PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1
JUSTIFICATION – IMPUTED HOLINESS
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1
JUSTIFICATION – IMPUTED HOLINESS
I would like to draw your attention to Colossians 1:22 - In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Could there be a verse anywhere that more aptly relates the profoundness of God’s amazing grace. Christ will one day present us before the throne of God. And how will we be found on that day, the day of our being presented at the throne of God’s undiminished holiness.
We will be found:
Holy - Sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated).
Unblameable - Unblemished (literally or figuratively):— without blame (blemish, fault, spot), faultless, unblameable.
Unreproveable - Unaccused, i.e. (by implication) irreproachable.
What is the most remarkable about this reality is that we will be found holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in HIS SIGHT!
How can this be? It will not be in the sight of our peers, our contemporaries, but HIS SIGHT!
Miracle of miracles! It is nothing short of a miracle of the first rank that I can have any hope of being presented before the throne of uncompromised, undiluted holiness and be found even as Him; holy, unreproveable, unblameable. Although the word “grace” is not found in the verse what better word to describe sinners being presented before the throne of God holy, unblameable, unreproveable.
This obviously means that God will do something for me. That something is referred to as “justification”.
There is no mistaking the meaning here for Jude joins the glad refrain when he writes:
Jude 1:24 - Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
When we are standing before the piercing gaze of He in whom there is no darkness we will be found without fault and it will be with joy, exceeding joy that Christ presents us before His presence faultless.
Here in this context we are all equally accepted for we are “accepted in the beloved”. There is no distinction. We are all equally holy, equally unblameable, and equally unreprovable.
Surely we all have enough sense to realize that if this is to be true then there has obviously been a transaction of the most profound nature take place. It is to this end that I want to draw our attention.
It is important because it is at this point where the “perfecting of holiness in the fear of God” begins to take place. Apart from justification there can be no sanctification.
THE REALM OF JUSTIFICATION – LEGAL STANDING
The nature of the law.
Romans 7:12 - Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
There is no problem with the law. The law reflects the nature and attributes of the lawgiver. Because God is holy, just, and good so is His law. At times I find it difficult to bear with those who want to dismiss moral precepts simply because they are part of the law. The Holy Spirit tells us in the New Testament that the law of the Old Testament is holy, just, and good. It can be nothing else because of who gave it. Our temptation to dismiss moral declarations simply because they are part of the law of God goes to show just how depraved we are. Rather than admit that we are wrong, we prefer to find reason to dismiss that, which shows where we are wrong.
Romans 7:14 - For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Herein lies the problem. The law is spiritual. To hear some folks speak of the law you would think it is an ugly, bitter thing. No, the law is spiritual. It is I; it is you with the problem. We are carnal. Being carnal it should come as no surprise that we find the law demanding. It nature is different than ours. The law is spiritual we are carnal. In fact the scripture declares that we are sold under sin.
The purpose of the law.
Romans 7:7 - What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Again, to hear some people talk and justify their disobedience to God’s law you would think that the law was sin. The Scripture emphatically declares, “God forbid” to such an assumption. It is the law that makes me know what sin is. When you consider our tendency to rationalize our sin with the written law of God one cannot imagine the tricks we would play on ourselves if we did not have the declaration of God’s moral statutes.
Romans 7:13 - Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
The law makes sin sinful. It is not the law that is weak, but the flesh that is weak. Romans 8:3 - 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: There is no question that a problem exists but it is not the law but our own flesh.
Romans 3:19 - Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
The law is designed to stop our mouths. The fact that mouths are not stopped is testimony to our arrogance. God’s desire is for us to see our guilt before him. What others think does not matter. What others are doing does not matter. Any violation of God’s law makes one guilty before Him, and before Him is all that matters.
The law condemns and justifies.
John 5:45 - Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
Here Jesus speaking to a small group of Jewish religious leaders informs them that He would not accuse them to the Father. He did not have to. There was another that accused them, Moses. They were trusting in Moses failing to realize that Moses was accusing them. How was Moses accusing them? Because Moses gave us the law of God. He was the human instrument of its recording. Just as Moses accused those hypocritical religious leaders so he accuses us today.
1 John 3:4 - Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
This is a helpful verse. What is sin? How is sin defined? Who determined what is sin? This verse plainly states that sin is the transgression of the law. Whose law? God’s law. We know what sin is because of the law. It is in the law God tells us what he expects. When we do not obey, when we transgress the law we have sinned.
