Excerpts from My Book, Holiness and Victory Over Sin, Part 1 of 11 Parts
by Karl Kemp
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INTRODUCTION TO THESE EXCERPTS. My primary reason for publishing these excerpts from my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ," is to make this important information available to the Body of Christ. I would also like to encourage those who appreciate my teaching on this super-important topic to obtain a copy of the book. The book is available on my website (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching) and at amazon.com. These excerpts are extensive, containing about half of the contents of the 220 page book.
(I just released my first e-book, "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin." It is a good introduction for the paperback book we are discussing in these articles. The e-book is listed in the e-book store on this site and is available at amazon.com.)
I will always quote from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted. I used the 1977 edition in the book, but I will quote from the 1995 edition on occasion. I am forced to make quite a few modifications to the format of this book, because the format used in these Christian article sites doesn't permit me to use endnotes, bold, italics, most dashes, small capital letters, and a few other things that I used in the book. Also, I take the liberty to make minor modifications to the original text in these excerpts, including adding a few sentences, sometimes in brackets. cf. means compare; e.g. means for example
Here in Part 1 I will include very extensive excerpts from the Preface and Introduction, and I will start with extensive excerpts from chapter 2 of the book.
EXTENSIVE EXCERPTS FROM THE PREFACE OF THE BOOK
NEED FOR REVIVAL/REPENTANCE? More and more I hear Christians speak of the need for revival/reformation. There is a growing awareness that all is not well with the Christian church of our day. I certainly agree, but I'm interested in a revival/reformation that is solidly based on the Bible and puts the emphasis on such things as truth, grace, holiness, righteousness, humility, and true Christian love. The studies contained in this book show something of the foundation needed for a true, Bible centered revival/reformation.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE NEW TESTAMENT CALL FOR REPENTANCE? It seems that we hardly ever hear the word repentance in many Christian circles of our day. The New Testament makes repentance an important part of conversion (cf., e.g., Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:14, 15; 6:12; Luke 13:1 5; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 17:30, 31; 26:20). Equally important, the New Testament calls for Christians in sin to repent (cf., e.g., 2 Cor. 7:8 13; 12:19 21; Rev. 2:4, 5, 14 16, 20 24; 3:2 5, 15 20). The references just cited from the book of Revelation strike me as being especially relevant and awesome. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was speaking to seven literal churches that existed at that time (about A.D. 95), but it seems clear that what He said to those churches is directly applicable to any church (or any Christian) that is in the same situation.
One of the most startling things about the messages to the seven churches is the frequent and powerful call to repent - or else. He warns the Christians at Ephesus [Christians who have so much right] that if they don't repent, they will find themselves no longer belonging to His church (Rev. 2:4, 5). He warns some of the "Christians" at Pergamum that if they don't repent, He will come and make war against them with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 2:14 16). He calls for the church at Thyatira to stop tolerating "the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads [His] bond servants astray" (Rev. 2:20). He warns that He "will cast her upon a bed (of sickness), and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds" (Rev. 2:22, 23). He warns the majority of the Christians at Sardis that if they don't repent, He will come upon them in judgment as a thief (Rev. 3:1 4), and He infers that He will erase their names from the book of life (Rev. 3:5). Lastly, He exhorts the self satisfied Christians at Laodicea to repent before He spits them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:15 20). (Many have pointed out that there is all too much similarity between the church at Laodicea and much of the church of our day.) [As I pointed out in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 and my paper "Once Saved, Always Saved," it is clear, based on what Jesus said to these Christians, that most of them had become born-again Christians.]
Some suggest that God doesn't take the sins of Christians seriously. (I've even heard Christians say that God doesn't see our sins because He looks at us through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. I believe it's true that He doesn't see our past [forgiven] sins, but if we are living in sin, He sees it, and it's a serious matter that needs to be dealt with in a high priority manner.) The messages to the seven churches are sufficient to show that God does take our sins seriously. They also show that repentance is more than asking for forgiveness.
THE MAJOR THEME OF THESE STUDIES. The major theme that permeates these studies is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ has dethroned sin, Satan, and spiritual death through His atoning death, and it is mandatory, therefore, for Christians to make it a top priority item to walk in holiness and righteousness through faith. We don't want legalism and striving in the flesh, and we certainly don't need more condemnation. What we need is the transformation to holiness that only the Holy Spirit can produce and maintain. We need to humble ourselves before God and cry out to Him to forgive and sanctify His people.
