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September 3, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Greg Stiekes finishes a series entitled “Ministry According to II Corinthians” with a message titled “Toward the Completion of Our Holiness,” from II Corinthians 6:14-7:1.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today on The Daily Platform were continuing a study series called ministry according to second Corinthians today speaker is seminary professor Dr. Greg Stites, the title of his message is toward the completion of our holiness from second Corinthians 614 through 71. I think your Bibles. Please let's open to second Corinthians chapter 6 and ready to begin in verse 14.
Let's begin by reading it. Keep the words appear on the screen as we look at this message, under the title toward the completion of our holiness. Starting in verse 14, Paul says do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness.
What accord has Christ's with Khalil or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever. What agreement has the temple of God with idols, for we are the temple of the living God. As God said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch. No unclean thing, then I will welcome you and I will be a father you and you should be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty, and Paul says since we have these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the body, and spirit bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God holiness. Of course a separation it's separating from that which is evil and cleaving to that which is good. Cutting yourself away from that which does not delight the heart of God, and embracing only that which pleases him. People like this idea today of separation by the church.
They like separation. It sounds too much like legalism.
We can ask Lane why is legalism. We just know we'll like it, so must be legalism we don't like this idea of separation.
So rather than holiness as separation.
Think about it for second in the idea of the covenant of marriage case of the bride and the groom pledge their love and devotion to each other in what I say.
Following the typical vows they will say something like, and forsaking all others, that separation forsaking all others be faithful to him or faithful to her as long as you both shall live.
Nobody seems to mind that language in the vows that you take at the altar when you're married, so the newlyweds come back in the honeymoon and they set up their house and the young wife walks and her husband study and he's got a picture of her on his desk which he expects, but next to that picture is a picture of one of his old girlfriends. So what you think the wife is to say no. Oh, isn't that sweet November meeting her before. Tell me a little bit about her that how the conversations can go probably just an essay.
What is that is that a joke this is not very funny. Some you guys you get married the summer guys. I dare you to try this guy. I double dare you see what happens if you'd like lots. It's like just a picture wheezing out. Love you. You're such a legalist and Aliza is just a little picture we would never think of doing that would be in our mind we sing about marriage, why can't we figure out the same thing when it comes to our loyalty and her devotion to God.
We keep up appearances well enough, but we flirt with sin, we tolerate will doses of it. We make allowances for ourselves. We don't like making allowances for the people we make a lot of allowances ourselves. Why do we know instinctively that we simply do not convolute certain relationships in Armagh in our lives but we don't think that God minds in the contemporary world.
Holiness has really fallen on hard times because the idea of separation is fallen on hard times affect little while ago a cabin to what young some of you know, read a little book that he called the hole in our holiness, which he begins by pointing out that holiness in American Christianity is really on the decline is not the first point this out. In fact, before I shave down this message up at the time. There is a lot of discussion wanted to have about what is going on in in the writing evangelical writing about the decline of holiness.
But this will suffice today where Kevin Young says the hole in our holiness is that we really don't care much about it. Passionate exhortation to pursue gospel driven holiness is barely heard in most of our churches is not that we don't talk about sin or encourage decent behavior, too many sermons are basically self-help seminars in becoming a better view that moralism, he says, and it's not helpful. He says I'm talking about the failure of Christians, especially younger generations and especially those most disdainful of religion and legalism to take seriously. One of the great names of our redemption and one of the required evidences for eternal life are holiness, what is the Bible site without which no one will see the Lord. If you look at every kind of doctrinal system. I'm thinking of Catholicism. I'm thinking of a Pentecostalism. If you take a lot of the diagnosis of that resource themselves at some point in the Scripture you always have a point at which the journey of salvation begins in one way or another. The person who is a believer and will trying to earn their way to heaven. In one way or another is following this path the holiness of your in Catholic theology and you reach that holiness level before you die your call the state in in Pentecostalism. There's a crisis that has to happen in the in the preaching and the service every week to get you up there again and you fall down and you come back to sunny you get up there again. Every model has its method of showing you how to become holy. But nobody denies that holiness is the endgame because we need to be with God, and without holiness no one will see the Lord when I was in seminary in the 1990s I read a book by James means, called effective pastors for new Century it it's really an interesting book. The summer I taught a demon course at another school and I had them as a project.
