Excerpts from My Book, Holiness and Victory Over Sin, Part 5
by Karl Kemp
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We continue with the excerpts from chapter 5 of my book here in Part 5.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:8-13. "Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; (10) but WHEN THE PERFECT COMES [my emphasis], the partial will be done away. (11) When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (12) For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. (13) But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Cor. 13:8. Charismatic gifts like prophecy, tongues, knowledge, and gifts of healings will no longer be needed and will cease/be done away with when we have been caught up into the glory of the age to come. "Knowledge" here undoubtedly speaks of the partial knowledge received through the charismatic gifts (cf., e.g., "the word of knowledge," 1 Cor. 12:8).
I don't believe there is a substantial difference in meaning between "they will be done away" [Greek "katargeo"]; "they will cease" [Greek "pauo"]; and "it will be done away" [Greek "katargeo"]. The Greek verb katargeo is also used in verse 10 ("will be done away") and in verse 11 ("I did away with"). The BAGD Greek Lexicon gives "cease, pass away" as the meaning of "katargeo" in verses 8 and 10 and "set aside" as the meaning in verse 11. BAGD says regarding the meaning of pauo, as it is used in 1 Cor. 13:8: "Of speaking in tongues, which will come to an end."
A major point of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is that love is more basic and more important than the charismatic gifts, and it is mandatory, therefore, that the charismatic gifts be subordinated to love and operated in love. The words "love never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8) include the idea that love is eternal and will never come to an end, in contrast with the charismatic gifts, which will come to an end. Love, which is based on the character of God, is eternal. (See under 1 Cor. 13:13.)
1 Cor. 13:9. We can only know and/or prophesy the "part" that God reveals to us. It is also true that we are limited in our ability to know by our present state of existence. It will be different when we have been resurrected into the glory of God's eternal kingdom. (Cf. 1 Cor. 13:10-12; 1 John 3:2).
1 Cor. 13:10. "Partial" is a translation of the Greek prepositional phrase "ek merous." This same prepositional phrase is also used twice in verse 9, where it is translated "in part." "The partial" speaks of that which is "in part," that which we know, prophesy, etc.
"Perfect" is a translation of the Greek (neuter) adjective "teleion." BAGD gives "having attained the end or purpose, complete, perfect" as the basic meaning of this adjective. At least part of what "teleion" means here is "complete," in contrast with that which is "in part." "The perfect" will not come until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and we enter the glory of God's eternal kingdom. Once we have been glorified and have begun to dwell in the presence of God, we will no longer need the charismatic gifts. Until then we very much need them.
1 Cor. 13:11. The glory of our transformed state will so far surpass our present state that the apostle Paul can liken our present state to that of childhood. Becoming a man corresponds with the transformation to resurrection glory. The "childish things" that will be done away with ("katargeo") include the charismatic gifts.
1 Cor. 13:12. "For now [Greek "arti"] we see in a mirror dimly." Now (throughout this present age) we see dimly because our capacity to see is limited and that which is revealed is partial. When we have been resurrected/transformed, we will see clearly; we will see "face to face." We will see God (cf., e.g., Matt. 5:8; Heb. 12:14; Rev. 22:4), and we will see "all that God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9).
"now ["arti"] I know in part." Now (during this present age) we just know the part of a child (cf. 1 Cor. 13:11). "In part" is a translation of "ek merous" (the prepositional phrase used in verses 9 and 10).
"then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known." We shall know fully (in contrast with our present partial knowledge) when we have been resurrected/transformed into the glory of God's eternal kingdom. God, of course, does not have to wait for the age to come to fully know us.
1 Cor. 13:13. "But now [Greek "nuni"] abide faith, hope, love." The NIV has "remain" in place of "abide." "Now" is used here in a logical, not a temporal sense. Faith, hope, and love "abide [remain]" in the sense that they are eternal. They will not come to an end (unlike the charismatic gifts); they will continue into God's eternal kingdom, and forever.
As I mentioned, a major point that the apostle Paul makes in this chapter is that love is more basic (it is eternal) and more important than charismatic gifts. Here the apostle shows that love is also greater than faith and hope, even though faith and hope are (in one sense) eternal. God is love!
Commentators on 1 Cor. 13:8-13. I would like to mention two commentators that are especially helpful on these verses: D. A. Carson ("Showing the Spirit," pages 66-76) and Gordon D. Fee ("First Epistle to the Corinthians" [Eerdmans, 1987], pages 642-652).