I trust that most sincere Christians know that sin is our greatest enemy and want the victory over sin. Admittedly, some Christians don't believe that victory over sin is possible during this present life, but they at least agree that we must wage warfare against sin with the highest priority. [I need to modify that last sentence: There are large numbers of "evangelical" Christians in our day who are far from waging warfare against sin with the highest priority.] Holiness (which includes victory over sin), like forgiveness, must be received from God (by grace) through faith. But we cannot have a solid faith to receive and walk in holiness unless we are convinced that this is part of the gospel (according to the Bible). A primary goal for these studies is to show that the gospel does indeed call Christians to walk in holiness with the victory over sin (all sin).
There is very little said in this book about Christian growth. Clearly, Christian growth is necessary and important, but the emphasis of these studies is on the need to get rid of anything and everything that God considers sinful in the heart and life of each Christian now. Everything that is truly sinful should be dealt with now. Christian growth will take place as it should if we take care of the basics. They include the following: laying a solid foundation of repentance and faith in God and in the truth of the gospel; establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with God (e.g., make Him and His will top priority, walk by the Spirit [not the flesh], and spend adequate time in worship, Bible study, and prayer); establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with the people of God (e.g., become part of a God centered, Bible centered church); and continuing to walk in the light that we have now, as we continue to learn more of God's Word and of His will for our lives.
EVERY CHRISTIAN MUST MAKE THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROPER FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. We, the Body of Christ, cannot be what we are supposed to be, or do what we are supposed to do, without appropriating all of the grace of God in every area. Each of us must fulfill our assignments (by grace); we must fulfill our measure. (Cf., e.g., Rom. 12:1 8; 1 Cor. 12:4 31; Eph. 4:7 16. [These passages are all discussed in papers on my internet site; Romans 12:1-8 is discussed in my "A Paper on Faith."]) The contribution of each member of the Body of Christ is important, but especially important to the proper functioning of the Body are the ministries that God has set in the church (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11 13). All the ministries and all the gifts of the Spirit must function as God intends in order for the Body to be fully sanctified and fruitful. For example, how can the church be adequately set apart for God and victorious over sin apart from the functioning of the gifts of the Spirit that enable the church to discern and cast out demon (unclean) spirits. To the extent that we don't cast out unclean spirits, how can the church be clean?
It is important for us to be in an environment where we love one another, pray for one another, support and encourage one another, etc. Surely the best way for Christians to become holy and fruitful is to be part of a church that is truly holy and fruitful.
DEALING WITH GUILT FEELINGS AND BONDAGES. I realize that many Christians are burdened with guilt feelings. We are not solving the problem by trying to get rid of the guilt feelings through minimizing God's call to holiness and righteousness. God's answer is to drive out the sin by the power of the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even if this is not always an easy path to follow, it is the only right path, and we must choose this narrow path (cf. Matt. 7:13 27). Where sin is the problem, we must deal with the sin. Where condemnation and guilt feelings are caused by false accusations of the devil, we must resist the devil. We must believe that the sins we have confessed are forgiven through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., 1 John 2:1, 2).
I realize that many Christians have bondages in many areas. We are not solving the problem by accepting such bondages as just the way it is. Even if it's not always easy, we must press on to drive out all bondage by the Spirit of God through faith.
A FEW COMMENTS ON THE STYLE OF THIS BOOK. This book cannot be considered light reading; it has been written for those dedicated to a serious study of the Scriptures. This book consists mostly of word studies and verse by verse studies. It is packed with very important information, including a listing of many scriptural cross references. I don't expect the reader to look up all of the cross references when reading the book for the first time. (It depends on how much detail you want to get into at that time.) It is intended that this book be used as a reference book for continued study. You will be able to see the style of this book as we continue with these excerpts before you order a copy of the book.
A REQUEST. I ask the reader to keep an open mind (as far as possible) to the viewpoints expressed in this book. Ask God to lead you (and all of us) into the balanced truth - most of us are not there yet. The more we have the balanced truth, the more we Christians can unite with one another. I assume that the reader truly wants to know (and walk in) the balanced truth of what God's Word teaches.
May God's will be done and His name be glorified; and may this book prove to be a significant blessing to His people.