Read James means is book that was written before the year 2000. Like 1998, 1999 and have them look at our culture and report on how close he came to determining what was going to happen in the future, and evangelical is in the book is full of these prophecies but he saying look I were trending and this is what you need to be as as pastors. If this is the trend that's going to relate us into the new millennium and so he's attempting to describe the state of the church as we head into the 21st century and offer advice for church leaders on what to do about so in a chapter that he titled syncretism.
Pluralism, eclecticism, what a ride means discusses neopaganism. He writes neopaganism to sting, which is itself in the old kind by the baptism of the church, the lifestyle of innumerable professing Christians differs little from that of the practical atheists of our culture. Indeed, in most cases their lifestyle is indistinguishable from that of the unregenerate and I will save you the evidence for that.
He walks through is very discouraging. But he says more than 40 million Americans claim a born-again experience, yet it is difficult to imagine a time when so many professions of faith have produced so little evidence of transformation and spiritual vitality in daily lives. This passage here in second Corinthian chapter 6 calls us to holiness unit as of the beginning of the passage. It starts with the words, do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers and it ends with this statement, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God is not talking about our standing with the father positionally. We understand we are already made perfect in Christ because were united with Christ, we come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. We are a new creation in him and what we are is not yet revealed. We understand that what he's telling us here to do is to take what is our position in Christ and live it out practically to live in a manner consistent with the standing that God has given to us in Christ, and he urges us to perfect our holiness to bring it to maturity to bring it to completion. I've entitled the sermon toward the completion of our holiness because I don't think the Bible teaches will ever get there on this earth will never become holy and perfectly obedient, pure, and every thought and pure in every motivation, and pure in every action. In fact, if you're one of these people who think you're kinda getting close to that goal. You know, don't tell the rest of us is just to make us discouraged. But if you're like me, were waiting for that new creation to be fully revealed in the eschaton to be like Christ. We see him as he is. Until then, Paul says unity be on this path to practical holiness of this message is for the whole church.
In this text, but I don't need to explain you how devastating it is to your ministry when you was a minister, a counselor, teacher, pastor, or not living a holy life that is above reproach how the word of God is the means how God's people are discouraged how the lost are turned away from the gospel how the enemies of the truth rejoice when it is discovered that we are not practicing what we preach that we are not striving for holiness. Keeping a safe distance from sin and relative closeness to God even if believers in general are struggling with holiness. They must see its in the people helping them walk with God. They have to see it in us.
So this is a matter of even greater urgency.
I think for those preparing for ministry was why think it fits so beautiful with the theme we chosen for this year which is that aroma of Christ which goes before us in our ministry. In fact, those of you who are called to pastoral ministry there really in the New Testament only two bases or your authority in the church. The first is the word of God and the second is your holy life was at this only two bases for your pastoral authority in first Peter five. He says you can't drive people. He said you can't be domineering, demanding, pigheaded, but the King James is awarding a lording it over the flock. He says you have to lead your people and you do this, he says through your example being examples of the flock in this passage Paul is convincing us of the importance of holiness, and he's charging us to live a holy life. I think the Paul urges us to move toward the completion of our holiness by embracing three essential truths about holiness itself. One of these essential truths will unpack the text in the first one really covers all of the verses that are in chapter 6 the first one is that holiness is the basis for fellowship with God.
