwise and unlike God to allow anything less than He requires when that is possible. Since the best is possible (unless it can be maintained that God requires an impossible standard, which He does not), it cannot be less than sin in a man to want to live as an imperfect man. All opposition to holiness, or Christian perfection, is in some way a plea for Christian imperfection; or in other words, a covert plea for continuance in some degree of sin.
- It is evident that a man’s intellect cannot be perfect, since to perfect intelligence is to make it absolute—that is to make it omniscient, which can never be. So human perfection does not pertain to one’s intellect. It does not make one know all things.
- It does not mean physical perfection, nor freedom from temptation, nor does it exclude the possibility of falling into sin, or of making a mistake, or being sick, wearing out with age, or the death of the body.
- Individual perfection of the man means that he is perfectly justified. He has no sin unpardoned. He has settled up to date with God. Unless he sins again (and he may, for he is not saved in the sense that it is not possible for him to sin), he will never again need any justification. He is a perfect man in that the work of justification in him has reached perfection—there is nothing more to be justified from.
- He is perfectly sanctified. That is, his cleansing, like his justification, has reached the point of “entireness.” He has been cleansed from the “least and last remains” of sin. No more cleansing is needed unless more defilement is acquired; so the man has reached perfection of cleansing. He has attained the measure of God’s standard man in the realm of sanctification.
- He has reached perfect inward adjustment of himself. So long as there was inward depravity, his very soul had a kind of schism in it. There was a lack of balance; depravity and conscience had a personal feud. Now all is at peace. To all that conscience, heart, and reason want done, the will says, “We will.” No longer is there inward conflict. That soul has inward peace, the peace of God. Internal quiet prevails, and all the soul’s forces combine in perfect unity.
- Such a soul is perfectly carrying forward the process of salvation by living up to and walking in the light. Consecration keeps time with all external activities. Privileges are accepted and occupied. He “perfects holiness in the fear of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 7:1). The mountains to be crossed may be higher, the streams deeper and wider, and the trials may grow harder, and yet it may be all the easier for him to go on. He is using and utilizing grace for its legitimate uses as the day and occasion serves, and finds the occasion never greater than the abundance of the grace.
The “perfect man” is especially perfect in the “heart” measure. The head may make a mistake, the body may have an infirmity, the judgment may render an imperfect conclusion, the memory may fail, but the “heart” may be “perfect.” Its intentions may all be right, its motives all pure, its love without mixture, its integrity and loyalty to God all
…right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.
Against such a man there is no law. We see no reason why anyone should object to such a character. We see no reason for opposition to any doctrine, or plan of work that results in the formation of such measures of character. “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15; 11:9).
The Faith of True Holiness People
- True holiness people do not teach that they cannot sin if they want to. They don’t want to and don’t, and don’t have to.
- They do not teach “sinless perfection,” such as the public mean by that term.
- They do not teach that any man can be absolutely holy. God only is Absolute.
- They do not teach that they have Adamic, or Eden perfection.
- They do not teach that they have angelic perfection.
- They do not claim resurrection perfection in this life.
- They do not claim any such perfection, which, if a man has it, means he cannot make a mistake or blunder or error. It is moral, or “heart” perfection, and not intellectual or physical perfection.
- They deny getting to a place where they cannot grow any more, or pray any more, or have any further need of the use of the means of grace.
- True holiness people believe in the divine constitution of the organic church and all necessary organized relationships that are needful for its preservation, and they believe in practical work in the promulgation of the gospel.
- They almost all believe in the observance of the Lord’s Supper and water baptism. Where there is any difference of view about these things, “true holiness” never denounces what God has ordained, whether anyone deems it binding at present or not.
- True holiness does not seek to organize a new sect.
- Holiness does not seek to break up churches; rather, it seeks the breaking up of sin. Holiness is a church maker, not a church breaker.
- True holiness people are not anti-Sabbath people, but believe in “remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy.”
- True holiness people believe in the actual existence of pain, sickness and physical death, and of the glorification of the body after the resurrection, and, therefore, do not endorse the error of Christian Science, so-called.
- They believe in the second coming of Christ, but do not endorse the materialism and Seventh-Dayism of Seventh Day Adventists, and other errorists.
- Holiness people teach that the hurt of sin is twofold, consisting of a depraved nature and actual transgressions.
- The transgressions are removed or remedied by pardon; the depravity, or wrong state of the heart, is remedied by sanctification.
