Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Particular Redemption

In light of Resurrection Sunday next week, I want to take this and next time to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As we begin our time together this morning, I want to ask you a question.

Who did Jesus die for?

Some say, “He died for everyone.”

Others say, “He died for the elect.”

Those not wanting to address the issue say, “He died for both--the elect and the non-elect.”

Which is it?

It’s amazing at how many answers come to this question but Scripture teaches there is only one.

And to answer this question this morning, I would like to invite you to ake God’s Word and turn with me to Ephesians chapter 1.

Our text is verse 7-8a.

Ephesians 1:7-8a says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

Redemption is at the heart of the Word of God.

It is its theme.

Both the Old and New Testament reflect God’s redemption of man.

In Psalm 111:9, the psalmist says, “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.”

Psalm 130:7-8 says, “O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. 8 And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.”

In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

As you can see this is a recurring theme which encompasses both the Old and New Testament.

As we look at Ephesians 1:7-8a we see this theme mentioned as one of the great spiritual blessings that has been given to God’s people.

I remind you that Paul is reflecting on how God has blessed us in verses 3-14.

He first chose us.

Second, He adopted us.

When did He do all of this? “Before the foundation of the world” (v.4).

And now we see these first two blessing carried out in “redemption.”

As we look at this wonderful subject this morning, we are going to see 4 features of our redemption.

Notice the first feature in verse 7.

He says, “in Him.”

These two words introduce us to the Redeemer.


The Redeemer is Jesus Christ

“In Him” is a phrase that occurs throughout the book of Ephesians.

We find it in vv.4, 7, 9, 10, 13; 3:12; 4:21.

It is also a phrase that refers back to the “Beloved” in verse 6.
God “bestowed His grace on us in the Beloved.”

“Beloved” is a term used by God the Father of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Jesus was baptized by John, Matthew 3:17 says, “And behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

At His transfiguration, we hear these same words recorded in Matthew 17:5. It says, 
While Peter was speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’”

Paul referred to Jesus with this same term in Colossians 3:13-14 when he said, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

As Paul uses this term (agapo) in Ephesians 1:6 it “indicates the One who is in the state of being loved by God” (MacArthur).

“Beloved” is a perfect participle in the Greek.

The perfect tense speaks of action completed in the past but having present results.

Kenneth Wuest says, “It speaks of the fact that God the Father has always loved God the Son with an absolute love which is a permanent attitude on His part” (Word Studies in the Greek NT, 39).

Jesus is Referred to as the Redeemer Elsewhere in Scripture

In Luke 2:38 when Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord, Anna “began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption in Jerusalem.”

In Galatians 2:20 when Paul speaks of being crucified with Christ he says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Notice also in verse 7:



The Recipients Are the Elect

They are those who are “saints” and “faithful in Christ Jesus” (v.1).

They are those who have been “blessed...with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (v.3).

They are those whom God “chose” for Himself “before the foundation of the world” (v.4).

They are those who have been “ adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (v.5).

Based on that context we can say with full assurance that...

Jesus Died for the Redemption of the Elect

Matt Slick, who is the founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry writes, “Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many'; John 10:11,15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bear the sins of many (not all)” [].

Matthew 1:21 says that He came to “save His people from their sins.”

Who are “His people”? It could be a reference to the Jews because “salvation is from the Jews” (Jn.4:22). But I believe it has a specific reference to the elect—those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4). To limit it to a nationality of people ignores what Paul said to the Gentiles in Acts 13:46-48.

He says to the Jews: “Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 "For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.' " 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Jesus came to save those who were “appointed to eternal life” before the world began.

What about those passages that say speak of Christ’s redemption being for the whole “world” or for “all”?

John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

1 John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

1 Timothy 2:3-6 says, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”

These three verses are speaking “of Christ’s work in general terms...and was to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews alone.

Such phrases as ‘the world,’ ‘all men,’ ‘all nations,’ and ‘every creature’ were used by the New Testament writers to emphatically correct this mistake.

These expressions are intended to show that Christ died for all men without distinction (i.e., He died for Jews and Gentiles alike), but they are not intended to indicate that Christ died for all men without exception (i.e., He did not die for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner)” (David Steele, The Five Points of Calvinism, 50).

