Tag Archives: holiness

2 Corinthians 7 verse 1 – holiness?

2 Corinthians 7 verse 1:saint

” Therefore, having these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

What does this verse mean? How do we perfect holiness? How do we cleanse ourselves?

Cleansing OF all filthiness

Andrew Wommack enlightens us, his excellent article on this verse ,  making the distinction that this verse is not talking about cleansing ourselves OF all filthiness but cleansing FROM all filthiness.

In other words, firstly as believers we are already made holy and cleansed of all unrighteousness by faith in Jesus.

Acts 15:9 “And put no difference between us and them, purifying (cleansing) their hearts by faith. “

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Cleansing FROM all filthiness

This verse though (2 Cor 7:1), calls us to cleanse ourselves FROM all filthiness and this is a different concept. It is something we do. God can’t do it for us! If we read the preceding verses we find that the context is ungodly relationships and partnerships.

For example, if you are a member of the freemasons then you are in an unholy and ungodly partnership and you need to leave fast!

Likewise, if you are in adulterous affair – leave now!

Having promises – the motivation

Consequently, the motivation for holiness is not to attain something but is as a consequence of the holy calling we HAVE. Notice, how the call to holiness in this verse is preceded by the phrase: “having these promises beloved”.

So, what are these promises? The word ‘therefore’, gives the clue; it’s the preceding verses which are speaking about the acceptance of the Father, being the people of God and the temple of God. As God’s church we are God’s holy and special people or saints.

Sin in the church

In the previous Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul writes about serious public sin in the church that believers are committing and the church is ignoring. He tells them as a church to deal with it!

1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

It is important to see however, that  he is not saying that as believers we are to withdraw from the world like monks but  we are to judge and deal with sin in the church else the leaven will leaven the whole lump! (verse 6)

1 Cor 5:10 “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.”

Apostasy in the church

Again, Paul describes this principle of holiness or separation, in a different fashion but using the same word cleanse translated purge, in 2 Timothy 2:19:

“If a man therefore purge (cleanse) himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Is Paul advising Timothy to withdraw from all relationships with unbelievers? Certainly not. No, in context he is addressing a situation where serious apostasy has entered the church:  Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection of the dead had already taken place. Therefore, persons teaching heresy, even if they call themselves christians, must be avoided and separated from because they are like a cancer in the body of christ.

More related articles:

True holiness

What is holiness?

What do you do when you sin?

What is the kingdom of God?

Repentance is not what you think

Awake to righteousness

My Kindle book “Christ in You”  For the UK it can be found here…

For the US …

Elsewhere …. just find the relevant amazon site to your country and search for: Christ in You.

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Awake to righteousness

Self-consciousness

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Freedom from sin

can a believer sinChrist in you (part 3).

If you could take a pill to be totally free of all sin would you do it right now? If you are born again then your answer would be mostly likely a resounding yes! The desperate man at the end of Romans 7 we have been discussing in the previous post, would certainly grab the chance. I mean, as believers, don’t we all long for that day when we will be in heaven where we will we never ever sin again – a glorious thought!

The God’s-pill

However, the Gospel (God’s-pill) is not just a promise of freedom from sin in the future, its freedom from law of sin and death NOW.

If you jump back a few chapters in Romans to chapter 6, it is clear that the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the means by which God had not only forgiven all you sins but has dealt with sin in the flesh. Therefore, your freedom is a done deal. It happened 2000 years ago!

Romans 6:18 “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness”

Romans 6:22 “but now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome eternal life.”

When Jesus was crucified you were crucified with him

Romans 6:6 “knowing that our old self was crucified with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”
When Jesus died you died with him

Romans 6:7 “for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ….”

When he was buried you were buried with him

Romans 6:4 “therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death”

When he was raised you were raised with him

Romans 6:4 “in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life”

The resurrection of Jesus therefore is the key. Life is more powerful then death. Light always overcomes darkness. Therefore, resurrection and eternal life defeats and trumps death completely.

1 Corinthians 15:54 “Death is swallowed up in victory”.

One of my favourite scriptures and the one of the best bits in the Bible (in my opinion), is Romans 8:1. It’s like a victorious fanfare of trumpets announcing the termination of the wrestling match of Romans chapter 7.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, for law of the spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Wow! What this amazing verse is saying and we have been saying already, is that resurrection life, christ in you, the law of the spirit of life, breaks the hold, the chains, the patterns and the habits of sin in our lives! Just like Jesus came to life and walked out of that tomb, so God is able to raise you from the dead! Similarly, as Jesus called forth Lazarus from the tomb –  so he calls your name!

