Friday, June 03, 2011

“Properties of Holiness” [B.T. Roberts reexamined]

“Properties of Holiness”

1 Peter 2:11

[B.T. Roberts reexamined]

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” [1 Peter 2:11]

***** In other words, “don’t surrender to the desires that fight against you.” [CEV]

“But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” [Romans 7:23]

“People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. [6] If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. [7] Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God's laws. [8] If we follow our desires, we cannot please God.” [Romans 8:5 – 8 CEV]

Shakespeare said, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Gold is the same in all countries by all names. The concepts of love and hate never change over time or culture.

“Holiness may present different manifestations in different circumstances, but its qualities are as unchanging as its Author. The views of men may vary, but it never does.” [BTR]

I. The error of indistinct notions.

A. Where do they come from?

1. People do NOT seriously consider what constitutes “holiness.”

(Ill. In the Philippines we had fun describing “snow” to the people who live in 80 degree weather year around. The closes we got was “frozen water” that falls from the sky. They all expressed amazement. When we got home, I sent them videos that winter.)

2. People are actively opposed to the concept of holiness.

B. Why are we not interested?

1. We tend no not feel the NEED to know... or it is a simple curiosity or the “latest and greatest” that sweeps the church every now and then.

2. It is just easier to NOT know. After all we all suspect holiness places restrictions, requirements, and responsibilities on us.

II. What is holiness?


A. “Holiness implies deliverance.” [BTR]

1. We must be delivered from self-indulgence.

***** Notice that “self” verse “Christ” is a running tension when we discuss holiness. It is because what we want is at war with what the Spirit wants. *****

2. We are told not to have any other “gods.” [see Exodus 20:3]

***** When Adam sinned, the core of that sin was that “you will be like God.” [see Genesis 3:5] Our trouble is we act and think like we are God... Christians are especially skillful at this. *****

B. Holiness implies we “cease to do evil; learn to do well.” [see Isaiah 1:16 – 17]

1. Jesus Christ can share His throne with nobody!

2. God will not share His glory with anyone or anything.

(Ill. My Dad in Indonesia arrived at a village where everyone was sad. They asked him to pray for the resurrection of a woman who had just died. God restored the life of this woman. The next year, when Dad visited the village, he asked about the woman and was informed that she had died about a week ago. Apparently she had lived her life terrified of evil spirits. So just in case they may have had something to do with her previous death she had taken a sacrifice out to the spirit house. When she came back to her house, she dropped dead at the threshold. Dad finished that story off with, “God will not share His glory!”)

(Ill. The early Christians were given a choice of dying or getting a licence from the state. To get a licence you simply had to show up at the official office, make a small sacrifice, and declare “Caesar is lord.” The Romans didn’t mind a person being a Christian as long as it was mixed and not exclusive. It is our opposition to everything that is false that gets us in trouble.)

C. Holiness implies deliverance from sin.

1. Holiness “is the opposite of sin, as light is of darkness.”

2. Here is the debate:

a. The “continuance of sin” (we “sin every day in word, deed, or thought”)

b. “Having every wrong propensity of the soul destroyed.” [BTR]

***** Propensity means “inclination or tendency.”*****

FOR continuance of sin:


1. “If they sin against you--for there is no one who does not sin..” [1 Kings 8:46]

RESPONSE: First, the context is the nation of Israel. The NATION sins against God. It is not in the individual sense.

Second, it can be aruged that it takes individuals to make up a nation (treated as in individual). However, according to Stuart, the word “sin” carries a conditional future sense.

“This teaches... that every one is liable to sin. It is possible that he may, but not necessary that he should sin.” [BTR]

“Sin remains but does not reign” [John Wesley]

Also, notice the verse starts with the controlling sense of the word “if.” Another way to say this is that it is not necessary to sin.

2. “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” [Proverbs 20:9]

RESPONSE: This is used as a judgment against those who seek holiness. It suggest that it is impossible to have a pure heart and be clean from sin. It also suggest that those who seek or claim so are arrogant (proud).

However, David prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:10]

What David did, and we are doing is to totally depend on God to do this. Denying the possibility of a clean heart denies the power of God at work in us through salvation and sanctification.

James claims this is our responsibility: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” [James 4:8]

3. “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” [Romans 7:14]

RESPONSE: Roberts argues that Paul is referring to himself “prior to his conversion.”

However, I think Paul was addressing the culture of the day... Stoic philosophy which held to “fatalism.”

Here’s the thought... we are under sin and can’t do anything but manage it, dampen the consequences, and hope for the best. This is what we call a “carnal” Christian.

His solution is found in Jesus and the occupation and help of the Holy Spirit.


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” [Romans 8:1 – 2]

Thus it becomes necessary of us to depend on Christ and submit to the Holy Spirit. (“Them’s fighting words.”) However, he goes on to explain and expand those two ideas with the next two parallel verses.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, [4] in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” [Romans 8:3 – 4]

So Jesus condemned that sin principle.. “propensity” that comes naturally. So we are not fatalistically under the dominion of sin. The freedom then leads us to the ability to “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

4. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” [1 John 1:8 – 10]

RESPONSE: It is arrogant (proud) to claim that we can never sin. Naturally speaking we are draw, by default, to sin. We are warned to not trust our own morality, dispositions, and will-power.

However, “Being convinced that we are sinners, both by nature and by practice, he assures us that, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [BTR]

III. Now what?

A. Question: are you, at the present time, saved from sin?

“You may have been once. That cannot help you now. It only makes your condition still more deplorable, if you are still under the dominion of sin.” [BTW]

***** “False holiness” is the idea that we are not delivered from all sin (only its eternal consequences) and have to put up with it in this life. *****

B. Action: “Seek deliverance at once. Give no quarters. Let every sin die.”

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