HOLINESS (9) Holiness in Spirit

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

What promises? Those of the resurrection, judgement day and being present with the Lord in eternal glory.

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How would you like your thoughts for a day to be broadcast on a big screen in church? God knows all our thoughts and we sin in thought just as in deed. The sermon on the mount and all the epistles clearly mark out sins of the spirit (thoughts). Our thoughts determine our character (Prov.23:7) “ For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” We are to be renewed in mind and think on all that is good (Rom 12:1, Phil.4:8). So what we allow to enter our minds is critically important. Think about TV, films, music, obscene jokes, what we read in books and magazines. Hence the need of a consistent daily intake of the Scriptures and regular hearing, studying and meditating on the same.

Do you control your eyes to root out lustful thoughts and are you modest in dressing (both sexes!) Remember envy, unrighteous anger, hatred and revenge are murder in the heart. Envy is the opposite of contentment. Bitterness denies the sovereign rule of God in our lives and exposes an unforgiving spirit and even a mind to retaliate, which is not Christ-like (I Peter 2:23). Pride is something God hates, even a proud (look at me!) look (Prov.6:17)−it may lead to a critical spirit or selfish ambition and vainglory (Phil.2:3). Our hearts are deceitful, so we need to pray “Search me” (Psalm 139:23,24) and trust that the Spirit through the word (Heb4:12) will show us our sinful motives, and cause us to confess and forsake them.

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HOLINESS (8) Holiness in body

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But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” I Cor.9:27

Our bodies are temples and God is to be glorified with them. Gluttony, laziness, drunkenness, sexual immorality and all the sins of speech would be some of the sins we need to mortify in this area.

Paul was determined that his reason and the Spirit in him would dictate his behaviour not his bodily lusts. Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:” The sins underlined would be the most obvious sins of the flesh to which must be added overeating. We are to care for our bodies but not indulge them with what they don’t need. Bridges rightly states that overindulgence in the realm of food and drink means greater difficulty in mortifying other sinful deeds of the body. The instincts of the body can dominate our thoughts and actions. Some temptations we need to flee e.g., fornication( II Timothy 2:22). Bodily appetite is not wrong in itself but plan not to indulge! Romans 8:12-13 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

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Holiness (7). Satan’s wiles

Adam and Eve

We are not ignorant of his devices says Paul in II Cor.2:11 and that was written in the context of needing to forgive the man who had committed incest. Un-forgiveness is a device used by Satan to divide Christians and a device used by him to accuse them in their consciences before God,  ” you have committed too many sins to be forgiven.”  Like the saints in Rev.12:11, we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Deception through false doctrine that leads to sin in life and worship is a universal means Satan uses as he works as an angel of light. He deceived Eve this way in the beginning casting aspersions on the word of God and promising her gratification in what was prohibited. If he can’t get us to sin by poisoning our mind he will use our fleshly lusts for food, drink, sex, sloth, entertainment or material things to bring us into bondage. If all else fails he will raise up enemies in state or among neighbours of other religions to persecute the church physically driving them out of church and home, wounding or even killing them.

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Christ’s controversies. Justification (7)

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Illustration. Prodigal son’s rags being replaced by a new robe-a picture of forgiveness and justification.

Justification in the Old Covenant.

Reading Luke 1:67-80

Returning to John 3. Nicodemus did not understand the nature or the need for regeneration or that it was for Jew and Gentile. He ought to have known from many OT scriptures about the necessity and promise of the new birth.

Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist in his speech of praise after his tongue was loosed, speaks of most of the aspects of justification viz. remission of sins and peace. He mentions the source (mercy of God), the basis (dayspring from on high-Christ) and the means (knowledge/light i.e., faith).

The Old Covenant is full of justification (Romans 3:21). We looked at the penitential Psalms viz.6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143. The underlined are sometimes described as “Pauline” because they reflect accurate Pauline theology. As you read these Psalms once again all the aspects of justification are clearly spoken of, showing that David and the Jews had knowledge of this basic and indispensable spiritual blessing.

Further we looked at other great passages on justification viz. Jer.23:5, 6 (I Cor.1:30), Jer.33:15, 16. Isaiah 45:18-25, 53:11, 59:20, 21 and 61:10.

All these passages serve to illustrate the perspicuity (clarity) and unity of Scripture wherein Christ and justification through him as THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS is the central theme.

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HOLINESS (6) – Personal discipline

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exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” I Tim.4:7

The gymnasium, a word derived from GUMNASO (exercise in Greek) was, and still is, a place where young men train for athletic competition. Paul uses the physical to illustrate the spiritual: the same effort and strictness (discipline) in physical training, diet and competition needs to be used in training to be godly.