No condemnation

It’s because we have been set free, that there can be NOW (this moment and at any moment), NO (zero) condemnation or future judgment and penalty for sin. Nothing you do, no sin you can commit (even right now), is going to suffer a penalty because when Jesus died you died!

In the next verse, verse 2 of Romans 8, the writers gives a bit more detail how this is possible. He explains how what the law was powerless to do (free you from the law of sin and death), God did at the cross and judged sin in the flesh. So, not just sins were dealt with and judged but the whole of your sinful flesh was judged – exhausting any possible future penalty.

Romans 8:2. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: “

This is the ‘too good to be true news’ that is the Gospel of Grace – and the legalists hate it! Without conditions, caveats and multiple hoops to jump through, they just can’t cope – indeed the original translators of the KJV even added extra text (without any authority I may add), “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Why? Because they couldn’t believe verse 1 was that good!

How can it be that good? Surely, the first thought that goes through the mind of the believer is: “yippee, lets go out on the town and sin as much as I can get away with.” Of course, that takes no account that if you are born again you actually do want to live Holy and you have a new nature. In fact, now you are a willing slave to righteousness and to God. Romans 6:18 and 6:22.

It’s a bit like thinking that if you said to your children that they could now do what they liked, that they would somehow smash your house up, drink all your beer and drive your car into a wall! No, if they really are your children and truly love you they probably won’t in fact. This however is the risk of grace and of love that God undertakes. The good news is, that God now treats us as a sons who are led by the spirit of God (Romans 8:14); the law is for immature kids who need rules.

Therefore, when Jesus said the following he wasn’t kidding:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Let’s us therefore, learn to stand and enjoy this freedom that Christ has purchased:

Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery”

Further articles:

Next post (Part 4)

Why do I sin (Part 2)

Christ in you (part 1)

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The law of christ

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Christ in you (Part 1)

Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

christ in youGod lived in a box

Where does God live, where does he reside?

Acts 7:48  clearly says: “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

However, under the Old Covenant God graciously dwelt or tabernacled with man. In fact, for a while he came to live in a box (the ark), hidden in a tent (the tabernacle), in the desert. Unfortunately, to go in and meet God, you had to be an Israelite, a Levite and also the high-priest that year. The chances of meeting God and even surviving therefore were pretty slim! Moses, who saw the back-side of God was a very privileged individual!

Under the Old Covenant therefore, God’s presence was external. It was as Graham Cooke calls it: a ‘visitation mentality’. In other words, God came and he went. King David could say in Psalm 51:11:

“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”  

Therefore, the Holy Spirit came upon people, indeed he filled them but he didn’t indwell them. In other words, he didn’t reside there, he just came to stay for a bit and one day he was gone. His presence was always temporary. By the way, the prayer above is not appropriate for believes today because his presence in the believer is permanent – but we will get to that later!

God lived in Jesus

God’s ultimate plan and desire though, was always ‘habitation’. In other words, he desired to live with man permanently. The title of the Messiah, Emanuel, or God with us expresses this perfectly. Through the event of incarnation, 2000 years ago, God came to dwell amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ.

John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Access was limited

The problem was, that even though God was manifest in the flesh, access was still limited: you actually had to be living in Israel, the crowds were big and technically salvation was available only to the Jewish people – Gentiles were excluded. So, even though Jesus was the temple of God, the access was not universal and was limited to the brief time that he was actually alive and walking the earth – a mere 33 years before being brutally murdered!

The Holy Spirit’s coming!

Jesus himself though, hinted  privately to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion, that a mystery was going to be unveiled. He revealed, that he was leaving and his replacement was soon coming – the Holy Spirit. This meant that the presence of God was coming and it would be personal and permanent to his followers. Not just a visitation but a habitation.  Indeed, they would literally carry the presence of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit everywhere they went and worship would no longer be in a physical temple but by the spirit.

John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our abode with him”

The disciples get born again

However, it awaited the resurrection though, before the disciples could be born again and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This event is recorded in John 20:22,  when the living Christ Jesus breathed into them his own spirit (the spirit of christ), mirroring Genesis 2:7 when God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul.

John 20:22 “and when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them Receive the Holy Spirit”

Why Jesus had to leave

In order for the Holy Spirit to be sent from heaven however, Jesus had to ascend back into heaven to his Father – that is why Jesus tells Mary not to touch him in John 20:17 because he no longer wanted her to relate to him in the flesh but by the spirit.

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

Jesus had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come.

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

Pentecost

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came, he came to indwell the church, the body of Christ and tongues of fire settled on each of the 120 believers gathered there in that upper room.

Many years before, when King Solomon dedicated the temple (2 Chron 5:13), 120 priests sounded trumpets and the priests were unable to stand to minister because of the glory cloud of the Lord.

