Gloryland's New Christian Series Bible course may be copied freely, but must not be sold except to recover the cost of copying or printing. We only ask that proper credit be given and that you notify us if you are copying or distributing the course or making links to it on the Internet. Please let us know if you translate the course into another language, or if you wish to have it translated into another language. © Copyright 1994 Linton M. Smith Jr.
The only redemption for a lost sinner is in Christ:"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:" — Colossians 1:14
Redemption means "to repurchase," or "deliverance from the power of another, effected by payment of ransom." It is an act to regain something that was lost.
The Pilgrim Bible marginal note for Exodus 6:6 says this of the word "redeem:"
"To redeem means ‘to buy back.’ The Israelites had been free but they were now slaves of Pharaoh, and God bought them back to liberty. This is the meaning of redemption. We were born slaves to sin and needed to be redeemed by Christ Whose death on the cross was the price of our freedom.
Suppose that a boy made a schooner, lost it and then saw it in a shop-window marked FOR SALE. It is his boat, he made it, yet he has to buy it back. So with redemption, God made man in His own image; man sinned and lost companionship with his Creator; God thus redeemed him, bought him back, by the shedding of Christ’s most precious blood at Calvary.
That is as good an illustration of redemption as I have ever heard — God made us, and then He bought us back.
The Bible tells us that there was only one price that would be accepted to set the sinner free. The ransom was higher than any could ever hope to pay: it was the sacrifice of the Son of God.
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." — I Timothy 2:5,6
"Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;" — Psalm 107:2
It was "from the hand of the enemy" that we were redeemed, and it was necessary that a ransom be paid in order to release man from bondage. Christ’s own blood was the price of our ransom. It was such a high price that we will never be able to appreciate it fully until we get to Heaven. The Apostle John tells us that Christ paid for all the sins of the whole world when He died on the cross.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." — I John 2:2
In explanation of this word "propitiation," I quote the marginal note from The Pilgrim Bible for Romans 3:25:
"This word is translated ‘mercy seat’ in Hebrews 9:5. To understand this, we must go back to Leviticus 16. The entrance of the High Priest into the presence of God once a year was made possible by the blood of the sacrifice which he brought. He sprinkled the blood on the Ark of the Covenant, which pictured the throne of God. That throne would have been a throne of judgment, but the blood showed that someone had already been judged, thus the throne became a throne of mercy. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is said to be the place where the believing sinner may meet God."
Christ had to come and be a "propitiation" (meeting place) so He could redeem us from our sin.
Just think of it, he died to redeem the vilest of men, not as we were going about doing good or seeking Him in a state of repentance, but while we were yet in an ungodly condition, despising Him who died for our redemption. He did it all for you and me!
I’m glad He died for the ungodly, aren’t you? Otherwise, I certainly would have had no chance of salvation or eternal life in Heaven. Furthermore, we read that we become His purchased possession when we believe on Him.
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s." — I Corinthians 6:19,20
Remember the story of the little boy who bought back the boat he had built? It was his property because he made it. However, since it had been lost, he had to buy it back. It then became his purchased possession, which left no question of ownership.
We have heard stories of great sums of money being paid to ransom a kidnap victim, but what price would a king pay to ransom one of his children? When all the wealth of the world could not ransom one sinner, our King gave His own life. Just think of it, the great price of our eternal redemption, and ransom for our souls, was nothing less than the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ!
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." — I Peter 1:18,19
Our redemption has two parts — present and future.
This takes place the moment we believe — it is complete, final and eternal. Notice that Paul speaks of our redemption in the present tense when he writes his epistle to the Colossians.
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." — Hebrews 9:12
Paul says:"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us..." — Galatians 3:13
"To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." — Galatians 4:5
We know our redemption is complete because we could not otherwise receive "the adoption of sons." Our redemption is a present reality.
"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
— Romans 8:23
This is a reference to the final and complete redemption of the bodies of the saints at the rapture. Our present bodies are not the final, glorious, new body we shall have forever. Our bodies of flesh cannot go to Heaven because of sin, but one day they too will be redeemed and we will all have bodies without sin.
"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." — Ephesians 4:30
We should always be thankful for our redemption, being mindful that our Saviour left all the riches of Glory to come into this wicked world to save us. I am reminded of these wonderful words of praise from the hymnbook:
"Redeemed — how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed thru His infinite mercy —
His child, and forever, I am. "
— Redeemed, by Fanny Crosby
Let us proclaim it always, even to the ends of the earth. Can one truly be a child of God and not love to tell of our wonderful redemption by the blood of the Lamb?
Use the following words and verse references to answer the questions.
Galatians 3:13 propitiation I Timothy 2:5
redemption I Corinthians 6:20 Romans 3:24
I Peter 1:18,19 Colossians 1:14 ransom
adopted Ephesians 4:30 eternal
Romans 5:6 I John 2:2 Satan
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." — Hebrews 2:14-17
Reconciliation is the act of restoring something to a former state of peace or harmony. Generally, this has to do with bringing two alienated parties back together.
As L.E. Maxwell says:
"The purpose of the Cross of Christ, as all His teaching, was to set self aside and to bring our hearts and wills into harmony with God."
By sin, Adam and Eve were alienated from God. In Adam, therefore, all men are alienated from God. Paul describes this condition in his letter to the Ephesians.
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ,
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
And came and preached peace to us which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." — Ephesians 2:12-18
Since Adam’s sin, man has not sought reconciliation with God, because there is nothing in man that desires to set self aside, and reckon it crucified on the Cross.