Romans 8:33,34 - Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Condemnation and justification are both legal terms that have to do with one’s standing before the law. If we transgress the law the law condemns us. If we keep the law the law justifies us. There is a serious problem here we cannot keep the law. We are told that God justifies. That is God makes us right before the law. If he does so who can lay any thing to our charge? No one can. If Christ died and rose again, and resides at the right hand of God to intercede for us who can condemn us? No one can. With Christ as our advocate the law cannot condemn us.
We are condemned.
Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
What does it mean, all have sinned? It means all have transgressed the law, for that is the definition of sin. This is why it can be said that we have come short of the glory of God. The glory of God is revealed in his law because the law is a reflection of his perfections and the beauty of holiness. We come short of his glory because we do not keep his law we are transgressors.
Romans 5:12 - Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
All have sinned. All have transgressed his law. The law condemns us! When we are judged by the law we are found sinners for we have transgressed God’s law. Therefore we are condemned. We are subject to the law of sin and death. You sin you die. If we have not believed in Christ we are condemned already according to the testimony of Jesus. The testimony of the prophet is the soul that sinneth it shall die.
Christ is justified.
1 Peter 2:22 - Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
What does it mean He did no sin? It means he never once transgressed God’s law. He kept it in every respect. It is not that He did not have much sin, or just a little sin. He had no sin. Not one single transgression.
John 3:5 - And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
In him is no sin, no transgression of the law. Therefore he has the capacity to take away our sin. He could not take away our sin if He had any of His own. It is difficult for us to fathom someone who has not sin, who never once transgressed the law of God. Christ was infinitely holy, infinitely good, and infinitely just because he totally kept the law that is holy, just and good. At the end of his life his account balance stood at zero. There was no sin for which account needed to be given. When Christ is judged by the law of God he is justified by that law because he never once transgressed it.
Christ becomes our substitute.
Isaiah 53:5,6 - But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The justified one was wounded for the condemned one. The justified one was bruised for the condemned. The condemned were healed by the stripes applied to the justified one.
Galatians 3:13 - Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
It is important to note that Christ redeemed us from the curse by being made a curse for us. He took what we rightly deserved.
1 Peter 3:18 - For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
Christ suffered for the sins of others, for yours and mine for He had none of His own. It was the just for the unjust. He took our sin becoming unjust that we might be made just, righteous. That we might be justified.
1 John 2:2 - And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Christ appeased the wrath of God on our behalf. We had the wrath of God abiding on us. We were in perpetual danger of the thunderclouds of his divine vengeance being unleashed against us at any moment. Christ appeased that wrath. How, you ask?
Peter 2:24 - Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
He bore our sins on Calvary. When we see Calvary in our minds eye we see a suffering Saviour as we ought to, but there is something else there that does not as readily meet the eye. Sin is there. All sin. The sin of all men. Every vile, contemptible thing that has ever been done. Every single transgression that had ever been committed was there in Christ’s own body. The Bible tells us so. Thus when God looked upon his own Son who himself was holy and undefiled but having taken our sin upon himself he became the object of divine displeasure. The fury of God’s eternal wrath was stirred up against His own Son. The whirlwind and tempest of divine justice was unleashed until the dregs had been emptied and the anger of God against sin had been exhausted. And it was our sin that was being punished. Our sin that was being borne by the Son of God. Thus when Christ said it is finished the final drop of God’s indignation had been expended, sin had been atoned for because Christ interposed on our behalf. As the Prophet Isaiah foretold us, he saw of the travail of his soul and was satisfied. His wrath was appeased.
This happed through a process that is called imputation. The word imputation comes in several different forms in the New Testament; imputation, imputed, imputeth, impute, imputes, etc… The word involves the idea of to take an inventory, i.e. estimate (literally or figuratively): conclude, (ac-) count (of), reckon, suppose, think. To impute to is to reckon something a certain way. It is the way one chooses to think about a thing. My Granny and Papa used the word “reckon”. They would say, I reckon this, or I reckon that. What they were relating is the way they saw a certain thing or the way they thought about an issue or person. Imputation is what God does for us that we might be justified. It is as simple as this. Christ who had a balance of zero concerning sin took our sin into his account it was imputed to him. He took that sin to Calvary and paid the price for sin. When we believe in Christ the result of that imputation is applied to us individually. Our sins are paid for and our account, which has been emptied of sin, is not reckoned to have the righteousness of Christ in it and thus we are accepted in the beloved.
