Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Abiding In Christ


In chapter 13 of the Gospel of John, a window is opened allowing us to view the last Passover our Lord would observe before carrying out what the Passover had always pictured. From the days of Moses in Exodus 12 until the very night we read about in John 13, every time the Passover was observed, it reminded the Jews of their deliverance from slavery by the hand of God…but even greater, it foreshadowed what Christ was about to do. He was about to deliver His people, who had been given to Him before the foundation of the world, from the slavery of their sin. He was about to become the Passover Lamb of God.

In verses 5 through 9, Jesus Christ washes the Disciples feet, modeling for them the way they were to live their lives…in humility and service to each other.

Then Jesus makes a statement…

John 13:10-11
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

Jesus then sends Judas away to do what Satan had filled his heart to do…betray Him. With Judas gone, Christ began to comfort the remaining 11 Disciples…those who truly believed on Him. That is found in John chapter 14.

Now we come to our text this morning. With what has already transpired we read…

John 15:1-8
1 I am the true (ä-lā-thē-no's that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name) vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Christ calls Himself “the true vine,” because, as the vine imparts to its branches sap and productiveness, so Christ infuses into His elect His own divine strength and life. He used this metaphor because his disciples were Jewish and very familiar with vineyards.

Christ also relates to them that God the Father is the husbandman, or farmer…keeper of the vine. I know this from experience, being the keeper of any fruit producing plants, such as a garden (in my case) or vineyard, requires knowledge, consistency and hard work. Our Heavenly Father, has all knowledge. He never changes, therefore He is consistent. He never sleeps or slumbers, therefore He is always at work. 

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

This verse requires both a systematic approach as well as an historical approach in order to rightly divide or interpret. First of all, Christ says, “Every branch in me…” Some read this and believe that Christ is speaking of two types of saved individuals. I can understand how they would think that. We have to rightly interpret what Christ is saying to understand what He is meaning. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit is taken away.” Is Christ saying that every true Christian that does not bear fruit will be taken away? Is it possible for a true believer to never produce fruit? Can a true believer lose his salvation?

We know…

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Christ will NOT cast out the elect.

John 10:27-30
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.

True Christians have been given ETERNAL life (without end)…and no one can pluck them out of the Father’s hand. We know, from Christ’s own words that a true Christian will never be cast away into the fire to be burned as vs. 6 of our text makes clear as to what happens to those branches that do not “abide” in Christ…that do not produce fruit.

Matthew 7:17-20
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The principle is established by Jesus Christ that a lost individual does not bear the fruit of a true Christian. It is clear from the words of Christ, taken all together, that every branch that does not bear fruit is taken away. He is referring to lost people.

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained (established) you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

The elect of Christ, saved by His grace alone, at their appointed time, will follow Him and will bring forth fruit. So then, who are the branches “in Him” that do not bear fruit? Taking a systematic approach, we see that those branches that do not produce fruit are lost folks. Taking an historic approach, from the writings of our Baptist forefathers, John Gill and Charles Spurgeon, we see that historically, these “branches” that produce no fruit have been interpreted as highly religious, but lost church members.

~John Gill~

“There are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine; the one sort are such who have only an historical faith in him, believe but for a time, and are removed; they are such who only profess to believe in him, as Simon Magus did; are in him by profession only; they submit to outward ordinances, become church members, and so are reckoned to be in Christ, being in a church state, as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said, in general, to be in Christ; though it is not to be thought that every individual person in these churches were truly and savingly in him. These branches are unfruitful ones; what fruit they seemed to have, withers away, and proves not to be genuine fruit; what fruit they bring forth is to themselves, and not to the glory of God, being none of the fruits of his Spirit and grace: and such branches the husbandman taketh away.”