At Pentecost however, believers individually and collectively became the temple of the Holy Spirit – and that permanently.

1 Cor 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

So, each believer, a member of the body of christ, is a little christ, an anointed one or Christian  – a nightmare for the devil because everywhere we go, the presence of God goes – a moving temple!

Ephesians 2:21 “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

The revelation of the Apostle Paul

The full extent of the revelation of this magnificent truth though, awaited the conversion of the devil’s righthand man – the Apostle Paul. Paul, unlike the other Apostles, had never met Jesus in the flesh (as far as we know), only meeting him dramatically in a ‘heavenly vision’ at midday on the Damascus road.

What the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul, was that even though you might have known Jesus in the flesh and even touched and talked with him, now by the spirit every believer had far greater access to God the Father by the Holy Spirit.

2 Cor 5:16 “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”

Really close to God!

In fact, now you as a believer, are so close to Jesus that there is not a hairs breath between you and God!  

1 Cor 6:17: “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit!”

Christ’s Spirit is in you

Not only that, the truth is, that a christian is no longer in the flesh with a dead human spirit your born again spirit is the spirit of Christ.

Romans 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. “

Christ now dwells in the heart through faith. We have the Spirit of Christ.

“….so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:17)

Our spirit is alive and righteous

And, because it is Christ’s Spirit that lives in us, even though our bodies and souls are still affected and damaged by sin and death, our spirit is alive and is righteous and holy just like Jesus!

Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Eph 4:28 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Hebrews 12:23 “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”

A new nature

In fact, new birth means your nature has been completely changed. Before, it was natural to sin because you were of Adam’s fallen spirit – the old man. Now you have the new man Christ Jesus inside and you have a new nature, a divine nature just like Jesus. What is God’s nature? It is love.

2 Peter 1:4 “Wherebye are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Laws written on the heart

This new nature therefore wants to do what’s right. Through new birth, God has written or programmed his laws, (this is not the ten commandments but the commandments of God, his desires on our hearts.) This means, that new birth also affects the will, mind and emotions – the whole person.

Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people;” Hebrews 10:16

It affects everything

So then, this new creation miracle, is not restricted to just to the spirit. This new life, eternal life, resurrection power, works from the inside out, affecting and transforming both our emotions, mind, heart and even the physical body itself:

Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

The new nature does not sin

In addition, this born again christ like and righteousness nature cannot sin!

1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t sin but Christ in us cannot sin! There has been an identity change and the I the real I is who your are in Christ:

Romans 7:7 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

Therefore, you have a new identity. A new name. You are no longer called a sinner. No you are called a holy one or a saint.

A new identity

That is your new identity and like Paul you can identify yourself fully with Jesus in his crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. After all, that’s what baptism is all about!

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I (the old identity) . but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh (the physical existence)  I live by faith in the Son of God; who loved me, and gave himself for me”

Lastly, to finish, the real test of whether you are a christian and you are in the faith is that Christ is in you. If Christ is indeed in you, then outwardly you may not look like Jesus but your spirit is identical. You are like Christ!

2 Cor 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

Next article: why do I still sin?

Further articles:

New birth (Audio)

You must be born again

The end of law

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Can a believer sin?

can a believer sinCan a believer sin?

If you have read John’s Epistle recently you may have come across these verses and been puzzled by them:

1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

So, is John saying that if you are born again you cannot sin? Well apparently so. In fact, he also says that if you sin you are of the devil!

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

A contradiction?

The immediate question in most people’s minds is: well I know I’m born again and I sinned a few times this week, so does this mean I’m no longer born again or have lost my salvation?  Even John, in the very same Epistle seems to contradict himself and admit the possibility of sin in a believer’s life as per the following verses:

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, (aorist tense, one off) we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

So what does he mean? What is the answer to this apparent contradiction?

A believe does not practice sin

Firstly, a better translation of 1 John 3:9,  1 John 5:8 and 1 John 3:8 would be ‘practice sin’ as translated in the ASV. This is because the tense of the verb ‘sin’ is not ‘aorist’ ( ie sinning in a moment of time, even once – see 1 John 2:1), but  ‘present active’ or sinning continually.

Therefore, John is saying that a true believer may sin but doesn’t sin continually or practice sin. In fact, if he or she does sin continually, then probably they never knew Christ in the first place!

1 John 3:6 “No one who sins (present active)  has seen him or known him!”

Incidentally, this verse proves that if your practice sin you have never known the Lord so you can’t become unborn and then born again etc and lose your salvation!