The Bible says:
"There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
— Romans 3:11,12
The scripture says that there is no one seeking after God. There is nothing good in man, and therefore nothing in him that would desire God. But, you might say, "I was seeking after God when I got saved." Yes, but only after He had sought you first, and had begun to draw you to himself. Then you began to be moved and to seek Him. God made the first move toward reconciliation, not man. It was the great desire and plan of God from the beginning to bring us back to Himself.
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him..." — John 6:44
Jesus himself is the means of our reconciliation to God, and only through Him can we be reconciled to God. In our lesson on redemption we learned that Jesus is our Propitiation, our "meeting place." As the son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ reaches down from Heaven to man. As the son of God, He reaches the Father. Therefore, Christ is the "mediator" who reconciles all who would come unto Him by faith.
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" — I Timothy 2:5
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." — Romans 5:10
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." — Colossians 1:20
Without His death — without His blood, there could be no reconciliation and everyone would be eternally damned. But because He did give His life for us and offered His own blood as an atonement for sin, we have "eternal redemption" and are eternally secure in Him.
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." — Hebrews 9:12
We have no confidence in the works of the flesh to merit our salvation. Furthermore, we could never trust our flesh to keep us from sinning once we were saved. If that were the condition for maintaining our salvation it would surely be shortlived. On the contrary, we count our flesh as having suffered the final death blow at Calvary, because of its failure to ever obey God. When Christ reconciled us unto Himself, it was not on a trial basis (until we might sin again and lose our salvation), otherwise He would have to reconcile us to God many times.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one." — John 10:27-30
Christ reconciled us to himself "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). His own words were "[I] give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish." Beloved, the scriptures are simple and clear about this.
How well Charles Wesley expressed it in the words of that great hymn, Arise My Soul, Arise:
"Arise my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands —
My name is written on His hands.
My God is reconciled,
His pard’ning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child,
I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And ‘Father, Abba, Father’ cry."
Notes On Eternal Security
Before we conclude this section, here is a chain of references on eternal security. In the front or back of your Bible, write the words "Eternal Security." Next to these words write down the first verse in the chain of references. (You may want to write all of them all down together.) Next, turn in your Bible to the page where the first reference is found. Mark the verse, and then in the margin write down the page or reference you want to turn to next. Then you will be able to go from one verse to another with speed and confidence when you want to show someone what the Bible teaches on this subject. Here are the verses in the order you want to mark them. I Corinthians 1:6-8; Ephesians 1:13,14; 4:30; Philippians 1:6; John 5:24; John 6:37-39; John 10:27-29; Romans 8:35-39; I John 5:12,13.
"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God." — II Corinthians 5:18-20
What a wonderful privilege it is to be a Christian! Not only has the Lord Jesus Christ reconciled us to God, but He has enabled us to be partakers of the ministry of reconciliation. We are blessed to be able to bring others to Christ. We are like an extension of His hand, reaching out to the lost. We should yield ourselves as instruments of God to proclaim His wonderful plan of salvation.
"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." — Romans 6:13
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
— Romans 10:13-17
As ministers of the word of reconciliation, we should be mindful of the precious seed we bear and the promises given us as sowers.
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." — Psalm 126:6
"[T]he seed is the word of God." — Luke 8:11
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
— I Peter 1:23
Are you reconciled to God through the Saviour? Are you ministering "the word of reconciliation" unto others? Why not begin today to tell others about the One who has reconciled us to God forever?
1. __________ is the act of restoring some- thing to a former state of peace or harmony.
2. Because of sin all men are __________ from God.
3. The natural man does not __________ reconciliation with God.
4. According to John 6:44 God the Father __________ men to Christ.
5. __________ is the means of our reconciliation to God.
6. I Timothy 2:5 tells us that Jesus is our__________.
7. According to Colossians 1:20 it is Jesus’ __________ that reconciles us to God.
8. No believer today can lose his salvation. We call this the doctrine of __________.
9. Once a person becomes reconciled to God it becomes his ministry to try to __________ other sinners to God.
10. Because the Lord has committed this ministry unto believers, we are now __________ for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20).
11. According to II Corinthians 5:19 Christians are enabled to be partakers of the __________ of reconciliation.
12. The precious seed we bear to reach the lost is __________.
The subject of sanctification (or holiness) is mentioned at least 1,066 times in the Bible. The root word "sanctify" means "to set apart" or "to separate." Therefore Biblical sanctification may be defined as separation from sin, unto God.
This is reflected in the Scriptures:
"But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him." — Psalm 4:3
"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." — Leviticus 11:44
Here, "defile" is set in opposition to "sanctify." So, anything that is sanctified must be made clean or undefiled.
In his book on holiness, Horatius Bonar says:
"In one aspect, sanctification is an act, a thing done at once, like justification. The moment the blood touches us, that is, as soon as we believe God’s testimony to the blood, we are ‘clean’ (John 15:3), ‘sanctified,’ set apart for God. It is in this ceremonial or priestly sense that the word is used in the epistle to the Hebrews. For as in Romans justification takes us into the temple and deals with our priestly standing. As the vessels of the sanctuary were at once separated to God and His service the moment the blood touched them, so are we. This did not imply that these vessels required no daily ablution afterward; so neither does our consecration intimate that we need no daily sanctifying, no inward process for getting rid of sin. The initiatory consecration through the blood is one thing, and the continual sanctifying by the power of the Holy Ghost is another."