EXTENSIVE EXCERPTS FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO THIS BOOK
The dominant theme of these studies is that holiness (which includes the victory over all sin) has been provided through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God). All too often this very important aspect of our salvation has been minimized, or even denied, by many Christians (including many evangelical Christians), with the result that there is much sin in the church. (At the end of chapter 8, there is a section titled "What Is Sin?") If we don't see that victory over sin has been provided for believers and make this a top priority item (in accordance with the Scriptures), we are certain to fall far short of what God intends for His people. WE MUST AIM AT THE TARGET OF VICTORY OVER ALL SIN!
One reason it is so important for us to understand that victory over sin has been provided is that we receive and walk in victory over sin through faith. (We receive and walk in victory over sin through faith, even as we receive forgiveness through faith. Full salvation is by grace through faith.) Our faith cannot be solid in any area until we are sure that it is clearly taught in the Scriptures.
Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of this book have much in common. Chapter 1 is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Pesha.' " Chapter 2 is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Awon.' " And chapter 3 is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Chet.' " These three Hebrew nouns are similar in meaning. The NASB and KJV typically translate "pesha" as "transgression," "awon" as "iniquity," and "chet" as "sin." A prime goal for these three chapters is to show that these Hebrew nouns include within their range of meaning the ideas of sin (iniquity, transgression), guilt of sin, AND PENALTY FOR SIN.
It is quite significant, but it is not widely known, that these Hebrew nouns (unlike the English nouns) include within their range of meaning the idea of PENALTY FOR SIN. (Sin always has penalties and consequences.) An understanding of the fuller meaning of these Hebrew nouns will enable us to better translate and better understand many very important passages of Scripture. For one thing, this insight will enable us to better understand sacrificial offerings. Since our salvation is founded on the all-important atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is extremely important for us to understand these offerings.
In chapter 2 (of this book) we will discuss Lev. 16:20-22. They are key verses in the chapter that deals with the very important sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. This was the one day of the year that the high priest entered the holy of holies with sacrificial blood. The verses we will discuss speak of the offering of the second goat of the sin offering (sometimes called the "scapegoat"). It is important to understand that when the high priest placed all the "awon" (plural) of the sons of Israel on the second goat, he was placing on it all their iniquities with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES. The sacrificial goat was then driven to a land cut off, a land cut off from the life and blessings of God. The goat took the place of, and bore the penalty for, those who had sinned. If the goat had not taken their place, those who had sinned would have been driven from the camp of God. The sacrificial offerings (speaking of the sacrificial offerings in general) bore the sins of the people of Israel with the guilt and with the penalties (including the death penalty).
The passage that we will discuss the most extensively in chapters 1, 2, and 3 is Isaiah chapter 53. This is probably the most important chapter in the Bible that deals with the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Well over half of the combined content of chapters 1, 2, and 3 deals with verses from Isaiah chapter 53.) All three Hebrew nouns (pesha, awon, and chet) are used in this chapter of Isaiah.
As we will discuss, there were very definite limits to what could be accomplished through the old-covenant sacrifices. They did not have the authority or power to dethrone sin, spiritual death, or Satan and the demons. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, had no such limitations. Isaiah chapter 53 shows that full salvation - including the new birth and the victory over sin - is provided through His atoning death. He bore our pesha, awon, and chet so we could have full salvation, including ultimate glory in God's new Jerusalem.
Every aspect of our salvation comes to us through the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mankind was under spiritual death, which came as a penalty for sin (Adam's sin); but now we (all true Christians) have been born again and are indwelled by the Spirit of LIFE (the Holy Spirit). Closely connected with spiritual death, mankind was in bondage to sin, but now we have been set free and are enslaved to God and His righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, bore the guilt of our sin, so we could be forgiven. HE BORE THE PENALTY OF SPIRITUAL DEATH, SO WE COULD GET OUT FROM UNDER THAT PENALTY AND BE BORN AGAIN, AND HE BORE OUR BONDAGE TO SIN, SO WE COULD BE MADE RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY WITH THE VERY IMPARTED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS OF GOD. Many key aspects of our salvation are reserved for the future (like resurrection and glorification); these things will also come to us through the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In CHAPTER 5 of this book, we will discuss the fact that healing (including physical, mental, and emotional healing) has been provided through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. CHAPTER 4 shows that even under the old covenant, healing was provided for the faithful in Israel. It also shows that sickness was considered a penalty (curse) for sin under the old covenant.