Everything he says in verses 12 the rest of the chapter verse 14. Sorry for the rest of chapter is about fellows we got in the central illustration he uses is the idea of the temple structure built and centered in the middle of Israel to represent God's dwelling with his people in fellowship. Paul begins in verse 14 do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers is a reference to God's command of Deuteronomy 2210, where God says don't plow your field with an ox and a donkey at the same time because your time together two different kinds of animals that behave differently and want to go different directions. If you're a believer in Christ you have a different worldview, a different set of lobs a different and a different hope. If you hope it all is in a believer different hope that a person who does not know Christ. You are living to glorify God. They are living for something else. You're not innocent go the same direction. So if you join them in the same mission in the same goal, you will find yourself compromising your own call to glorify God. This exactly was happening in the church at Corinth, Paul dealt with them because they were allowing people who did not desire to glorify God to be in fellowship with them in their church and was compromising their mission. He says in verse trillions five I told you not to associate with sexually immoral people. But then he says immediately after this right. I don't mean the sexually immoral people of the world or the greedy and swindlers are idolaters since then you would need to go out of the world. Paul says I don't mean you can't make friends with them and love them and give the gospel that old New Testament is full of that charge. You're supposed to do that holiness is not isolation.
It's not insulation from unbelievers is a whole other issue. Some Christians get the idea that in order to be holy. They can't ever be seen with sinners or have close relationships or fellowship with them.
That's not holiness. That's what the New Testament refers to his Pharisees and the Pharisees criticized Jesus because he was associating with sinful people. We understand that but on the other hand associating with unholy people cannot mean that I'm down in the pit with that living out their lifestyle and their choices. There's a version of evangelical gospel witness that that sounds like that living out their lifestyle, their choices highly. I need to live as if I'm outside of the pit in the light so that I can see clearly to help others out of it or the language of Jude to snatch them out of the fire as an act of mercy with fear while hating the government stained by the flesh. So I love them and I desire to reach them, but I cannot plow with them if we minister to them in a way that compromises or shrouds or hides the clarity of the gospel of Christ which is the only thing that has the power to rescue them and we are not ministering biblically. We are compromising our holiness. So after saying this, Paul asked a series of rhetorical questions that logically lead us to his conclusion.
He's doing this all throughout his letters as any Z makes a big deal about this this this question and answer kind of method that leads us surprise his conclusion. It is a masterly here. He says for what partnership has righteousness with with lawlessness and the answer is none that usually answer that question or what fellowship has light with darkness. None.
Those are two completely different things. What a court has Christ with Pelayo at the Hebrew word that refers to a dishonorable person. It might even be a reference to Satan were not present. Sure we're identified with Christ. How can we, at the identify with Satan or somebody who is like him at the same time we can't, it's impossible or what portion is a believer share with an unbeliever. What agreement has the temple of God with idols and here he jumps.
Notice in the text to the theological foundation for that last question, for we are the temple of the living God.
And here is an example that stretches back all the way to the Old Testament where the Jews struggled with idolatry when wicked kings like Ahaz, for instance, were corrupting the temple. They were actually changing the blueprint of the altar. Ahaz went over to Syrians on altar. He liked a lot better than the one got a design in the Old Testament written in in the Cheraw and so he comes back he says okay here's a blueprint you change the altar, bringing idolatry in the Lord's temple or going through the motions of worshiping the Lord in his temple, and then going off to one of the high places in the land and worshiping another God barren Paul says no there is no agreement between the temple of God and idols. And guess what he says you are the new temple because God dwells in you, the glory of God through Jesus Christ fills you as believers and fills the church and believers together and we gather together with the indwelling Christ is, how can you come together and worship the God who dwells among you who is with you and then go off into the world and commit sin.
It's unthinkable and this is exactly what Paul has already told the Corinthians. Remember in first read in chapter 6, and for sure the insects Paul is dealing with men in the church were participating in the pagan practice of temple prostitution you're familiar with these words. I think he says do not know that your bodies are the members of Christ. Your yoked with him. Jesus, I take my yoke upon you, so I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute. I think this is one of the put Kaiser. He says Megan I Todd Nate never even come in the realm of possibility never or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her for as it is written, the two will become one flesh, but he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him and he said you can't have it both ways and so he says in first trillion 618 Lee from sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but sexual and rep reality it if you could if you practice that he says you sin against your own body or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, you are not your own. You are bought with a price to glorify God in your body.