Sanctification may be viewed as having three different aspects.
1. There is the PAST — where we were instantaneously sanctified,
2. The PRESENT — where we are progressively sanctified as we grow in the Lord,
3. The FUTURE — where we will be finally sanctified and made perfect forever.
This all happened the moment we got saved. We were cleansed and sanctified. We were set apart by Him, for Him.
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." — Hebrews 10:10-12
From this passage of Scripture, we see that the instantan- eous sanctification that separates the believer from sin, unto God is ours "through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ." It is wholly the work of God — once and for all, by the offering of His body as a sacrifice for our sins. That is the past tense of sanctification. It took place when we received Christ. The believer was "sanctified" (set apart) by God, one time, and forever, through the death of Christ.
On Earth, the Lord accomplishes our instantan- eous sanctification by "the operation of God" that is "the circumcision made without hands" (Colossians 2:11,12). We have already learned that this spiritual circumcision is the cutting away, or separating, of our soul from our flesh. Thereby the new inward man is created without sin, holy and unblemished. At the same time, our sanctification is accom- plished in Heaven, when our names are written in the Lamb’s "book of life" (Revelation 13:9). At that time, we are seated in heavenly places as the adopted sons of God and made believer-priests unto the Lord.
In the book of Exodus, we see an illustration of sancti- fication in the setting of the bounds on Mount Sinai.
At Mount Sinai, boundaries were set to separate the people from the presence of God. In the same manner, the Old Testament tells us that only the priests were allowed to enter into the holy place. Now, under the new covenant, every Christian is a believer-priest (Hebrews 9:12; I Peter 2:5,9). As such, we are able not only to approach God, but to do so boldly (Hebrews 4:16). Born again children of God are now encompassed within the bounds of the heavenly Mount Zion, and made partakers of God’s holiness.
"Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."
— Psalm 48:2
In Christ, we are now separated from the mixed multitude (the world) unto our God. The unsaved remain outside the bounds of God’s holiness because of unbelief. Before we were saved we were all "aliens" and "strangers" to God.
As the Scriptures say:
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and stran- gers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"
— Ephesians 2:12
We were strangers without God and had no hope, but by Christ’s atonement for our sins, we are now part of the household of God.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;" — Ephesians 2:19
Furthermore, as "fellowcitizens with the saints," we are now on the inside looking out. We are sanctified unto God by His atonement.
We see here that the "stranger" was forbidden to partake of the things which were holy. This reminds me of the Lord’s supper. In that blessed communion ordinance the believer (sanctified unto the Lord) is privileged to partake of "those things wherewith the atonement was made" (the blood of Christ, symbolically represented by new wine). Unbelievers however, remain without, having no part therein because they have not been sanctified by the Lord. The Lord’s supper reminds me that "I" am set apart unto the Lord by His death.
In the Old Testament the Lord said:
"Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you." — Exodus 31:13
The Lord’s supper is a "sign" among believers and a testi- mony of our separation unto God. Hear the Lord’s own words of instruction about this blessed ordinance:
"[T]his cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come." — I Corinthians 11:25-26
Even as it was death that separated Adam from God, it is death that separates us unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Death is the clear and distinct separator, and in the ordinance of the Lord’s supper we "do shew the Lord’s death till he come." This seemingly strange celebration, centered around death is actually the believer’s celebration of victory over death, for as in Him we all died, in Him we all live and are joined to the Lord (Colossians 6:17).
As the Scripture says:
"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
— Colossians 3:3
Therefore Paul boldly taunts death, with these words:
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
— I Corinthians 15:55
That we have been separated from sin is evident, because it is the only way we can be separated unto God, who will not allow sin in His presence. This has already been estab- lished by our death in Him (Colossians 3:3). But the great importance of this identification with His death is not realized at once by most believers, because they do not comprehend how utterly damning their filthy sins were. Why was it necessary for Christ to die, and for us to die in Him?
Horatius Bonar writes of this very subject in his book, God’s Way of Holiness.
"[T]hat which God calls sin is something infinitely terrible, far beyond our ideas of misfortune and disease, something to which even Sodom and Sinai gave but faint expression. It is something which the law curses and the judge condemns; something which needs a righteous pardon, a divine Saviour, and an almighty Spirit. It is something which can destroy a soul and ruin a world, which can, from one single drop, overflow earth for six thousand years and fill Hell eternally. It is that of whose hatefulness the blood, smoke and fire of the altar speak. It is ‘exceed- ing sinful,’ whose wages is death, the first and second death, and of whose balefulness the everlasting dark- ness is the witness.
He who would know holiness must under- stand sin. He who would see sin as God sees it, and think of it as God does, must look at the cross and grave of the Son of God and must know the meaning of Gethsemane and Golgotha.
Am I bound to think of sin as God thinks? Most certainly. Have I no liberty of thinking otherwise? None. You may do so if you choose to venture, but the consequences are fearful, for error is sin. We are not bound to think as man thinks. But we are bound to think as God thinks — not in one thing but in everything. Woe be to him that presumes to differ from God, or reckons it a light matter to be of one mind with Him, or tries to prove that the Bible is inaccurate or unintelligible or but half inspired, in order to release himself from the responsibility of receiving the whole truth of God, and afford him license to believe or disbelieve at pleasure, freed from the trammels of a fixed revelation.