A believer practices righteousness

However, I don’t believe the above explanation, although technically correct, is the complete answer because John not only talks about practicing sin, he talks about practicing righteousness. See the following scriptures:

1 John 2:29 “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him”

1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no one deceive you, the one who practices righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous”

1 John 3:10 “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious, anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God”

Now this is problematic, because John uses the same present active tense to describe   righteousness! In other words, a believer practices righteousness –  he or she doesn’t just do occasional acts of righteousness, like an unbeliever might. No, they constantly and continually do righteousness.

Now, we can easily cope with the idea that we occasionally sin but can we honestly say that we practice righteousness day in day out? Well, John says if you don’t then you’re not born again! There must be a more complete answer – and there is!

In the flesh

I believe, that in context, the Apostle John is talking about who we are in the spirit because that is where new birth has taken place:

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Theologically, when we are unsaved we are described as being “ in the flesh” and cannot please God. Our spirit man is dead.

Romans 7:5 “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”

Romans 8:8 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

What is “in the flesh?” It is the body and soul (mind, will and emotions) ruled in the natural man by a dead human spirit.

In the spirit

When we are born again however, our old man or spirit is put to death in Jesus and we come alive as Christ and the Holy Spirit come to live in us. This state is described as being “in the spirit.”

Romans 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

The old man is crucified.

Therefore, because Christ is in us, our spirit is alive and we (our spirit man) CANNOT sin. Our born again nature therefore, is just like Jesus and is only capable of righteousness continually. This is called the new man. Our old man or dead spirit is crucified with Christ.

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I (the old identity) . but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh (the physical existence)  I live by faith in the Son of God; who loved me, and gave himself for me”

Your spirit is united with christ

1 cor 6:17 “ But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit!”

We are righteous and holy as a gift

Ephesians 2:4 “And that ye put on the new man, which is after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”

Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)|”

Gods laws are written on our hearts

Through new birth, God has written or programmed his laws ( this is not the ten commandments but the commandments as John refers to them) on our hearts.

Hebrews 8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people;” Hebrews 10:16

You have a new nature

God has transformed you internally at the centre of your being. Before your nature was sin, now you are a partaker of the divine nature ( love).

2 Peter 1:4 “Wherebye are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Walking or living in the flesh

So you say, if I am born again why do I sin? The biblical terminology for this is “walking or living in the flesh”. ( Unbelievers can only walk in the flesh).  Believers however, though not in the flesh, still have the flesh ( soul and body) and have the possibility of walking either in the flesh or the spirit.

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Romans 8:13 “for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

Most of us know however, because most of us have tried, that even though we desire to change because we are born again, it still takes us a while to learn that the law, even though holy – cannot help us. We cannot use rules and standards to bring the flesh into line. In fact. it just makes things worse because rather than walk in the spirit we focus on the sinful behaviour!

Galatians 3:3 “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

No, we need someone to help. Who shall deliver me from this body of death (Romans 7:24). Evil is still present in us, even though we are born again we still need a saviour because our flesh is corrupt and we are weak.

No longer I – Romans 7

Romans 7:21 “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:”

Romans 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Take note: Paul does not say there is no good in him at all because that is not true – he is born again and therefore righteous and holy in his spirit. No, its in his flesh (mind, will, emotions and body) that there isn’t any good thing!

Therefore, sin cannot cause you to lose your salvation but you may get to heaven quicker than you anticipated! For example, Paul doesn’t downgrade sin – he disciplines the church over allowing the gross sin in their midst but he doesn’t say that the individual believer has forfeited their salvation. No, he says if he doesn’t repent (and as we find out later he did) ,he will probably foolishly lose his life as the devil is allowed full reign in his life kill and destroy.

1 Cor 5:5 “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Therefore, Paul in Romans 7 identifies himself twice, not with his flesh and its behaviour but with his spirit man.

Romans 7:17 “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

Romans 7:20 “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

Therefore, Paul has come to the same conclusion as John, that if he sins this behaviour is not coming from who he is in christ but the sinful patterns and habits ingrained in his sinful flesh! We are not therefore schizophrenic: a bad person and a good person in one person with two separate identities. No the old criminal has been put to death in Christ and I am now a saint! That is my true identity.

This of course, doesn’t free us from the responsibility of the action of the flesh – we are to put to death the deeds of the body by the spirit. So, now you are a saint – act like it! You are now a son of the king. You are righteous. That is your identity. When you believe that truth then right behaviour will begin to flow out of this right believing.

Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Example – under new management

A couple of years ago Fran and I bought a failing ladies gym.  As the new owners we had a completely new vision and plan for the club. Of course, a few of the existing staff were not happy with our plans and standards because they preferred things the way they were. So, we had to try and help them change. Of course, some resisted but eventually most began to realise we were not going to change our plans and continue to run the club like the old owners. Likewise, some of the members didn’t like us turning the music up and actually coaching them but even though some left, most enjoyed the new regime!

