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Perfecting Holiness - Scott Richardson

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Scott Richardson



Owen Griggs

Tim Hamilton

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December 23, 2012


Perfecting Holiness

Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2Corinthians 6:11-7:1)

The Corinthian Christians were asked to open their hearts. They were told that they must focus on things of God and not be held back by their own desires. There can be no sharing between God and things of this world.

Promises are made by God: If you separate yourselves from the world, I will be with you; I will welcome you; you will be My people; I will be your Father; you will be My children. This promise and principle of God had been established long ago (Leviticus 26:11,12; Ezekiel 37:26,27). The stipulation for receiving the promises had been established as well (Isaiah 52:7-12).

Having been reminded of the promises of God, the Corinthians were admonished to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2Corinthians 7:1). If they needed to do this as Christians and we wish to be Christians, then it is that Christians today need to do this, also. We must understand what it is we must do.

What is it to “perfect holiness”? The word “perfecting” means to accomplish—it is the idea of making complete. “Holiness” is a word which is often misunderstood and misapplied. It is sometimes made to parallel sinlessness when actually the words “holy” and “holiness” are parallel with the words “sanctify” and “sanctification.” In every instance, in the New Testament, where the words sanctify, sanctified, and sanctification occur, they are from a word which is also translated “holiness.” Whatever is said about sanctification is true of holiness. The word means to be “set apart” or “separated to.” Look again at our text: “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE.” That is holiness. Remember, being holy is not the same as being without sin. The Corinthians were holy—sanctified (1Corinthians 1:2). Still, they were in great sin (1Corinthians 1:10; 3:1-3). They needed to perfect or complete this holiness.

How is one made holy? There are several parties mentioned in Scripture as being integral to holiness or sanctification. God sanctifies—makes holy (Jude 1). God does this through the word (John 17:17). The Holy Spirit sanctifies—makes holy (2Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 15:16). The Spirit does this through the word, also, as the Spirit revealed the word (1Corinthians 2:9-13). Christ sanctifies—makes holy (Hebrews 13:12). We cannot leave out man. Obviously, from our text, man is admonished to continue his holiness to completion. Man’s actions make him to be sanctified—made holy. Faith, repentance, confession of faith, baptism, and stedfastness are conditions men must meet to be saved (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38). This makes them, among other things, members of the body, the church (1Corinthians 12:13). The church is made up of sanctified—holy people (Ephesians 5:25). Not only is it possible for one to be holy—he must become holier (2Corinthians 7:1).

How is holiness perfected? Since the word brings about sanctification, it follows that following that word more perfectly will make one holier. God’s word instructs us in the way to live to be at peace with God and man. Christians are admonished to follow that path He has outlined. “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15). Christians are admonished to continue in it: “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” (Colossians 1:21-23). Even chastisement works to the end of developing holiness: “we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:9-10).

Why should one be concerned with developing holiness? Holiness is commanded (2Corinthians 7:1; 1Peter 1:15; Romans 6:19). Christians have been called with a holy calling (2Timothy 1:9). Christians are a part of a holy temple (1Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 2:21). Christians are priests in a holy priesthood (1Peter 2:5). They are a part of a holy nation (1Peter 2:9). With all these holy attachments, we ought to see the need to continue in holiness. Developing holiness is necessary to seeing God (Hebrews 12:14).

This is to be done in the fear of God (2Corinthians 7:1). The word “fear” as used here is from the word which means terror or dread. It is the word from which we derive our English word, phobia. The Christian is to be in awe of God’s commandments, His wishes, His name, and even His promises. The One who has made him holy—set him apart to be His—is to be feared if the Christian does not please him. “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:29-31).

Would you be holy?

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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