God is calling us from sin, then, in every sense and aspect. He warns us against it as exceeding sinful, the abominable thing which He hates and will avenge. He speaks to us as ‘shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin,’ carrying evil about with us and being filled with it and steeped in it. Not merely are we diseased and require medicine, or unfortunate and require pity, but we are guilty, under law, under sentence, dead in trespasses and sins, with inevitable judgment before us. He neither palliates nor aggravates our case. But He calmly tells us the worst, showing us what we are before calling us to be what He has purposed to make us. He is calling us in Christ Jesus His Son from all unholiness and unrighteous- ness, from all corruption, from all crooked ways, from all disobedience, from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit."
The need for Christians to view sin more seriously is echoed in the writings of J.C. Ryle.
"He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption.
The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are ‘words and names’ which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes any one a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart, and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with ‘light,’ and so also does the spiritual creation. God ‘shines into our hearts’ by the work of the Holy Ghost, and then spiritual life begins (II Corinthians 4:6). Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the church… has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.
No proof of the fullness of sin, after all, is so over- whelming and unanswerable as the cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole doctrine of His substitution and atonement. Terribly black must that guilt be for which nothing but the blood of the Son of God could make satisfaction. Heavy must that weight of human sin be which made Jesus groan and sweat drops of blood in agony at Gethsemane, and cry at Golgotha. ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’"
We may say that sanctification is by God, for without His power we could do nothing. It is also unto God, for that is the purpose of sanctification: to draw nearer to Him, to become more like Him and more fit for His service. But in our progressive (ongoing) sanctification we enter into conflict with our sinful nature and must reckon ourselves crucified with Him ("dead unto sin, but alive unto God" Romans 6:11) in order to maintain our daily walk with God — ("Not as though I had already attained" Philippians 3:12).
L.E. Maxwell says:
"We repeat the wise words of Dr. A.J. Gordon: ‘Divine truth as revealed in Scripture seems often to lie between two extremes… we regard contentment with sinful imperfection as a greater heresy."
Let us always be mindful these words of Scripture:
"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."
— I Peter 1:15,16
Again I quote J.C. Ryle, on the subject of Sin:
"I fear we do not sufficiently realize the extreme subtlety of our soul’s disease. We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in it’s true colors, saying, ‘I am your deadly enemy, and I want to ruin you forever in Hell.’ Oh, no, sin comes to us, like Judas, with a kiss; and like Joab, with an outstretched hand and flattering words. The forbidden fruit seemed good and desirable to Eve; yet it cast her out of Eden. The walking idly on his palace roof seemed harmless enough to David; yet it ended in adultery and murder. Sin rarely seems sin at its first beginnings. Let us then watch and pray, lest we fall into temptation. We may give wickedness smooth names, but we cannot alter its nature and character in the sight of God. Let us remember St. Paul’s words: ‘Exhort one another daily, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin’ (Hebrews 3:13).
It may be that a certain profession of religion has become so fashionable and comparatively easy in the present age, that the streams which were once narrow and deep have become wide and shallow, and what we have gained in outward show we have lost in quality. It may be that the vast increase of wealth in the last twenty-five years has insensibly introduced a plague of worldliness, and self- indulgence, and love of ease into social life. What were once called luxuries are now comforts and necessaries, and self-denial and "enduring hardness" are consequently little known. We have too often been content with zeal for orthodoxy, and have neglected the sober realities of daily practical godliness. The whole result is that the Spirit is grieved! And the matter calls for much humiliation and searching of heart.
We must return to first principles. We must go back to ‘the old paths.’ We must sit down humbly in the presence of God, look the whole subject in the face, examine clearly what the Lord Jesus calls sin, and what the Lord Jesus calls ‘doing his will.’ We must then try to realize that it is terribly possible to live a careless, easy-going, half- worldly life, and yet at the same time to main- tain evangelical principal and call ourselves evangelical people! Once let us see that sin is far viler, and far nearer to us, and sticks more closely to us than we supposed, and we shall be led, I trust and believe, to get nearer to Christ. Once drawn nearer to Christ, we shall drink more deeply out of His fullness, and learn more thoroughly to ‘live the life of faith’ in Him, as St. Paul did."
Considering the deadly disease that permeates our very being, is it any wonder that the only remedy is the death of the infected member? Now I want to quote from Born Crucified, the classic work on the subject of the believer’s sanctification by his death with Christ.
"Now shall we return, as it were, to the land of Canaan, the land of fruit and fight? When the Israelites entered that land, that blessed land of obedience, was it not already theirs by inheritance? In the self- same way believers have been given ‘all spiritual blessings’ in Christ.
But to us, as to Joshua, comes the promise, ‘Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.’ Joshua must plant his foot upon the necks of his enemies. And believers today must mortify their members, ‘mortify the deeds of the body.’
But did God hold Israel responsible for taking the whole of that land at once? Decidedly, no. In fact, he said: ‘I will not drive them out before you in one year… By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land’ (Exodus 23:29,30). Even so with us. We are to be all our days taking new territory, first in our own lives and then in ‘the regions beyond.’ Again, Israel faced ‘seven nations greater and mightier’ than herself. How could she ever overcome but by the Almighty. Even so with us. The old life is too strong for us. But the promise is, Romans 8:13 ‘...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.’ God says to Israel and to us that in this way we shall possess our possessions.