~Charles Spurgeon~
 
“Observe that our text mentions two characters who are in some respects exceedingly alike; they
are both branches, they are both branches in the vine: “Every branch in Me.” How much alike persons
may apparently be, who in God’s sight stand at opposite poles of character! Both the persons described
in the text were in Christ: in Christ in different senses it is obvious, because the first persons were not so
in Christ as to bring forth fruit, consequently, as fruit is that by which we are to judge a man, they were
not in Christ effectually, graciously, influentially, or so as to receive the fruit-creating sap. If they had
brought forth fruit, their fruitfulness would have been a sign that they were in Christ savingly.

Who will venture to say that a man who yields no fruit of righteousness can be really a Christian? Yet they were in Christ in some sense or other; that is to say, the two characters were equally esteemed to be Christians; their names were enrolled in the same church register; in the common judgment of men they were equally Christian; according to their own profession, they were so; in many other respects which we need not now catalog, they were both in Christ as His avowed disciples, as soldiers professedly fighting under His banner, as servants wearing His uniform.

These two persons were probably equally sound in their doctrinal views, they held the same precious
truths of God. If they heard falsehood, they were equally earnest to denounce it. When they listened to
the gospel, they received it with joy, and so received it as to be willing to assist in the spread of it, and
even to make sacrifices for its extension. These persons were equally attentive to ordinances. How often
has it happened that two persons of widely different states before the Lord, have been baptized at the
same hour, in the same water, into the same name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
and have then broken bread together with equal apparent fervency, and with equal professions of enjoyment and devotion! These people have been equally fair in their profession; their moral conduct has, in the judgment of all onlookers, been much the same; they have avoided everything of ill repute, and they have in their measure sought after that which was comely and lovely in the estimation of men. Ah, there will often be found two who publicly pray alike, have an equal gift in prayer—and what is worse, preach with equal earnestness and zeal, and to all appearance their family prayer is maintained with the same consistency, and yet for all this, the end of the one shall be to be cast away as a branch to be burned, while the end of the other shall be to bring forth fruit unto perfection, with everlasting life as the reward.”

Those who are the fruitless branches are the ones spoken of by Christ in…

Matthew 7:21-23
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Yes, they were church members, just as Judas Iscariot was a member of the first church started by Christ. Yes, they had many wonderful works, as did Judas, yet they did not bear the fruit of the Spirit as seen in…

 Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Those who have truly been saved…those true “branches in the vine” will bear fruit. They will bear fruit because the “husbandman” God the Father ordained it and will “purge” it or prune it. He will remove every part of the branch that the fruit is not growing on, but is sucking the life from the rest of the branch. Every old, dead, decaying leaf He will remove. Every “sucker” chute that grows but has no value, He will remove. By doing so…He causes the branch to bring forth more fruit.

 Those branches that do not produce fruit will be removed, as Judas Iscariot was. Those who are not true Christians will, like the seeds planted in rocky soil, spring up, but will wither away when the heat of the sun is upon them, because they have no root. Or, like the seeds that fell among the thorns, they will spring up, but be choked out by the thorns…the cares of this world. We’ve all seen it. Some, who are like the tares the enemy planted among the wheat will be allowed to grow up with the wheat, but will one day be removed by God’s angels on the Day of Judgment. God will make obvious who they are.

Keeping in mind that Judas had left, and Christ was with the 11 true believing disciples, Christ said…

3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

They were clean: They had been regenerated, set apart by God to be holy and to produce His fruit in their lives. Their hearts had been purified and His grace had been formed in their souls. It was the very words of Christ, the Gospel, that were instrumental in accomplishing their salvation. They were truly saved men.

A few short hours before He would shed His blood and suffered the wrath of God for their sins on the Cross of Calvary, Christ told those men…and He tells believers today…

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Abide in Him… that is what we are to do. The word “abide” is translated from Greek word (me'-nō – to live; to continue to be in). Jesus Christ is telling us to continue to live in Him. Draw your life from the “sap” of His own divine strength and life that flows from within Him.

