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Proactive Holiness

Pro·ac·tive or pro-ac·tive (prō-āk’tĭv) adj. Acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty; anticipatory: proactive steps to prevent terrorism.

The continued assault on Biblical holiness has caused many of us who believe in a conservative lifestyle to reflect on our beliefs. Faithfulness to the Word of God must guide us in this exercise. If we venture outside of the Bible and look to cultural underpinnings for our guide, we will soon find ourselves adrift with no anchor, rudder or sail. The answer is to rethink the reasons why we live the way we do. Even in a cultural minefield, we can relate the scriptural mandates to living in the twenty-first century.

Holiness-minded people have been accused of being reactionary, that is, of adopting certain rules and regulations as an answer to perceived human problems or transgressions. In addition, religious conservatives are said to be locked in a time warp, living in denial of the sweeping cultural changes that have occurred in society. This has supposedly marginalized the holiness movement to a place of irrelevance to this generation. It is said that if we do not change, we will eventually cease to exist.

Yet, an examination of the immorality and sinfulness of today confirms that it looks pretty much like it has always looked throughout the centuries. It may be redefined, repackaged and relabeled, and it may appear new and improved from the older version of sin. If anything, it is only more toxic and more dangerous today than it was in the past. Holiness, however, stands out as a polar opposite of worldliness. It is a constant, visible reminder of the kind of lifestyle taught by the scriptures. The Bible does not leave holiness issues in nebulous metaphors, subject to as many varying interpretations as there are people who interpret them. The concept of holiness has many concrete, practical applications.

Too many see holiness as a collection of random, unrelated rules. Some even fail to see the connection between accepted guidelines and the very concept of holiness. Not only is this view misinformed, it shows a gross failure to understand the nature of God. One, small column cannot address the issue, but the basic points are these: Holiness is a purposeful, proactive strategy to living a righteous life. It is purposeful because it seeks to emulate the clear, scriptural model of holiness. It is anticipatory because it understands the potential problems that we face in the flesh, the world and the devil. It is preventative because it cultivates spiritual virtues and habits in the inner man. It is strategic because it acts in measured ways and means to achieve the desired result.

Why do we dress the way we do? Because the human heart and mind is subject to lustful impulses and is highly suggestible. Why do we behave the way we do? Because, our Adamic nature is always contrary to the plan of God in our lives. What is the purpose for a holiness lifestyle? It is the result of a profound respect we have for the holiness of God. Established scriptural principles that define God for us simultaneously demand certain behaviors from us. We cannot embrace a holy God without a sincere response of holiness on our part. We cannot manage our lives and deal with our bodies if we conform to the world instead of being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Those who abandon holiness virtues and guidelines do so out of frustration and weariness rather than a new, illuminated understanding of God. Thus, instead of disproving the case for holiness, they actually make the case.

We can identify a number of Biblical proactive strategies that help a believer to secure a righteous lifestyle. The following statements are mandates to define the way we live. They are purposeful, anticipatory, preventative and strategic. They correspond to real questions and real situations that we encounter in serious discipleship.

  • Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)
  • Flee youthful lusts. (1 Timothy 2:22)
  • Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Mortify the deeds of the body. (Romans 8:13)
  • Walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16)
  • Walk circumspectly, not as fools. (Ephesians 5:15)
  • Be sober, be vigilant. (1 Peter 5:8)
  • Make not provision for the flesh. (Romans 13:14)

Beyond these few references, the scriptures overflow with imperatives designed to help us achieve holiness in our lives. Postmodern philosophy notwithstanding, we must focus on the timeless teachings of the Word of God if we are to be Bible Christians. When we live for God according to His Word, we reap the joy and peace of oneness with God.

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Reader Comments (5)

I am flabbergasted that after reading this blog post wrought with self-effort that not once is the source of our Holniness the Spirit of God but rather a response to approaching a Holy God. Without the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed upon us we cannot approach Christ no matter what we're wearing ...or if we are behaving morally. Brother Jordan, re-read this blog and for the exception of one reference to the Spirit of God ... little here speaks of submitting to the Lordship of His Spirit to live and reflect through us. A bit disappointed.

April 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan Alicea


In my piece, I wrote a disclaimer that I could not possibly address the entire matter in one article. I think you have to read this as though it were in the middle of a book rather than the beginning. Without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, none of us could live pleasing to God. I certainly do not believe that self-effort is the main engine driving a holiness lifestyle. My comments were meant to be pragmatic in the context of organizational guidelines and a holiness impulse. Taken at face value, the scriptures I listed argue for a response. Do we divorce any human response to these scriptures? Perhaps I didn't do a thorough enough job in explaining my position, but I maintain that the position is valid.


April 14, 2009 | Registered CommenterJ. Mark Jordan

Brother Jordan,

The statements in your blog remain worrisome and, in my opinion, contradictory to the tone you seek ... even when compared the the historical holiness movement of the Wesleyans and Methodists that you vaqguely alluded to when you stated: This has supposedly marginalized the holiness movement to a place of irrelevance to this generation.

Wesley and the conservative holiness movement always believed in both imputed righteousness and imparted righteousness. Imparted righteouness is that gracious gift of God given at the moment of the new birth which enables a Christian disciple to strive for holiness and sanctification. This cause and effect relationship permeated throughout those pioneers in the Holiness movement that sought the Pentecostal experience at the turn of the centuries.

