In the Fear of God
Compiled By Glen Berry
IT IS A SAD DAY! I say it is a sad day calling for repentance for sin when Christians become angry and fall out with each other, withholding fellowship from blood-bought saints over disagreements on the subject of the very exhortation of whether to exhort Christians to live holy lives and whether we are to exhort to GROW in that holiness! Those who oppose say such things as, “But we are under grace, not under law.” Or, “Christ has taken care of the sin question; we are done with that, you legalist you!” “I am not for promoting ’holy living’ of others, for most of the time it just means a set of man-made rules.” Or, “Law and grace don’t mix; promoting the keeping of the law is just works, works, works.” “Christ has sanctified us once for all, just like He has justified us once for all time; so I don’t believe in ‘progressive’ sanctification.” Or, “I can’t self-sanctify myself—Christ did that for me.” Or, “There is no need for law-preaching in any sense, at any time, or to any degree.” Or, “To speak of progressive sanctification means you are for improving the flesh.” Or, accusing one who wants to fulfill the law as being a “Judaizer.”
And on and on it goes. With some legitimate points being made, but mostly a failure to see where the person who opposes him is truly coming from, thinking that his views are unbiblical, accusing him of “salvation by works.” This is wrong.
Now what complicates this matter more is that brethren in Christ, in order to combat theological ERROR, get so set in the rut or ditch on the other side of the road that they will not bother to get back on the road themselves for fear of falling into the ditch on the opposite side!
There are false doctrines that say we must “work for our salvation”; or that somehow “by my good deeds I obligate God to save me”; or, “God has done all He can do; so now I must finish the transaction and work (or decide) so His work will be effective.” Such ideas are in the erroneous “work-system” of another gospel, which would be a false gospel. So to combat THIS, some brethren fall into the ditch on the other side of the road with their off-balance.
Truly, truly, truly, we don’t speak of keeping the law for soul justification, or growing in sanctification by improving the flesh, or working our way to Heaven and God’s good graces with brownie points. Certainly not. The flesh is always flesh. It does not get better and better; but it CAN be subdued and must be subdued, continually dominated over by the Spirit of God within us, and yes, by our spirit that has been blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Let the matter be settled by: “. . . Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
This is all we mean. The Word of God says it better than any man can say it, and I just now quoted it! Since the word “sanctification” has two aspects to it, that is why I copy the phrase from others, “progressive sanctification.” I could just as well say “ongoing or continuing or growing sanctification,” for we do grow if we are truly Christian. Or I could even say “growing or progressive perfection,” which would truly be in the meaning of the verse just quoted from 2 Corinthians, “perfecting holiness.”
But how many current “grace” brethren will admit the truth here? Holy living and fulfilling the very law of God does imply putting the flesh under, overcoming SIN, repenting of sin and worldliness, performing good works after God has worked His salvation and good will IN us. As James says, “faith without works is DEAD.” If we submit not to the will of God, crying for Him to even prune us so we will bring forth MORE good fruit, from the branches that abide in Him, then it is a mark that our profession is false, or may be false.
Much is said about “the law of liberty.” And living in freedom, in liberty. But that freedom is the freedom to OBEY, not disobey. The freedom to, and liberty to, delight in the law of God and in a life acceptable to God, against which there is no law. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord. . . .” (Psa. 19:14)
Profound, Practical Counsel
From Oswald Chambers
Even in my readings this moring, I came across some good exhortation from Oswald Chambers in his book, “My Utmost for His Highest.” So I will now pass the blessing on to you.
“The test of abandonment is always over the neck of natural devotion [and we could add, natural flesh, which we are to subdue and dominate—g/b]. . . . Beware of stopping short of abandonment to God. Most of us know abandonment in vision only.”
“Beware of talking about abandonment if you know nothing about it, and you will never know anything about it until you have realized that John 3:16 means that God gave Himself absolutely. In our abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as God gave Himself for us, without any calculation [meaning, He was going to accomplish the work no matter the cost to Him—g/b]. The consequence of abandonment never enters into our outlook because our life is taken up with Him.”
