Moving Beyond Spiritual Defeat and into God’s Gift of Holiness


Must Christians live in constant spiritual defeat, accepting the reality of repeated sin and fallenness? In today’s Seven Minute Seminary video, Dr. John Oswalt encourages us to believe and receive the biblical promise that the Holy Spirit enables Christians to live for and please God, day by day, without limit, and without rival.

Consider the promise of holiness witnessed to in the Old Testament:

“I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. (Jeremiah 32:39, NIV)

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19, NIV)

See more Scripture on sanctification: Leviticus 11:44–45; Matthew 5:48; John 17:13–19; Acts 20:32; Romans 8:7-10 1 Thessalonians 5:24.

[READ] An article by Timothy Tennent introducing the concept of sanctification, both as God’s demand and as God’s gift for his people; [WATCH] A Seven Minute Seminary video by Ben Witherington refuting the idea that Romans 7 teaches that Christians have a divided heart and must repeatedly sin; [WATCH] A Seven Minute Seminary video by Matt O’Reilly calling into question the idea that sin is essential to the human experience; [READ] An article by Timothy Tennent making the case for entire sanctification, which is a heart made alive and redirected toward God; [READ] Some quotes on holiness and sanctification penned by saints from across the ages; [BUY] The Call to Holiness by Timothy Tennent from our store.

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Dr. John Oswalt is Visiting Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. His expertise is in Old Testament studies, Hebrew language, and Hebrew religion. His writings have appeared in Bible encyclopedias, scholarly journals and popular religious periodicals, and is a leading scholar on the book of Isaiah. He is married to the former Karen Kennedy, and they have three children and two grandchildren.


  1. Very good Dr. Oswalt. I can relate to the marriage illustration because it is an easy way to understand perfect love. If you love your spouse, you might fight with them and dislike them during the fight, but it has no impact on your love for them. Thus you can repent of the fight and renew your commitment to them. In the same way, holiness is possible for fallen people when their sin doesn’t impede their perfect love for God. If they do sin, their perfect love will cause them to repent and renew their commitment to God.