Beloved, can we imagine disobedient Israel boasting, while bleaching her bones in the wilderness, that she had everything up in Canaan? What glory then is it for the double-minded believer, wandering in the wilderness of a divided affection, to boast continually that he has everything ‘in the heavenly places in Christ?’ — all the while taking no territory for Christ, experiencing no milk and honey and grapes, and grappling with no foes for his Redeemer. Any ‘stalemate’ conception of the two natures will not stand the test of Scripture. You are no Adam-Christ believer. Do you believe in suppression? God did not say to put Canaanites to tribute, to keep them tied up. They were to be put, not to tribute, but to death. Are you an eradicationist with all fruit and no fight? Your position is contrary to Scripture and to your own experience. Both positions are untenable. The Cross has the solution. We have been crucified with Christ — have ‘put off’ the old man. Now put him out, i.e., ‘mortify’ his deeds. Apply His death. Let the Cross shame and crucify you out of any position of unholy duplicity. ‘Purify your hearts, ye double minded.’ The Cross condemns us to live like saints. Hallelujah! Let us go up at once and possess. We be well able ‘through the Spirit.’
We cannot better close this chapter than by quoting from that bed-ridden saint and soldier of India, Miss Amy Carmichael. She has known the pathway of suffering. She bears in her body the marks of the Lord Jesus: ‘We who follow the Crucified are not here to make a pleasant thing of life; we are called to suffering for the sake of a suffering, sinful world. The Lord forgive us our shameful evasions and hesitations. His brow was crowned with thorns; do we seek rose-buds for our crowning? His hands were pierced with nails; are our hands ringed with jewels? His feet were bare and bound; do our feet walk delicately? What do we know of travail? Of tears that scald before they fall? Of heartbreak? Of being scorned? God forgive us our love of ease. God forgive us that so often we turn our faces from a life that is even remotely like His. Forgive us that we all but worship comfort, the delight of the presence of loved ones, possessions, treasure on earth. Far, far from our prayers too often is any thought of prayer for a love which will lead us to give one whom we love to follow our Lord to Gethsemane, to Calvary — perhaps because we have never been there ourselves.’
The facts of Christian experience indicate that most believers wander for some time in the wilderness of Romans 7, in the land of a mixed and divided affection, before they enter into the life of victory in Christ. The great apostle himself reveals the tragic breakdown of his own inner life subsequent to his conversion, when he cries out in an agony of despair, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). He then learned what he later wrote in Romans 6:11: ‘Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ He came to see that God’s deliverance from the thralldom of a loathsome self-life is not through resolution, but through reckoning on co-crucifixion with Jesus Christ.
Sooner or later most of us as believers awaken to a sense of our sinful selfhood. We, too, would live for Christ. We hunger and thirst after righteousness, but, alas, how tragically self-will thwarts the flow of the living waters. The stream of our life is mixed and muddy. We fight and pray and struggle. We redouble our resolutions. We see that we must experience an inner crucifixion; that the Cross must be at the heart of our Christian lives. We try to crucify ourselves, but all to no avail. Self cannot, will not, crucify self. In utter self-despair we sign our own death sentence, sinking into our death-union with the Crucified. We let go and let God, yielding ourselves in total self-surrender. Once and for all we take by faith the position God gives us of death and resurrection with Christ.
Such is the beginning of a life of Christian victory — but it is only a beginning. This death-position once taken must then be learned. The life of the Crucified must be received moment by moment. There is the Cross once and for all, and there is the ‘cross daily.’ It is a life- long process. ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me’ (Luke 9:23). The early disciples must often have seen the long procession of murderers and criminals on their way to crucifixion, carrying their crosses.
Many times you have cried, ‘Anything but that, Lord.’ You have feared it might come upon you. And there it is, staring you in the face. To obey God will now occasion new pain and shame and disgrace. But in the divine wisdom it will apply Calvary more deeply to self. Take it up, therefore, stretch your hands out upon it, and there make a fresh break with self. When Christ shouldered His cross, He went forth to lay down His life. That is what you will do as His follower. He means you to embrace this new test as His instrument of your own undoing. There you unlearn self and learn Christ. That circumstance, when embraced, is your ‘cross.’ We must not think of our cross as something compulsory or unavoidable such as misfortune, infirmity, or calamity. Our cross is the voluntary embracing of a path which exposes self to fresh denial, disgrace, and death, and which may actually cost us our life. When we embrace the cross, Golgotha is our goal.
Thus it is that we learn to die daily, ‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.’ (II Corinthians 4:10).
The offense of the Cross has not ceased except in the case of those who have refused to live crucified lives. ‘All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ The moment we begin to live Christ-like lives we hear the apostle say, ‘Let this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ And what was that mind? When He was in the form of God He emptied Himself; He came in the likeness of men; He took the form of a servant; He humbled Himself; He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Am I a follower of the Lamb? His was a path of self- emptying and learning of obedience by the things which He suffered. The law of the Master must be the law for the disciple.
‘And did my Lord on earth endure
Sorrow, and hardship, and distress
That I might sit me down secure
And rest in self-indulgent ease?
His delicate disciple, I
Like Him might neither live nor die?’
‘Master, I have not learnt Thee so;
Thy yoke and burden I receive,
Resolve in all Thy steps to go,
And bless the Cross by which I live,
And curse the wisdom from beneath,
That strives to rob me of Thy death.’
— Charles Wesley"
Here are some helpful rules for maintaining our daily, progressive sanctification. Use them to keep yourself clean.
a. Strive to live a life that is obedient to God’s word.
b. Confess our sins immediately when we fail in order that Christ will restore us to fellowship with Himself (I John 1:6-10).
c. Resist the devil and he will flee away (James 4:7).
d. Be faithful in regular Bible reading, study, and prayer.
e. Practice self sacrifice, and be active in witnessing and ministering to others.
