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Victory Over Sin

Major Anita Caldwell explores the ways everyday life and holiness intersect. by Major Anita Caldwell

Do you remember Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare who raced each other? When the time for the contest arrived, excitement filled the air. When the race started, the tortoise confidently took the first step; the hare assuredly leapt forward. At the finish line hours later, the tortoise was the winner. The hare was so sure he would win he decided to rest in the middle of the race. Holiness in everyday life calls for the tortoise’s first step of faith, empowered by the Holy Spirit, coupled with persistence. So, in what ways do everyday life and holiness intersect?

Forgiveness for Past Sins

Before we can attempt holy living, we must understand that Jesus has forgiven us for our past sins. Though we might be tempted, by God’s grace and strength we can live above daily sin. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This same Holy Spirit begins His work in our lives with conviction of sin and guides us to the faith that we are forgiven.

Our Lives and Offerings

The next step of faith comes when we recognize that the Holy Spirit wants to sanctify us wholly so that we are totally His, set apart for His service and willing to do His will each day. This step signifies that it is no longer my will but His will I seek.

The Message paraphrases Romans 12:1 as, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

Surrendering all to Him, we believe that He receives us, fills us and empowers us to do His will each day.

Is Perfection Possible?

How do we define “perfect” and “perfection”? In the Hebrew Old Testament, perfection trans- lates to tamam or calal. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines the former as “wholeness, soundness, integrity, and often takes on ethical significance” and the latter as “completeness, perfection and can carry the aesthetic sense of comeliness or beauty.”

When we consider what it means to be perfect, we think of existing without error, and our first reaction is to say no one can be perfect. We live in human bodies and have limited minds, which means we will make mistakes. However, if we think of perfection in the context of wholeness and beauty, the biblical standard of perfection is possible when Christ lives and dwells within us.

Living a Holy Life

We may think we cannot live holy lives, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8, NKJ). The power of the Holy Spirit enables us to live above sin. The Holy Spirit will empower us to live this holy life. To be empowered, we must surrender to Him and be transformed by Him daily. If we stay connected, He will give us the power to live victoriously.

Everyday Holy Living: Possible?

Assured that we are forgiven for our past sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit, how do we live it each day? In the words of Oswald Chambers, “How are we going to get the life that has no lust, no self-interest, no sensitiveness to pokes, the love that is not provoked, that thinketh no evil, that is always kind? The only way is by allowing not a bit of the old life to be left; but only simple perfect trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want Himself.” The Holy Spirit becomes our great teacher.

Seeking God daily, seeking Him alone is the answer. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:25-26, NKJ).

Imagine a coworker gossips about you. As a believer, you are hurt by the false rumor and consider retaliating, but you do not act. When sanctified, you seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Perhaps you will respond with truth in kindness, or perhaps you will simply trust God.

Imagine that a family member becomes terribly ill with a disease. As a believer, you pray and hope for a miracle. The sanctified person looks into the face of Jesus, bringing Him the grief of loss, trusting Him in life and death.

Imagine having an argument with someone. As a believer, you might exchange words and defend your anger, but the Holy Spirit soon prompts you to apologize and seek forgiveness.

Imagine noticing someone beautiful and being tempted to leave your partner. As a believer, you might think about the possibilities, but ultimately you sense the Holy Spirit’s danger signals and flee from temptation.


Remember the tortoise and the hare. Sanctification is not a one–time event that carries us to the finish line. We are called to surrender daily, to race until the end. The holy life requires a moment by moment, choice by choice submission to God.

Is God speaking to you about joining this amazing journey of faith that brings victory over sin? Faithful is He who calls you, to steer and equip you toward beautiful completion.

This article was originally published in the January 2016 issue of The War Cry.

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