Should Christians Seek Holiness in the Second Blessing?

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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No doubt, you have heard a “Holiness” sermon preached from Hebrews 12:14. Generally the preacher changes the verse and reads his text thus: “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” This is the equivalent of saying, “Without Christ, no man shall see the Lord.” God very clearly shows us that He has made Christ Jesus to be our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. I Corinthians 1:30.

It is equally true, “Without righteousness, no man shall see the Lord.” God has said that no unrighteous man shall enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is the believer’s righteousness. It is equally true, “Without redemption, no man shall see the Lord,” God has made Jesus Christ to be the believer’s redemption. It was Christ Himself who said, “Except a man be born from above he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Therefore, “Without regeneration, no man shall see the Lord.”

Every regenerated man is a redeemed man. Every redeemed man has had imputed to him the righteousness of God. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. I John 5:1. No man is born of God because he is holy. The believer is born of God because he believes something very definite. He believes that Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin in his behalf when He died on the cross of Calvary. And God says, ‘‘With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” It is also true that with the heart man believeth unto regeneration; or man believeth unto redemption. It is likewise true that with the heart man believeth unto holiness. There are some who would lead us to believe that holiness means sinless perfection; that is, that the Christian should be not only perfect in his standing before God, but perfect in his conduct or state. “Hagiasmos” is the Greek word translated, sometimes, “holiness;” sometimes, “sanctification;” the same Greek word. Just as the same Greek word—the adjective—is sometimes translated “sanctified,” sometimes translated, “holy.”

In I Corinthians 7:14, we read, “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.” Certainly this does not mean that the unbelieving husband or the unbelieving wife is without sin. Christ was led by Satan to the holy temple in the holy city. He was taken to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was called by God, “The Holy City,” that is, “The Sanctified city.” Most assuredly, that did not mean that Jerusalem was without sin; for in the Book of Revelation, Jerusalem is called “Sodom,” because of the great sin of that city.

Now let us read concerning the sanctified Corinthians, in I Corinthians 6:11: “Ye are washed, but ye are sanctified but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” This Epistle is addressed, “To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,” I Corinthians 1:2. Referring to this sixth chapter, verse eleven, let us note the order: First, ye are washed; then, ye are sanctified; then, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. We notice here that “sanctified” is mentioned before “justified”; and yet there are many so-called Bible-teachers who insist that the believer can never be sanctified until he has first been justified. God has the order here as He has the order in I Corinthians 1:30; sanctification before justification and redemption.

Presently we shall see that justified, sanctified believers can be and should be resanctified. But we have God’s order in these two verses. Now let us turn again to II Thessalonians 2:13 and read: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” The sinner believes God’s truth, and when he believes God’s truth, he is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, unto salvation. Jesus Christ said in John 6:44, “No man can come unto me except my Father in Heaven draw Him, and I will raise Him up the last day.” The believing sinner is by the Holy Spirit convicted of sin (rejecting Christ) and when he believes, he is drawn by the Holy Spirit to Christ to be saved. Thus we see that sanctification precedes salvation. As we said, we shall presently refer to progressive sanctification, an experience of spiritual growth in the life of the saved one.

Let us go back to the sanctified Corinthians. In the sixth chapter, to which we referred, we read, in the nineteenth verse: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you which ye have of God, that ye are not your own.” We see them that they were temples of the Holy Spirit; that is, the Holy Spirit was dwelling within them. And yet notice what the Lord says to these sanctified temples of the Holy Spirit in the seventh verse of the sixth chapter; “There is utterly a sin among you.” Verse seven; “Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” God here shows us that the sanctified Corinthians were sinning. They were doing wrong: they were defrauding. “They walked as men.” Verse three, chapter three. They were yet carnal, although sanctified Corinthians. The apostle was speaking to their shame. Sinning sanctified Church members.

Paul wrote an epistle to another group of Christians, located at Ephesus, and he addressed that epistle, “To the saints which are at Ephesus.” “To the saints.” In the fifth chapter of the epistle, in the third and fourth verses, we read these words: “But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints. Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking nor jesting which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks.” Why did the apostle deem it necessary to tell saints not to engage in these sinful habits? Simply because he knew that there was the possibility. Certainly he knew other saints who had been guilty of these immoral habits. Now let us consider these two expressions: “To the saints,” “As becometh saints.” In other words, “Becoming saints,” “Becometh saints.” How does a sinner become a saint? What conduct becometh a saint? No one becomes a saint by behaving.