Likewise,  if you are born again, this is similar to  what is now going on in your life.  You (your born again spirit man) is the new owner. Your mind, will and emotions prefers things the way they always were but the old owner is no longer in charge! Your business coach, the Holy Spirit  is there to advise and help you get these staff into line and  ‘turn this business around’!

Further  reading:

New birth, Christ in you – Paul Noble audio

You must be born again

What do you do when you sin?

Are all sins forgiven?

Graham Cooke – Our true identity

How to walk after the flesh – Paul Ellis

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True Holiness

true holinessWhat is true holiness? A preacher thundering out threats from the pulpit of God’s holy wrath against sin, or a virgin gazing adoringly at her husband to be on her wedding day?

I believe that true holiness, looks like a person: Jesus Christ THE HOLY ONE, the sinless Son of God.


Acts 3:14 “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;”

How did Jesus act towards the unholy?

How did this holy one act toward the sinner? Did he avoid and separate himself from the wicked, as a good religious Pharisee or separate one should? Or, was he found dining out as the friend of tax-gatherers and sinners?

Matt 11:19 “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”

Many times in the Gospels, we read amazing stories of how sinners are attracted and transformed by the holiness and goodness of Jesus – rather than repelled. Take for instance, the woman of Samaria, who by the end of the encounter is telling everybody:

“He told me all things I had done” John 4:38.

What accounts for this transformation, this fearlessness and this lack of shame? I believe it is an encounter with true holiness and goodness: Jesus Christ.

Again, look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19; the most hated man in town; a collaborator and a thief – equivalent to a banker or corrupt politician today! He hasn’t got a hope of getting an audience with Jesus so he climbs a tree to crash the party. How does Jesus treat him? Does he publicly reveal his sin? Does Jesus command him to come down and face the music? No, he commands him to hurry, come down and make him dinner!

Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

What is the fruit of this kindness? A dramatic change of thinking, a response far beyond what the Law required. Light has expelled darkness. A son of Abraham has been revealed!

Did Jesus ever rebuke the sinner?

Of course you may ask, did Jesus ever point out a person’s sin and warn of continuing to sin? Yes he did sometimes. To the women caught in adultery he said in John 8:11

“neither do I condemn you go and sin no more”.

To the man by the pool of Siloam who he has just healed he says:

John 5:14 “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”

Many times Jesus rebuked his own disciples and others for their stupidity, lack of faith and downright unbelief. However, Jesus did not look or act an angry man. His anger, when revealed, was reserved for the hard-hearted and religious rather than the sinner.

Mark 3:1 “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts”

Matthew 23:27 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

What does holiness look like?

What then, does true holiness look like in us, if we call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ and  have put on Christ?

Eph 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

First, we must understand that true holiness and righteousness now live inside of us. We are already like Christ at the centre of our beings because Christ is in us. Our job now, is to live up to the dignity and majesty of that calling and put on the new man.

Ephesians 5:3 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;”

Consequently, we’re not sinners any more, we are not trying to be saints we are saints (holy ones). We are royalty and part of God’s family.

1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

The New Testament therefore, is full of commands but these are not the commands of Old Covenant Law (which although holy could never make us holy). This is called the Law of Christ or the Royal Law.

James 2:8 “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”

Therefore, you are not trying to be something you are not. Christianity isn’t behaviour modification it’s a miracle of transformation called new birth. You are already righteous and holy in your spirit.  God is not making better beggars he’s adopting beggars into his royal family. We are kings, priests and ambassadors!

“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” 1 Samuel 2:8

Beggars to princes

For this reason, when we know and believe our new identity and role, this should change our behaviour and our outward holiness. A work of transformation from beggar to prince has begun.

1 Peter 1:5 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”

For example, imagine you are a beggar taken from the street and adopted as a king’s son. Of course, the outward transformation from beggar to prince does not come overnight. Years of living on the streets are not easy to leave behind in a few days. No, a brand new way of thinking has to be established and that is the job of your tutor (the Holy Spirit).

First you are washed and scrubbed and given new clothes to wear and then you begin to spend many hours with the tutor as he patiently trains you in table manners, correct speech and even maybe how to dance! Sometimes of course, there are setbacks and you want to give up but the tutor is well trained and infinitely patient!

What a tragedy it would be then, if you ran away from the palace and went back to your old life in the gutter and back to begging? Really that is the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15: The younger son leaves a perfectly good home and wastes his inheritance in a far country. Did his Father disown him or stop loving him? No not for one moment. In fact, I think the younger son was quite surprised at the positive reception he got from his Father on his return. Maybe he was expecting anger; he didn’t even get to finish his prepared speech before the Father was lavishing him with blessings – a robe, a ring, shoes and a feast!

