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Where There is Salvation, There is Sanctification

The book of Romans is an amazing book.  We begin with Paul’s discussion of the universal nature of sin in both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1-3:20).  Paul then turns to justification by faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-5:21).  From justification he goes directly into discussing sanctification (Romans 6-8).

The reason for this is that salvation always produces sanctification.  Where there is not sanctification, there is no salvation.  If we are truly saved from sin, we are saved from sin (John 8:34-36).  Jesus doesn’t just wash away our sins by His own blood (Romans 3:25-26) but He also delivers His people from their sinful living (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus completely transform us so that Scripture uses phrases such as “born again” (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23) or “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We are no longer slaves of sin but now we are slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18-22).

The point here is that one cannot claim Christ if there is no sanctification.  We cannot claim Christ and still abide in our sins (1 John 3:4-10).  The person who is in Christ is now a slave of His righteousness and the born again person desires to honor God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  The new creation in Christ longs to please God through holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and the new creation recognizes the promises of God given to us in Christ are there to help us be holy as He is holy (2 Corinthians 7:1).  The child of God longs to be like his God in every way (1 Corinthians 10:31).  The longing of the soul of the child of God is to honor Christ and exalt Him through holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  Holiness is the cry of their souls (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  There is an intense hatred of sin (Romans 8:23).  There is a passion for what Jesus has done for us in saving us by His grace (Romans 8:1-4).  One does not live in sin and still claim Christ (Hebrews 10:26-27).  The true child of God recognizes that the grace of God has been given to us to save us (Titus 2:11-14).

I long for holiness.  I long to be like Jesus in everything I say or do (1 John 2:3-6).  I despise sin, my flesh, and the enemy. I long to be pure and holy (Matthew 5:8).  I rejoice in the fact that I can run to the Father when I sin (1 John 1:9).  I rejoice that the blood of Jesus washes away all my sins (1 John 1:7).  I rejoice that Jesus is able to deliver His saints completely from their sins by His power (Hebrews 4:14-16).  There is no denying that we face temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13) nor that we are not perfect (James 3:2).  But the reality is that God has provided the blood of His Son to not only save us once but for all time as we trust in His grace.  The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to not just cleanse us initially from our sins but is able to sanctify us as well (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  As we war in this flesh (Galatians 5:16-17) may we trust in the grace of God, the blood of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be holy.  This is our only hope.  Holiness will not be found in morality or in legalism but through faith in the finished work of Jesus and His Spirit in us who helps us to be holy.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/08/2013 at 9:26 AM

The Gospel Empowers To Holiness

Be holy.  For the disciple of Jesus we all know that God calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  His call is for us to forsake sin (John 8:11; 1 John 2:1) and to be like Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4).  We know that His call is be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) and to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  But how can we be holy?

If you are like me, your “holiness” is full of holes.  I see my sinfulness come out from time to time.  I know that I am sinful.  I know that apart from Christ, I have no holiness.  No hope to be like God.  If left to me, I probably would just give up trying to be holy.  Holiness, when done in my power, is tiring.  I get tired of battling only to lose or to find that as soon as I “overcome” some sin, I have a new sin to battle with.  My holiness is frankly just what you would expect, ugly (Isaiah 64:6).

This is why the gospel is so precious to the disciple of Christ.  I recognize my sins.  I know that I am called to be holy, to forsake sin, to be like Jesus, to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8) but I find that cannot do any of these things in my own power.  I don’t need “10 Ways to Be Holy” but I need help.  I don’t need law.  I need grace and I need the Spirit to help me.  I admit that it’s just not in me to be holy.  I want to sin!

The gospel makes the difference.  I see my utter sinfulness.  I see myself in Romans 3:10-18 apart from Christ.  When I try to be holy apart from Christ and His saving work at the cross, my own flesh always leads me to despair and legalism.   I try to be holy by doing this or that when in fact my holiness should flow from my salvation in Jesus.  As I trust in the cross to save me, the power of the gospel fills my heart so that the gospel, the grace of God given to me in Christ Jesus, empowers me to be holy (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  The finished work of Jesus is the answer for my sins and not my works.  Taking the blood of Jesus and applying it to my life is what empowers me to be holy (1 John 1:7).

As I understand that my justification before God is based on the Lord Jesus and what He has done for me (Romans 4:5, 24-5:11), I begin to see that I can be holy because of Jesus (Romans 6:1-23).  Holiness doesn’t spring from rules but from knowing, loving, adoring, and surrendering to Christ.  As I do these things, the Holy Spirit works in me to help me to be more like Jesus.  The truth of the gospel is not that outward things make me right before God but the inward working of the Spirit of God is what helps me to be holy.  One can do outward works but still be far from God (Mark 7:1-13) but when the Holy Spirit is at work in the saints heart, the heart of the disciple is to adore and magnify the Lamb of God who alone saves.

