Holiness and Victory Over Sin, Part 26
by Karl Kemp
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Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to understand holiness. We want to live holiness, by your grace, and for your glory. In Jesus' mighty, holy name! Amen!
I'll turn back to where we stopped last time, on page 172 of my book. We come to the heading, "Some Verses that use the Greek Verb 'Hagiazo' and Fit the Ideal Pattern." The Greek verb hagiazo, which is used twenty-eight times in the New Testament, is normally translated sanctify (in some form) by the NASB and the KJV. The NIV translated it sanctify (in some form) thirteen times. It also translated hagiazo as consecrated, hallowed, made holy, make(s) holy, makes sacred, set apart, and holy. Hagiazo was derived from the adjective hagios, which is used over two hundred times in the New Testament, and is normally translated Holy/holy or saints.
In the ideal pattern born-again Christians are set apart by God and for God; we are set apart from everything unholy and sinful, and we are set apart for God and His truth, His righteousness, and His holiness. In the ideal case we would be sanctified and live in an abiding state of holiness basically from the time we become Christians. God has paid an infinite price in the sacrifice of His Son to save and sanctify believers, and He has given the Holy Spirit (the infinite Spirit), to dwell in our hearts, thereby imparting His life, His righteousness and His holiness.
We certainly should not tell prospective converts, or those young in the faith, that God expects those young in the faith to continue to sin. We don't need excuses for sin. We must teach them in a thorough and balanced way what God has provided for them and what He requires of them. And we must do everything we can to help them, rather than being quick to condemn them if they should miss it. We cannot walk in the righteousness and holiness of God by the Holy Spirit, by faith, if we don't know, and understand, the gospel. We certainly should know, and understand, the basics of the gospel before we commit ourselves to God to become Christians.
In this study we will look at several passages from the New Testament where the context and sometimes the form of the verb (for example, "we have been sanctified") demonstrate that the ideal pattern we have been discussing is widespread in the New Testament. The first passage we will look at is 1 Cor. 1:1, 2. First I'll read the verses from my book. I used the New American Standard Bible, 1977 edition, in the book. "Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, (2) to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified [Greek verb hagiazo] in Christ Jesus, saints by calling [or, "called to be saints"], with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours."
"To those who have been sanctified" is a translation of the Greek perfect participle of the verb hagiazo. "Saints" is a translation of the plural of the Greek adjective hagios. Many believe that hagiazo and hagios are used in 1 Cor. 1:2 in a ceremonial, positional sense. I believe this understanding misses the intent of the apostle. It is true that this epistle shows that there was quite a bit of sin in the church at Corinth. Paul knew the state of the church at Corinth when he wrote this epistle, and at the outset of the epistle he reminds his readers that Christians (all Christians, including the Christians at Corinth, if they really are Christians) are required, by God's definition, to be set apart from sin - they are required to be sanctified, to be saints. If the lives of some of the Christians at Corinth don't match God's definition, they will have to change, and with a high priority - they must submit to the sanctifying grace of God in Christ Jesus. (See, for example, 1 Cor. 5:1-6:20; 10:1-22; 11:17-34; 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; 6:14-7:1; and 12:20-13:11.)
Christians are called (and enabled) to live in a state of set apartness. This holy state is acquired and maintained in union with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are literally united with Him as born-again Christians, through the indwelling Spirit of God. We partake of the benefits of His atoning death (and of His resurrection life).
Now we'll discuss the words "saints [plural of hagios] by calling" of 1 Cor. 1:2. The KJV has "called to be saints." The NIV has "called to be holy." Christians are called [Greek "kletos"] to be saints [holy people]," even as Paul was "called [Greek kletos] to be an apostle." (The KJV and the NIV both translate "called to be an apostle" in 1 Cor. 1:1.) Both calls came from God, and He provided the enabling grace.
The Corinthian Christians were "called to be saints." They were "called to be saints" "with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours." In other words, the Corinthian Christians were called to be saints (called to be sanctified; called to live in an abiding state of holiness) along with every true Christian. God didn't have a different call for the Christians at Corinth. The issue was whether the Christians at Corinth were answering God's call and submitting to His Lordship and His sanctifying grace. It is obvious that some at Corinth were (to a significant extent) walking in the flesh (which is a very dangerous thing to do), and some undoubtedly were not real Christians. See 1 Cor. 3:1-3, for example. In 2 Cor. 13:5 the apostle said, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test."
The next verses we will discuss (1 Cor. 6:8-11) help confirm the interpretation just given for 1 Cor. 1:2.