Last week, we were encouraged to make Christ our life… Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Today we hear the very words of Christ…He tells those who have been saved to Abide; to continue to live in Him. Most of us have grown tomato plants or seen them growing. What happens when a branch, that has tomatoes growing on it, is somehow broken or bent? The leaves began to turn yellow and the fruit begins to wither. Sin causes a break from Christ…not a complete separation, but a tear in the branch. Our fruit begins to wither. The tear or break must be mended so the sap is allowed to flow fully again into the branch. When we sin, we must confess it, repent of it and seek His forgiveness.

As we do that, and as He removes those things from our lives that suck the life from us, we will be able to abide in Him, to continue to live in Him and be very fruitful. Without Him we can do nothing…nothing that is spiritually good; no, not anything at all, be it little or great, easy or difficult. We cannot think a good thought, speak a good word, or do a good action. Neither can we begin one, nor, when it is begun, complete it. Nothing is to be done "without Christ"; without His Spirit, grace, strength, and presence.

If it were possible for the branches that are truly in Him, to be removed from Him, they could bear no fruits of good works, any more than a branch separated from the vine can bring forth grapes. All the fruitfulness of a believer is to be ascribed to Christ, and His grace; not the free will and power of man.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Any person, though professing faith in Christ and a good church member, who does not continue on in Christ…who does not abide in Him, will be cast away into the fire of God’s wrath. On the contrary, the professing true believer will abide in Christ and the words of Christ will abide in him and he will bear fruit…much fruit.

This is the manner in which you will be disciples to Jesus Christ…By the holy, set apart life you continue to live, your growth in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, your continued faithfulness and obedience to Him, all of which will bring the Father much glory…

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father
                        which is in heaven.
 
As Paul encouraged Timothy, I encourage you… “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of...” (2 Timothy 3:14)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Is Christ Your Life?


Two weeks ago we looked at living a holy life because God is holy and He commands us to be holy (1Peter 1:15-16). Last week we looked at “perfecting” or achieving holiness by cleansing ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1). In these evil days, we must strive to live a holy life that is separated from this world.

The influences around us, to live as the world lives, are strong and we know that ultimately it is God who will sanctify, or separate, us from this world. Without Him, we cannot live a holy life, but with Him all things, pertaining to salvation and holiness, are possible. He has given us ALL THINGS that pertain unto spiritual life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us…and please don’t take that verse out of context.

Don’t try to apply it to achieving your dreams, if your dreams are anything other than being holy and like Christ…if your dream is to make a name for yourself in this world, or to make a lot of money and live a life of ease…don’t use Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”), or Matthew 19:26 (“…with God all things are possible”) to try to motivate yourself to achieve anything other than a life pleasing to God. To do so is to take the word of God out of context and render it useless. There are many professing Christians who do so. Do not be one of them.

Don't pursue a dream and ask God to bless it. Pursue God and be
blessed with all spiritual blessings.” 
~ Joey Newell

                A life that is holy; a life that is separate from this world is a life like Christ’s. Is that what you want? Do you want to be like Jesus Christ? Is Christ your life? …what your life is all about? Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do…do you do it all for the glory of God? Jesus did.

                If you are saved this morning, remember… “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Romans 8:29. If you are saved, you have been predestined to be made in the image of Jesus Christ. He will perform it! He is Sovereign…yet, let us not forget that we still have a responsibility before God to live a holy life.

                This morning, let us gain some wisdom and encouragement from the Apostle Paul, as we read from his Holy Spirit inspired letter to the saints in Philippi…and to the saints at Bible Baptist Church in Rising Star, TX.

Philippians 1:1-24
1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

                Paul and Timothy are writing to the believers who were living in the city of Philippi in the region of Macedonia, or the north western portion of Greece. Philippi is believed to be the first place in Europe where the Apostle Paul preached the gospel around 50 A.D. My understanding is that there was no major Jewish population here. There was no synagogue…just Gentiles who had been elected unto salvation by God before the foundation of the world. Paul had a most definite fondness in his heart for the people of Philippi.