The word of God is the indispensable cleanser in our daily walk with God as we see from the scriptures below.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
— John 17:17
"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." — John 15:3
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word," — Ephesians 5:25,26
"[I]t" refers to "the church," (all born again believers). We are to read the word of God daily. We will find that it has a marvelous cleansing effect on us as it reveals our sin to us and shows us the paths of righteousness.
The ship’s captain cries out to the helmsman "steer away from the rocks." But the ship will continue straight ahead on its dangerous course unless the helmsman heeds the warning and turns the wheel that steers the rudder of the great ship. So the Lord "worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure." But we must yield to Him and obey Him. We must steer away from sin, even as Joseph fled away from the temptation to sin with Potiphar’s wife.
The famous author Mark Twain took his name from a riverboat term. The term "Mark twain," meant six fathoms of water — enough depth for clear passage of the boat. With a rope and plumb-bob, the crew sounded the bottom to check the depth of the water. In this way they were able to set their course and keep the ship from running aground. As we seek to live a holy life, we must also actively sound the depths (by the word of God) to be sure we are sailing in clear channels (the will of God).
That is the future tense of sanctification. When Christ returns, we will be made completely sinless and perfect like Him, because we will get a glorified body like Him (Philip- pians 3:20-21; I John 3:1,2; Romans 8:29). Remember, the inward man is sinless now! But it is different with the outward man who will not receive its sanctification until the Lord’s return at the rapture.
We may say that the Lord HAS delivered us (past tense); IS delivering us (present tense); and WILL deliver us (future tense).
God wants every believer to grow in grace and to sanctify themselves daily. The only way we can do that is by studying God’s word (I Peter 3:18; II Timothy 2:15), and being "doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22-25).
Here are two primary heresies taught by those who do not understand the three phases of our sanctification:
(a) Those who teach that we are saved by works believe that our salvation depends on what we are doing now. It does not. It depends upon what we did with Jesus Christ. They refuse to recognize the past tense of sanctification, which was instantaneous. They try to make us believe that our daily, progressive sanctification merits salvation, when it will not.
(b) There are others who claim that we can have complete sanctification and holiness in this life on earth. They claim that we can reach a state of sinlessness for the outward man. This is a heresy. We know that the inward man is sinless, but that outward man will not reach a state of sinlessness until our final sanctification takes place and the Lord gives us our new body. It is heresy to teach that we can reach a state of sinless perfection in this life and continue through our life in the mortal body without sinning.
We see from the Scriptures that this is untrue.
"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.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." — I John 1:7-10
Can you imagine anyone claiming to be sinless while they are still alive in their sinful body? As we have just read, these people are certainly deceiving themselves and the truth is not in them. Furthermore they are making a liar of God, and His word is not in them. As we have already learned (I John 3:6,9), the inward man, which is already seated with Jesus Christ in heavenly places, is sinless. The outward man is not, and will not be until he receives complete sanctification in a new glorified body at the rapture.
Look now at what Paul says in his letter to Timothy:
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." — I Timothy 1:15
He is speaking here in the present tense. He does not say "of whom I was chief." He says "of whom I am chief," because he was still in his body and still a sinner. As he considered the sinfulness of his flesh in the light of God’s perfect holiness, he groaned with disgust and confessed that he felt himself to be the worst of all sinners. It is the position each one of us should come to if we desire to walk daily with the Lord and draw nearer to Him. You see, there are two kinds of sinners. There are lost sinners and there are saved sinners. Nevertheless, all are sinners.
Paul drives this point home in Romans 7:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" — Romans 7:18,24
Paul is talking about the body of sinful flesh that wants to sin. It is impossible to clean up our bodies so they will be sinless. Paul says this to the Romans as a saved born-again Christian in the body of Christ. He is referring to the outward man, NOT the inward man. Those who teach we can be sinless in this present life, here in the flesh, do not understand the three tenses of sanctification. They vainly claim the future tense of sanctification now. They want us to believe we can be like Jesus Christ before we die, but we cannot. Both of these heresies are the result of the rejection of the truth revealed in the word of God. They are the result of a misunderstanding of the doctrines of spiritual circumcision and of the two natures. It is so important for a new believer to thoroughly understand these doctrines so they will not go astray and follow after some false teaching.
The quotations from the works of these men of God give clear testimony to the truths we have studied. They have greatly affected the lives of many Christians, and my own life as well. I trust they will do the same for you.
I close now, quoting at length from the classic work on Christian holiness by J.C. Ryle.
"‘[H]oliness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’
— Hebrews 12:14
The text which heads this page opens up a subject of deep importance. The subject is practical holiness. It suggests a question which demands the attention of all professing Christians. Are we holy?
1. First then, let me try to show what true practical holiness is; what sort of persons are those whom God calls holy.
A man may go great lengths, and yet never reach true holiness. It is not knowledge — Balaam had that; nor great profession — Judas Iscariot had that; nor doing many things — Herod had that; nor zeal for certain matters in religion — Jehu had that; nor morality and outward respectability of conduct — the young ruler had that; nor taking pleasure in hearing preachers — the Jews in Ezekiel’s time had that; nor keeping company with godly people — Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that. Yet none of these were holy! These things alone are not holiness. A man may have any one of them, and yet never see the Lord.