CHAPTER 6 is titled "A Study on the Meaning of Justify/Justification As These Words Are Used in the New Testament." I'll just comment on the verb "justify" here since the Greek noun that is normally translated "justification" is only used twice in the New Testament. A primary goal for this study is to show that "justify" (if we are going to translate the Greek verb "dikaioo" this way) frequently means much more than "declare righteous" (when "declare righteous" is limited to the ideas of forgiveness and right standing with God). The New Testament frequently uses dikaioo in a much fuller sense that includes all the following ideas: forgiveness and right standing with God; freedom from sin, Satan, and spiritual death; and the new birth and the transformation to righteousness (an abiding state of righteousness and holiness).
Much of Romans chapters 1 to 8 (which is one of the most important sections of the New Testament) is discussed in a verse by verse manner in chapter 6 of this book. (Some four fifths of the pages of this chapter are devoted to these chapters in Romans.) These verse by verse studies are not strictly limited to that which pertains to the meaning of "justify."
CHAPTER 7 is titled "A Study on the Meaning of the Greek Noun 'Aphesis.' " This study serves as an important complement to the theme of this book. The Greek noun "aphesis" is typically translated "forgiveness," or the equivalent, in the New Testament. A primary goal for this study is to show that aphesis frequently means much more than forgiveness in the New Testament. It is often used in a much fuller sense that includes the idea of being released from our sins with the guilt AND THE PENALTIES (including the major penalties of spiritual death and the attendant bondage to sin). We are released from spiritual death, bondage to sin, etc.
CHAPTER 8, the last chapter, is titled "Holiness and Victory Over Sin Through the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atoning Death." A primary goal for this study is to show that the Greek nouns translated "holiness" ("hagiasmos" and "hagiosune"); the Greek adjective translated "holy/saint" ("hagios"), and the Greek verb translated "sanctify" ("hagiazo") are frequently used in the New Testament in a very important ideal sense. That is, Christians are actually to be set apart from sin for God and righteousness (basically) from the time of conversion. [We are called, enabled, required, and privileged to dwell in and abiding state of righteousness and holiness.] (The New Testament does not present this as an unrealistic or unattainable ideal.) I am not speaking of a ceremonial, positional holiness, nor am I speaking of a lifelong process throughout which Christians sin less and less. (It is true, however, that Christians must continue to grow in Christ.)
If we do not understand this very important New Testament use of the word "holiness" (and the closely related words), we will not be able to appropriate the fulness of God's sanctifying grace through faith. To the extent that we believe that we must continue in sin, we will continue to sin. The world, the flesh (the old man who wants to continue to sin), and the devil and his hosts are very real and very powerful enemies. They are, however, no match for the powerful grace of God provided through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death. Chapter 8 contains a section titled "A Discussion of the Three Most Important Passages Often Used to Try to Prove That Christians Cannot Walk in Victory Over Sin During This Present Age."
The reader need not necessarily read these chapters in order. These studies are interrelated and complement one another, but most of these studies can stand alone.
EXTENSIVE EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 2, "A STUDY ON THE MEANING OF THE HEBREW NOUN 'AWON.' " I won't include any excerpts from chapter 1 "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Pesha' " or from chapter 4, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Chet.' " Chapter 2 is the most important chapter of these three chapters, but they are all important and complement on another. Isaiah 53:8 is one of the verses discussed in chapter 1 and Isa. 53:12 is one of the verses discussed in chapter 4.
I'll quote a sentence from the Introduction of this book, "A prime goal for these studies is to show that these Hebrew nouns include within their range of meaning the ideas of sin (transgression, iniquity), guilt of sin, AND PENALTY FOR SIN."
"Awon" is used some 230 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Some spell it avon.
The NASB translates awon as follows: iniquity(ies) (189), guilt (21), guilty (1), PUNISHMENT (12), PUNISHMENT FOR INIQUITY [my capitalization for emphasis] (6), blame (1). ((I took these translations and numbers from the "Hebrew Dictionary" in the back of the "Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" for the NASB (Lockman Foundation, 1981), page 1751. The updated version of this "Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" (Foundation Publications, 1998) page 1445, which goes with the 1995 edition (the latest edition) of the NASB, gives the same translations and numbers except for the change from the 6 uses of "penalty for iniquity" to 3 uses of "punishment for the iniquity" and 3 uses of "punishment for their iniquity."))
The KJV has: iniquity(ies) (218), mischief (1), PUNISHMENT(S) (6), PUNISHMENT OF INIQUITY (4), sin (1), fault (2).
The NIV has: sin(s) (109), iniquity(ies) (22), guilt (35), CONSEQUENCES OF SIN (3), PUNISHED (2), PUNISHMENT (9), PUNISHMENT FOR SINS (1), and they translated this Hebrew noun quite a few other ways too.
