Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Your Sanctification is God’s Will

Friday, November 2, 2018

Your Sanctification is God’s Will

Chapter four
Your Sanctification is God’s Will

11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. 1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 3:11-4:8).

          Obviously, from I Thessalonians 3:12-13, loving people and holiness are practically connected realities.  In other words, biblically these two things cannot exist apart from one another.  Love and holiness are paired attributes of God.  One of the best texts in which we see these two attributes of God exhibited is in Romans chapter eleven.

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches be broken off {because of unfaithful unbelief; vs. 20}, and thou {saved Gentiles in the Church}, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them {unbelieving Jews} which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Romans 11:16-22).

The willingness of the believers at Thessalonica to stand true to the Word of God while facing enormous persecution was a great encouragement to Paul during this time of difficulty and trial in his ministry (I Thessalonians 3:8).  Their faithful testimony renewed his vigor for the cause of Christ.  When a Christian takes a stand for the truths of Christ in love and sanctity, his testimony is an encouragement to other believers to do the same.  

          Paul was unable to find the words to express his gratitude to God for them for their encouragement (I Thessalonians 3:9).  The success of their faithfulness to God’s Word in producing spiritual fruit was what ministry was all about.   God used their testimony of faithfulness as a vehicle to help Paul keep going when he was defeated.  His “affliction and distress” was turned to “joy” upon hearing Timothy’s report.  Never underestimate the power of one faithful testimony.  

Paul found fulfillment in life by helping people build their faith and by helping them grow spiritually (I Thessalonians 3:10).  Most people (even Christians) think they will find fulfillment in life by fulfilling themselves and by fulfilling their own desires.  The fact that Paul’s life was preoccupied with those he had won to Christ and the fact that he viewed his ministry as incomplete until those believers were fully grounded in the doctrine, practice, and brought to spiritual maturity tells us the purpose for what Paul saw his life.

          Being preoccupied with the discipleship of people also models the heart of ministry for us.  How much do we pray for the lost?  How much do we pray for one another, for spiritual growth in each other’s lives, for doors of opportunity for ministry, and courage to go through them?  What are we doing to make disciples for Christ?   What kind of encouragement to be more faithful and to keep on keeping on are we to others in the ministry?

          Some Christians will never quit ministry because they never start ministering.  They live by the motto, “Someone else will do it.”  If God opens a door of opportunity of ministry for you, it is because He wants you to use it.  God did not provide a door of ministry opportunity for you, so you can just open it for someone else.  God may provide the door of opportunity, but you will need to open it and take the opportunity to minister. 

Paul prays for superabundant and overflowing love in the lives of the believers at Thessalonica (3:12).  Overflowing love always touches others by ministering truth to others.  A Christianity without love for other believers and lost people, quickly loses its credibility in any society.  This love is exemplified by willing self-sacrifice and selfless devotion to others.  What we love and don’t love defines our Christianity. 

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6: 21).

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).

          There is a vast difference between ministering love and mere emotional love (feelings).  The difference is the substance of the parable by Christ commonly called the Good Samaritan.  Ministering love is almost always inconvenient to us.  In other words, ministering love comes with risks and expenses to us that will often go uncompensated. 

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:25-37)

Ministering love sees a need and immediately acts upon the need seeing beyond the physical circumstance that the symptoms of the need provides.  The symptoms are mere outward manifestation of the under currant of the spiritual cause, which is usually ignorance of spiritual truth.  People make bad choices because they lack the spiritual character to make good choices.  Ministering love may be able to help them get through their bad choices and maybe not.  There are many consequences from which people having made bad choices cannot be rescued, but they can be loved through those consequences.  Ministering love primarily seeks to build a spiritual foundation through teaching salvation and sanctification, so the person can make sound spiritual choices in the future.  Without ministering love, Christianity ceases to be Christian because it ceases to embody Christ.  

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (I John 4:11-12).

Increasing to a superabundant and overflowing love for one another and others establishes our desires before God as “unblameable in holiness before God” (I Thessalonians 3:13).  A superabundant love overflows from individuals and the community that possess it.  This kind of love is not natural to fallen man.  The only way this kind of love can be produced in the believer’s life is when that believer is under the control (“filled with”) the Holy Spirit.  This love is the visible fruit of the Spirit’s control; therefore, it is supernaturally produced.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:22-24).

          Self-sacrifice and selfless devotion motivate the believer to live in such a way before others as to avoid any act which might bring reproach upon the Name of Christ.  This refers to the establishment of all believer’s as a Kingdom of Priests ministering as representatives of the Throne of Jesus Christ. 

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (I Thessalonians 4:1).

          The way we live (“walk”) is important to God.  It is what defines our Christianity before the world.  They do not know what we believe (or even care).  The world is watching; however, a Christian ought to live right to please God, not the world.  We live before the world, but we live for God.  We can hide things from the world, but we cannot hide anything from God. 