To these Ephesians, read what Paul writes in the second chapter. In verses one to three, he gives a black picture of their past history. But God is rich in mercy. “By grace are ye saved through faith, that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works.” These Ephesians did not become saints because of their good works. They became saints by grace, and that is the only way in which any sinner can become a saint.We read in that sixth chapter of Corinthians how these Corinthians were washed and sanctified and justified. But in the preceding verses we read what they had been before they were washed and made saints. The human material out of which God makes saints is described in verses nine and ten. A saint is a sinner saved by grace, and is no more of a saint after he has lived thirty years as a consecrated Christian, than he is when first saved.

Now every saint should behave as becometh a saint; but the individual is a saint because he has believed the gospel of his salvation. On believing the gospel of his salvation, the sinner is sealed with the Holy Spirit; the earnest of his inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, Ephesians 1:13 and 14. In the King James Edition of the Bible, we have a very unfortunate translation of Ephesians 1:13. It should read, “In whom we also trusted after that we heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation, in whom also, believing ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” The expression in the King James version translated, “after that ye believed,” is simply the participle of the Greek verb, to believe. The word is “Pisteusantes.” It is the equivalent of our participle, “believing.” or perhaps a better translation, “on believing.” It certainly means when or at the time they believed. In other words, “on believing the gospel of salvation,” these Ephesian saints were sealed with the Holy Spirit. In the fourth chapter, the thirtieth verse of this epistle, we are told that the Ephesian saints were sealed unto the day of redemption. In that verse they are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Why should it be necessary for God to tell a saint not to grieve the Holy Spirit? Because there was more than the possibility or the probability. It is still a fact that the great majority of God’s saints do truly grieve the Holy Spirit. Every one of the Ephesian saints was sealed with the Holy Spirit, but not every one was always filled with the Holy Spirit. They were instructed in the fifth chapter and the eighteenth verse to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to be sealed when saved unto the day of redemption with the Holy Spirit; it is another thing, day by day, to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This brings us to the consideration of another Scripture which so often has been corrupted by the so-called “Holiness” or “Second Blessing” preacher, namely; Acts 19:1 to 5. There we read in the second verse, Paul’s question to certain Jewish disciples who had received from Apollos, or some other teacher, the message of John the Baptist, which was not up to date. The question Paul asked of the Jewish disciples of John at Ephesus was; “Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?” Now, we have here another very unfortunate translation of the Greek; because we have in this verse the very same Greek participle that we have in Ephesians 1:13. What Paul really asked, “On believing, (Pisteusntes) received ye the Holy Spirit?” They said, “we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit”. You will remember that John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water, but Christ shall baptize you with, or in, the Holy Spirit.” These disciples at Ephesus had not heard whether the Holy Spirit had been given. According to Ephesians 1:13 and 14, some of the Ephesians, on believing, were sealed with the Holy Spirit; while these Ephesian disciples, in Acts, on believing did not receive the Holy Spirit. It was because the two groups at Ephesus received and believed entirely different messages. Nobody received the Holy Spirit by believing in the message of John, the Baptist;— baptism unto repentance for Israel.”

Every saved one immediately receives the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 3:13 and 14, we are told that Christ died on the cross to deliver Israel from the curse of the law, and that the believing Gentiles might receive the Holy Spirit. We read in Hebrews 13:12: “Therefore, Jesus, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered without the gate.” In other words, by His finished work on the cross, when Jesus Christ suffered without the gate, believing sinners are made saints through His blood. We have the same thought in I Peter 1:2, “Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit and to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

The very moment a sinner is washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, his experience is that which is set forth in Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” In the verse just preceding we read, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, or the Son of His Love.” Thus we see that when the sinner is redeemed through the blood of Christ, he is translated from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of God’s Love. “According to I Corinthians 12:13, when saved the believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, into the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The believer is in the world, but not of the world. He is sanctified. Sanctified means either, separated by God, or separated unto God; very often both meanings are included, that is “separated by God unto God.” Unless an individual has been separated by God unto God, he shall not see God. Therefore, “without sanctification no man shall see the Lord.” But let us not forget that Jesus Christ is our sanctification and if we have Him we have holiness because we have a Holy Saviour living within; and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Some preachers tell Christians if they do not seek holiness they will lose their salvation.