Discipline according to Webster’s dictionary is “training that corrects, moulds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character”, and I would add, also the body and its abilities. Ingrained bad habits have to be corrected and substituted with good ones. Skills need learned we never had before.

Spiritual discipline begins with the word (II Tim.3:16)”All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” Every discipline or aspect of learning starts with instruction or knowledge imparted and then it has to be applied. Our instruction is scripture. We must make time to read, hear, study, memorise and meditate on the Bible. Meditation is simple thinking about how to apply it. In this work we need perseverance because there will be many failures.

Some aspects of life that need discipline would include our appetites, need for exercise, what we look at , welcoming strangers and speaking to them and Bible reading and prayer.

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Total depravity

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When we describe man’s sinfulness as depravity, we are not just saying that he is bad or wicked, but that he is rebelliously and deliberately evil, that he loves and delights in wickedness of every kind. He is not just passively overcome by sin but actively and willingly uses his strength, ability, and gifts to sin.
The truth, then, is that men are very wicked, much more wicked than they themselves would ever admit. Nor is this wickedness incidental, but deeply imbedded in what a man is, what we call his “nature.” In other words, his depravity is not something he has learned or that is the result of his environment, but he is by nature wicked. He does not just do evil but IS evil. He is conceived and born a sinner.

Gen. 5:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Notice the emphasis on the totality of man’s depravity. When Scripture says that man’s wickedness is “great,” it explains this to mean “total” (“every imagination… only evil continually”). This is God’s own judgment of man’s condition (“God saw”). It may not be our judgment, and we may not agree with it, but that makes no difference.

Jeremiah 13:23: “”Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”

It is as impossible for man, in his own strength, to do any good as it is for him to change the color of his skin. That is the truth of total depravity—not just that man does not do good, but that he cannot. Thus, the passage teaches us that man’s depravity is NATURAL to him. He is born depraved in the same way that a leopard is born spotted, and an Ethiopian black.

Jeremiah 17: 9, 10: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD searcheth the heart, I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

With these words God asserts His right as judge and gives His judgment, telling us that our depravity does not merely consist in outwardly wicked actions, but that is a matter of our hearts. Because our hearts are the fountain of all our life (Prov. 4:23), and because that fountain itself is impure, it is impossible that anything clean or good should come forth from it. Because man’s heart is “desperately wicked,” his “ways” and his “fruits” will also be found wicked.

Galatians 3:22: “But the Scripture hath concluded ALL under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

This is New Testament proof that sin is slavery, that depravity is total in the sense that it is true of all men, and that this is not our judgment of ourselves and others, but Scripture’s judgment.

…The doctrine of total depravity is never preached apart from the other doctrines of grace. Those doctrines of grace and salvation are God’s remedy for our depravity and bring us all joy.
The divine “diagnosis” of total depravity must precede the application of the proper remedy to the sinner. Without such a correct diagnosis, the remedy will never be recognized or received. The Scriptures themselves show this. In Luke 5:32 Jesus says, “I came not to call the righteous [that is, those who think that they are righteous], but sinners [that is, those who know themselves to be sinners] to repentance. The parable of the Pharisee and the publican was specifically addressed to “certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). In that parable the man who acknowledged himself a sinner went home justified. The Pharisee, who did know himself to be totally depraved, did not.

A close relationship exists between this first point and the other four points. There are those who call themselves three- or four-point Calvinists and even hold to some degree to these truths, but in the end, because these five truths are so closely interwoven with each other, it is impossible to maintain any of them consistently without maintaining them all.
The relationship is this: the doctrine of total depravity makes sovereign grace the only possible way of salvation. It requires an ELECTION that is unconditional, not depending on man’s work or worthiness; an ATONEMENT that does not just make salvation possible for all men, but actually saves those whom God has chosen; and a GRACE that is so powerful as to be utterly irresistible and that saves to the uttermost those who receive it, so that they are preserved and do PERSEVERE to the end.

Ronald Cammenga
Ronald Hanko
Saved By Grace, pp. 29-30, 33, 35, 39, 46, 56

HOLINESS (5)-the Spiritual battle.