I believe the NASB, KJV, and the NIV are typically correct in those places where they translate awon as "punishment," "punishment for iniquity," or the equivalent. In my opinion, however, there are many more verses where this emphasis should be recognized. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon (under awon) lists sixty-four verses under the sub-heading "consequences of, or punishment for, iniquity." (The KJV has "punishment(s)" or "punishment of iniquity" ten times; the NASB has "punishment" or "punishment for iniquity" eighteen times; and the NIV is similar.) I agree with the BDB Hebrew Lexicon on at least most of these sixty-four listings, and I would add several more to their list, including Isa. 53:5 and Dan. 9:16.
Now we come to the heading "Quotations from the Article on 'Awon' in the 'Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament' (which was published by Moody Press in 1980). "Moreover, as the above references indicate, it [awon] denotes both the deed and its consequences, the misdeed and its punishment. Both notions are present, but sometimes the focus is on the deed ('sin'), and at other times on the outcome of the misdeed ('punishment'), and sometimes on the situation between the deed and its consequence ('guilt')."
I'll quote one more paragraph from this important article. "The remarkable ambivalence between the meanings 'sin as an act' and 'penalty' shows that in the thought of the OT [Old Testament] sin and its penalty are not radically separate notions as we tend to think of them. Rather in the OT the action of man and what happens to him are presupposed to be directly related as one process within the basic divine order." For one thing, God wanted His people to understand that He hates sin and sin has serious penalties/consequences.
Now we'll discuss GEN. 4:13, one of the many verses in the Hebrew Old Testament that uses awon. For a start, I'll read GENESIS 4:8-13 from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition. "... And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (9) Then the LORD [Yahweh] said to Cain, 'Where is Abel your brother?' And he said, 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?' (10) He [Yahweh] said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground. (11) Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. (12) When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.' (13) Cain said to the LORD [Yahweh], 'My punishment [my awon] is too great to bear!' "
The NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, and the BDB Hebrew Lexicon all translate awon as "punishment" here in Gen. 4:13. The context makes is clear that Cain was complaining about his punishment. Genesis 4:2-10 spell out the iniquity of Cain that led to this "punishment," and verses 11, 12, and 14 spell out something of the "punishment" (penalty) that Cain was to bear.
"To bear" is a translation of the Hebrew verb "nasa". This Hebrew verb is frequently used with awon in the Old Testament. (This verb is also used with the Hebrew noun chet in the Old Testament.) We often hear of persons bearing their awon or chet, with the emphasis on the fact that they are bearing the punishment/penalty/chastisement for their iniquity/sin. Several places we read of a sacrificial offering (especially the Lamb of God) bearing the awon or chet in place of those who sinned. Cain was bearing his awon; he was bearing his iniquity with the guilt and with the punishment/penalty, but the context puts the emphasis on his bearing the punishment/penalty for his iniquity.
I will be skipping the next two passages that are discussed in my book for these excerpts, but here at the end of Part 1 I'll add two paragraphs (paragraphs that summarize an important part of the content of chapters 1, 2, and 3 and apply to new-covenant salvation).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, didn't just bear our sin with the guilt so we could be forgiven, as important as that is. I think essentially all evangelical Christians understand that the Lord bore our sin with the guilt so we could be forgiven, but that's only a rather small part of what He did for us (and earned for us) in His all-important atoning death. He bore our sins with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, not to mention hell. He bore the penalty of spiritual death that originated with the rebellion and fall of Adam and Eve, so we could get out from under that penalty and be born again. AND HE BORE OUR BONDAGE TO SIN, SO WE COULD GET OUR FROM UNDER THAT EVIL TASKMASTER AND LIVE IN THE VERY RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS OF GOD THROUGH NEW COVENANT SALVATION IN UNION WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. I'll read 1 Pet. 2:24, one of a very large number of verses in the New Testament that shows that we are set free from bondage to sin and enabled to live in the righteousness of God through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, "and He Himself bore our sin in His body on the cross [HE BORE OUR SIN with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES], SO THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS; for by His wounds you were healed." And verse 25 goes on to say, "For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
The new birth and holiness and victory over sin have been provided and are available to us now. At the end of this age we will be glorified and begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in God's new Jerusalem. Those glorious things will also come to us through the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course our salvation is also dependent on His subsequent resurrection, ascension, etc.
We will continue with this study of the Hebrew noun awon in chapter 2 of my book in Part 2.
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