I'll read 1 Cor. 6:8-11, "On the contrary, you yourselves wrong [Greek verb "adikeo"] and defraud, and that your brethren. (9) Or do you not know that the unrighteous [plural of the Greek adjective "adikos"] shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, (10) nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified [Greek verb hagiazo], but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."
Many commentators point out the important connection between "the unrighteous" (plural of adikos) of verse 9 and the verb "you [yourselves] wrong" (Greek verb adikeo) of verse 8. The Greek verb adikeo and the Greek adjective adikos are closely related; the verb was derived from the adjective. I'll quote 1 Cor. 6:8 and the first part of verse 9 again, "On the contrary, you yourselves wrong [adikeo] and defraud, and that your brethren. Or do you not know that the unrighteous [adikos] shall not inherit the kingdom of God." There's a powerful warning there! Such warnings are common throughout the New Testament.
The message of 1 Cor. 6:8-10 was that some of the Christians at Corinth were going to have to repent - their sin was incompatible with Christianity; they were not on the path that leads to an inheritance in God's eternal kingdom (see Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-8; and Col. 3:5-11, for example). The apostle said they must "not be deceived." Their eternal destiny was at stake (see Gal. 6:7-9, for example).
Now we'll discuss the words "but you were sanctified" of verse 11. "I believe the apostle wrote these words to remind the Corinthians Christians that holiness is a big part of what it means to be a Christian (see 1 Cor. 1:2). In any area where some of the Christians at Corinth were not sanctified, they would have to quickly change (by the grace of God in Christ) and become sanctified. The apostle knew, when he wrote these words, that some at Corinth were not adequately sanctified (see 1 Cor. 6:1-8, especially verse 8; 1 Cor. 6:15-20; 5:1-13; 10:1-22; 11:17-34; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; and 12:20-13:11).
We have been sanctified (and washed and justified) "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). The sanctifying Spirit dwells in every born-again Christian. On the meaning of "you were justified," see chapter 6 of this book. The verb justified is undoubtedly used here in the very full sense we have discussed in these articles that includes being declared righteous; being set free from spiritual death and bondage to sin, being born again, and being made righteous and holy with the imparted righteousness and holiness of God. Praise God for such a salvation!
Now we come to the next passage under the heading, "Some Verses that Use 'Hagiazo' and Fit the Ideal Pattern." We'll discuss Eph. 5:22-33, another very important passage. First I'll quote the verses, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (24) But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; (26) that He might sanctify her [Greek verb hagiazo], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory [or, "glorious"], having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy [Greek adjective hagios] and blameless. (28) So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; (29) for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, (30) because we are members of His body. (31) FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. (32) This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (33) Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."
Now I'll briefly comment on Eph. 5:25. First I'll read the verse again, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." These words speak of the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we'll discuss verse 26. I'll quote the verse again, "that He might sanctify [haziazo] her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word."
First we'll discuss the words, "that He might sanctify her." As often, we see that the holiness of Christians results from the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (see, for example, Rom. 3:21-25; 4:25-5:10; 5:17-21; 6:1-14; 7:4-6; 8:1-14; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; Gal. 1:4; 2:19-21; 5:24; Eph. 1:7; 2:1-10; Col. 1:21-23; 2:11-15; 3:1-11; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 9:11-10:39; 13:12; 1 Pet. 1:13-25; 2:24, 25; 1 John 1:7, 9; 2:1, 2). Some understand sanctify here in a ceremonial, positional sense; others understand it to speak of a lifelong sanctifying process (where the amount of sin decreases as the years go by). I believe that the apostle Paul (and the One who sent him) intended the words, "that He might sanctify her" in the ideal sense that we have been discussing: that Christians are actually to be set apart from sin and to live in an abiding state of holiness. This is good news!
Now we'll discuss the words, "having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word" of Eph. 5:26. "Having cleansed" is a translation of the Greek aorist participle of the verb "katharizo." We have discussed this important Greek verb quite a bit already in earlier articles. It is significant that this Greek verb is frequently used in the New Testament of a moral, transforming, sanctifying cleansing of the heart and life, including here in Eph. 5:26. (See Acts 15:9; 2 Cor. 7:1; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14; James 4:8; and 1 John 1:7, 9.)
