May 26, 2017

Seven Marks of Counterfeit Holiness

John Van Gelderen

In a recent post we addressed the error of counterfeit holiness (see The Error of Counterfeit Holiness). The major error is in focusing primarily on applications of holiness instead of the person of holiness—the Holy One. Although there are many, following are seven marks of counterfeit holiness.

  1. Teaching man’s traditions as the commandments of God. It is fair to see implications in the Word of God. Beyond that, it is fair to see inferences based on the implications. This is how we make applications. But we must remember these applications are at least two steps removed from the explicit text. Therefore, we must not teach the applications (traditions) as the commandments of God. This is a serious error. Jesus condemned this since people tend to hold to the traditions over the Word of God (Mark 7:7-13).
  2. Making lifestyle applications that the Lord may lead you to hold universal for all. This is similar to the first point. But this makes Christianity a one-size-fits-all paradigm which leaves no room for growth and a personal walk with God. It confuses what is absolute versus what is variable within the absolutes. Ultimately, this demand infringes on the Holy Spirit’s personal leadership in lives of others (Rom. 14).
  3. Saying holiness must look like a given set of external applications beyond the absolutes of the written Word.But this demand places the focus at least in part on the applications instead of Jesus. Focus reveals dependence. So a misplaced focus or a split-focus reveals a wrong dependence (Acts 15; Gal. 3:1-5).
  4. Condescending attitude toward others. But condescension reveals self-righteousness. Jesus condemned the Pharisee who was condescending toward the publican (Luke 18:9-14).
  5. Condemning the innocent. But it is just as wrong to condemn the innocent as it is to commend the guilty. It is just as wrong to call good evil as it is to call evil good. Counterfeit holiness condemns what is actually pleasing to God.  Jesus condemned those who did this (Matt. 12:1-8).
  6. Emphasizing the law as a schoolmaster not just for sinners, but also for saints. But the Spirit is the leader for saints (Gal. 5:18). If you make the law the leader, then you promote law-focus. Law-focus demands law-dependence, which is really flesh-dependence, and you have just led people into the frustration of Romans 7 failure.
  7. Expressing a given set of externals as one’s first and primary burden, although also incorporating correct verbiage that implies focus on Jesus. But one’s first burden reveals one’s real focus, which reveals where one’s actual dependence lies.

True holiness comes from the Holy Spirit, imparting the holy life of Jesus through faith. Ironically, while counterfeit holiness accuses all who disagree as being compromisers, counterfeit holiness actually compromises true holiness.


This article originally appeared here. It is republished on Proclaim & Defend by permission.

John Van Gelderen is an evangelist and the president of Revival Focus Ministries, an organization for the cause of revival in hearts, homes, churches, and beyond, and for evangelizing. His blog is focused on experiencing Jesus. He believes in order to really live, you must access and experience the very life of Jesus Christ.

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