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (I Corinthians 4:5).

“Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16).

Paul beseeches and exhorts these believers to a model walk.  In other words, the way we live before this world is important.  The word “beseech” (erotao, er-o-tah'-o) means to plead or beg. This meaning carries with it a matter of urgency.

          The word “exhort” (parakaleo, par-ak-al-eh'-o) means to summon someone to stand with you.  The idea is to encourage or call someone to take the same Biblical stand for righteousness that you are taking (detailed in verses 2-12 of I Thessalonians chapter four). 

          The word “beseech” comes from Paul as a brother in Christ.  The word “exhort” comes from Scriptural and apostolic authority (“by the Lord Jesus Christ’).  An exhortation makes this a command which carries with it the authority of Christ.

          Modern day exhortation demands certain practices of life in that those practices are commands from God in Scripture.  When the believer presents the Word of God to someone, he does so with the full authority of Christ and the full support of God.  This is known as the transposition of authority.  An exhortation carries the full weight of divine authority.  When a believer says what God says, that saying comes forth with the full authority of the Word of God just as if it came directly from His mouth. 

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Our “walk,” from the Greek word peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh'-o), is how we live before the world and before the Lord.  In I Thessalonians 4:2-12, Paul gives some specific details regarding the believer’s “walk.”  Paul had already thoroughly taught these believers how they “ought to walk” (4:1, “as ye have received of us”).  Verses two through twelve expand on that teaching.

          “Ought” means they knew how they were supposed to live.  The words “beseech” and “exhort” both plead and demand that they do what they know.  This is a common appeal to holiness throughout the Scriptures.

32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).
          What we know needs to be translated into what we do.  There is no greater damage done to the cause of Christ than the damage done by the Christian who proclaims truth and then lives in contradiction to that truth.  This contradiction against living the truths we profess to believe is what it means to take the Name of God in vain.  Every time we live in contradiction to the truths we profess to believe, we bring reproach on the Name of Christ and do irreparable damage to the testimony of our local church in the community in which we live.

          A Christian cannot please God and live in contradiction to His commandments. Yes, God loves us unconditionally.  That means He will always do what is best for us.  Just because God loves you the way you are does not mean He accepts everything you do!  
          Today’s false teaching regarding Christian liberty has done much damage to Christians and Christianity.  Although we do not love God by keeping His commandments, we will keep His commandments when (and because) we love Him.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).

          Loving God means seeking to please Him with our lives by being faithfully obedient to His commands.  It also means that believers make themselves accountable to one another to live for the Lord and love one another.

1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:1-3).

A “walk” is progressive movement toward a goal. 

          This is what Paul means by the words, “So ye would abound more and more.”  The Christian life is never to become stagnant.  It should be a history of continual spiritual growth.  The exhortation here is to continually strive for improvement in all areas of our Christian lives.  The Christian life is a continual growth experience with God.  Living things continue to grow until they die.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus {Christ-likeness}” (Philippians 3:13-14).

2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour (I Thessalonians 4:2-4).

          START Knowing is not the same as doing.  Nothing was ever accomplished by good intentions alone.  Good intentions need to be translated into righteous actions.  Paul’s urgent plea (“beseech”) and exhortation of I Thessalonians 4:1 is defined in verses two through twelve.  Verses three through twelve are a summation of the commandments (vs. 2) that Paul had already taught the church at Thessalonica when he was there. Verses two through eight deal specifically with areas of sexual immorality.

          The reason for this sanctificational emphasis is to lay the foundation of Christian service.  The summary of the will of God for the believer’s life is found in the word “sanctification.”  Sanctification is the primary need of every believer, before God can use him for the work of the ministry.  God wants to use every believer, but before God can use someone, that believer must be sanctified.  Every believer is positionally sanctified in the work of Jesus Christ.  It is upon the basis of positional sanctification the believer is called a “saint.”

“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).

“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (I Corinthians 1:2).

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1:1).

          However, the sanctification to which I Thessalonians 4:3 refers is practical sanctification.  This has to do with service, not salvation.  Our salvation is not based upon our practical sanctification.  Practical sanctification relates to the acceptability of Christian service and the priesthood of the believer.  All believers are priests before God, but the acceptability (usability) of a believer’s service to God is dependent upon that believer’s practical sanctification. 

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. . . 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:5 and 9).

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

All of God’s will for our walk in this world is summed up in the word “sanctification.”  The reason all believers are to be baptized is because baptism connects to the priesthood of the believer in the New Covenant.  Sanctification is from the Greek word hagiasmos (hag-ee-as-mos').  Sanctification is the effect of dedicating one’s heart and life to serving the Lord in purity and holiness.  Something that is sanctified is set apart from the things of this world (all carnal desires) and set apart specifically to be used of God.  Therefore, the following are two essentials to practical sanctification:

1. Separation from the world (worldliness).
2. Separation unto God in service/ministry.

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 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” (II Corinthians 6:14- 7:1).