The springboard for holiness is not rules.  It’s not “practical application” sermons.  The springboard to be holy, to overcome sin, to be more like Jesus Christ, is the gospel.  When we meditate on what Jesus has done in saving us, how we are dead to sin because of the cross, we begin to see the Holy Spirit at work in us to help us to be more like Christ and thus fulfill God’s law by His grace (Hebrews 8:10).  When I see that I have a faithful high priest who prays for me even in my struggles with the flesh (Hebrews 4:15; 7:25), I see that Jesus is the One who can help me and I trust only in Him to help me be a slave to righteousness (Ephesians 4:17-24).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/05/2013 at 10:00 AM

Our Doctrine Must Destroy Sin

Our doctrine must not be a doctrine that allows for people to continue without repentance in a life of sin.  This is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8).  When we live in sin, we are showing that we are slaves to sin (John 8:34).  By being slaves of sin, we show that we are in turn children of the devil (John 8:44; Ephesians 2:3).  We are then to avoid sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  We are to not walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do (Ephesians 4:17-20).  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:34 that the Corinthians were not to go on sinning.  When we do sin, we have the assurance of 1 John 1:9, that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us because of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who died for our sins (Galatians 1:4).

Any doctrine then that takes the sacrifice of Christ who came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and teaches that we can continue in sin is not biblical (Hebrews 10:19-39).  Jude 4 reminds that we are not to teach God’s grace for continued sinning:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yet God’s true grace enables us to overcome sin as we read in Titus 2:11-12:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

Notice what the grace of God does for the disciple: trains.  God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and not indulge in it further the grace of God helps us live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.  The grace of God does not allow for continued sinning (Romans 6:1-4).

2 Corinthians 7:1 is a wonderful promise given to disciples:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The grace of God enables the disciple to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and to avoid sin.  The grace of God trains us and it doesn’t give us a free license to live in sin.  We are now slaves of Christ and not slaves of sin (Romans 6:20-23).  We have been bought with a price and are to glorify God with our bodies which is His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

There is a subtle way in which the enemy takes the truth of God’s grace given in Christ for sinners and he turns it so that people start to believe that since Jesus died for our sins, we can indulge in sin.  A person is taught that they can live in sin because they are “once saved, always saved” despite no repentance over sins.  Another person is taught that since they died with Christ and are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4), God does not see their sins anymore so even when they sin, God only sees the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by a one time act of faith.  They ignore 1 John 3:7:

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

According to 1 John 3:7, a person who is practicing righteousness is righteous.  There is nothing mentioned here about imputation but about practical living.  A person can claim all day that they are imputed with Christ’s righteousness but 1 John 3:7 tells us that if we are truly righteous through Christ, we will live righteously.  Those who do not live a righteous life by the grace of God will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:7-8).  We are to repent of our sins and turn to Christ alone to help us overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Christ shed His blood for our sins and He delivers us from the power, penalty, and pleasure of sin.

Do you hate sin?  I do.  I despise sin.  I am not perfect but I long to be like Jesus in every way (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 2:6).  I praise God for the sacrifice of Christ for my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7).  I praise God that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sins (Hebrews 10:14).  1 John 1:7 is a wonderful passage of Scripture that speaks of the cure for dirty feet:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

This passage is all in the continued present tense of the Greek.  In other words, as we walk in the light (present tense), the blood of Jesus cleanses (present active tense) us from all sin.  The cure for our sins is not found in the laws of men.  It is not found in morality.  The cure for overcoming sin and its power is the precious blood of Jesus as we walk in the light (Galatians 5:16-17).  We have a faithful high priest who was tempted as we are but without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Thus through Christ we are able to approach the throne of God and receive help in our time of trouble (Hebrews 4:16).

Praise God for our merciful and faithful high priest who lives to pray for us (Hebrews 7:25)!  He is able to deliver us and help us to be holy by His gospel that sets us free and empowers us to be holy as He is holy.

Why I Deny Sinless Perfection

Sinless perfection is the teaching that one is unable to sin in this life.  Many who are anti-holiness will often ask if those of us who teach holiness believe in sinless perfection.  My answer is no.  I do not believe that a person can live in this world and be unable to sin.  As long as we live in our flesh, we are capable of sinning.  1 John 1:9 is clear that we must confess our sins which itself implies that believers do sin.  We see also examples of believers in both the Old and New Testament of people committing sins.

I do believe, however, that believers are able to overcome sin.  This does not mean that believers cannot sin but rather that a believer is able by the grace of God (Titus 2:12) and by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:12-13) to overcome sin.  Jesus sets us free from sin (John 8:31-38) so that we are able to not sin (John 5:14; 8:11; 1 John 2:1).  We may sin (1 John 1:9) and salvation does not take away the ability to sin (James 1:12-15) but as we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  The believer does not have to sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).