What then is true practical holiness?
(a) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment — hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.
(b) A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known com- mandment. He will have a decided bent of mind toward God, a hearty desire to do His will, a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the world, and a love to all His ways. He will feel what Paul felt when he said, ‘I delight in the law of God after the inward man’ (Romans 7:22), and what David felt when he said, ‘...I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way’ (Psalm 119:128).
(c) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. It will be his aim to bear with and forgive others, even as Christ forgave us; to be unselfish, even as Christ pleased not Himself; to walk in love, even as Christ loved us; to be lowly-minded and humble, even as Christ made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself. He will remember that Christ was a faithful witness for the truth, that He came not to do His own will, that it was His meat and drink to do His Father’s will, that He would continually deny Himself in order to minister to others, that He was meek and patient under undeserved insults, that He thought more of godly poor men than of kings, that He was full of love and compassion to sinners, that He was bold and uncompromising in denouncing sin, that He sought not the praise of men, when He might have had it, that He went about doing good, that He was separate from worldly people, that He continued instant in prayer, that He would not let even His nearest relations stand in His way when God’s work was to be done. These things a holy man will try to remember. By them he will endeavor to shape his course in life. He will lay to heart the saying of John, ‘He that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked’ (I John 2:6); and the saying of Peter, that ‘Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps’ (I Peter 2:21). Happy is he who has learned to make Christ his ‘all,’ both for salvation and example! Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented, if men would oftener ask themselves the question, ‘What would Christ have said and done, if he were in my place?’
(d) A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights. We see a bright example of this in the behavior of David when Shimei cursed him, and of Moses when Aaron and Miriam spake against him (II Samuel 16:10; Numbers 12:3).
(e) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labor to mortify the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose. Oh, what a word is that of the Lord Jesus to the apostles, ‘Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life’ (Luke 21:34); and that of the apostle Paul, ‘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 Corinthians 9:27).
(f) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavor to observe the golden rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men speak to him. He will be full of affection towards his brethren — towards their bodies, their property, their characters, their feelings, their souls. ‘He that loveth another,’ says Paul, ‘hath fulfilled the law’ (Romans 13:8). He will abhor all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating, dishonesty, and unfair dealing, even in the least things. The shekel and cubit of the sanctuary were larger than those in common use. He will strive to adorn his religion by all his outward demeanor, and to make it lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all around him. Alas, what condemning words are the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians, and the Sermon on the Mount, when laid alongside the conduct of many professing Christians!
(g) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. He will not stand all the day idle. He will not be content with doing no harm — he will try to do good. He will strive to be useful in his day and generation, and to lessen the spiritual wants and misery around him, as far as he can. Such was Dorcas, ‘full of good works and almsdeeds, which she did’ — not merely purposed and talked about, but did. Such was Paul: ‘I will very gladly spend and be spent for you,’ he says, ‘though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved.’ (Acts 9:36; II Corinthians 12:15).
(h) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation. Who shall dare to talk of strength when David can fall?
(i) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment, and would be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him. What a noble example Nehemiah gives us of this! When he became governor at Jerusalem he might have been chargeable to the Jews, and required of them money for his support. The former governors had done so. There was none to blame him if he did. But he says, ‘So did not I, because of the fear of God.’ (Nehemiah 5:15).
(j) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world. He will understand something of Abraham’s feeling, when he says, ‘I am dust and ashes;’ and Jacob’s, when he says, ‘I am less than the least of all thy mercies’; and Job’s, when he says, ‘I am vile’; and Paul’s, when he says, ‘I am chief of sinners.’
(k) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life. He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls, but even better, because he has higher motives, and more help than they. Those words of Paul should never be forgotten: ‘Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord’; ‘Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord’ (Colossians 3:23; Romans 12:11). Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can help it. Like Daniel, they should seek to give no ‘occasion’ against themselves, except ‘concerning the law of their God’ (Daniel 6:5). They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbors, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides. Holiness is worth little indeed, if it does not bear this kind of fruit. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to His people, when He says, ‘What do ye more than others?’ (Matthew 5:47).
(l) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual mindedness. He will endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in Heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim raveling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people — these things will be the holy man’s chief enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God. He will enter into something of David’s feeling, when he says, ‘My soul followeth hard after thee;’ ‘Thou art my portion’ (Psalms 63:8; 119:57).
I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin. No, far from it. It is the greatest misery of a holy man that he carries about with him a ‘body of death;’ that often when he would do good ‘evil is present with him;’ that the old man is clogging all his movements, and, as it were, trying to draw him back at every step he takes (Romans 7:21). But it is the excellence of a holy man that he is not at peace with indwelling sin, as others are. He hates it, mourns over it, and longs to be free from its company. The work of sanctification within him is like the wall of Jerusalem — the building goes forward ‘even in troublous times’ (Daniel 9:25).
Neither do I say that holiness comes to ripeness and perfection all at once, or that these graces I have touched on must be found in full bloom and vigor before you can call a man holy. No, far from it. Sanctification is always a progressive work. Some men’s graces are in the blade, some in the ear, and some are like full corn in the ear. All must have a beginning. We must never despise ‘the day of small things.’ And sanctification in the very best is an imperfect work. The history of the brightest saints that ever lived will contain many a ‘but,’ and ‘howbeit,’ and ‘notwithstanding,’ before you reach the end. The gold will never be without some dross, the light will never shine without some clouds, until we reach the heavenly Jerusalem. The sun himself has spots upon his face. The holiest men have many a blemish and defect when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. Their life is a continual warfare with sin, the world, and the devil; and sometimes you will see them not overcoming, but overcome. The flesh is ever lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and ‘in many things they offend all’ (Galatians 5:17; James 3:2).
