I arrived at St. Pauls Anglican Church, Isolo, Lagos, on September 15, 2019, in response to the invitation of the Scripture Union, Isolo Pilgrims Group. The topic given to me to speak on was: ‘How to grow in Purity and Holiness’.
I started the message by telling them that the end expectation in anything determines whether the person will follow a specified line of conduct or not. If he foresees that his projection at the end of the day will not be met, he will not bother to embark on that venture. This understanding applies in every facet of life and also to various individuals.
I told them how a youth entered the Teachers Training Course of the Methodist College, Uzuakoli, in 1964, for Teachers’ Grade 2 Certificate. In the two years’ training course, the first year students were placed in three classes of 30 students in each class. He was in Class A and as Form prizes were awarded to the best two students in each class, he determined to be coming first in his class, so that he would be winning the first prize.
It was not his parents or friends that prodded him, it was a noble task he gave himself, and he kept to it. In many Churches, the members behave and dress in a particular way as directed by the leadership. When some of them are outside that environment or have left the Church, they revert to their usual behaviour or dressing mode. It is different where somebody chooses his behavioral pattern or mode of dressing, guided by Gods Word.
The youth’s decision to lead his class was not an easy task as some of his classmates were from Isuochi, a town he knew that their youths were noted for their academic brilliance. His greatest challenge, however, was from a youth, who unlike him and all other students in his class, attended the secondary school, finishing in Grade 2 in the School Certificate.
He tasked himself in finding out the best subjects of every brilliant student in his class and then devoted more time to studying them. For history, which he was on borderline, he committed his entire history note to memory, and emerged the best student in the subject. That was how he performed in almost all the other subjects. He emerged the best student, not only in his class, but also in the three classes of year one!
In the same way, it is important that we know why God says that we must be holy, and even to grow in it “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” 1Pt. 1:14-16. Holiness is God’s demand for us, His children. It has no alternative. It is a case of, ‘take it or leave it’. We must be holy as God is. A good son will like to be like his father. It is very painful to a God-fearing dad, if his son refuses to know God the way and manner he does. God feels the same way. Determination to be like Him is the surest step in growing in holiness. Governor Pilate, who tried the Lord Jesus, confessed that he could not find any fault in Him. If not that the trial was political and not legal, he would have discharged and acquitted Him. Threatened with his job by the Jewish leaders, he chose his job and sentenced a Man he had described as ‘just’. Imagine!
The penalty for a life without holiness is grave. “Without holiness, no one will see God,” says Heb. 12:14. This is the most important reason, why we should grow in purity and in holiness. It overrides whatever position anybody holds. If my Pastor teaches anything different from this, and I believe him, I will be making a mockery of myself. Life of holiness starts after salvation. If the Director General of JAMB publishes ‘Five credit passes, which must include Mathematics and English’, as the admission requirement, and my Maths and English teachers tell me not to mind him, who will I believe?
It is important to note that holiness goes beyond morality. I wrote last year, how Adeniyi, a taxi driver, returned to Dele, his passenger, $2,400 he forget in his taxi. If Adeniyi is a child of God, that conduct he exhibited would be holiness but if he is not, it was morality. Morality has a limit. It can be influenced by someone. A lady, who is chaste as an act of morality, may bow to evil demands, if offered a huge amount of money or a prestigious employment. A moral man may discard that garment when threatened with death or imprisonment. It is not so with holiness. It is a way of life chosen by someone because the person wants to please God.
Some believers may be forced to rescind the positions they have taken in God, but not those, who have determined to be holy. Uncle Daniel decided ahead of time, that he would not eat the same food they would be serving the king, because he might not know the things used in its preparation or if it would be presented first to an idol. A child of God, engrossed in holiness, declares his fasting before he knows what his wife will serve for breakfast. If not, if the breakfast is his best food or his wife wants to take the family to a Chinese restaurant during the lunch, he may defer his fasting.
Another trick of the devil, which he uses to make a child of God to change his mind concerning his stand on holiness, can be a threat of death. That was the weapon King Nebuchadnezzar employed on the three Hebrew children in his kingdom, when they refused to worship his golden image – Daniel 3:14-18. He gave them an open opportunity of bowing down before his god, so that they would be forgiven.
They told him, at his face, that they would not and that their God, the Living God, would deliver them out of his hand. To demonstrate their commitment to the Living God, they added that if their God chose not to deliver them from his hand, it did not matter to them, as they would still be loyal to Him.
The devil can use promotion, wealth, et cetera, to entice believers. In the case of Joseph, his mistress, the wife of Potiphar, did her utmost, as an amorous lady, to seduce him but he refused – Gen. 39: 7-12. When the heat was becoming too unbearable, he took to his heels. His coat, which the woman seized, could not cause him to look or come back.
Growing in holiness includes readiness to pay the price. Those three Hebrew children were condemned to death for refusing to compromise their faith, but God rescued them. It did not matter to them if He did not. In the case of Joseph, he was imprisoned but it did not also matter to him. It was better for him to go to prison than going to hell. In prison, he was okay. That was why he intervened when he saw Pharaoh’s servants sad in prison – Gen 40:7. It is only a happy man that can identify a sad fellow. The challenge today is whether the believer is ready to suffer for standing on Purity and Holiness.
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]