His servants ye are to whom ye obey. (Romans 6:16)
“The first thing to do in examining the power that dominates me is to take hold of the unwelcome fact that I am responsible for being thus dominated. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because at a point away back, I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because I have yielded myself to Him.
“Yield in childhood to selfishness, and you will find it the most enchaining tyranny on earth. There is no power in the human soul of itself to break the bondage of a disposition formed by yielding. Yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust (remember what lust is: ‘I must have it at once,’ whether it be lust of the flesh or of the mind)—once yield and though you may hate yourself for having yielded, you are a bondslave to that thing. There is no release in human power at all but only in the Redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One Who can break the dominating power viz., the Lord Jesus Christ—
‘He hath anointed me . . . to preach deliverance to all captives.’
“You find this out in the most ridiculously small ways— ‘Oh, I can give that habit up when I like.’ You cannot, you will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you yielded to it willingly. It is easy to sing— ‘He will break every fetter’ and at the same time living a life of obvious slavery. . . Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life.”
THE MASTER ASSIZES
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
“A wrong temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment, and the end of it is hell in you. Drag it to the light at once and say— ‘My God, I have been guilty there.’ If you don’t, hardness will come all through. The penalty of sin is confirmation in sin. It is not only God who punishes [or chastises] for sin; sin confirms itself in the sinner and gives back full pay. No struggling nor praying will enable you to stop doing some things, and the penalty of sin is that gradually you get used to it and do not know that it is sin. No power save the incoming of the Holy Ghost can alter the inherent consequences of sin.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light.” Walking in the light means for many of us walking according to our standard for another person. The deadliest Pharisaism today is not hypocrisy but unconscious unreality.”
Some might say “Amen” to that last paragraph, and wish it repeated. It is never right to go against God’s law or will, but it is so natural to judge and condemn another for one sin, when we ignore maybe a different sin in ourselves.
THE WORKER’S RULING PASSION
Wherefore we labor that . . . we may be accepted of Him. (2 Corinthians 5:9)
[Some might even object to those words if they were not there in the Bible, complaining that they sound so Arminianish.—g/b]
“. . . It is not lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but lack of laboring to keep the ideal right. Once a week at least take stock before God and see whether you are keeping your life up to the standard He wishes. Paul is like a musician who does not heed the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from the Master.
“Any ambition which is in the tiniest degree away from this central one of being ‘approved unto God’ may end in our being castaways. Learn to discern where the ambition leads, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says— ‘But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, I myself should be a castaway.’ (1 Corinthians 9:27)
“I have to learn to relate everything to the master ambition, and to maintain it without any cessation. My worth to God in public is what I am in private. Is my master ambition to please Him and be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how noble?”
SHALL I ROUSE MYSELF UP TO THIS?
Perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor.7:1
“‘Having therefore these promises.’ I claim the fulfillment of God’s promises, and rightly, but that is only the human side; the Divine side is that through the promises I recognize God’s claim on me. For instance, am I realizing that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, or have I a habit of body that plainly will not bear the light of God on it? By sanctification the Son of God is formed in me, then I have to transform my natural life . . . by obedience to Him. [Here I think it would definitely be more correct and better to say that we SUBDUE and bring under the natural life to obedience to the spiritual life, for we cannot change the nature of sinful flesh. This is in the process of “overcoming.”—g/b] God educates us down to the scruple. When He begins to check, do not confer with flesh and blood, cleanse yourself at once. Keep yourself cleased in your daily walk. [This is the cleasing of the Word; this takes place as we walk in the Spirit; this is part of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that is working in us. This involves repenting before the Lord unto our very death.—g/b]
“I have to cleanse myself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit until both are in accord with the nature of God. [In analogy, this is putting our foot on the neck of the flesh.—g/b]
Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I insubordinate in intellect? . . . [Here is where Pau’s cry comes in, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And he has the answer ready for us: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—g/b] [Is the mind of Christ being formed in me—the] Christ Who never spoke from His right to Himself, but maintained an inner watchfulness whereby He continually submitted His spirit to His Father? I have the responsibility of keeping my spirit in agreement with His Spirit, and by degrees Jesus lifts me up to where He lived—in perfect consecration to His Father’s will, paying no attention to any other thing. Am I perfecting this type of holiness in the fear of God? [Oh! I fear so many completely overlook and ignore this essential part of Christianity to even be performed by the new man in us, which means ignoring and rejecting 2 Cor. 7:1.—g/b] . . . Are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more?