And this I do boldly and confidently say, that true holiness is a great reality. It is some- thing in a man that can be seen, and known, and marked, and felt by all around him. It is light: if it exists, it will show itself. It is salt: if it exists, its savor will be perceived. It is a precious ointment: if it exists, its presence cannot be hid.
Gold is not the less gold because mingled with alloy, nor light the less light because faint and dim, nor grace the less grace because young and weak. But after every allowance, I cannot see how any man deserves to be called ‘holy,’ who willfully allows himself in sins, and is not humbled and ashamed because of them. I dare not call any one ‘holy’ who makes a habit of willfully neglecting known duties, and willfully doing what he knows God has commanded him not to do. Well says Owen, ‘I do not understand how a man can be a true believer unto whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow, and trouble.’
Such are the leading characteristics of practical holiness. Let us examine ourselves and see whether we are acquainted with it.
III. Let me, in the last place, offer a word of advice to all who desire to be holy.
Would you be holy? Would you become a new creature? Then you must begin with Christ. You will do just nothing at all, and make no progress till you feel your sin and weakness, and flee to Him. He is the root and beginning of all holiness, and the way to be holy is to come to Him by faith and be joined to Him. Christ is not wisdom and righteousness only to His people, but sanctification also. Men sometimes try to make themselves holy first of all, and sad work they make of it. They toil and labor, and turn over many new leaves, and make many changes; and yet, like the woman with the issue of blood, before she came to Christ, they feel ‘nothing bettered, but rather worse’ (Mark 5:26). They run in vain, and labor in vain; and little wonder, for they are beginning at the wrong end. They are building up a wall of sand; their work runs down as fast as they throw it up. They are baling water out of a leaky vessel: the leak gains on them, not they on the leak. Other foundation of ‘holiness’ can no man lay than that which Paul laid, even Christ Jesus. ‘Without Christ we can do nothing’ (John 15:5). It is a strong but true saying of Traill’s, ‘Wisdom out of Christ is damning folly, righteous- ness out of Christ is guilt and condemnation, sanctification out of Christ is filth and sin, redemption out of Christ is bondage and slavery.’
Do you want to attain holiness? Do you feel this day a real hearty desire to be holy? Would you be a partaker of the divine nature? Then go to Christ. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Linger not. Think not to make yourself ready. Go and say to Him, in the words of that beautiful hymn —
‘Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, flee to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.’
There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people. Holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts, by the Spirit whom He puts within them. He is appointed a ‘Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance’ as well as remission of sins. ‘To as many as receive him, he gives power to become sons of God’ (John 1:12,13; Acts 5:31). Holiness comes not of blood — parents cannot give it to their children; nor yet of the will of the flesh — man cannot produce it in himself; nor yet of the will of man — ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him. It is the fruit of being a living branch of the true vine. Go then to Christ and say, ‘Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom thou didst promise, and save me from its power. Make me holy. Teach me to do thy will.’
Would you continue holy? Then abide in Christ. He says Himself, ‘Abide in me and I in you… He that abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit’ (John 15:4,5). It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell — a full supply for all a believer’s wants. He is the physician to whom you must daily go, if you would keep well. He is the manna which you must daily eat, and the rock of which you must daily drink. His arm is the arm on which you must daily lean, as you come up out of the wilderness of this world. You must not only be rooted, you must also be built up in Him. Paul was a man of God indeed, a holy man, a growing, thriving Christian. And what was the secret of it all? He was one to whom Christ was ‘all in all.’ He was ever ‘looking unto Jesus.’ ‘I can do all things,’ he says, ‘through Christ which strengtheneth me.’ ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. The life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.’ Let us go and do likewise (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 4:13; Galatians 2:20).
And now, before I go any further, let me say a few words, by way of application.
(1) For one thing, let me ask every one who may read these pages, Are you holy? Listen, I pray you, to the question I put to you this day. Do you know anything of the holiness of which I have been speaking?
I do not ask whether you attend your church regularly, whether you have been baptized, and received the Lord’s Supper, whether you have the name of Christian. I ask something more than all this: Are you holy, or are you not?
I do not ask whether you approve of holiness in others, whether you like to read the lives of holy people, and to talk of holy things, and to have on your table holy books, whether you mean to be holy, and hope you will be holy some day. I ask something further: Are you yourself holy this very day, or are you not?"
a. __________There is the _____________ — ______________
b. __________The _______________ — __________________
c. __________The ________________ — _________________
Read each statement below and decide which aspect of sanctification it applies to in each one. Then write the word PAST, PRESENT, or FUTURE in the blank.
List the five ways mentioned that the word of God can help us maintain our daily, progressive, sanctification.
In the quote from his book Holiness (pp. 38-48) J.C. Ryle lists thirteen ways we can demonstrate practical holiness in our daily lives. From that list choose three areas with which YOU personally have the most difficulty. Write those three things in the blanks below giving at least two scripture references for each, that tell what you could do to live a more holy life.1.________________________________________________
Edited and expanded by
Linton M. Smith Jr.
ThB., ThM., DD.
This Bible course has been prepared and distributed as a ministry of Gloryland Baptist Church. It and other gospel materials may be obtained from: