Is Holiness Possible…

Or Is Holiness a Hoax?

Holiness defines God’s character, first and foremost. It is His complete “otherness” that distinguishes Him from us. He is “separate” from all creation.

Yet both Testaments command God’s people to be holy (Lev. 20:26, 1 Pet. 1:16). This three-time holy God makes holiness an imperative—”Be ye holy.”

Anyone who has thought deeply about the “HOLY ONE” has some recognition of the evil of his own heart. In fact, apart from being convicted of sin, no one would trust Christ’s cross-work for forgiveness. If you are saved, you know you have sinned and come short of God’s glory.

After one is saved, he comes to repeated revelations of the depravity potential still resident within. So, is holiness possible? And if so, to what degree? How does “positional holiness” become practical? Can this bent toward badness be displaced? Is a pure heart possible?

“Crisis holiness”teaches that there is an experience which severs the cord of indwelling sin and purifies the heart. Though not every judgment is perfect, at least the motives are purified. “Performance holiness” prescribes stopping wrong behaviors and beginning proper behaviors. A lot of altar calls are based on the issue of performance as relates to the externals to be avoided and preferences that are favored.  “Progressive holiness (sanctification)” teaches that Christ-likeness is a process that stretches over a lifetime. It is a gradual, ever-increasing walk in godliness.

But there is another view which I call the “no-holiness-now” position. I am reading a book by one who claims a “high-view of God”, but seems to me to have a weak view of grace. He continually reiterates: “You don’t have a pure heart”, “No one has a pure heart”, “You will never have a pure heart.” Then he goes on to reference “transforming grace.”

If I don’t have a pure heart, and no one has a pure heart, and no man will ever have a pure heart, then what kind of “grace” is this? Did God mock us when He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”? To be candid, I find these introspective, cerebral ramblings very discouraging. If heart purity is impossible, why are we exhorted—”perfecting holiness in the fear of God”? Is holiness on planet earth a pipe dream—a hoax?

If we are so shot-through with sin that every motive, much less actions, is never free from contamination, then where is the “good news” in that sort of gospel? Does grace “kick-in” in the afterlife only, or do the possibilities of grace offer freedom from sin on earth?

Does a Christ-centered, cross-centered gospel break the power of indwelling sin? It seems to me we have a host of individuals who can analyze the problem. Their preaching majors on “You’re not…” But what we really need is a message of “You CAN and HERE’S HOW!” Holiness must be a divine work, but it clearly carries human responsibility as well. “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit”, was Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7:1).

This is not intended as a declaration as much as an appeal for input. Many of us need help toward personal holiness. If you can shed some light on the matter of obtaining and maintaining a pure heart, then respond below. Your constructive thoughts, PLEASE.

Harold Vaughan

Click here to read part 2 of this article – Is Holiness Possible? Why Extremes Do Harm


  1. Jack JacksonDecember 15, 2014

    Brother Harold, what if being called to holiness, is being called to be set apart from the worlds ways and towards His? The old paths are discussed in Jeremiah 6:16-24 as a way in which is the good way. But how many in today’s world even know what these “old paths” are let alone those in Jeremiah’s days. We sometimes seem to emphasize “being lead by the Spirit” over just reading His words (in all Scripture) and just changing from “our paths” to follow just as Jesus (Yeshua) demonstrated. Holiness then is a process or journey which if we seek hard after Him to change us, He and the Spirit will direct our paths. This process does however place a bull’s eye target on us for Satan’s attacks (if you choose to live godly, you shall suffer persecution). So like eating, we take one bite at a time. As we read the word, start at the beginning and either add to your ways things He likes, or get rid of the things He doesn’t like. It helps if convicted by the Spirit, but even if a thief isn’t convicted to stop stealing, if he reads “thou shalt not steal, he should stop stealing”.

  2. David PaskalDecember 13, 2014

    The work of salvation is God’s entirely . Sanctification is a position we are continually striving to achive in our daily lives. God would not ask us to be ye holy as He is Holy if we were not called to walk in holiness. My thought is holiness is the continuos effort on our part to walk with God not towards Him, this is a daily part of our difficult existence in our present lives. Sin is always around us and we can if not careful find ourselves participants of sin we had just earlier avoided when we were walking with God in holiness. The key is abiding in Him and this is obtainable as we seek Him in the Scripturea and Sppeak with Him in prayer. He becomes near to us a dearer to us as we strive to practice obedience to Him and fellowship with Him. Luke 18:1 , John 15:1 -16 . Many other references to the scriptures could be referred to including Matthew 6:33 . Thank you! Bro. David Paskal

  3. DJClaypoolDecember 12, 2014

    If you sow to the flesh, you will of the flesh, reap corruption, if you sow to the spirit, you will reap everlasting life. It is the daily “abiding” in union with Christ that makes holiness possible…that means that while all things (lawful) are permissible, not all things are helpful…so even lawful things can hinder our walk if we have made them a habit or in other words…enslaved by them”. Holiness is possible, but only in union with Christ and under the law of Grace. It is a daily dying to self, putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. We can live a life with a conscious void of offense towards God, but it is a daily walk as we drag around this corrupt flesh. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we sow to the spirit and deny the flesh…the increasing sensitivity we have to the Holy Spirit. As we obey His leading, we walk in holiness. We can be made perfect, not by legalism, but by obedience and abiding.

  4. Ron LundyDecember 11, 2014

    Brother Vaughan, you just said what I have been thinking. I think part of the problem is how we see God. Some see Him as angry with us because of our sin, but in reality, because of grace, because of Calvary’s blood, God sees our sin as an indication of our need of His healing power which He is only too glad to give, and free to give without judgment because every sin of a christian has already been judged! With the judgment of sin occurring two thousand years ago God now sees Himself as our physician, the healer of our iniquities. Holiness is going to be impossible until we can see God as the healer of our iniquities. We are meant to be partakers of His divine nature but we fall short because we are not convinced that He really loves us that much.

  5. WillDecember 11, 2014

    I believe that our only real Holiness comes from the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. Our outward righteousness (actions, attitudes, etc) are not what makes us Holy, they are just our poor attempt at emulating The Holy One. A child’s crayon drawing brings delight and praise from the loving parent although it is not an accurate or noteworthy work of art. Similarly, the Love Christ has toward us makes up for all of our works faults so that our crayon drawing of Holiness says only to Him, I love you. The errors forgotten, but the work stands.

  6. MarciaDecember 11, 2014


    From my own personal experience, if I am in the Word, praying and confessing sin, then the Holy Spirit has more of me and makes me sensitive to anything that would quench the Spirit. Therefore, I am more sensitive to sin and the Word is more clear so I am more inclined to sin less with the help of the Holy Spirit. I feel we do have a heavy responsibility in doing our part in following the commandments to be in the Word, pray and confess and then He meets us there and produces holiness in our lives. Have I been able to hold onto this every day of my life? Sadly, no. But the fault lies with me. Good thought provoking article!


    1. LeeAnneDecember 12, 2014

      I agree.


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Harold Vaughan

View posts by Harold Vaughan
Evangelist Harold Vaughan is the founder of Christ Life Ministries, Inc. To date, his ministry has led him to preach in forty-eight states and many foreign countries. Click on "ABOUT" in the menu bar to learn more about Harold.
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