Excerpts from My book, Holiness and Victory Over Sin, Part 11
by Karl Kemp
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Here in Part 11, which is the last part of these excerpts from my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ," we will continue the excerpts from chapter 8 under the heading "Some Verses that Use 'Hagiazo' and Fit the Ideal Pattern." We will start with 1 Thess. 5:23.
(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.)
1 THESSALONIANS 5:23
"Now MAY THE GOD OF PEACE HIMSELF SANCTIFY [hagiazo] YOU ENTIRELY; AND MAY YOUR SPIRIT AND SOUL AND BODY BE PRESERVED [or KEPT] COMPLETE, WITHOUT BLAME AT THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST [my emphasis]."
A little background information will help us understand this verse. The Christian church at Thessalonica had been recently founded by the apostle Paul "amid much opposition" (1 Thess. 2:2). He even found it necessary to leave Thessalonica (on the occasion of his first visit there) before he wanted to. (See Acts 17:1-16; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2:14-18; 3:1-13.) In 1 Thessalonians the apostle mentions some of his concerns regarding the state of the church at Thessalonica. (Cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 3:10-13 [These verses are discussed later in this chapter, under "hagiosune"]; 1 Thess. 4:1-12; 5:12-15, 19-22.)
With this background information, 1 Thess. 5:23 falls into place. The apostle prays that God will "SANCTIFY...ENTIRELY" these recently converted Christians and then "PRESERVE [KEEP]" them in this state of holiness so that they will be "WITHOUT BLAME [my emphasis] at the coming of [the] Lord Jesus Christ." Paul prays that God will do what is necessary to bring about the full sanctification of the church at Thessalonica. He was not thinking of a lifetime of growth in holiness, but of a transformation to a state of holiness within a fairly short period of time (as soon as possible), probably something like a few months.
For God to send the apostle Paul to Thessalonica was one way that He could substantially meet the need of this church. (See the discussion of 1 Thess. 3:10-13 later in this chapter.) The Thessalonian Christians themselves also had a major part to play in their sanctification (cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 4:1-12; 5:12-22; Rom. 6:1-23, especially 6:19; Rom. 8:12-14; 2 Cor. 7:1; 2 Tim. 2:21.) God does not sanctify people, or keep them sanctified, apart from their cooperation in faith.
The apostle wanted the Thessalonian Christians (and all Christians) to live their entire Christian lives WITHOUT BLAME before God. (Cf., e.g., Phil. 2:15, 16.) Living in this state, they would always be fully ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and they would be WITHOUT BLAME on the day of judgment.
2 TIMOTHY 2:21
"Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, SANCTIFIED [hagiazo], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
"Sanctified" is a perfect participle in the Greek, which fits the idea of one having entered an abiding state of holiness. The apostle says that if these Christians will cleanse themselves from all that is sinful and defiling, including false doctrine (cf. 2 Tim. 2:14-18), they will be SANCTIFIED. (Cf. 2 Cor. 7:1, which is discussed under hagiosune.) Of course it is to be understood that these Christians would cleanse themselves by the grace of God in Christ. It seems that in these verses the apostle was speaking about those in the ministry, but what he says is applicable to all Christians. Sin will always interfere with our ability to serve God.
SOME VERSES THAT USE "HAGIASMOS" AND FIT THE IDEAL PATTERN
Rom. 6:19, 22 (discussed below); 1 Thess. 4:3, 4, 7 (discussed below); and 2 Thess. 2:13 (discussed below).
ROMANS 6:19, 22
These verses were discussed in chapter 6 [but are not included in these excerpts], but here I would like to quote a footnote from John Murray on the meaning of "hagiasmos" as it is used in Rom. 6:19 and 22 ("Epistle to the Romans" [Eerdmans, 1973 reprint], page 234).
" 'Sanctification' in English can denote a process or a state. Notwithstanding the opinion of some able commentators (e.g., Gifford, Sanday and Headlam) 'hagiasmos' here, as well as in vs. 22, does not most suitably refer to a process but to the state of holiness or consecration. It is not by any means apparent that in other instances 'hagiasmos' contemplates process rather than state (1 Cor. 1:30; 1 Thess. 4:3, 4, 7; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:2). In several of these the meaning holiness or consecration is far more suitable, and it is questionable if the thought of process is in the forefront in any. Furthermore, in this context, as we have found, the emphasis falls upon the once-for-all breach with sin and commitment to righteousness. Hence the rendering 'holiness' of the A.V. [KJV] is more suitable than the ambiguous word 'sanctification.' And 'consecration,' though not felicitous as translation, may convey the thought most effectively. ...."
1 THESSALONIANS 4:1 8
"Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God just as you actually do walk, that you may excel still more. (2) For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. (3) For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, YOUR SANCTIFICATION [HOLINESS (hagiasmos)]; THAT IS, THAT YOU ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY [and all other sin (my emphasis)]; (4) that each of you know how to possess his own vessel IN SANCTIFICATION [IN HOLINESS (hagiasmos); my emphasis] and honor, (5) not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (6) and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because THE LORD IS THE AVENGER IN ALL THESE THINGS [my emphasis], just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. (7) For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but IN SANCTIFICATION [IN HOLINESS (hagiasmos); my emphasis]. (8) Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."