2 Corinthians 5:21- For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
This to me is a great verse because it succinctly states the transaction that takes place on the behalf of the believer. It tells us how God reckons things, how He thinks about things like sin and righteousness. God made Christ to be sin for us although Christ knew no sin, He had not sin of His own. When we believe that Christ died for us we then are made the righteousness of God in Him. What a glorious salvation.
Romans 4:8 - Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Why will he not impute sin to a man? Because the sin has been imputed to Christ and the debt paid in full. The man who believes that and accepts Christ sacrifice on his behalf by faith is a happy man indeed.
Romans 3:20-26 - Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
We are not justified by the deeds of the law because we have transgressed the law.
The righteousness of God is manifest without the law.
God’s righteousness is imputed to them who believe in Christ.
There is no difference we are all sinners.
We are made right with the law and consequently with the lawgiver by grace.
God declares the righteousness of his own Son for the remission of sins.
It is a declaration of His righteousness not our own.
Therefore God can be just and the justifier of those that believe in Jesus.
THE MERIT OF JUSTIFICATION – GRACE
Romans 4:5 - But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
When we believe in Christ our faith is counted for righteousness. The process of imputation becomes a personal reality for the believer. Because they believe in what Christ did on their behalf they are the inheritors of Christ righteousness.
Romans 4:16 - Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; . . .
Faith is not a work as the Calvinist contends. Faith is simply the God-given capacity to believe a thing. All men have the capacity to believe. Faith is not a work. In fact we are explicitly told here that in order for it to be by grace, that is without works, it is of faith.
Eph. 2:8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Grace is what provides salvation. Faith is what accepts the salvation that has been provided through grace. Faith does not save us; Christ saves us through the gospel, which is His death, burial, and resurrection. Faith is simply the means whereby we lay hold of that which God offers in the sacrifice of His Son.
NOT OF WORKS
Ephesians 2:9 – Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we would surely boast if it were anyway a result of what we do.
Romans 11:6 - And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
There is no work we can do that we justify us with God. You may be asking at this point what all of this has to do with separation. It has everything to do with separation. There can be no genuine separation apart from justification and we are not justified based upon what we do. Every one who believes is equally justified, equally accepted by God. We are not justified because we are separated.
We are not justified because we dress modestly.
Women are not justified because they don’t wear pants.
Men are not justified because they keep their hair cut short.
We are not justified because we don’t watch PG movies.
We are not justified because we don’t spend hours playing video games.
We are not justified because we don’t go to the movie theater.
We are not justified because we don’t take clothes off to go swimming.
We are not justified because we refrain from questionable language.
None of these things justify us. You can do all of these things and go straight to hell when you die. We cannot be separated enough to gain favor with God in the context of our legal standing before the law.
I highlight this last part because it is important that we place things in their proper context. When it comes to justification there is nothing we can do to gain favor with God. Our only hope is to believe the gospel and to be justified by faith through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. To believe otherwise makes one an arrogant, religious snob. It is pharisaical, hypocritical and legalistic.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF JUSTIFICATION – GOOD WORKS
In our relationship to God as judge we are justified.
Every person sustains a relationship to God. Every man has to deal with God as his judge. On the Day of Judgment the law will judge us. Those who have transgressed that law will be condemned. Those of us who have believed in Jesus the verdict is a foregone conclusion. When the gavel falls the verdict will be justified. We will be found innocent before the law. We will be presented holy, unblameable, unreproveable in His sight.
Once we are justified we also sustain another relationship to God, a family relationship.
John 3:5-7 - Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Romans 8:14-17 - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
I do not think I need to labor the point here. When we are saved we enter another relationship with God. He is our Father and we are his children. Everyone is not a child of God, only believers are, only those who have believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is the only way to have God as your Father. You may fancy that He is your Father on some other premise but you will be sadly disappointed when the only relationship you sustain to God is that of Judge and plaintiff. In your case when the gavel falls the verdict will be guilty as charged, condemned.
In this relationship we are not all equally obedient.
Hebrews 12:5-7 - And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
The Lord chastens His children. Some simply need a rebuke. Some need a more severe chastening, while some need a scourging. Why is this? Because not all of God’s children are equally obedient.