Separation and self-sacrifice are not an end to themselves.  The purpose of both these necessities is to enable the individual believer to be used of God for ministry (Christian service).  The “perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry” is more than just teaching a believer doctrine (Ephesians 4:12).  The “perfecting of the saints” includes bringing him to spiritual maturity so that he can “know how to possess his vessel {body} in sanctification and honor” (I Thessalonians 4:4).  Without sanctification, everything the believer does is nothing more than “beating the air” (I Corinthians 9:26).

          The purpose of this instruction (I Thessalonians 4:1-12) is that every believer might “know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” to be made useable for Christian service.  God cannot use people who are defiled by living in sin (“uncleanness,” vs. 7). 

9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (I John 3:9-10).

          The word “commit” (I John 3:9) is from the Greek word hamartia (ham-ar-tee'-ah), which means to wander from the law of God or to violate God’s law.  In this context it refers to collective sins that result from a continual practice (not singular failures). 

          The intent of the verse is that true believers will not continue to live in sin because the “seed” of regeneration has been planted within them.  That “seed” will not allow the “born again” believer to continue to live in sin without severe chastisement or premature death taking place.  The word “seed” in I John 3:9 is from the Greek word sperma (sper’-mah).  In this context, it refers to that which possesses vital force or life-giving power - the divine energy of the Holy Spirit operating within the soul - by which we are regenerated and through which the believer is enabled to righteous living. 

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4).

          I John 3:10 summarizes this by stating that the truly born-again person will be a person who seeks to live righteously and love others.  When we bring that into the context of I Thessalonians 4:1-12, we can see that the matter of practical sanctification is a real desire of real regenerated people.  If a professing Christian lacks a desire for practical sanctification, I John 3:10 says it manifests that he is not a child of God.

The first thing a child of God will do to maintain practical sanctification is to “abstain from fornication” (I Thessalonians 4:3).  The Greek word translated “abstain” is apechomai (ap-ekh'-om-ahee).  It is in the middle voice which indicates the subject is performing an action upon himself (reflexive action) or for his own benefit.

          The Greek word translated “fornication” is porneia (por-ni'-ah).  The word “fornication” has a very broad application to various sexual immoralities such as adultery, pre-marital sexual relationships (includes any type of sexual activity), pornography, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, sexual intercourse with close relatives, and even sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman.  Leviticus chapter eighteen details much of what God considers “fornication.”

The reason a believer is to abstain from all these types of “fornication” is so that he can “possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (I Thessalonians 4:4).  The word translated “possess” is ktaomai (ktah'-om-ahee) and means to procure a thing for one’s self.  The word translated “vessel” is skeuos (skyoo'-os).  “Vessel” was a common Greek metaphor for the human body since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies.

          I Thessalonians 4:4 is saying a person ought to know what needs to be done to avoid temptation and become involved in fornication.  Fornication was a major part of the practice of pagan religions.  Paul instructed other believers regarding avoiding involvement in this.  We must presume he instructed the Thessalonian believers as well and is referring them to that teaching in this text (I Thessalonians 4:2).

1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain {their passions}, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn {in lusts}” (I Corinthians 7:1-9).

When a Christian knows “how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour,” he will not live “in the lust of concupiscence as the Gentiles (pagans) which know not God” (I Thessalonians 4:5).  “Concupiscence” is from the Greek word epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah).  It refers to those carnal desires which long for and crave those things that are forbidden by God.  Romans 1:18-23 tells us these carnal lusts are the by-product of the ignorance of God or rejection of His Word. 

6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit” (I Thessalonians 4:6-8).

          To know God is to fear Him.  To have even a small comprehension of the holiness of God means to fear Him greatly.  We do not fear God when we do not know Him or when our knowledge of Him is perverted and distorted by false doctrine.  Is the God of the Old Testament different than the God of the New Testament?  Is the God who brought the plagues upon Egypt, Who met Israel at Mt. Sinai, and Who destroyed the inhabitants of the Promised Land the God we worship and know today?  God says He is the same.  He has always been exactly what He is presently and what He will always be.

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

          Once we understand that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament, we will come to understand both His hatred for sin and His awesome holiness.  The Old Testament teaches these truths about God.  The New Testament is so overwhelmed by God’s love that other truths about God, such as His wrath, are almost misplaced.  

          The progressive revelation of God in Scripture does not supersede one aspect of His character to establish another.  Each provides a balanced and composite character sketch only when all the parts are known and brought together. God’s love met His wrath on the cross of Calvary where His justice was satisfied by His grace in the sacrifice of His own incarnate Son to justify condemned mankind through faith and extend His hand of mercy to “whosoever will.”