“Be serious with God and leave the rest alone. Put God first literally.”
—My Utmost for His Highest
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Love and Law
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE is to obey God and His Christ,—the law and will of God. This the flesh does not want to do. It rebels. This the flesh indeed cannot do!
LOVE is the fulfilling of the law, so without love the law cannot be fulfilled! Try to keep the law without love and you will fail. It is a fruitless endeavor. All this is eternal truth. That is why in the Bible you see, from the hearts of those who love and fear God, such words as “delight” and “love.”
“I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea Thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
“I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy word.” (Psalm 119:16)
“Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.” (Psalm 97:10)
“Oh how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)
“I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love.” (Psalm 119:113)
In Psalm 1 it says of the blessed godly man, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” (v. 2) You can be sure, then, that David could well have said, (as he indeed has said in other places) “Thy law do I lovingly and delightfully meditate day and night.” Even with David, without love his meditation would not have been sweet or fruitful. In fact, without love his meditation would have turned into sin.
In my youth there was a popular song that went like this:
Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage.
In the same way Love and Law go together. Love IS the fulfilling of the law, so claiming to keep the law without love makes for a false claim. Nor is fulfilling God’s law by the new man that God has placed in us anything else but a LOVING DELIGHT. It is not burdensome, for the Lawgiver, Christ Himself is living within. If we delight in Him and love Him, then we will love and delight in the will and law and word of our Triune God.
As I have heard some preachers say, “Can I get an ‘Amen’?”
According to dictionaries and concordances, in English we haveadjective from the verb ‘sanctify,’ andfrom the adjective ‘holy.’ There aresuch words as ‘sanct’ or’holify.’ There is only one word-group in both Hebrew and Greek for our two English nouns, holiness and sanctification. By anycount, the Hebrew family offor ‘holy’ (qadosh) occur some-hundredin the Old Testament, with nearly three-hundred references in the New Testamentthefamily for ‘holy’ (hagios).is crucial for any understanding of the subject.at it this way: Christ is our ‘sanctification/holiness’1 Corinthians 1:30, and we are ‘perfecting sanctification/holiness’ in 2 Corinthians 7:1. The Greek word in both texts is from the root word, hagios (see numbers 37-42 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
Perfecting holiness (epitelountes hagiosunen). Not merely negative goodness (cleansing), but aggressive and progressive (present tense of epiteleo) holiness, not a sudden attainment of complete holiness, but a continuous process (1 Thessalonians 3:13). ~ Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 4, p. 238
To answer further, here are comments from J. I. Packer:
The first aspect of the gift of sanctification is relational and positional….The second aspect of the gift is re-creative and progressive. In this sense, sanctification is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the believer throughout his earthly life whereby he grows in grace (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:14) and ismore and more in mind and heart and life into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ(Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:12). The verb ‘sanctify’ is clearly used with this application in John 17:17; 1 Thessalonians:23; Ephesians 5:26. ~ God’s Words, pp. 177-178
Further answer from C. H. Spurgeon:
The children of God are described as sanctified persons (Hebrews 10:14). God has set apart His people from before the foundation of the world, to be His chosen and peculiar inheritance. We are sanctified by God the Father. There is a second signification, which implies not the decree of the Father, but the work of the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit when He subdues our corruptions, imparts grace to us, and leads us onward in the divine walk and life of faith….My text does not touch character;touches position in the sight of God. We are not perfect in character, any one of us. We are only perfect in position.
—”Perfection in Faith,”
New Park Street Pulpit, 1859.