A few comments regarding the revelation gifts. Any revelation received through the charismatic gifts (whether the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, prophecy, or kinds of tongues/interpretation of tongues) is subordinate to the Scriptures and must be examined accordingly. (Cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:19-21; Deut. 13:1-5; 18:14-22; Matt. 7:15-23; and 1 John 4:1-6.) ((I had an endnote: Cf., e.g., D. A. Carson ("Showing the Spirit," pages 91-100; 160-165); Wayne Grudem ("The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today" [Crossway Books, 1988].)) The gospel, for example, has been given; it is complete and is not subject to change (cf., e.g., Gal. 1:6-9). The revelation gifts were not given to compete with the Scriptures. They can, however, be used to help us understand the Scriptures.
The Scriptures are the Word of God, but they are not able to (nor was it intended that they should) take the place of the living God as He dwells in the midst of His people - loving them, directing them, delivering them, encouraging them, confirming them, warning them, calling them to repent, healing them, etc. (The Bible, from the beginning to the end, bears witness to this fact. Especially see the book of Acts.) The old covenant saints experienced quite a bit of God's direct involvement in their affairs through His ministers, gifts, etc. Surely the Christian church is not expected to live for God in the flesh. In my opinion, anyone who says we don't need the charismatic gifts (including the revelation gifts) must not understand the gifts. Have the gifts been abused by some Christians? Very much so; but we can't afford to remove them from the church, nor have we been given that option.
WHAT ABOUT PAUL'S THORN IN THE FLESH?
It seems that about all some Christians know about healing is that Job was sick, the apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and a few of Paul's companions experienced some sicknesses (Phil. 2:25-30; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20). (We discussed Job in chapter 4 of this book.) From such knowledge they reason that Christians cannot (in general) have faith for healing/health. (We will briefly discuss the relationship between faith and healing under reason #2 below.) I don't believe this viewpoint is justified; it tends to miss the forest because of a few trees. In chapter 2 of this book (under Isa. 53:4-6), in chapter 4, and here in chapter 5, I have been trying to show that the Biblical norm is healing/health for God's faithful people. Healing/health is part of the covenant that God has made with His people. However, the book of Job, Paul's thorn in the flesh, and the other passages that I mentioned will help us guard against over-simplification, or the judging of those believers who happen to be sick.
Let's look at 2 Cor. 12:1-10 (the verses that speak of Paul's thorn in the flesh).
2 CORINTHIANS 12:1-10. "Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. (2) I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven. (3) And I know how such a man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows - (4) was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (5) On behalf of such a man will I boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. (6) For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one may credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. (7) And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself! (8) Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. (9) And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (10) Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
In 2 Cor. 12:7 the apostle Paul gives us the reason for his "thorn in the flesh." In 2 Cor. 12:2-6 he speaks of a very special experience he had "fourteen years earlier. (With 2 Cor. 12:4 compare Rev. 10:3, 4.) Second Corinthians 12:7 shows why God (who knows the heart, who knows the future, and who knew His plans for the apostle Paul) IN THIS VERY SPECIAL CASE permitted "a messenger of Satan" (an evil angel or demon spirit) to buffet His apostle - "to keep [him] from exalting [himself]." Even apart from this very special revelation (2 Cor. 12:2-6), the apostle Paul had much concerning which he could have become puffed-up (prideful). For example, he received the gospel by revelation (Gal. 1:12); he saw the resurrected Christ on numerous occasions (cf. Acts 9:17; 18:9; 22:17-21; 23:11; 26:13-19; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8); he had great authority (and responsibility) in connection with his ministry (cf., e.g., 2 Cor. 10:8, 11; 13:1-10; Gal. 2:7-9); and he was mightily used in miracles (cf., e.g., Acts 13:9-12; 14:8-10; 16:16-18; 19:11, 12; 28:3-10; 1 Cor. 2:4). From our perspective, we can see how important the apostle Paul's ministry was in laying the foundation for the Christian church (referring especially to his New Testament writings). The apostle knew something of the importance of his ministry.