The Holy Spirit is the earnest, or the assurance, of the believer’s acceptance by God. II Corinthians 1:22. “He hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” We emphasize those three words, “in our hearts;” because there are some very foolish religious leaders who would seduce people into fanaticism, and they are sometimes successful. This they do by teaching that the sinner is justified when he believes the Gospel and receives Christ. At that time the Holy Spirit is with him. But in order to have the Holy Spirit within, he must experience a second work of grace. He must be sanctified. Some of them call this, “the second blessing.” Some call it, “the baptism the Holy Spirit.” They support their false teaching by misunderstanding Ephesians 1:13. They say, “after that ye believed,” means subsequent to and separate from salvation, or they use the expression found in Acts 19:2, “Since ye believed.” “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” They invariably refer to the experience of twelve apostles quoting John 14:17. In this verse, we find recorded the words of the Lord Jesus before he went to Calvary. He said to his disciples, concerning the Holy Spirit. “Ye know Him for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.” And because the Holy Spirit was with them before he dwelt within them, they tell us that we must have a similar experience. However, they forget to read John 7:39 in which the Lord plainly declared that the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Christ was not yet glorified. In other words, these disciples of Jesus who were saved during days of His flesh were saved in the dispensation of the Son of Man, under the Old Covenant; before the dispensation of the Holy Spirit was ushered in.

John was that disciple whom the Lord loved; and truly if anyone could have had the Holy Spirit within while Christ was on the earth, John would have enjoyed that experience. But John had to wait more than three years after he saved to receive the Holy Spirit; for the simple reason that the Holy Spirit was not yet given. These men were saved before Jesus Christ died on the cross, and in order to have an experience as they had, we too would have to receive our salvation in the same dispensation in which they were saved, that is, in those days when Jesus of Nazareth was a man in the midst of Israel; made under the law, a minister of circumcision. This is altogether impossible. So their experiences cannot be duplicated.

By referring to Acts 11:14 to 17, we learn that Cornelius, the Gentile, received the Holy Spirit when he heard the words whereby he was to be saved. At the time he was saved he received the Holy Spirit. So far as any Gentile believer in the Body of Christ is concerned, there is not single Scripture that supports the teaching of the second blessing or the second work of grace.

If you will carefully read Exodus 3:5, Exodus 16:23, Exodus 29:29, Leviticus 27:30, you will learn of holy ground, holy Sabbath, holy garments, and holy tithes. In Exodus 13:2, you may read of a sanctified or holy beast. In Genesis 2:3 we are told God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. He set it apart. The Hebrew word, “Qodesh” means separated, or set apart by God or for God. Israel was a sanctified nation. But they had to be re-sanctified for service many times.

Now so far as the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ is concerned, this expression is not used in the Bible. In the first chapter of John, in, the first chapter of Mark, in the third chapter of Matthew, and in the third chapter of Luke, John the Baptist declares that Christ will baptize His disciples in or with the Holy Spirit. The same thought is used by the risen Christ in Acts 1:5, “Ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” Referring to this promise, Peter, in Acts 11:14 to 17, said that he remembered these words of the Lord when the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius the Gentile. The only other Scripture in the New Testament in which Holy Spirit baptism is mentioned, is I Corinthians 12:13. There the reference is to the operation of the Holy Spirit by which the believer is placed in the Body of Christ. This one baptism takes place once for all, when the believer receives Jesus Christ, at which time he is born of the Spirit There is but one Spirit and one baptism, Ephesians 4:4 to 7. Therefore, Holy Spirit Baptism is never the future experience of any Christian. Every individual, who is saved, is saved because of the work of the Holy Spirit and at time he is saved by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit has His part in placing him in the true Church of Jesus Christ. The believer receives the earnest of the Holy Spirit within, once-for-all, the very moment he is saved. He likewise receives, once-for-all, the sealing and the anointing, as well as the baptism.

But, there are many infillings of the Holy Spirit.