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

From his first visit around 50 A.D. until this letter, which was written around 62 A.D, Paul had a very close relationship with the Christians in Philippi. Think about those fellow believers in Christ you know, who are dearest to you. You may not see them often, but when you do, the fellowship around Jesus Christ is sweet…and every form of communication you have with them (phone call, email, text message) is especially dear and encouraging to you. That is what this letter was from Paul to the Philippians.

6 Being confident of this very thing, that he (God) which hath begun a good work (faith in Christ unto salvation) in you will perform (complete) it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 Even as it is meet (approved of God) for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense (a reasoned argument) and confirmation (establishment) of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace (God’s divine influence in the heart and its reflection in the life).
8 For God is my record (witness), how greatly I long after (desire) you all in the bowels (with the greatest passion) of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (moral discernment in ethical matters);
10 That ye may approve (recognize as genuine after examination) things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere (pure) and without offence (not troubled by a consciousness of sin) till the day of Christ;
11 Being filled with the fruits (works) of righteousness (integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting), which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

We must understand that living a holy life…a life of integrity, virtue, purity, rightness, and correct thinking, feeling and acting, only can come by Jesus Christ as our life is being transformed into His image. One of the most difficult parts of this “holy life” is that the Lord works at His own pace, as He pleases. It is not instant. He is a master craftsman and He takes His time. We have to keep that in mind as we long to be like Him. We can’t allow ourselves to get discouraged when we don’t progress as we think we ought. At the same time, we can’t use the slow rate at which we are being transformed as an excuse to indulge in sin. We are responsible to pursue holiness.  Also, we have to keep this in mind as we look at others and think to ourselves they are not progressing as we think they should…

                Paul wants his beloved fellow believers to realize that his imprisonment by Rome and all his trials and tribulations was resulting in God’s intended purpose…the furtherance of the gospel.

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto (resulted in) the furtherance of the gospel;
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest (made known) in all the palace ("head-quarters" in a Roman occupied land, the living quarters of the commander-in-chief), and in all other places;
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident (being persuaded) by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy (to lead away a Christian church from that state of knowledge and holiness in which it ought to abide) and strife (contentious debate); and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention (for the purpose of splitting people and getting some on your side), not sincerely (honestly with no hidden agenda), supposing (thinking it will) to add affliction (distress) to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense (a reasoned argument) of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense (simply for show), or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Paul rejoiced that the gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached, regardless of the intentions of those doing the preaching. That is one reason why we can rejoice even when an armenean preaches the gospel, even when we don’t fully agree with their ending statements…at least they are preaching Christ and Him crucified.

19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor; yet, what I shall choose I wot (know) not.

Paul is saying that as long as he lived in his fleshly body, the work which he had set out to do was to live Christ and preach the gospel! For me to live is Christ… Have you been brought to the place, today, where you can say that? Is Christ your life? Is He your everything? Is He what motivates you to do what you are doing?

                I’ve had to ask myself hard questions like… Why do I correct my children when they need it? Is it because I don’t want to be embarrassed by their bad behavior and I want you to think I am a good father? …or is it because I want to point them to Christ?
         
Why do I go to work every day? …is it because I want you to think I am a good provider for my family? …or is it because it is my duty before God in Christ to provide for them and I want to bring Him glory?

If He is not my reason for living…if He is not your reason for living, then we must pursue Him until He is…that is holiness! That is what this life is all about for the Christian…for God to conform us into the image of Christ. It is not for us to chase our dreams. It is not for us to amass our wealth. It is not to gain power over others. Our life is to be like Christ. Is Christ your life? Paul was so given over to Christ that as long as he was alive, he lived for Christ…

23 For I am in a strait (pressed between two opposing sides like a calf in chute) betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better (for Paul):
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

                Do you desire to be with Christ beholding Him in all His glory? …not so you can escape all the trials of this life, but so you can behold His glory. I do. However, like Paul, at the time he wrote his letter to the Philippians, it was more needful for them that he remained on this earth to encourage them to pursue after Christ. It is more needful for my family and for you that I am here to encourage you. When I have accomplished all that God has predestined by to accomplish…and He has completed His work of conforming me into the image of His dear Son, He will call me home…which is FAR better!