We grow up, if you grew up in the church you grow up hearing this preached a lot and applied all kinds of different things that whoever was breaking didn't want you to get involved into. But the issue here is the fellowship you have with God and it convolute's are fellowship with God before fellow shipping with that which God hates why because we are separated people by definition, God dwells with us. We are in fellowship with him.
It's a wonderful thing like that marriage covenant. I would never dream of being unfaithful or going outside of that covenant. Why in the world. What I think of doing with God and this is exactly where Paul is headed in second Corinthian six. How does God or how does he come to the conclusion that we should be separated onto God and from the world. Well, if we pick back up here in verse 16 he says, as God said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst and be separate from them, says the Lord in touch. No unclean thing, and I will welcome you and I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty seven times your notice. Paul reiterates the promise that God will dwell with us.
I will make my dwelling among them.
I will walk among them. I will be there God shall be my people. I will welcome you. I will be a father you shall be sons and daughters to be, says the Lord Almighty. Paul is reaching into the Hebrew Scriptures are Old Testament and he's drawing out a mixture of promises maybe from memory here because he's drawing together all kinds of taxa is it's really fascinating to walk through the different text.
He draws from Leviticus 26 Ezekiel 32nd Cinque second Samuel seven you you notice there. I will be a father to him. Speaking of the Davidic kings primarily we find phrases from Exodus 6, Exodus 29 Jeremiah 31 Isaiah 52. They're all in here like a cosmetology collection of texts from the Old Testament we have time to do here. Of course, but if you want to fully appreciate this taxa second Corinthians, you need to find out where each of those verses is coming from and and go back to the Old Testament and read those verses in their context, but you'll find that all of these promises speak of the same thing.
God's promise of his presence and personal, loving relationship with his people as they walk with him. Paul's drawing out all those places in the Old Testament were God has made this promise, and so he says in verse 17 therefore go out from their midst right in the hearts of these promises be separate touch.
No unclean thing. In other words, you see it visually here right in the middle of these promises. The promise of God that he will dwell among his people assumes that we are the kind of people who have separated ourselves from sin and onto him like a holy temple of the Old Testament, we are personally in fellowship with God and we are able to be that instrument that instrument that God uses to bring others into fellowship with God is not just about our personal walk is about our ministry. The basis for that fellowship is our personal holiness and so that is the first really big idea.
The next room to cover be very brief by the way, cut off a lot of material here, but that's a huge idea. We'll think about it we take for granted the fact that God saved us were in fellowship with him.
Christ is interceding is interceding is before us.
The interceding for us before the throne.
One day will be with the Lord forever and praise God for all of that but he wants us to be flashing this out along the way he wants us to be moving toward. We are ultimately going to be even before we get there and that's why he's encouraging us to move toward this maturity in our holiness.
But not only is holiness a basis for our fellowship with God. We also see here that holiness is accomplished through spiritual cleansing of flash and spirits. I wanted to highlight this all the verses we've already read are given to us. Really, I think, so that we can make sense out of verse one of chapter 7 so he says since we have these promises beloved that is the promises that God will dwell of this holy people, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the body, and spirit in us out there for just a second.
If you cleanse something you wash away what is undesirable. You wash away the dirt you wash away the filth and the grime and we have to see sin in our lives is something that is unclean, something that is undesirable to God. In fact, undesirable is not a strong enough word God hates sin.
Why did Christ have to come and die for, so much so that he cannot dwell with it. So much so the Lord Jesus had to take our sins upon him. In order for God to keep his promise to dwell with us.
So the Lord is asking us to look into our hearts and examine our lives and identify those areas. We are falling into sin. We are not glorifying God with our lives and to determine by God's grace.
What we need to wash away. We need to cleanse practically speaking, is not talking about Christ cleansing work is talking about our practicality and making it real for us.