          God does not compromise Who He is in any way to redeem mankind.  He remains consistent and immutable.  Therefore, to understand God, we must diligently search both the Old and New Testament books of the Bible.  We know Him by what He says about Himself and what He reveals about Himself through His interactions with man.  Perhaps Exodus 19:9-13 is one of the most revealing Old Testament Scriptures regarding the awesome holiness of God. 

9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. 10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount” (Exodus 19:9-13).

The absence of sin is not holiness.  Righteousness must also be present (I Thessalonians 4:7).

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10.

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

          Therefore, holiness can only be a goal for a Christian.  It can never be achieved in this life even though we are commanded to be holy.  The zeal of a believer in his quest for personal holiness measures both his fear of God and his love for God.  Holiness is the pursuit of sanctification which comes through separation from sin and consecration unto God by living righteously. 

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 20:7).

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16).

          Holiness is the basis of “fellowship” with God and the basis of God’s blessing on anything a Christian does.  The word “fellowship” simply describes a working partnership with God created through full surrender and through the filling of the indwelling Spirit of God.  This must be preceded by repentance of any sin along with the confession of that sin to God and cleansing by God (I John 1:9). 

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us {There must be an honest and consistently transparent evaluation of our own spiritual condition before God.  The point is not to inform God of something He already knows.  The point is to inform Him WE KNOW!}. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:7-9).

Holiness is walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, under His control, and in the will of God.

7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth {rejects or disannuls God’s demand for holiness}, despiseth {rejects or disannuls God’s demand for holiness} not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit” (I Thessalonians 4:7-8).

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:13-26).

Understanding the Achan Principle (also known as the Body Principle)

That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified” (I Thessalonians 4:6).

          When any member of a local church lives in un-confessed sin and unrepentance, he defrauds every other member of that local church of God’s power, holiness, fellowship, acceptability of worship, and God’s blessing.

“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel” (Joshua 7:1).

          There is a dualism of the effect of sin in a believer’s life.  First, his body is temple of the Holy Spirit of God and sin defiles the temple in which He dwells.  Secondly, every believer is a living stone of which the living temple of the local church is constructed.  Therefore, a defiled living stone defiles the living temple and the materials from which it is constructed.  

          Therefore, every member of a local church has a vested interest in the holiness of every other member of a local church.  The Lord’s judgment will come upon any person who lives in such a manner.  This may refer to present chastisement, although it also refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Therefore, Christians will answer to Jesus Christ for the things done in this body, although they will not be condemned for them.  Payday may not be in this lifetime.

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthian 5:8-10).

          “Accepted” is from the Greek word euarestos (yoo-ar’-es-tos) meaning to please.  This does not mean the basis of our acceptance is performance, but rather that our service to Christ needs to be motivated by a desire to please Christ.

“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people” (Hebrews 10:30).

          When Christians sin, the power of the Spirit of God is quenched in their lives personally and in the spiritual life of the local church.  God’s blessings are withheld.  This is what it means to “quench” the Spirit.

“Quench not the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:19).

          The Greek words translated “quench” in I Thessalonians 5:19 simply means to put out or extinguish.  Pouring water on a fire quenches the fire.  There is power in fire to heat and to cook.  When a fire is put out the potential in the fire to heat or cook is lost.  Sin quenches the power of the Spirit from being released through an individual and the local church to which he is joined.  Individuals can quench the Spirit in His working in the corporate body of a local church.  This is done when an individual grieves the Spirit through any kind of sin, even a bad attitude, or when he refuses to do what he knows is right.  When the Spirit is quenched by sin, the potential good the Spirit would do through a person’s life is lost.  Ministry is hindered and God is de-glorified. 

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).

          When a person rejects the truths (standards of holiness) that establish what holiness is, he does not reject man’s laws, but God’s commands, and thereby rejects God Himself (I Thessalonians 4:8).  God’s truths define both God and His holiness.  Therefore, these standards of holiness also define the image to which we are “to be conformed.”

“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” (Romans 8:29).

          The failure to be conformed by the Word of God was Paul’s accusation against the Jews who looked down their spiritual noses with self-righteous contempt at the Gentiles for living contrary to God’s commands.  However, the Gentiles were ignorant of God’s commands because the Jews failed to evangelize them and teach them God’s commands.  Even the Jews failed to keep God’s commands.  Romans 2:17-24 is actually an accusation against the hypocrisy of self-righteousness by the Jews who knew but did not do (James 1:22).  There is nothing more blasphemous to the Name of God and contrary to the character and nature of God than professing believers living unsanctified lives before those they are called to evangelize. 

17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written” (Romans 2:17-24; it was “written” in Isaiah 52:5 and Ezekiel 36:20-23).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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