How the Spirit Sets Us Up for Holiness

The same Spirit that descended on the disciples at Pentecost empowers our devotion to God.

My grandmother was part of a Holiness Pentecostal church. That meant—among many wonderful things—that they believed in entire sanctification. It was thought that in this life Christians could reach a level of personal holiness in which they could stop sinning.

My grandma made the claim that she was entirely sanctified and no longer sinned. My family was Baptist, and we would have none of this. Here’s what happened to make me think I had popped her sacred bubble. My grandmother’s home phone was part of a party line, which means more than one home was hooked up to the same line. She lived in an area called Vinegar Hill, and she could pick up the phone and hear the conversations of neighbors who were using the phone. I was there when my grandma listened in on such a conversation, then watched as she later called a friend and repeated the overheard conversation.

My grandma then returned to the “setting” room, and I waited a few minutes before I turned the conversation to entire sanctification. Here is how it went:

“Grandma, do you believe in entire sanctification?”

“Yes, I do,” she replied.

“Have you achieved it?”

“Yes, I have now for some years.”

“Grandma, I just heard you gossiping, and gossiping is sin. That means you are not sinless.”

Her response was priceless. “Now Scot,” she said with grandmotherly warmth and her customary twinkle in the eye, “gossiping is a mistake, not a sin, and God looks over mistakes.” Enough said.

What does it mean, then, to be holy or “sanctified”?

Holiness and the Holy Spirit

Over and over the term Spirit, when used in the Bible, is introduced with the term holy, as in “God’s …

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