Even now we may struggle with those sins and we mainly need to learn how to cleanse ourselves is, I'm not touching on here. There's a whole other conversation. How does this work out in the actuality of it, we mean it that we may need help and encouragement from others who can encourage us and hold us accountable. That's one of the reasons we are the body of Christ.
But notice that Paul says that we should cleanse ourselves every defilement of body and spirit, and what he means here is that we should not be satisfied until he discovered every sin that needs to be cleanse.
Whether it is a sin of the flesh, or a sin of the spirit, not as a lot of you know it's easy to focus on the sins of the flesh, laziness, drunkenness, stealing, lying, immorality, sexual sins, murder, substance abuse, lack of prayer gossip evil speaking, cursing this obedience to authority and we could go on and on their device lists in the New Testament. These things and they are sins that God hates and we have to cleanse ourselves from them but got equally hates sins of the spirit.
A lot of you may be familiar with Jerry Bridges but that he wrote of years ago called respectable sins, and maybe you seen that but maybe you've even studied it it's it's a really good study he names ungodliness.
He says that the at heart. At the heart of the issue, anxiety, frustration, discontentment and thankfulness. Pride and selfishness, lack of self-control and patience.
Irritability, anger, judge mentalism envy, jealousy, worldliness he says is a respectable first because they're easier to hide. I can look good and still harbor these in my heart and also the respectable because everybody's deals of the sins of everybody tells allies and everybody struggles with worry in and out, and so forth and so is the kindness and we can share with everybody and it sort of takes on this respectability.
He says we have to remember God hates those sins just as much as the others. Some of them may have deeper implications for us.
We commit God hates all sin and were not serious about holiness until our standard no longer is what other people think we are, but what God knows us to be and we are equally dependent on his grace to cleanse ourselves from these two identify them in our lives to confess them and by God's grace to do what it takes to get rid of these ugly sins while trusting in his strength and power to mold us into the image of Christ is is is is it takes just as much of our concentration to do this, by the grace of God as it does to any sin that we can commit externally, although as I said some of those have deeper implications that are impacting us very deeply. God wants us to take holiness very seriously and finally, very briefly, there is another essential truth about holiness that I think we should at least touch on this morning and that's at the very end of this text.
Holiness is motivated by the fear of God. Notice that there we recognize our sinfulness and strive to complete our holiness because we fear God in the right sense of that term.
He says in the very end of verse one up one there wasn't mean to fear God to bring holiness in the completion because of the fear of God. I really like how George Guthrie puts in his commentary and I next according him ice or rework to see his commentary little bit here to to make it a little easier to understand. But he says finding ourselves in the fear of God means that we are motivated by an appropriate reference and offer God because we reflect on God's mighty acts, especially what he has done for us through Christ, and we believe him by faith, realizing that we, even though we are loving. Lee embraced by God. We really deserved eternal condemnation. He says that thought should produce in us a grave and profound respect for God.
The fear of God is not merely being cautious about God because watching us and neither is it living in dread of God because we know are saved for eternity by Jesus Christ is the attitude we have when we reflect upon all that God is and all that he has done for us and we are appropriately sobered by it and we are more and more devastated that we still sin. We learn to detest the ugliness of it into your and more for the final deliverance from its and from its very presence. These are the essential truths about holiness that I think we have to understand and embrace. If we are going to live and minister as holy people we have to understand that holiness is the basis for our fellowship with God and that holiness extends both to our flesh and our spirit and that it is highly motivated by this profound respect we have for the father. I think the aroma of Christ is in part an aroma of holiness.
If we are not moving toward it. We are a stench to God apart from his son and we are out of fellowship with God were believers were out of fellowship and we have nothing pleasing of an aroma to offer to the world that demonstrated the beautiful transformation is possible through Christ. So I think we need to take Paul's urging here and take seriously this charge to move toward the maturity of our personal holiness for God's glory for the good of his church, you would listing to a message preached in seminary chapel.
Dr. Greg Starks seminary professor at Bob Jones University. Join us again next week for more preaching and teaching the Bob Jones University Chapel platform