                I want to encourage you to pursue Jesus Christ in holiness until you are in His presence, beholding Him face to face. Nothing this world has to offer will come anywhere close to bringing you the joy you will get when you look into His eyes and see the One who shed His own blood for your soul and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Perfecting Your Holiness


                Last week I preached on our responsibility, as children of God, to live a holy life before Him and before the world. The Apostle Peter (in 1 Peter 1:15-16), strongly urged us to be holy because 1. God’s very nature is holy and 2. because God, through the Holy Scriptures, commands us to be holy.

                Our new life verse for the month of July was chosen to focus our attention on living a holy life…
 
“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.”
~2 Corinthians 7:1

                Here in 2 Corinthians, chapter 7, we have the Apostle Paul, this time, encouraging us to “perfect holiness.” He is writing to the members of the church in Corinth as well as to all the saints that lived in Achaia. Achaia is located in the south western part of Greece and is situated in the northwestern part of the Peloponnese peninsula.  It included the cities of Corinth and Athens.

                The church members at Corinth were relatively new converts that were heavily influenced by the prevalent Greek culture of their day. There were problems in their church due to unrestrained sin. Paul addressed their sin-caused problems and corrected them in his first letter to them. Now in his second letter he is not desiring to correct them again, rather he is encouraging them to live a holy life.

                Think about our nation. In a few days we will be celebrating the 241st birthday of the United States of America. From 1776 until 2017, there has been a shift in culture. We started out as a people who had a reverence and a respect for God. The Ten Commandments as well as other Scriptural references were found inscribed in many public buildings. Our founding documents and the early writings of the founding fathers reflected their faith in God and desire to operate this newly formed government in such a way as to please and honor Him.

“It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will,
to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
~ George Washington (1703– 1791)

“The government of the United States is acknowledged by the wise and good of other nations, to be the most free, impartial, and righteous government of the world; but all agree, that for such a government to be sustained many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy  Scriptures, must be practiced.”
~Emma Willard (1787 – 1870)

                 Two hundred and forty-one years later, we find ourselves in a vastly different culture…not just a different culture of government, but in the moral fabric of our society, as a whole. What the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1 is true of our country today…
 
Romans 1:18-32
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
 
The Apostle Paul also hit the nail on the head in his second letter to Timothy, the young pastor of Ephesus.

 2 Timothy 3:1-7
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
 
We live in an ever decaying society, which is one more reason why we should…and absolutely must live a holy life. The world has been creeping into the church, most noticeably since the 60’s and 70’s. We must be holy as He is holy and in so doing keep this church holy and free from the contamination of the world.

                 In 2 Corinthians 7:1, we are given a blueprint for living a holy life.

 First: We are to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh.

                As children of God, saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to put to death all areas of sin in our lives.
 
Colossians 3:4-8
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication (all manner of forbidden sexual activity), uncleanness (immoral lifestyle), inordinate affection (depraved passions), evil concupiscence (desire for what is forbidden, lust), and covetousness (greedy desire to have more), which is idolatry:
6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

                We are to put these sinful behaviors to death in our lives, but there are times we don’t. There are sins, according to Hebrews 12, that easily beset us. What about one we consider to be trivial…so trivial that we do not consider it a sin…speeding. Is speeding a sin? Willfully disregarding the law…

Romans 13:1-5
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

               Why is it when a police car pulls up behind us, we automatically get nervous…even when we are not speeding? It is because we have gotten so used to breaking the speed limit that we feel guilty when we see an officer even when we are not speeding? We quickly look at the speedometer to make sure that this time we are not speeding.