- This is no new or “modern” doctrine.
- No unregenerate man can be sanctified wholly while in that condition.
- Pardon and regeneration are for sinners.
- Entire sanctification is for justified believers.
- A sanctified man does not lose his liability to be tempted and to fall into sin.
- “True holiness” means separation from sinful and unholy customs, fashions, and laws of this world.
- Holiness is perfect love.
- Holiness people believe in a general day of judgment, when without doubt “the wicked [the unsaved] shall be certainly turned into hell,” “where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched”; and when the righteous shall “inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Heaven is real and eternal. Hell is real and eternal. They do not, therefore, believe in “future probation,” but that men and women are saved or lost forever before they die. Heaven is the home of saved people and hell the eternal home of lost people.
- They believe that each redeemed soul retains forever its personal identity and that no human spirit ever becomes a Christ, or a God; their perfection refers to the quality of their character rather than its measure. The finite can never become infinite.
- They believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.
- They do not believe that men are converted or sanctified or saved by the influence of truth alone, or any other mere influence, but by an Almighty Christ cooperating with an Omnipotent Holy Ghost, through the truths of the gospel.
- True holiness is inter-denominational. Were it only denominational, it would be sectarian. Were it undenominational it would oppose denominations and consort with that sort of spiritual anarchy called “come-out-ism.”
- True holiness recognizes proper submission to civil, family, and spiritual oversight as of divine appointment. As such it recognizes the right and need of the office of civil magistrate; the right of family authority and relationship; and the necessity and right of proper, authorized leadership in religious meetings and lawfully constituted churches.
A Holy Experience
Not Having It
- If you “do not know but what you have it,” then you do not have it. The experience of obtaining it is such that one cannot pass through it unconsciously.
- If you have objection to the doctrine and experience, you do not have it. You cannot have it and not love it; it is perfect love.
- If you “don’t know” about it, you do not have it. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17)—“know,” not learn about it theoretically. Experience is the end of all controversy.
- If you are trying to explain away the doctrine and objecting to its promulgation, you cannot be in possession of the grace.
- If one does not have it, he is conscious of the fact, but no more so than one who has the experience is conscious of its possession. Consciousness of having the headache is not less certain than the consciousness of not having it.
- The need of it, and the not having the experience, are as much and truly established by Scripture as the having of it. If the one class of Scripture is untrue and is not reliable, then neither is the other. If either class is trustworthy, then the other is.
- Not having the grace of holiness when you know God has commanded it, and provided it for you, is to be in a state of sin.
- To not have the experience in this life, or at the end of probation, is to not be able to enter heaven.
- If one has it not, he cannot testify to it.
- If one has it and is ashamed or afraid to testify to it, he will soon lose the grace.
- Conserve holiness, not something else.
- Conserve the doctrine of “true holiness.”
- Conserve the personal experience as a second, distinct work of grace.
- Conserve the church that fellowships and shelters it.
- Help the ministries that preach, defend, and explain it.
- Help the preachers and evangelists who preach it.
- Stand by the people who possess it.
- Sustain the meetings that specially advocate it.
- Help with holiness camp meetings and all services that maintain this grand old depositum of Bible doctrine.
- Keep sweet and consistent in the·profession of grace.
- Work your experience as well as testify to it.
- Remember how the Scriptures speak of a certain class that overcame the devil by “the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
- Read holiness books and periodicals.
- Avoid wildfire and all erroneous views of the doctrine and experience.
- Vigorously keep living at it.
- Vigorously persevere in trying to get someone else into the experience of it. Seek to get them in, rather than to tell them where to find it in some of the books.
- Join the holiness association or band that live where you do and work for all you are worth.
- Avoid the churches that seek to persuade you that you cannot live a holy life in any church but “theirs.”
Endnotes for The Holy Way
1 These lines are snatched from Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, O for a Heart to Praise My God. Almost every verse describes the new heart desired by the seeker after holiness, and this verse is an example:
A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love Divine,
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.
5 “Come-out-ers” was the label affixed to those who felt that the only way to be true to God and truth was to come out of established denominations and ecclesiastical structures on the basis of 2 Corinthians 6:17.
6 It was John Wesley who called this doctrine of entire sanctification the grand depositum of Methodism.
7 Wildfire, in this context, means hyper-emotionalism (which always seems to tend to error and heresy).
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