Spurgeon has severalon sanctification. In addition to the above, two others are,”Threefold Sanctification” (1862)”Perfect Sanctification” (1880). I do not see how anyone could be more scriptural and honest with this doctrine than Spurgeon. He covers the whole ground, including positional sanctification, practical holiness, and glorification (sinless perfection). Listen to his boldness:
The everlasting result of this effectual carrying out of the will of God (Hebrews 10:10) is that now God regards His people’s sins as expiated, and their persons as sanctified. Our sin is removed by expiation. Atonement has been offered, and its efficacy abides for ever. There is no need of any other expiation. Believers repent bitterly, but not in the way of expiation….Heaven is already ours in promise, in price, and in principle, and the preparation for it has also begun.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1880
Let’s not be harsh and contentious with each other over this doctrine. It should unite us, humblingin the dust. Abuses of the doctrine in the use of debatedor unethical conductnot sidetrack us from what Scripture says. Bible words in theircontexts are still the most important. Let us exalt the victorious Christ who has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.
We are holy in Christ. We are sanctified. We are already saints. We live out what the grace of God works in us. Nothing we do makes us ‘holy’ within itself.’s elect are justified eternally,no charge can ever be made against us:”It iswho, yea rather, thatrisen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:33-34). What more need be said? All glory to King Jesus!
A pilgrim seeking a better (sanctified) country,
And what if the world could actually recognize that we are followers of Jesus by the love we have “for one another”? Is this true of us?
—Cindy Hess Kasper, in Daily Bread
People may excessively intoxicate and glut themselves with worldly pleasures, but instead of being satisfied, they will in time become wearied of them to the point of loathing.
The pleasures of this world will vanish like a dream. David says the only true and solid joy in which the minds of men may rest cannot be found anywhere else but in God. None but the faithful who are content with God’s grace alone can be truly and perfectly happy.
Growing, ongoing goodness in others makes me cry. The goodness of God makes me cry. But the tears are tears of joy and awe.
“CHRIST died for you,” we are told by today’s preachers, “but He also died for Judas. It is what you do, what you add to His death that results in salvation.” Then Christ is not sufficient and He lied when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Also when He said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37) .
Every species of Arminianism and legalism is criminal, for it steals from the glory that belongs to CHRIST ALONE in salvation. The Arminian will say, “You have to accept His atoning death, or He died in vain as far as you are concerned.” The preacher of works will say, “Accept Christ but you must also do good works, hold out to the end, live by the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule [or whatever his favorite works are] — because if you don’t DO THESE THINGS, the work of CHRIST ALONE is not enough!” This is implied, if not spoken.
We are not Arminians, we are not legalists, nor are we antinomian. We believe it’s all of GRACE. What Christ did and what He is now doing is all our salvation. We cannot and dare not add anything to it. He is sufficient. True, a believer will live a good consecrated life, but that’s the evidence of salvation, not the condition.
A good preacher of grace was once asked, “Don’t you believe in good works?” He replied, “Yes, of course, I believe in good works. I also believe in chimneys, but I wouldn’t want a chimney to be the foundation of my house! Neither are good works the foundation of my spiritual house; they are the adornment, the evidence, but CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK ALONE IS MY FOUNDATION!”
“On Christ the SOLID ROCK I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”
No Works Added to Christ
(Where We Stand)
Wylie W. Fulton
“. . . The sinner . . . is not able to bear the infinite burden of God’s holy displeasure against sin, voluntarily, in love, and deliver himself. As far as man is concerned, there is no way out. He is lost. But what is impossible with man is possible with God! God is the Reconciler! He alone! For He was in Christ reconciling us unto Himself.”
—Herman Hoeksema, in “The Power of the Cross”
How wonderful is the love of God that from all eternity this was the secret, cherished purpose of His will—that He should manifest Himself in Christ Jesus, and bring poor, guilty, and helpless sinners unto Himself, that they should dwell in Him, and that He should dwell in them. How wonderful is the grace of God—that purpose of grace which was in God before the foundations of the world were laid, according to which He has given unto us eternal life in Christ Jesus, that not in creation, that not in the perfection and purity of angelic beings, who never fell, but that in the redemption, and sanctification, and glorification of sinners there should be made manifest the fullness of God.
—Adolph Saphir, on The Epistle to the Hebrews
“You cannot think too highly of the love of God. You cannot exaggerate how important you are in God’s estimation, how precious your salvation is unto Him, how great is His joy and His delight in His people, how culminating is that position which He has given unto Christ as the head of the church, and how this is the one thought in God from everlasting to everlasting. . . .”—A. Saphir