1 Peter 1:13-16 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
As obedient children, indicating the possibility that we can be disobedient children. It is interesting to note the context in which we find this issue being raised dealing with obedient children. It is in the middle of a passage dealing with separation. We are instructed to gird of the loins of our minds. In girding up our minds we are not to fashion ourselves according to our former lusts. Those lusts were rooted in ignorance. I am telling you, most people do not make their decision based on what is holy but rather based on what is fun, or acceptable to my peers, or not frowned upon by society. It does not matter whether society frowns upon it, or even if other Baptists frown upon it. All that matters is does God frown upon it. The objective is to be holy the passage tells us. Be ye holy! Why? As he which hath called you is holy! Be ye holy for I am holy. As I said in my last message most people are more concerned with being “hip” instead of holy. We are to be holy in all manner of conversation, in our dress, hair lengths, choices of entertainment, use of language, etc, etc…. The fact is we can be disobedient children when it comes to being holy in all manner of conversation.
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.
We are not to be conformed to this world, which obviously means we can be. Come on folks it is not that hard to discern. How much do I reflect the ideas, concepts, fashion, attitudes, and spirit of the world? We are to be transformed and this happens through a renewing of our minds. Thousands of people are sitting in Baptist churches saying leave me alone; I am comfortable with my lifestyle. Well you might be comfortable with it but that does not necessarily mean that it is holy.
John 1:5,6 - This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
We do not all have equal fellowship with the Father. You can claim to have fellowship with the Father but if you are walking in darkness you deceive yourself. Now, let us realize right up front that we all have some darkness in our lives. But let us also be honest about the fact that the degree to which we have darkness is the degree to which we will not have fellowship with the Father in whom is no darkness. You can’t be walking in sin, which is a transgression of the law and have fellowship with the Father.
2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
No one wants to argue this reality do they? All things become new. Our whole is changed and it continues to change throughout the duration. Never being what we ought to be in spirit or body we must commit ourselves to the pursuit of purity and the sanctity of separation.
Ephesians 4:17-20 - This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;
What a great passage this is. The term “Gentiles” is being used to denote the unbeliever. We are being instructed to not walk, or live, as they do. Again the implication is that we can, and that some do, and that we all do to one degree or another. Why should we not walk like the Gentiles? Because they walk in the vanity of their mind. Empty minds. I never cease to be amazed at how we allow the empty headed to set out standards, people who are controlled by the vanity of their minds. They have their understanding darkened. They do not understand. Those who do not understand often lead us who are supposed to understand. We watch their movies, allow them to set the standards of dress, adopt their vocabulary, adopt their hairstyles, and in general absorb their spirit. Some do this unknowingly because they have never been taught. Some do it rebelliously knowing better but allowing their conscience to become seared. Some do it arrogantly reproaching those who call into question their ungodly attitudes and behaviour.
Philippians 1:6 - Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Romans 8:29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
It is in this context where “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” of right ought to be of primary concern to every believer. The frightful reality is that many believers having been justified are missing a compelling urgency to experience the sanctification process in their lives. They are happy to be positionally sanctified, they anticipate being permanently sanctified but they do not care to bother themselves, nor do they want anyone else to bother them with the present reality of progressive sanctification.
There sentiment seems to be I am justified, I will one day be glorified in the meanwhile leave me alone so I can be satisfied.
When people say things such as, “God accepts us all the same”. “God isn’t concerned about pants on women, length of hair, the kind of music to which we listen, etc.” they are confusing justification with sanctification. And they are doing so to their own hurt. In this new context of us being the sons of God and him being our Father the following does matter.
Our level of separation.
How modestly we dress.
Whether women wear pants or not.
The length of our hair.
The movies we watch.
The fact that we spend hours playing video games.
Whether we go to the movie theater or not.
Whether we take clothes off to go swimming or go swimming with those who do.
What kind of language we use.
2 Corinthians 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.
As for our legal standing before the law if we have believed in Christ we will be presented before His throne holy, unblameable, unreproveable IN HIS SIGHT! We will be faultless. We will be equal.
At the judgment seat of Christ such will not be the case. We will not all be equal! We will be judged based upon the conduct of our lives. Some will be rewarded, some will suffer loss.
To confuse these two realities is to render impotent the motivation that God has placed within us by his Spirit to pursue piety, seek separation, hunger for holiness, and crave consecration!