HOW DID THIS MESSENGER OF SATAN BUFFET THE APOSTLE PAUL? Some believe this buffeting (this "thorn in the flesh") consisted of the persecution that Paul endured at the hands of men, as instigated by this messenger of Satan (and you could include the other trials that the apostle encountered in the course of his ministry, cf., e.g., 2 Cor. 11:23-33). ((I had an endnote: The expression "thorn in the flesh" can be used to refer to trouble caused by men (cf., e.g., Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13).)) I believe 2 Cor. 12:7 speaks of something above and beyond that persecution and those trials. I assume that this "thorn in the flesh" was some kind of physical sickness caused by this messenger of Satan. (There is no doubt that demon spirits are sometimes the direct cause of physical sickness, cf., e.g., Matt. 9:32, 33; 12:22; Mark 9:25; Luke 11:14; 13:11.) There could be a correlation between this "thorn in the flesh" and the physical condition mentioned in Gal. 4:13-15.
It is significant (and instructive) that the apostle Paul did not just passively accept this "thorn in the flesh." He entreated God for the deliverance from this difficult condition, that is, until God revealed to him that, in this very special case, it was His will for His apostle to continue on in this "weakness," at least for a period, and that His grace would be sufficient (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
CONCLUSION. Surely Christians who become sick should not just assume that they have been given a thorn in the flesh. How many of us can identify with the apostle Paul's need for a thorn in the flesh? I believe we should assume that healing is the will of God for us and pray in faith (as Paul did) unless God clearly reveals to us (as He did to Paul) that it is not His will to heal us, at least not at the present time. I'm quite sure that the apostle accurately heard from God regarding his thorn in the flesh, but I would exhort Christians to test the spirits and to make sure that they do not listen to lying spirits.
SOME OF THE REASONS THERE HAVE NOT BEEN MORE HEALING AND HEALTH IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH:
1. As under the old covenant (see chapter 4 of this book), one reason for sickness in the Christian church is that some Christians do not repent and turn from sin (John 5:14; 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Rev. 2:20-23; cf. Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20; James 5:14-16). Some sins, like unforgiveness, are not so obvious, but God takes such sins seriously (cf., e.g., Matt. 6:14, 15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25). I am not suggesting that unresolved sin is always behind the sicknesses of Christians. James 5:15, for example, says: "IF he has committed sins." I am suggesting, however, that there is far too much sin in the Body of Christ (actually, any sin is too much sin) and that unresolved sin is the cause of some of the sicknesses of Christians.
2. Many (or most) Christians don't have much in the way of faith for healing. They will tell you that they don't have faith for healing, and many of them will say they don't think they're supposed to. We need the balance here (as in every area), and we must guard against presumption; but based on my study of the Scriptures (especially the four Gospels), I have to say that I believe God expects us to look to Him in faith for healing and health. I am not saying that no one is ever healed apart from faith for healing, but there is a very important link between healing and faith for healing. ((Faith in God is important in every area. (I had an endnote: King Asa [a king of Judah] illustrates this point. In his latter years King Asa did not look to, and rely upon, God as he should have, and the results were quite serious. For one example see 2 Chron. 16:1-10. A second example [one that is more relevant to the topic of healing] is found in 2 CHRONICLES 16:12, 13. These verses say: "And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease [Hebrew "choli"] was severe, yet even in his disease [choli] he did not seek the LORD [Yahweh], but the physicians. (13) So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign." These verses confirm that God expects His people to look to Him as their primary source for healing, as for all their needs. They do not teach that God's people cannot go to physicians [assuming that the physicians are not part of the occult, etc.], but that first and foremost God's people must look to Him as their healer.) )) See, for example, MATTHEW 8:5-13, espec. verses 10 and 13: "Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.' (13) And Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed that very hour" (cf. Luke 7:1-10). MATTHEW 9:27-31, espec. verse 29: "Then He touched their eyes, saying, 'Be it done to you according to your faith.' " MATTHEW 15:21-28, espec. verse 28: "Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.' And her daughter was healed at once." LUKE 5:17-26, espec. verse 20 (cf. Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12). LUKE 8:43-48, espec. verse 48: "And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace' " (cf. Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34). LUKE 17:11-19, espec. verse 19: "And He said to him, 'Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.' " Luke 18:35-43, espec. verse 42: "And Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight; your faith has made you well" (cf. Matt. 20:29 34; Mark 10:46-52). JOHN 4:46-53, espec. verse 50. ACTS 14:8-10, espec. verses 9 and 10: "This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him, and had seen that he had faith to be made well, (10) said with a loud voice, 'Stand upright on your feet.' And he leaped and began to walk." And JAMES 5:14, 15, espec. verse 15: "and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." Also see Matt. 7:7-11; 21:21, 22, Mark 11:22-24; and James 1:5-8.