This is so important I'll take the time to read two of these verses. In 2 Cor. 7:1 the apostle Paul said, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." "Let us cleanse [katharizo] ourselves [by the saving grace of God in Christ] from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." And I'll read what the apostle Paul said in Titus 2:14, "[Christ Jesus], who gave Himself for us [in His atoning death] to redeem us from every lawless deed [or, "to redeem us from all lawlessness"] and to purify [katharizo; to purify, or "to cleanse"] for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds [or, good works]."
There is very much overlap between the meaning of katharizo ("cleanse" or "purify") and hagiazo ("sanctify"). Apparently the idea here in Eph. 5:26 is that the "sanctifying" is accomplished by the "cleansing." I would translate "cleansing" here with the NIV (or, "purifying") instead of "having cleansed."
I agree with the widely accepted view that "the washing of water" refers to water baptism here. I have an endnote, which I'll read, The Greek noun translated "washing" here is "loutron." The only other place this Greek noun is used in the New Testament is Titus 3:5. See the discussion of Titus 3:5 in chapter 6 of this book.' (That completes the endnote.) It is obvious that water baptism in itself cannot cleanse a heart and life from sin, but the occasion of water baptism is the most appropriate (biblical) occasion for the believer to complete the transaction of dying with Christ to the old man and to sin (see, for example, Rom. 6:3, 4; Col. 2:11-13; and 1 Pet. 3:18-4:6. The life-giving, sanctifying Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is essential to the cleansing of the heart and life. (See under Titus 3:5 in chapter 6 of this book.)
The apostle spoke of being cleansed "by the washing of water with the word" here in Eph. 5:26. I believe the words "with the word" speak of "the word" of the gospel. The blood of Christ cleanses/sanctifies, being backed up by the Holy Spirit of power, but apart from our active faith in "the word" of the gospel, the cleansing/sanctifying does not take place. We must hear the gospel (which centers in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning, saving, sanctifying work); we must understand the gospel (at least we must understand the basics of the gospel); and we must submit to the gospel from our hearts in faith. Furthermore, we must submit to God the Father who gave us the gospel and to the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from "the word" of the gospel, our faith in that word, and the work of the Holy Spirit, water baptism has no content or reality. It becomes another dead ritual. There is also a confession of the word (see Rom. 10:8-10, for example).
We must appropriate God's sanctifying grace on a continuous basis by faith. This very much includes walking by the Holy Spirit by faith on a continuous basis. The apostle Paul said, "walk by the Spirit [the Holy Spirit], and you [most certainly] will not carry out the desire [the sinful desire] of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).
Now we come to Eph. 5:27, another very important verse. I'll quote the verse again, "that He might present to Himself the church in her glory [or, "glorious"], having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless." Many understand this verse to speak of that which will come to pass at the end of this age, after the church is glorified. There is no doubt that the church will be "holy and blameless" at that time, but I am quite sure that verse 27 speaks of that which is supposed to be true of the church throughout this age. The evidence for this viewpoint is very strong.
In Eph. 5:22-33 the apostle uses the present relationship between Christ and the church to illustrate how the husband and wife should be related. This illustration would be ineffective if the church had not already become united with the Lord Jesus Christ. In verses 29-33 Paul emphasizes the fact that the two - Christ and the church - HAVE BECOME ONE. The Lord Jesus Christ is "the head of the church" at the present time, even as "the husband is the head of the wife" (see Eph. 5:23). The New Testament emphasizes the fact that true Christians are literally united with the Lord Jesus Christ NOW through His atoning death in our place, which we have appropriated by faith, and by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus Christ has completed His atoning work and the church is enabled, and required, to be faithful, which includes our being "holy and blameless" throughout this present age. In Eph. 1:4 the apostle has already informed us that we are enabled, and required, to be "holy and blameless" NOW, and we will further discuss this important point as we continue.
Now we'll discuss the words "that He might present to Himself the church." In the sense that the verb "present" is used here, the presentation has already taken place. The Greek verb ("paristemi") that is translated "present" here is also used in Rom. 6:13, 19; and 12:1 of Christians once for all presenting themselves, or their bodies, to God. The New Testament also speaks of a future presentation of the church (see, for example, 2 Cor. 4:14; 11:2; Col. 1:22, 28), but it would be rather strained to include that future presentation here. Quite a few commentators agree that the presentation of Eph. 5:27 takes place during this present age (and I list quite a few commentators in an endnote in the book).
