The Simple Faith about Holiness

By Scarlett Stough

Swimming lessons included learning to tread water. This technique didn’t get you anywhere, but was useful. It kept your head above water so you could rest without drowning.

Sometimes I have felt as though I were just “treading water” in my life as a Christian. I wasn’t getting anywhere; and the currents were taking me further from Christ instead of nearer.

The currents in this world are relentless. Unless we actively resist, we will be carried further away from the holiness God wants us to train and strain to achieve. The good news is we do not have to do it alone with whatever strength and will power we might possess. God gives us both the desire and strength in abundance. (Philippians 2:12-13)

*The grace of God has many facets. (I Peter 4:10) One of those facets is discipline:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches [often translated disciplines] us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
The church in Laodicea tried “treading water.” They had a good reputation in the world, but the reality of their spiritual state was stagnant and disgusting. (Revelation 3:14-17)

If we want our spiritual waters to be living and flowing, clean and refreshing, we must be actively living righteous lives. This includes our motives and our attitudes, not just whatever we are not doing, but the good we are doing. (Romans 6:15-23)

“Ever-increasing wickedness” is where the currents of this world forcefully flow. If you drift, or try to tread water, you will flow with it. Obedience to the discipline of God’s grace is the effort you do to resist that flow toward wickedness. Both the righteousness given by Christ and the righteous acts you do will lead to increasing holiness.

Therefore, prepare your mind for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (I Peter 1:13-16)
Don’t just go with the flow or tread water, swim against the currents of this world toward the holiness God commands.

*The author wishes to acknowledge Jerry Bridges, author of the books “The Pursuit of Holiness” and  “The Discipline of Grace” for insights included in this article.