Likewise, how sad when we go back to living in the gutter, when we continue sinning and living in the flesh. Living like this,  we miss out on God’s inheritance, his kingdom expressed through us. Yes we are still loved and still a king’s son or daughter but we are grieving our mentor the Holy Spirit and missing out on a fatted calf!

Ephesians 5:5 “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

In conclusion then,  lets not be afraid of true holiness, what a privilege to be mentored by the Holy Spirit to become just like Jesus and reign with him one day.

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Further reading:

What is holiness?
Training for reigning

 

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What is holiness?

When the Bible talks about holiness or being holy, it is not really talking about being sinless.  If it was, how could days, ground, places, garments, pots and pans, the Bible, cities and even the Law be sinless?

You are special!

holinessWhat the Bible means by the word holy is for something or someone to be set apart, special or unique.  I like the word to be different.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, (or haven’t yet) , nevertheless you are called to be different, to be special and unique – just like God:

1 Peter 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”

Swim against the tide

So, because you are different, unique and special, don’t live like everyone else, swim against the tide. Be like God. He is holy, unique and special; there is none like him!

1 Samuel  2:2  “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.”

This means, you are not trying to be holy (different). You are already different; you have a holy calling (2 Tim 1:9).  The Bible calls you a saint which means: a holy one. We are part of a chosen generation, a holy nation and a royal priesthood.

1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

For Example: Prince Charles is called to be the King of England someday. He is set apart for that office. Therefore, he cannot live like a commoner, even though he enjoys amazing privileges, he also accepts restrictions in keeping with his calling.

Our responsibility

Likewise, because of the amazing calling on our lives as believers, we should get rid of everything that is not in keeping with that calling.

2 Cor 7:1  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Consequently, as believers we are called not to love the world or the things of the world – that is holiness, being different from everyone around us.

1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Withdraw from society?

However, the way we do this is not to withdraw from the world or society and the sinful environment around us, but like Jesus  (who didn’t become a Pharisee or a separate one) – rather engage with it! In fact, the religious Pharisees hated Jesus so much for interfering in their world that they were prepared to separate him permanently by having him murdered!

The Pharisees believed that they were special and different and set apart from the common (unholy) people such as the tax collectors and sinners but didn’t realise that they were full of pride and children of the devil!

Put on Christ

No, God doesn’t call us to separate ourselves from the world, living as monks or nuns in a monastery. We are to put on Christ, wear him as our identity and get our hands dirty!

Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

For this reason, we are to follow the example of  Jesus the Son of God and become the friend of prostitutes and sinners.  Was Jesus worried that sin might contaminate him? Did he withdraw from the sinner because God couldn’t look upon sin? No, he contaminated sinners with the love of God, the most powerful antidote to sin on the planet!

If you enjoyed this article why not subscribe for email updates or join us on Facebook?

Further Reading:

Grace a license to sin?
Sinning wilfully
Is it possible to preach too much grace?
True Holiness

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The Dangers Of The Holiness Movement – Dr Harry Ironside

The following is part of the testimony of Dr Harry Ironside regarding the holiness movement and doctrines such as the “second blessing”. The complete testimony can be read here:

As nearly as I can now recollect, I was in the enjoyment of the knowledge of God’s salvation about a month when, in some dispute with my brother, who was younger than I, my temper suddenly escaped control, and in an angry passion I struck and felled him to the ground. Horror immediately filled my soul. I needed not his sarcastic taunt, “Well, you are a nice Christian! You’d better go down to the Army and tell what a saint you’ve become!” to send me to my room in anguish of heart to confess my sin to God in shame and bitter sorrow, as afterwards frankly to my brother, who generously forgave me.

From this time on mine was an “up-and-down experience,” to use a term often heard in “testimony meetings.” I longed for perfect victory over the lusts and desires of the flesh. Yet I seemed to have more trouble with evil thoughts and unholy propensities than I had ever known before. For a long time I kept these conflicts hidden, and known only to God and to myself.

But after some eight or ten months, I became interested in what were called “holiness meetings,” held weekly in the “Army” hall, and also in a mission I sometimes attended.

 At these gatherings an experience was spoken of which I felt was just what I needed. It was designated by various terms:

“The Second Blessing”; “Sanctification”; “Perfect Love”; “Higher Life”; “Cleansing from Inbred Sin”;

Substantially, the teaching was this:

When converted, God graciously forgives all sins committed up to the time when one repents. But the believer is then placed in a lifelong probation, during which he may at any time forfeit his justification and peace with God if he falls into sin from which he does not repent.