Now we call your attention to II Corinthians 7:11. Again these Corinthians are addressed as saints, “Having therefore, these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse our selves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” And read a similar verse, I Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace, sanctify you wholly; and I pray God that your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here God is calling the believer to a holy life, to a life of separation and consecration. By reading the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, we learn that every believer is positionally and potentially dead to sin because of the death and resurrection of Christ and the believer’s identification with that resurrected Christ. As we read that chapter we learn how God would have the believer, who is positionally and potentially dead to sin, to actually live as one risen from the dead with Christ, by reckoning himself dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness; that is by yielding himself moment by moment unto God as one alive from the dead.

The moment the believer is saved, as a new born babe, he is to desire the sincere milk of the Word that he may grow thereby. I Peter 2:1. The believer is instructed to add certain things to his faith. He is told to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord would have him present his body a living sacrifice. But he is not saved or positionally sanctified because of what he does or does not as a believer but because he is a believer.

The Lord Jesus Christ, in John, 17:17, prayed for His disciples and said, “Father, sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” Surely they had already been sanctified, so far as their standing before God was concerned. Their names had been written in heaven. But now the Saviour is praying that they should not be defiled by the world; that they might not compromise; that they might be kept from the evil one; that they might not live in sin; but that each of them might live a yielded and a separated life. He is still praying that same prayer for you and me. The believer is instructed by God to love not the world, neither the things of the world; to keep himself unspotted from the world; to be not conformed to the world. Every disciple of Christ should put on the whole armor of God that he might stand against the wiles of the evil one. God’s desire for every one of His children, is that he or she might abstain from the very appearances of evil and be a shining light in the; midst of a wicked and perverse generation. These things are written unto you that ye sin not. Confess your faults (sins) one to another.

For the proper development of the physical man some laws or rules must be observed. The individual must have the proper food, good water, good air, proper exercise and sufficient rest. The neglect or sacrifice of any one of these five things will hinder physical development and growth. Likewise in the spiritual realm, there are spiritual rules.

So far as union is concerned, every believer maintains the same relationship to God, but the communion is something different. The Christian, or believer, will be filled with the Holy Spirit; that is, he will be Christ-like and truly Spiritual, just in the degree that he is occupied with God’s spiritual program, in the proportion that he appropriates the unlimited resources which God has placed at his disposal.

First of all let us be assured that every believer is blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. These are on deposit immediately. Ephesians 1:1 to 3. Therefore, no believer, who is thus blessed with all spiritual blessings, needs a second blessing. But what he does need, is the wisdom and the faith to appropriate and utilize the all spiritual blessings which are in Christ for every believer.

Here are the rules for the proper spiritual development and growth of the believer:

1. He must be a prayerful earnest reader and student of God’s Holy Word.

2. He must be faithful in prayer and intercession.

3. He must engage in the true worship of God, remembering that the believer is a holy priest as well as a royal priest. Mary was occupied with Christ. Martha was occupied for Christ. Before any Christian can be acceptably and fruitfully occupied for Christ, he must be occupied with Christ.

4. Then God has instructed his saints; “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.”

5. Finally, the Christian is called to be an ambassador and a witness, faithful in giving out his testimony, as well as in ministering to suffering humanity—this is often called practical Christianity. He must therefore be continuously engaged in Christian service, service for Christ.

We might go forward in fifty different meetings, for the second blessing, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit; but unless we observe these five essential spiritual principles, we shall never grow in grace nor be filled with the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is positional, progressive and prospective. Every believer should grow more Christ like every day and remain in such a spiritual attitude that he can be re-sanctified for every service to which he is called by the Holy Spirit. But no faithful and obedient child of God will ever cease to be conscious of His imperfections, failures and faults.

In closing we call your attention to Hebrews 10:10 and Hebrews 10:14 and ask you to believe God’s Word. We quote: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” “By one offering, He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

God has made Jesus Christ to be our holiness. Is He yours? If so, you are holy. And blessed be His name, as the believer grows in grace and in the knowledge of this wonderful Saviour, he can be and should be re-sanctified for every service, separated by the Lord unto the Lord, vessels meet for the Master’s use. “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

Our calling is a three-fold calling; unto salvation; unto separation; unto service. And if the Holy Spirit today should call you, a Christian, to fully yield yourself to Him after years of indecision and indifference, praise the Lord for such a whole-hearted surrender. But do not preach some unscriptural “Sanctification” or “Holiness” theory because of your new experience and joy.

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.