However, what you propose seems contradictory to this view and can be misconstrued to be similar of the views of those who sought to judaize the Way in Acts 15 seeking circumcision (an outward sign) to be an anticipitory, strategic, pre-requisite.

I submit one can walk away from reading this article, unfortunately, with the notion that Godly holiness seems to be square in the hands of man when one brazenly proclaims "Holiness is a purposeful, proactive strategy to living a righteous life." Especially when the strategy is analogized with preparing for a terrorist attack.

Who initiates this strategy called Holiness in all aspects, Brother Jordan?

Holiness is still remains as probably God's most unique attribute. God's.

Yet, in your paradigm it seems to be sourced in the efforts of man and not a reflection of God working in us

You stated:

"Why do we dress the way we do?

Because the human heart and mind is subject to lustful impulses and is highly suggestible.

Why do we behave the way we do? Because, our Adamic nature is always contrary to the plan of God in our lives.

What is the purpose for a holiness lifestyle? It is the result of a profound respect we have for the holiness of God."


Where is the Holy Spirit in this equation?

Words still meant things Pastor Jordan and when our saints are pounded with "your obedience makes you holy, holier, holiest ..."

.... the believer may soon forget that it is Christ's obedience in us that allows for us to obey. It leads to great frustration when we miss the mark. Frustrated saints start asking, "When, if ever, will I measure up". And now the onus to anticipate and prevent seem to rely solely on obeying "accepted organization guidelines" based on the values of a sub-culture.

We do believe in obedience ... We do believe that works follow faith. Reiterating this to mainstream Christianity is preaching to the choir ....

however as this is preposed little is offered to the truth that we are most proactive when we submit entirely to the Holy Ghost working through us.

The law of God remains the school master the leads us to Christ ... yet in Paul still remarks that it is our baptism into Christ through faith that makes us right with, or just before a MOST HOLY GOD (Gal. 3:24-27)

The RUB: If being pro-active is acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty; anticipatory ... is pro-active holiness the fruit our acting holy or His holiness living though us?

Jesus said, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he (E)bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

The power of Pentecost still is a promise of God dwelling in us and through us.

If self-preservation of a paradigm. and holding on to the fort is the motive then perhaps this article might be in order.

April 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan Alicea

Holiness, like love, is an aspect and a characteristic of eternal God. It is a way to describe the higher, transcendent nature of God, in the sense that as one grows spiritually, one continues to experience and manifest more and more of the higher nature, but never attains it, because of its infinite nature.

Therefore, holiness cannot ever be perceived en toto by the physical senses of a time-bound being. Thus, we cannot judge the "holiness standard" for anyone else, because we don't know their level of consciousness, i.e., we don't inhabit their spirits or minds or bodies to have access to that knowledge.

On the other hand, if one accepts that the Holy Spirit of God indwells his own body and informs his own spirit and mind, then it is possible to examine oneself and "practice" holiness thusly: unfold holiness, derive it, from Jesus's two "greatest commandments" (love God, and your neighbor as yourself), together with the purpose of Jesus (to reconcile all to God), and think, speak, and act accordingly.

In this case, there is no focus on externally-imposed "church standards" or any such artificial rules or regulations (i.e., legalism), but a very powerful self-regulation that is literally inspired by the Holy Spirit itself, in accordance with Jeremiah 31:33:

"I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

The power of holiness is easy to perceive: rather than merely accepting cultural modes of dress, speech, or behavior, one evaluates these things critically himself in light of his part in the Whole; this is thinking and living higher, which is what people who are "born from above" (John 3:3) do as a consequence of this re-birth and re-purposing. If our consciousness is still stuck in the lower realms, where we are thinking only in terms of our own physical bodies and minds, then we will not rise above (overcome) these bodies that will decay, i.e., there is no resurrection into new life.

Holiness, when viewed in this context, isn't something one labors for, but rather, is something one senses by the mere subjection of his own personal, fleshly will to the will of the Higher One. Truly, then, the holiness is not a work of the flesh at all, as it is not possible to be holy through the flesh since holiness is by definition a higher-dimensional impulse, ALWAYS, infinitely upward: it seeks the still higher purpose, always, forever.

Jesus said, "Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation." How else can we know the higher impulse, if we aren't (1) observing how our thoughts, dress, speech, behaviors affect our selves and those around us and (2) praying to the Father to enlighten us yet further?

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Garcia

Greetings my Bro.Jordan,

I got something a little different from your article than did the others. It is by the indwellng HOLY Spirit that we are able to live with spiritual foresight, being proactive is an outflow of HIS inner working and is both a witness to a world that does need to "SEE" holiness as well as observe the temperment and nature of Holiness. May they "SEE" your good works and glorify God...

The believer is, by the Spirit, proactive, not reactive, thus counter the culture. I do not look at outward holiness as my righteousness, my righteousness is as filthy rags, but the inner working in my life will declare itself in my apperance as well as in my inner motives.

Works is faith expressed, an outflow of Faith in the finished work of Christ. I know that in my flesh is no good thing and try as i will, I will never be perfect in the flesh.

I have been apprehended and now my lifes purpose is to "apprehend". I am proactive because the proactive (not reactive) ONE lives in me.

So I study to give an answer, I purpose in my heart to sanctify the Lord Jesus in me.

"Always be ready to give an answer of the hope..."

That is what a read into your thoughts.

Thank you,


November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Jenkins

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