                We live in a culture that excuses sin…in many instances renames sin to ease the conscience. There is a good book by John McArthur entitled, “Vanishing Conscience.” He correctly shows that our culture is working to remove the guilt of sin by renaming it. No longer is it the sin of drunkeness…now it is the sickness of alcoholism. No longer is it the sin of sodomy…it is an alternate lifestyle equal to marriage as God intended it. No longer is sin called sin, it is called a mistake, an indiscretion.

                 We live in this culture and if we are not careful, we will fall prey to this line of thinking. It will invade our personal lives, then our families, then our church. We must not let this happen. If we are to live a holy life, when sin comes and we allow ourselves to engage in it, we must call it what God calls it…sin against The Holy God. We must cleanse ourselves, might I say, IMMEDIATELY!  How do we cleanse ourselves? The answer is in the Word of God…

Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

                 We cleanse ourselves by paying attention to what the word of God says. The Bible tells us to repent of our sin and confess it to the Lord.

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.

                   By doing this, we will keep our flesh clean from our own sin…

 James 4:7-10
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

                    Here, James is telling us the same things Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 7:1. He wrote, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners.” That is referring to cleansing yourself from all filthiness of the flesh. Then he went on to write, “purify your hearts, ye double minded.” This is the same as cleansing yourself from all filthiness of the spirit.

Second: We are to cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the spirit. The actual carrying out the act of a sin is the filthiness of the flesh. Entertaining the thought of sin is the filthiness of the spirit. Jesus clearly showed us that the thought of sin is considered by God to be the same as the actual physical carrying out of that sin.

                    We have to guard our minds and our thoughts and when a sinful thought comes our way, we must immediately confess it, resist the devil, the world and our flesh and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. We cannot allow ourselves to justify sin, even in our minds, though we would never actually do it. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…who can know it? We don’t know what sin we are capable of…

                    Were it not for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, we could carry out any sinful thought we allow in our minds.  We must guard our hearts and minds and not follow our culture and allow ourselves to think sin in the mind is ok as long as we don’t act on it.

                    When sin comes to the mind, seek the help of the Holy Spirit to remove it and not let it build and nest there, so to speak. If we find ourselves thinking on sin, really entertaining it, repent of that sin and confess it.

Ephesians 4:22-24 put off the old man, be renewed in the spirit of your mind, put on the new man.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

                      Cleansing the filthiness of the spirit comes by renewing your mind with the word of God.

 Finally:  If we are vigilant to keep our flesh and spirit cleansed, as Paul writes, we will be able to perfect (accomplish, execute) holiness in the fear of God. In this passage of Scripture, the word “fear” is translated from the Greek word, “phobos from which we get the word phobia… which means being afraid of something.

                       Based on God’s just treatment of sin on the Cross of Calvary, and knowing His hatred for sin and His immeasurable holiness and power, we should be afraid when we make little of sin. Yes, our sins were judged and paid for on Calvary and we will not pay for them again, but we should still have fear of God’s strong, swift chastening hand. The Bible even mentions a sin unto death…

 1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life
                   for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

                        Because we have been saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and are kept in Him and no one can take us out of the Father’s hand, that does not give us a license to sin.

Hebrew 12:6-7
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

                          As our loving Heavenly Father, He will not allow us to continue on in sin unchastened. We are called by His name and He will correct us for His name’s sake.

Recap:

“Having these promises of God in mind:
1. He comforts us in our tribulations (2 Corinthians 1:4)
2. He delivered us from spiritual death (2 Corinthians 1:10)
3. We are sealed in Christ with Holy Spirit as down payment (2 Corinthians 1:22)
4. God causes us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14)
5. God shined His light in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6) Psalm 119:130 the entrance of thy words giveth light.
6. Our afflictions are light when compared to the glory we will receive
     and momentary when compared to eternity. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
7. We will be given a new body and will be forever with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)
8. God is our Father and we are His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
 
Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh… put to death the sins of the flesh, but when you fall, confess, seek forgiveness, repent.

Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the spirit… do not entertain the thoughts of sin. When you fall, confess, seek forgiveness, repent.

Doing these things will help you to accomplish your goal of living a holy life in the fear of God!