In order, therefore, to maintain himself in a saved condition, he needs a further work of grace called sanctification:

This work has to do with sin the root, as justification had to do with sins the fruit.



The steps leading up to this second blessing are, firstly, conviction as to the need of holiness (just as in the beginning there was conviction of the need of salvation).

Secondly, a full surrender to God, or the laying of every hope, prospect and possession on the altar of consecration; thirdly, to claim in faith the incoming of the Holy Spirit as a refining fire to burn out all inbred sin, thus destroying in to every lust and passion, leaving the soul perfect in love and as pure as un-fallen Adam.

One lady told how for forty years she had been kept from sin in thought, word, and deed. Her heart, she declared, was no longer “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” but was as holy as the courts of heaven, since the blood of Christ has washed away the last remains inbred sin. Others spoke in a similar way, though their experiences were much briefer. Bad tempers had been rooted out when a full surrender was made.

 Evil propensities and unholy appetites had been instantly destroyed when holiness was claimed by faith.

Eagerly I began to seek this precious boon of holiness in the flesh. Earnestly I prayed for this Adamic sinlessness. I asked God to reveal to me every unholy thing, that I might truly surrender all to Him. I gave up friends, pursuits, pleasures – everything I could think of that might hinder the incoming of the Holy Ghost and the consequent blessing. I did not, however, obtain what I sought, though I prayed zealously for weeks.

At last, one Saturday night I determined to go out into the country and wait on God, not returning till I had received the blessing of perfect love. Falling on my knees beneath a sycamore tree, I prayed in an agony for hours, beseeching God to show me anything that hindered my reception of the blessing. I struggled against conviction, but finally ended by crying, “Lord, I give up all–everything, every person, every enjoyment, that would hinder my living alone for Thee. Now give me, I pray Thee, the blessing!”

As I look back, I believe I was fully surrendered to the will of God at that moment, so far as I understood it. But my brain and nerves were unstrung by the long midnight vigil and the intense anxiety of previous months, and I fell almost fainting to the ground. Then a holy ecstasy seemed to thrill all my being.

My troubles were all ended now. The wilderness was past, and I was in Canaan, feeding on the old corn of the land. Nevermore should I be troubled by inward drawings toward sin. My heart was pure. I had reached the desirable state of full sanctification. With no foe within, I could direct all my energies toward vanquishing the enemies without.

 This was what I thought. Alas, how little did I know myself; much less the mind of God!

For some weeks after the eventful experience before described, I lived in a dreamily-happy state, rejoicing in my fancied sinlessness. One great idea had possession of my mind; and whether at work or in my leisure hours, I thought of little else than the wonderful event which had taken place. But gradually I began to “come back to earth,” as it were. I was now employed in a photographic studio, where I associated with people of various tastes and habits, some of whom ridiculed, some tolerated, and others sympathized with, my radical views on things religious.

Night after night I attended the meetings, speaking on the street and indoors, and I soon noticed (and doubtless others did too) that a change came over my “testimonies.” Before, I had always held up Christ, and pointed the lost to Him. Now, almost imperceptibly, my own experience became my theme, and I held up myself as a striking example of consecration and holiness!

This was the prevailing characteristic of the brief addresses made by most of the “advanced” Christians in our company. The youngest in grace magnified Christ. The “sanctified” magnified themselves.

A favorite song will make this more manifest than any words of mine. It is still widely used in Army meetings, and finds a place in their song or hymnbooks. I give only one verse as a specimen:

The people I know don’t live holy;
 They battle with unconquered sin,


Not daring to consecrate fully,
 Or they full salvation would win.


With malice they have constant trouble,
 From doubting they long to be free;


With most things about them they grumble;
 Praise God, this is not so with ME!



The first ecstatic experiences seldom lasted long. The ecstasy departed, and the “sanctified” were very little different from their brethren who were supposed to be “only justified.” We did not commit overt acts of evil: therefore we were sinless.

Lust was not sin unless yielded to: so it was easy to go on testifying that all was right.

 My thoughts of sin, as well as of holiness, were very unformed and imperfect. Therefore it was easy, generally speaking, to think that I was living without the one, and manifesting the other. When doubts assailed, I treated them as temptations of the devil. If I became unmistakably conscious that I had actually sinned, I persuaded myself that at least it was not willful, but rather a mistake of the mind than an intentional error of the heart.

I did not dare open my heart to my assistants in the work, or to the “soldiers” who were under my guidance. To do so I felt would be to lose all influence with them and to be looked upon as a backslider. So, alone and in secret, I fought my battles and never went into a holiness meeting without persuading myself that now at least, I was fully surrendered and therefore must have the blessing of sanctification. Sometimes I called it entire consecration and felt easier. It did not seem to be claiming too much. I had no conception at the time of the hypocrisy of all this.