Now we'll discuss the words "in all her glory" of Eph. 5:27. A note in the margin of the NASB says, "literally, glorious." These words are a translation of the Greek adjective "endoksos," which I would translate "glorious," or the equivalent. The KJV and NKJV have "glorious." The church (including every true Christian) should be "glorious" throughout this age in that it has been sanctified, cleansed, made "holy and blameless," etc. The Greek adjective endoksos is used in Luke 7:25 of the "glorious/splendid" clothing of the rich. The only other uses of this adjective in the New Testament are Luke 13:17 ("the entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things [endoksos] being done by Him") and 1 Cor. 4:10 ("you are distinguished [endoskos], but we are without honor"). None of these verses, including Eph. 5:27, uses endoksos of the glory of the age to come, but this is not to say that this adjective cannot be used of the future glory. The words that follow here in Eph. 5:27 expand on what the apostle means by "glorious."
Now we'll discuss the glorious words "having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and blameless." The New Testament teaches that the Christian church (including each individual Christian) should be "holy and blameless" now, throughout this present age. (See Eph. 1:4; 1:7 [these verses are discussed in chapter 7 of this book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin," and we have discussed these verses in earlier articles]; and see Eph. 2:1-10; 3:14-21; 4:1-6; 4:17-6:20).
Ephesians 1:4 NKJV says, "just as He [God the Father] chose us in Him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM [my emphasis] in love." I'll also read Phil. 2:15, "that you may prove yourselves to be BLAMELESS AND INNOCENT, CHILDREN OF GOD ABOVE REPROACH [my emphasis] in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world." And I listed some other verses here.
It is true, of course, that verses like Eph. 4:13, 14 show that some Christians in the apostle Paul's day were not adequately set apart, but we ought not infer from this that they shouldn't have been, or couldn't have been. The Christian ideal is frequently mentioned in the epistle to the Ephesians, and throughout the New Testament, including the words of Eph. 5:24, "as the church is subject to Christ."
Now we come to Eph. 5:28. First I'll read the verse again, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself." As the following verses show, the husband "who loves his wife loves himself" in that the two have become one.
Now I'll read verses 29 to 33 again and briefly comment on these verses, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, (30) because we are members of His body. (31) [Now the apostle quotes from Gen. 2:24 about the husband and wife becoming one flesh, applying these words to the glorious union between the Lord Jesus Christ and true Christians.] FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. (32) This mystery is great [this mystery of the two becoming one], but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (33) Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."
The Lord Jesus Christ "nourishes and cherishes" the church (verse 29) as an extension of Himself; "we are members of His body" (verse 30); in a very real sense "the two have become one" (verses 31, 32). In the sense that the apostle Paul is speaking here, the two - Christ and His people - have already become one. We must - we have the privilege - of being faithful to Him now! We don't want to commit spiritual adultery! The fact that the apostle speaks of our having already been presented to Christ in a glorious union, where the two have become one, does not deny the fact that Paul can also speak of our being presented to Christ at the end of this age. We are using figurative language when we speak of the glorious union the church has with the Lord Jesus Christ, and figurative language can be quite flexible. This is figurative language, but it deals with very real, glorious, spiritual realities.
Now we come to the subheading, "2 Corinthians 11:2 is an important cross-reference for Ephesians 5:27." Let's look at 2 Cor. 11:2-4; I'll quote the verses. The apostle Paul said, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. (3) But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (4) For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully."
Using the figurative language of 2 Cor. 11:2, the Christians at Corinth (and all true Christians) have been betrothed to Christ. The Greek verb translated "betrothed" is "harmozo." It is significant that the basic meaning of this verb is "to join." The betrothal of which the apostle spoke (unlike the typical engagements of our day) was conclusive and binding. Unfaithfulness after betrothal was regarded as adultery. (See Deut. 22:23, 24; James 4:4. The Bible frequently speaks of the spiritual adultery of God's people.) There is no doubt that the apostle considered every true Christian to be already joined to the Lord Jesus Christ (see, for example, Rom. 6:1-11; 7:4; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:22-32; and 1 Cor. 6:15-20.)
The apostle's point of view in 2 Cor. 11:2-4 was that the church started out "as a pure virgin." There was a "simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." The church has been betrothed to one husband, and it must stay faithful to Him. Faithfulness/purity includes pure doctrine and holy living. The church must stay pure for the day of the final presentation. Although the verb present is used in a different sense in 2 Cor. 11:2 than in Eph. 5:27, both passages (2 Cor. 11:2-4 and Eph. 5:24-27) emphasize the need for all Christians to be "holy and blameless" throughout this age.
We'll come back to this important study in the next broadcast. God bless you!
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
My book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" is available on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching) and at amazon.com.
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