False Holiness, Condensed Version

Mark Campbell

Tom V., a struggling Assembly member, committed suicide. His suicide raised questions, "If he couldn't make it, will I?  Might I also lose out, after struggling so hard to achieve a life of perfection? And since the biggest concern of the leadership was not for Tom, but for how his suicide might negatively affect the testimony of the group, could there possibly be error in the teaching on holiness?"

Holiness: The Definition was twisted to become a tool for control.

Holiness was defined as total commitment to George and his "heavenly vision" of the church.

  • This introduced a new category of sin:  Any criticism, questioning or differing opinion would not be tolerated.
  • Further, all desires and plans for one's life must be put aside unless they would advance the "heavenly vision.”

Is this scriptural?  Paul's disagreed with Apollos' plans in I Cor. 12.  His attitude shows that true holiness is not unquestioning submission, even to a god-appointed leader.  Peter was entreatable to Paul's rebuke about freedom from any rules of performance (Gal 2).

False Holiness: The Split Level Error

Salvation is divided into two parts.

  • Initial salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is only the launch pad for the Christian life, because a new believer does not yet have the presence of God.
  • To achieve the presence of God and attain “full salvation", a person must now strive to attain holiness by having regular devotions, attending all the meetings, obedience to the leaders, resisting sin and going the way of the cross, etc.

Is this Scriptural?  The Bible does not make a distinction between initial salvation and full salvation. Salvation includes complete forgiveness of sins (past, present, and future), the very presence of God, sonship, inheritance, Heaven, participation in the Bride of Christ, and so much more.  At first faith we receive all of Christ, and all the blessings of His salvation. Faith is receiving a gift, not an action taken by the believer to earn God's full salvation.

False Holiness: A Higher Life?

George taught that worldliness in the church was proof that his message of “holiness” was desperately needed to awaken Christians to their need of a higher and holier life.  And to produce a church that was a testimony to the world.  This call to a higher life has several results:

  • The problem with this call to false holiness is that the flesh is awakened and attempts to do; true holiness acknowledges what God has done in Christ.
  • Those who claim the greater determination become elitist in their attitude toward their second class brethren

This elitism and pride creates a lack of love toward the weaker  individual, evidenced in the Fellowship’s treatment of Tom, who committed suicide.

False Holiness: Recovery

The same joy and peace you had when you first accepted Christ can be yours again today.

  • Recognize that true holiness comes from the Christian’s security and full acceptance in the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Following the "heavenly vision" and the message of holiness will never result in joy and peace.
  • Even when a Christian is struggling "to get the victory", God is still there ministering His restorative grace to the heart.  He draws near to the broken and contrite heart.

A succession of blessings follows deliverance from false holiness. 

  • First, a believer experiences rest.  Rest because I know that all the liabilities and care of my soul’s condition have been taken care of in Christ, there is nothing more for me to do.
  • Second, I experience a wonderful deliverance from the self-preoccupation.  I am no longer burdened with the constant self-evaluation process that the false holiness message requires.
  • Third, grace then leads to the true expression of holiness in my life, which is love:  love for God, love for the brethren, and love for the lost.  As Jesus said in John 4:14 the new life becomes “a well of living water that springs up” and flows out to others.

The difference between false holiness and true holiness is the difference between doing and done.

Comments from readers....

Ary G., Middelburg, the Netherlands: "Thank you very much for the articles on your site. I'm a believer from Holland. For a period I used to visit the meetings when George Geftakys visited Holland. I never accepted his wrong teachings, because I had already a strong foundation in the Word. I realised that the partial rapture message was introducing legalism into the Christian life.

I have a teaching ministry in the local independent Baptist church. Although I rejected the wrong teachings of George, I am thankful for the careful explanation of the biblical message of grace as it is done in this article, 'False Holiness', by Mark Campbell. After reading it I realised I had to be more careful to avoid becoming legalistic in my teaching about holiness and the victorious Christian life. Sometimes you see the right way more clearly if you contrast it with a dark example. I hope this will encourage you to go on with proclaiming the message of "done" instead of "do".

Read more on this topic:

The Galatian Crisis  »»
Full Salvation by Devout Effort  »»
Free to Be Righteous  »»

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