The NASB translates "hagiasmos" as "sanctification" in 1 Thess. 4:3, 4, and 7. The KJV has "sanctification" in verses 3 and 4 but "holiness" in verse 7. The NIV has "that you should be sanctified" in verse 3, "in a way that is holy" in verse 4, and "to live a holy life" in verse 7. I prefer the translation "holiness" for hagiasmos in all three verses.
These verses make it quite clear that "sanctification/holiness" excludes all sexual immorality. Paul's area of concern as he wrote these verses was sexual immorality (undoubtedly because he knew that this sin existed in the church at Thessalonica), but any other sin is also incompatible with holiness. The apostle was not thinking in terms of a process of gradual withdrawal from this sin (or any sin). Verses 6 and 8 confirm that the apostle Paul considered this to be a serious matter.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:13
"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation THROUGH SANCTIFICATION [IN HOLINESS (hagiasmos)] BY THE SPIRIT AND FAITH IN THE TRUTH [my emphasis]."
"for salvation." In one sense the Christians at Thessalonica already had salvation (cf., e.g., Rom. 10:10; 11:11; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 6:2). In this verse, however, there is some emphasis on the yet-future "salvation" from the wrath of God in the day of judgment (cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 5:8-10). In the immediate context, the "salvation" of the Christians (of Thessalonica) is contrasted with the end-time condemnation of those who reject the gospel and continue on in wickedness (2 Thess. 2:10-12; 1:6-10).
"through [en] sanctification [hagiasmos] by the Spirit." I would translate "in holiness" instead of "through sanctification." In the margin the NASB gives "in" as the literal meaning of the Greek preposition "en." This same Greek prepositional phrase ("en hagiasmos") is used in 1 Thess. 4:7. In 1 Thess. 4:7 the NASB has "in sanctification" and the NKJV has "in holiness." In the margin at 1 Thess. 4:7, the NASB says that "en" is used in that verse with the sense "in the state or sphere of." I believe that's the idea here in 2 Thess. 2:13 too - Christians have salvation (and will have salvation from the wrath to come) IN THE STATE OF HOLINESS and faith. (We'll discuss faith below.)
The state of holiness (and faith) of the Thessalonian Christians is contrasted with the state of those mentioned in 2 Thess. 2:10-12 who "took pleasure in wickedness" (2 Thess. 2:12) and did not submit to the gospel (in faith). The Thessalonian Christians were ready for the day of judgment (at least for the most part), and they would be saved; they would "gain the glory of [the] Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:14).
I have already pointed out (when discussing 1 Thess. 4:1-8 and 5:23) that some of the Thessalonian Christians were not yet adequately sanctified. Nevertheless, Paul could speak of the ideal state of holiness that is to exist in the Christian church, realizing that some adjustments still needed to be made in the newly-founded church at Thessalonica. As I pointed out under 1 Thess. 4:1-8 and 5:23 (and will further point out under 1 Thess. 3:10-13 later in this chapter), the apostle Paul made it a top priority to make sure that the church at Thessalonica would become fully sanctified (established in an abiding state of holiness). Now is the time for us to get ready for judgment day, not after a lifelong process; for one thing, God may not delay His coming.
The words "by the Spirit" show that this "sanctification" (this STATE OF HOLINESS) is wrought "by the [Holy] Spirit" (by grace through FAITH). (Cf., e.g., Rom. 7:6; 8:1-4, 9-14; 15:16; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:23; Titus 3:5.)
"and faith in the truth." The Thessalonian Christians had "faith in the truth" of the gospel, in contrast with those mentioned in 2 Thess. 10-12 who "did not receive the love of THE TRUTH so as to be saved" (2 Thess. 2:10), who "did not believe THE TRUTH but took pleasure in wickedness" (2 Thess. 2:12), and who "[did] not obey the gospel" (2 Thess. 1:8). Faith in the gospel includes obedience to the gospel (cf., e.g., 2 Thess. 1:8; Acts 6:7; Rom. 6:17, 10:16; 1 Pet. 4:17). Obedience to the gospel yields holiness (e.g., Rom. 6:17 with Rom. 6:15-23), but only by the grace of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
SOME VERSES THAT USE "HAGIOSUNE" AND FIT THE IDEAL PATTERN
"Hagiosune is only used three times in the New Testament. Two of the three uses are pertinent to this study: 2 Cor. 7:1 (discussed below) and 1 Thess. 3:13 (discussed below).
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? (15) Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (16) Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
'I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
(17) THEREFORE, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,' says the Lord.
'AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN;
And I will welcome you.
(18) And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,'
Says the Lord Almighty.
(7:1) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness [hagiosune] in the fear of God."