I deny, however, that salvation takes away the ability to sin.  We are able to sin though we are not to sin (1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10).  The Spirit of God brings conviction of sin both to the world (through the gospel) and in our own lives (John 16:8-11).  The clear testimony of Scripture is that we are not to be a people of sin for to do so proves we are not Jesus’ (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 2:3-6; 3:4-10).  The Bible calls the people of God to holiness (Matthew 5:48; Romans 6:1-23; 8:1-4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 18-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16).  Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:17-24 are great verses for this:

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The mark of the true believer is a life of righteousness and holiness.

Lastly, I want it to be clear that even our Lord Jesus taught us that we cannot obtain sinless perfection in this life.  He taught us in Matthew 6:12 that we are to pray for forgiveness.  Some cheap grace teacher despise the disciple’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) because of this one element.  Yet our Lord teaches us that we are to pray for God’s forgiveness and notice that He teaches it in the context of daily (v.11).  Praise God that He does forgive us when we confess our sins and repent.  He is merciful toward us and loves us and has provided for our salvation and our forgiveness.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/24/2013 at 10:26 AM

The One Who Practices Righteousness Is Righteous

1 John 3:4-10 are powerful verses aimed at those who would teach that we can abide in sin and claim Christ.  These verses are not about whether those who don’t remain faithful are saved or not.  1 John 3:4-10 are simple, clear calls to holiness, to forsake sin, and to be righteous.  1 John 3:7 is clear: the one who practices righteousness is righteous.  Let us not be fooled by those who claim Christ but do not practice righteousness.  There are countless people around us who would claim heaven as their own, would claim Jesus saved them, but they are not saved from sin.  Their lives show that Christ has not mastered them but they are their own masters (2 Peter 2:10).  Their lives are marked by sin, ruled by sin, controlled by sin, and their wages from their sin will be death (Romans 6:23; James 1:12-15).  True disciples, however, are marked by the rule of Christ over their lives (Luke 6:46-49) and holiness (Romans 6:1-4; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Peter 2:11-12).  True disciples exalt the grace of God which saves us from sin (Titus 2:11-12) and avoid abusing His grace to allow for our own willful rebellion against a holy God (Jude 4).

Let us read 1 John 3:4-10 and be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/12/2013 at 9:39 AM

Jesus Really Saves

I remember the first time I heard someone say that they were saved at age 6 or so but didn’t start living it until they were 19.  I looked at them rather confused and said, “So you were saved when you were 19?”  They said no but rather that they were made Jesus their Savior when they were 6 but made Him Lord when they were 19.  I didn’t understand the issues involved with the Lordship of Christ debate at this time (this was about 1993) so I just walked away shaking my head.

The truth is that Jesus saves.  And He really does save.  He doesn’t save us in our sins.  He saves us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  While it is true that we will battle the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17), we are promised victory through Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:13).  We can overcome the flesh (Romans 7:24-25).  We can walk in victory over our sins.  Jesus delivers us and He does truly save us from the penalty, power, and pleasure of sin.

There is no doubt that we need the grace of God to overcome sin.  Left by ourselves, we would all indulge in sin.  Our flesh enjoys sinning even while the spirit man hates sinning.  We cry out like David in Psalm 32:4 when we are sinning.  But praise God for Psalm 32:5, that He allows us to confess our sins to Him and He forgives us (1 John 1:9).  None of us are perfect (Proverbs 20:9) but our aim is to be like the Father in every way (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15-16).  The key to victory over sin is not to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and do the right thing but its the gospel.  The gospel faithfully delivers us (Romans 1:16-17) when we see the cross being manifested in our lives by dying to self (Luke 9:23-25; Galatians 2:20).  When we see our sins in light of the cross, we see the grace of God manifested for our salvation (Titus 2:11-12).  The cross shouts to us that we are sinners but the cross also shouts that we have the power of God because of the work of Jesus on our behalf.  He bore our sins upon the cross (1 Peter 2:24).  The cross is our victory because it was at the cross that God dealt with our sins by the precious blood of His perfect Son.

The gospel delivers us.  I praise God that He delivered me from sin.  I praise God that Jesus takes away the wrath of God against my sins (Romans 5:8-9).  I have earned the judgment of God but praise God that He has forgiven me because of the cross and not because of my works (Ephesians 2:1-10).  The cross shows my sins are nailed (Colossians 2:13-15).  The cross shows that Satan is defeated (Hebrews 2:14-15) and the cross is my salvation, my righteousness, and my victory.  Jesus and Jesus alone is the One who can deliver me from my own sins.

Yet we can rejoice that 2 Corinthians 5:17 is true.  Jesus washes away our sins and He makes us new creations in Him.  If you and I look no different than the world (Ephesians 5:3-21; 1 John 2:15-17) then there is a problem.  Jesus truly saves.  He doesn’t take part of us until we decide later to repent.  He wants all (Luke 14:25-35).  Yet those who repent will find that Jesus really saves.  He doesn’t save half of us but He saves the whole of us.  He is now in the process of making us holy as He is holy (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Jesus brings complete transformation so that we now love God, hate sin, and desire to please and honor the Lord with everything in us (Colossians 3:17).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/25/2013 at 10:20 AM

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