We are at war.
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Images: Training, fitness, bravery, skill. Not pictured: LOYALTY
Not a war that leaves our blood pooled on the soil underfoot and holes in our flesh—though it may and it did for the captain of our salvation one dark day on a hill outside of Jerusalem—but it is a war in which souls are killed. It is a war with Satan and his hosts, with this present evil world and all of its rebellious attitudes, vain philosophies, carnal pleasures, and corrupt behaviors, and with our own desperately sinful flesh. It is a war with and against sin. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). Lust (any desire for what God forbids) in the heart must be treated the way Israel treated the inhabitants of Jericho—utterly destroyed. For lust begets sin. And sin when it has run its course always brings death. And death is the judgment of God, the one who must be feared because He is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). We are at war right now, not against God, but against sin.
We are always at war.
As Samson in the lap of Delilah was surrounded by Philistines lying in wait to take him, so we find ourselves, often against our will, in the lap of this sinful world with spiritual enemies in high places lying in wait to take our souls. Always! Worse, there is a traitorous foe that is the old man of sin within always scheming and orchestrating attacks by bringing forth fleshly lusts (wicked desires). Lust begets sin, and sin works death. Not only are we as individuals under assault, the entire kingdom of Jesus Christ, in which we fight, is forever under assault. The gates of hell are continuously warring against God’s church.
Whether we are conscious of it or not- and we ought to be- we are at war. Whether we prayed for strength for the battle in our devotions this morning or not- and we should have- we are at war. Whether we preach it or not- and we ought to- we are at war…
However, our certain victory- perfect peace with God eternally- comes in the way of warring. Thus, warfare, we must learn…God left wicked Canaanites in Canaan so that the new generation in Israel might have opportunity to learn to war and prove themselves. God left enemies in the land “to teach them war” (Judges 3:2). We use this rubric in order to teach the youth war. Omitting spiritual military discipline from the instruction we give our children is inexcusable. We must teach them war…
The history of the world is a history of nations warring. Is there are spiritual danger? It would seem true that national war would heighten one’s awareness of the reality of spiritual war and if nothing else draw one farther and farther away from sin and closer and closer to God, which is the essence of spiritual war…
Not only that, but church in the world at large, the art of right ecclesiastical was is increasingly disparaged and abandoned. When heretics and false doctrine appear in the camp, rather than take up the sword, many are inclined to play the possum and roll over to play dead before the lie, or worse, to embrace it. False doctrine in many Reformed and Presbyterian churches is not viewed as it was during the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, a foe to be slaughtered hip and thigh. The very concept of ecclesiastical warfare is castigated in the name of a false ecumenicity. Young people do not learn war by scanning the surrounding ecclesiastical landscape. Neither, for that matter, will they properly learn biblical warfare in Christian colleges, where being an alert soldier might be most urgent.
Such warfare is not part of our ordinary daily national or ecclesiastical experience. Outside of God’s Word, nothing will remind us of and instruct us in our calling to war as individuals and churches, and the need to be conscious of our calling…
We are at war.
War we must learn and wage as young people.
Excerpted from Rev. Brian Huizinga’s “To Teach Them War”
The Standard Bearer, Vol. 90, No.16, pp. 375-377

HOLINESS (4)

 

 

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Putting sin to death.

How do we mortify the sinful old man (the flesh)?

1). Conviction that holiness is God’s will (I Thess.4:3). The world wants to squeeze us into it’s mould. Knowing Christ’s commands and obeying them IS loving him. Knowledge of the scriptures renew our minds and their application to specific life situations develops the kind of conviction that will see us through temptation. Christ used the word in his conflict with Satan (Matt.4).

2).Commitment to holiness (Psalm 119:134). Learning to deny temptation and put to death old desires and sinful habits. “The first commandment teaches us to reject all idolatry, The biggest idol in the life of each one of us is SELF. That is why the first requisite to be a disciple of Jesus is to deny ourselves. He did!! And He did for us.” (Rev. R.VanOverloop PRCA).

Christ’s example was to apply and obey Scripture in the situation (Matt.4/Luke 4).

Bridges gives us this formula based on I Corinthians to judge if an action, desire or habit is right. Here are his questions and Paul’s guidance to help resolve the issue.

1) Is it helpful– physically, spiritually and mentally? (I Cor.6:12)

2) Does it bring me under its power? (I Cor.6:12).

3) Does it hurt others? (I Cor.8:13).

4) Does it glorify God? (I Cor.10:31).

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Malachi Lesson 7

CPRC Men’s Bible Study

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“Will a man rob God?”

Malachi 3:7-12

Readings Malachi 3, Proverbs 3:9-10, II Cor.9:6-15.

The first thing that struck me in this study outline was the phrase, the “worship of giving”. This classes giving, as we hear each Lord’s day before the offering, as part of our worship of God.