MARK 6:5, 6a are significant (cf. Matt. 13:58): "And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. (6a) And He wondered at their unbelief." These verses show that even the Lord Jesus Christ "could do no miracle" in His home town because of "their unbelief." "Their unbelief," of course, went much deeper than lack of faith for healing, but that was included.
Also consider MATTHEW 17:14-20. In verse 20 the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that the reason they had not been able to cast the demon out of the boy who was possessed was "the littleness of [their] faith." In other words, the problem was doubt/unbelief. ((I had an endnote: On the meaning of "littleness of faith," compare Matt. 8:26 ("Why are you so timid, you men of LITTLE FAITH [my emphasis]") with the parallel account in Mark 4:40 ("Why are you so timid? How is it that you have NO FAITH [my emphasis]?"). In Matt. 14:31 the Lord Jesus Christ says to Peter: "O you of LITTLE FAITH [my emphasis], why did you DOUBT [my emphasis]?"
Christians cannot have a solid faith for healing and health unless they can see the scriptural basis for such faith. But often (most of the time) the gospel has not been presented (and the Scriptures have not been taught) in a manner that gives a basis for such faith. So often Christians have been taught that God is not especially interested in issues like healing and health and that anything close to faith for healing and health would be presumption. We must guard against presumption, but I believe we have substantially missed the balance on this topic. It seems to me that healing and health should be considered the norm; otherwise, I don't see how we can pray in faith.
In general, the shortage of faith (or the shortage of holiness, spirituality, etc.) is more of a problem of the Christian church, or segments of the church, than an individual problem. It can be difficult for Christians to go beyond the norm of the church of their generation; however, this does not give any Christian an excuse to settle for whatever happens to be the present norm of the people of God.
3. In my opinion, the Christian church of our generation has not left enough room for the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, many have taken a dogmatic position that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today. Some seem to think that in this day of the Spirit (under the new covenant) we should experience less of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit than they did under the old covenant. Born again Christians should agree that things like education, giving mental assent to doctrines, and rituals cannot be substituted for the work of the Holy Spirit. The will of God cannot be fully accomplished in and through the church apart from ALL the work of the Holy Spirit.
There is no doubt that much damage has been done to the Body of Christ through a misuse of the charismatic gifts. The answer to this problem, however, is not to exclude the gifts from the church, but to make it a top priority to make sure that we rightly use them. It is also true that there are demonic counterfeits for God's gifts. It is necessary for Christians to approach the charismatic gifts with humility, discernment, and caution, carefully testing all things against the Word of God.
4. Some healings will apparently be wrought only by directly confronting and casting out demon spirits. (Cf., e.g., Matt. 8:16, 17; 9:32, 33; 12:22; 17:14-18; Mark 9:17, 25; Luke 11:14; 13:10-16.) I don't doubt that some sickness in our day has a direct demonic cause and that, in some cases, these spirits must be directly dealt with. The church desperately needs all the gifts of the Spirit, including the gifts of discerning of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10) and of (special) faith (1 Cor. 12:9). If Christians wage warfare against Satan and his kingdom in the flesh, they will be defeated; but when Christians wage warfare against Satan and his kingdom in the Spirit of God (in accordance with the Word of God), they will always prevail to the glory of God.
This is the end of chapter 5. We will go on to some excerpts from chapter 6 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ."
CHAPTER 6. "A STUDY ON THE MEANING OF JUSTIFY/JUSTIFICATION AS THESE WORDS ARE USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT"
The last three chapters of this book, starting with chapter 6 are the most important on the topic of righteousness, holiness, and the victory over sin. I somewhat arbitrarily decided to include most of the first half of chapter 6 in these excerpts and omit the second half of this chapter, but the passages of the New Testament that I am omitting in these excerpts, which includes Romans chapters 6-8, are extremely important. I believe the content of chapter 6 of this book (which covers pages 69-139) is extremely important to a proper understanding of the gospel.
That which was said on the meaning of justify in chapter 2 (under Isa. 53:11 and in the section immediately preceding it titled "Galatians 3:13, 14 and Isaiah Chapter 53" [which I didn't include in these excerpts]) should be read as part of the introduction to this topic. In chapter 2 (under Isa. 53:11), I opted for the viewpoint that if the Hebrew verb is to be translated "will justify" in Isa. 53:11, then justify must be understood in a very full sense, including the ideas of declare righteous, make alive (set free from the penalty of spiritual death and the attendant bondage to sin), and make righteous (sanctify).