What made my distress more poignant was the knowledge that I was not the only sufferer. Another, one very dear to me, shared my doubts and anxieties from the same cause.And now I began to see what a string of derelicts this holiness teaching left in its train. I could count scores of persons who had gone into utter infidelity because of it. They always gave the same reason: “I tried it all. I found it a failure. So I concluded the Bible teaching was all a delusion, and religion was a mere matter of the emotions.” Many more (and I knew several such intimately) lapsed into insanity after floundering in the morass of this emotional religion for years and people said that studying the Bible had driven them crazy. How little they knew that it was lack of Bible knowledge that was accountable for their wretched mental state – an absolutely unscriptural use of isolated passages of Scripture!

I observed that the general state of “sanctified” people was as low, if not often lower, than that of those whom they contemptuously described as “only justified.” 

Finally, I could bear it no longer, so asked to be relieved from all active service, and at my own request was sent to the Beulah Home of Rest, near Oakland.

 

I had now been for over five years labouring in the organisation with which I had linked myself, and ever seeking to be certain that I had attained a sinless state. In some twelve different towns and cities I had served, as I thought, faithfully, endeavouring to reach the lost, and to make out of them staunch Salvationists when converted.

At last, it began to be clear to me that the holiness doctrine had a most baneful influence upon the movement. People who professed conversion (whether real or not the day will declare) struggled for months, even years, to reach a state of sinlessness which never was reached; and at last they gave up in despair and sank back in many instances to the dead level of the world around them. The standard set was the unattainable. The result was, sooner or later, utter discouragement, cunningly-concealed hypocrisy, or an unconscious lowering of the standard to suit the experience reached.

When I went to the Home of Rest, I had not yet fully given up seeking for perfection in the flesh. In the rest home I found about fourteen officers, broken in health, seeking recuperation. I watched the ways and conversation of all most carefully, intending to confide in those who gave the best evidence of entire sanctification. There were some choice souls among them, and some arrogant hypocrites. But holiness in the absolute sense I saw in none.

Deliverance came at last in a most unexpected way. A lassie-lieutenant, a woman some ten years my senior in age, was brought to the Home from Rock Springs, Wyoming, supposedly dying of consumption. From the first my heart went out to her in deep sympathy. To me she was a martyr, laying down her life for a needy world. I was much in her company, observed her closely, and finally came to the conclusion that she was the only wholly sanctified person in that place.

Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks after her arrival, she, with a companion, came to me one evening and begged me to read to her. In God’s providence a pamphlet caught my attention which my mother had given me some years before. Moved by a sudden impulse, I drew it forth and said, “I’ll read this. It is not in accordance with our teaching; but it may be interesting anyway.” I read page after page, paying little attention, only hoping to soothe and quiet this dying woman. In it the lost condition of all men by nature was emphasized. Redemption in Christ through His death was explained.

I was startled after going over the first half of the book when Lieut. J–exclaimed, “O Captain, do you think that can possibly be true? If I could only believe that, I could die in peace!”

 Astonished beyond measure, I asked, “What! do you mean to say you could not die in peace as you are? You are justified and sanctified; you have an experience I have sought in vain for years; and are you troubled about dying?” “I am miserable,” she replied, “and you mustn’t say I am sanctified. I cannot get it. I have struggled for years, but I have not reached it yet. This is why I wanted to speak to you, for I felt so sure you had it and could help me!”

We looked at each other in amazement; and as the pathos and yet ludicrousness of it all burst upon us, I laughed deliriously, while she wept hysterically. Then I remember exclaiming, “Do you think,” she asked, “that it is because we depend upon our own efforts too much?Can it be that we trust Christ to save us, but we think we have to keep saved by our own faithfulness?” 

”But,” I broke in, “to think anything else would open the door to all kinds of sin!”

We saw that we had been looking WITHIN for holiness, instead of WITHOUT We realized that the same grace that had saved us at first alone could carry us on.

I can but praise Him for the matchless grace that gave me to see that perfect holiness and perfect love were to be found, not in me, but in Christ Jesus alone. 

And I have been learning all along my pilgrim journey that the more my heart is taken up with Christ, the more do I enjoy practical deliverance from sin’s power, and the more do I realize what it is to have the love of God shed abroad in that heart by the Holy Spirit given to me, as the Earnest of the glory to come. I have found liberty and joy since being freed from bondage that I never thought it possible for a soul to know on earth, while I have a confidence in presenting this precious truth for the acceptance of others that contrasts with the uncertainty of the past.

Grace a licence to sin? 

Sinning Willfully

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