As a result of their disobedience in this area God had cursed the Israelites’ crops (Deut.28). This was a sin prevalent through most of Israel’s history and was robbing God, as it was not giving him what was rightfully his. The “me first “ mentality runs counter to the scriptural teaching that Christ and his kingdom come first and this is exemplified by the poor widow in Luke 21:2 and the Macedonian believers in II Cor.8:2. These people had no grace.

So why give?

  1. God is recognised as the owner of all things. The first-fruits is a Biblical principle (Prov.3:9, 10). It is a gauge of our heart’s love. Stewardship recognises all we have is entrusted to us e.g., material things, money, body/abilities, time, children.
  2. Faithfulness in material things will mean we will be entrusted with spiritual riches (Luke 16:10-13)
  3. There are needs to be met including God’s ministers/missionaries, the poor (through deacons Gal.6:10) and buildings (I Cor.9:9-14).
  4. Covetousness, the opposite of generosity, is idolatry (Luke 12:15-21). Idolatry is placing material things, money, ambition or a relationship above God as something we believe will satisfy us−worshipping creature rather than Creator. Wars and strife are the result (Jas.4:2-3). Contentment is our calling (I Tim.6:6-8)
  5. God promises blessing (Acts 20:35). In contrast the miser is miserable!

Neither riches nor poverty are by themselves spiritual, as God is the giver of all things. Abraham was rich, Lazarus−a poor beggar (Prov.30:8).The “tithe” (giving a tenth) was a principle with Abraham before Moses. The O.T. tithes were for the livelihood of the priests and Levites. The Israelites of Malachi’s day neglected all the offerings and sacrifices. The people were commanded to repent and were cursed i.e., reprobate and therefore did not do so. Repentance is commanded of all men (Acts 17:30) because though, by themselves they are incapable of doing so because they are unwilling, they are therefore guilty. God may grant it if the person is elect (II Tim.2:24) and also grant it to his people in answer to prayer (Lam.5:21, Jer.31:18). Repentance granted by God in a heart produces contrition (acknowledgement and sorrow for sin), confession and a new zeal to obey.

The Heidelberg Catechism LD24 Qu.110 speaks of robbing God and breaking the tenth commandment by coveting and abusing and wasting God’s gifts. We ought to remember that both the unbeliever AND believer daily increase their debt to God, falling short of God’s glorious standards (Rom.3:23).

Our attitude to earthly things is to be characterised by:

a) thankfulness.

b) a loose hold on them.

c) wise and hearty use of them for God’s glory.

Principles of giving (II Cor.9:6-7).

  1. You reap as you sow.
  2. Plan.
  3. Cheerfully.
  4. Proportionately (Luke 12:48).
  5. Regularly (I Cor.16:2).We agreed no-one who gives faithfully, cheerfully and liberally to the church and the poor (Gal.6:10) would be themselves impoverished, provided they were not reckless. Saving for the future is also necessary and Biblical (Prov.21:20).

The “health, wealth and success” gospel which is no gospel is:

1) False because God does not want all his children rich or healthy (Ps.75:7, I Chron.29:12).

2) Covetousness because the lust for money, things or position is selfish and displeases God (I   Tim.6:6).

3) God wants us to be content (Phil.4:11).

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There are excellent sermons here:http://www.cprf.co.uk/audio/OTseries.htm#.U7-qND9OUxk

 

 

HOLINESS (3)

 

More excerpts from Bridges’ book.

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

The work of mortification is both the Spirit’s work and ours as the verse states. We are to throw off every weight (Hebrews 12:1), submit to God, resist the devil (James 4:7), make every effort (II Peter 3:14). It is NOT a case of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (II Chron.20:17).

WE must work out what he is working in! (Phil.2:13).If we sin it is not for lack of ability and this is why Bridges dislikes the idea or teaching on victory and defeat in the Christian life as though a force outside ourselves is triumphing over us or being defeated by us. He is actually mistaken here because never in this book does he mention our arch enemy Satan, who along with the flesh and the world is our enemy. But that said it is purely a matter of obedience and disobedience. The responsibility for my sin is mine alone! We are responsible for our thoughts, attitudes and actions. That is why Paul spoke about bringing thoughts into captivity to Christ (II Cor.10:5). Luther put it this way regarding sinful thoughts, “we cannot stop birds flying over our heads but we can stop them nesting in our hair!”

I have to add here a serious question. Can we change our motives (heart)? I think that is something only God can do! (Psalm 51:10).

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