A major purpose for this present study is to show that the Greek verb "dikaioo," which is normally translated "justify" in the New Testament, is also frequently used in a very full sense. ((I had an endnote: The NASB translates "dikaioo" as follows: acknowledged justice (1), acquitted (1), freed (3), justified (24), justifier (1), justifies (2), justify (4), vindicated (3). The KJV has: free (1), justify (37), justifier (1), be righteous (1). The NIV has: acknowledged that right (1), acquitted (1), considered righteous (2), declared righteous (2), freed (1), justified (19), justified before God (1), justifies (3), justify (4), make innocent (1), proved right (3), vindicated (1).)) We will also discuss the closely related noun "dikaiosis" that is translated "justification" by the NASB, KJV, and NIV. (This Greek noun is only used two times in the New Testament.) In the course of this study, we will come across the Greek adjective "dikaios" (normally translated "righteous") and the Greek noun "dikaiosune" (normally translated "righteousness"). Both of these words are very important, but we will not be able to discuss them in any detail. "Dikaioo" and "dikaiosune" were derived from "dikaios." "Dikaiosis" was derived from "dikaioo."
Many of the key verses that use dikaioo and the two verses that use dikaiosis are found in the first six chapters of the epistle to the Romans. We will discuss quite a few key passages from Romans chapters 1-8 in this study. Because I consider these passages in Romans to be so important (some of the most important in the Bible), I will not limit this discussion to the meaning of dikaioo and dikaiosis. There will be an emphasis on victory over sin in this study. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 of my book constitute a rather comprehensive study on the topic of righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin.
In my opinion, much of the Christian church of our day has a great need to better understand the topic of holiness (which includes victory over sin) and to make it a top priority item, and all the more so as the end of the age approaches. Holiness constitutes a big part of what Christianity is all about (according to the Scriptures). Holiness comes by grace through faith, but Christians cannot receive and cooperate with God's grace beyond their understanding of the gospel. What we need, however, is more transformation, not more condemnation.
It is common for Christians to define "justify" as "declare righteous" (to forgive the guilt of sin and bring about a right [legal] standing before God). From my point of view, an overuse of this narrow sense of justify has helped perpetuate a very inadequate concept of what Christianity is all about. It is important for Christians to know that they have been forgiven and have a right standing with God; if we stop there, however, or put most of the emphasis there, we are stopping far short of an adequate understanding of the gospel. God does not offer justification (in the narrow sense of the word) in isolation from the new birth and a transformed life.
If we are going to translate dikaioo as justify, then we must recognize that justify is sometimes used in a very full sense, which includes the declaration of righteousness, the dethroning of (and the setting free from) sin, Satan, and spiritual death, the impartation of spiritual life, and the making righteous (the transformation to righteousness). An understanding of this much fuller sense of justify will help us guard against the all-too-common misunderstanding of the gospel. Justification comes by grace through faith (based on the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ). This is true whether justification is taken in a narrow sense or the fuller sense.
On the basis of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father (the ultimate Judge) declares righteous those who believe the gospel (those who submit to the gospel in faith). When God declares them righteous, He is, at the same time, declaring the defeat (and overthrow) of sin, Satan, and spiritual death. These enemies gained their authority over mankind through the sins of mankind, especially through the sin of Adam. Since the Lord Jesus Christ has borne these sins (with the guilt and the penalties) in His atoning death, these enemies have lost their authority over those who partake of the benefits of His atoning death by faith. Believers are set free from sin, Satan, and spiritual death, and they are made alive and made righteous.
Dikaioo is used thirty nine times in the New Testament. All but ten of these uses are found in the writings of the apostle Paul, or in Acts 13:38, 39, where Paul is the one speaking. We will not consider any of the ten uses of dikaioo that are not associated with the apostle Paul. (None of these uses is especially relevant to our topic.) We will not consider all the uses of dikaioo by the apostle Paul, but we will consider quite a few verses where the context helps show that this Greek verb means much more than declare righteous.
We will continue these excerpts from chapter 6 of my book in Part 6.
I would like to encourage those who appreciate my teaching in these excerpts to obtain a copy of the book. I don't want the books to be purchased by those who won't use them. The book is available on my website (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching) and at amazon.com.
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