2 CORINTHIANS 7:1. "These promises" refer back to the promises quoted in 2 Cor. 6:16-18. There is a very strong emphasis in 2 Cor. 6:14-18 on the need for Christians to be set apart once-for-all from all forms of sin, darkness, uncleanness, etc. The apostle Paul was concerned about the sinful acceptance of false apostles by some at Corinth (cf. 2 Cor. 11:4, 12-15); I believe we can also see this concern reflected in the words of 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
"let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit." The Greek verb "katharizo," which is translated "let us cleanse," is frequently used of a moral, transforming cleansing, as it is here (cf., e.g., Acts 15:9; Eph. 5:26; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14; James 4:8; 1 John 1:7, 9). Most of these references speak of God as the One who does the cleansing, but it is always understood that these things don't just happen automatically - Christians must cooperate with the cleansing/sanctifying grace of God in Christ through faith.
This verse makes it clear that true Christians could be/become defiled in the "spirit" [inner man, heart]. The "spirit" is not just automatically made clean, or kept clean. The apostle Paul knew that there was some sin in the church at Corinth, and he wanted to see this unacceptable condition rectified at once. He was not thinking of a gradual, lifelong cleansing.
"perfecting holiness [hagiosune] in the fear of God." As the Corinthians cleansed themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, they would be "perfecting" [or, "completing"] "holiness"; they would be removing those things that were incompatible with an abiding state of holiness. The BAGD Greek Lexicon (under "hagiosune") says: " 'to perfect holiness' = become perfectly holy (2 Cor. 7:1)." Christians should have a reverent "fear of God," and especially if there is unresolved sin that needs to be dealt with.
The Amplified Bible on 2 Cor. 7:1 says: "Therefore, since these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the reverential fear of God."
1 THESSALONIANS 3:10-13
"as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith? (11) Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; (12) and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you; (13) so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness [hagiosune] before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints."
We have already discussed 1 Thess. 5:23 in this chapter (under hagiazo), and we have discussed 1 Thess. 4:1-8 (under hagiasmos). Both of these studies should be read as an introduction to this present discussion. Given the background (which we briefly discussed under 1 Thess. 5:23), it was not too surprising that there was something still lacking in the faith of the Christians at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:10) or that their hearts had not been established unblamable in holiness (1 Thess. 3:13). (Cf. 1 Thess. 4:1-12; 5:12-24; 2 Thess. 3:5-15.)
Paul knew that his apostolic ministry could go a long way toward meeting the need of the Christians at Thessalonica, so he prayed that God would direct his way to them (1 Thess. 3:10, 11). In 1 Thess. 3:12 he prayed for an increase in love on the part of these Christians; it was not that they were totally deficient in love (1 Thess. 1:3; 3:6; 4:9, 10), but there was room for improvement (cf. 1 Thess. 4:10).
1 THESSALONIANS 3:13. "so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness." The Greek behind so that He may establish is "eis to steriksai." These same Greek words are used in 1 Thess. 3:2: "and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish ["eis to steriksai"] you and encourage you concerning your faith" (NKJV).
As recorded in 1 Thess. 3:2, the apostle sent Timothy to help establish and encourage the Christians at Thessalonica. Now, as recorded in 1 Thess. 3:11 (cf. 3:10), he prays that he himself may be directed to Thessalonica. His ministry could play a major role in establishing their hearts unblamable in holiness. Also, the answer to the prayer of 1 Thess. 3:12 would constitute an important part in establishing their hearts unblamable in holiness. The requests of verses 11 and 12 were both aimed at achieving the end mentioned in verse 13.
"unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints." I believe the apostle's viewpoint here is essentially the same as in 1 Thess. 5:23. He wants to see the Christians at Thessalonica established "unblamable in holiness" in the very near future, as soon as possible (cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 4:1-12). Then he wants them to be preserved (kept) in this state of holiness until the time of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, fully ready for His "coming" and the day of judgment.
"unblamable in holiness [hagiosune]." The Greek adjective behind "unblamable" is "amemptos." First Thessalonians 5:23 speaks of being "without blame ["amemptos," an adverb, with a long "o," an omega; the adjective has a short "o" an omicron; the Greek adverb was derived from the adjective] at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"before our God and Father." Cf., e.g., Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 4:14; Col. 1:22, 28; and Jude 24. (Colossians 1:22 is discussed later in this chapter [under "hagios"]; Jude 24 is discussed under Col. 1:22. [These verses are not included in these excerpts.])
"at the coming [Greek "parousia"] of our Lord Jesus." Cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 4:13-18; 5:23; 2 Thess. 1:10; 2:1; 1 Cor. 15:23; Phil. 3:20, 21; and 1 John 2:28.
"with all His saints [plural of hagios]." I don't believe the idea is that the Lord Jesus Christ will come "with all His saints." For one thing, many of "His saints" will still be living on the earth at the time of His return (cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:50-52). Rather, the apostle is concerned that the hearts of the Thessalonian Christians be established "unblamable in holiness" and kept in that state so that they will be fully ready to stand before God "unblamable in holiness" in company "with all [the] saints at [the time of] the coming of [the] Lord Jesus."
I'll stop these excerpts from chapter 8 here, which is the last chapter of this book, but this chapter continues for more than 30 pages.
I trust that many of you who appreciate this teaching will want to purchase a copy of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" that is available at amazon.com and at my website (karlkempteachingministries.com).
May God's will be fully accomplished through these excerpts!
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
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