Charles Spurgeon said, “The Arminians say, 'Christ died for all men.' Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, 'No, certainly not.' We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer 'No.' They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, 'No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?' and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, 'No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.' We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.”

Scripture does speak of Christ’s saving work in definite terms and shows that it was intended to save a particular people, namely, those given to Him by the Father.

We already looked at Matthew 1:21 where Matthew says that Jesus came to “save His people from their sins.”

Matthew 20:28 says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Matthew 26:28 says, “For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

John 11:49-53 says, “But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish." 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.”

Romans 8:32-34 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”

Hebrews 9:15 says, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”

David Steele writes, “Election itself saved no one; it only marked out particular sinners for salvation. Those chosen by the Father and given to the Son had to be redeemed if they were to be saved. In order to secure their redemption, Jesus Christ came into the world and took upon Himself human nature so that He might identify Himself with His people and act as their legal representative or substitute. Christ, acting on behalf of His people, kept God’s law perfectly and thereby worked out a perfect righteousness which is imputed or credited to them the moment they are brought to faith in Him. Through what He did, they are constituted righteous before God. They are also freed from all guilt and condemnation as the result of what Christ suffered for them. Through His substitutionary sacrifice, He endured the penalty of their sins and thus removed their guilt forever. Consequently, when His people are joined to Him by faith, they are credited with perfect righteousness and are freed from all guilt and condemnation. They are saved, not because of what they themselves have done or will do, but solely on the grounds of Christ’s redeeming work” (39).

Look again at Ephesians 1:7 where we see now:


It says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood.”

The Meaning of Redemption

“Redemption” Gr.apolutrosis, it literally means, “purchasing with a price” (Rienecker).

This word was used when paying the necessary ransom “to set free a prisoner of war, a captive, or a debtor who was sold into slavery” (Boles, K. L. (1993). Galatians & Ephesians. The College Press NIV commentary, Eph 1:7).

When Paul uses this term in Ephesians 1:7 he is referring to “paying the required ransom to God for the release of a person from bondage.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross paid that price for every elect person enslaved by sin, buying them out of the slave market of iniquity (see notes on 2 Cor. 5:18, 19).

The price of redemption was death (cf. Lev. 17:11; Rom. 3:24, 25; Heb. 9:22; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Rev. 5:8–10) [MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (Eph 1:7)].

Kenneth Wuest says, “The story of redemption can be told in three Greek words; agoraz, "to buy in the slave market" (I Cor. 6:20, 7:23, 30, II Pet. 2:1, Rev. 5:9); the Lord Jesus bought us in the slave market of sin, the ransom price, His blood; we are his bondslaves; exagoraz, "to buy out of the slave market, to buy off, to buy for one's self" (Gal. 3:13, 4:5); the redeemed are the possession of the Lord Jesus forever, and will never be put up for sale in any slave market again; lutro "to liberate by payment of ransom" (Tit. 2:14, I Pet. 1:18); the redeemed are set free from the guilt and power of sin now, to be finally set free from the presence of sin at the Rapture” (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader, Eph 1:7).

The Price of Redemption

It was “through His blood.”

“The price of redemption is ‘His blood.’ It cost the blood of the Son of God to buy men back from the slave market of sin” (John MacArthur, Ephesians, 21).

Hebrews 9:11-14 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “ Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

These two verses speak of the manner by which our redemption was secured—it gives us the price of redemption.

When you hear the terms “the blood of Christ,” it is speaking of His death.

Romans 5:9-10 says, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

We have seen the Redeemer, the recipients, and the redemption. Notice now:

THE REMISSION (vv.7d-8a)

Paul says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

Paul says that His redemption accomplished “the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

The Meaning of Forgiveness (v.7d)

“This redemption is defined as ‘the forgiveness of sins."

The word ‘forgiveness’ is aphesis from aphiemi, ‘to send from one's self, to send away, to bid go away or depart.’

The noun aphesis, used in relation to ‘sins,’ means ‘a release, the letting them go as if they had not been committed, thus, forgiveness, a remission of their penalty’ (Thayer).

Trench says that the image under lying the verb is that of releasing a prisoner (Isaiah 61:1), or letting go, as of a debt (Deut. 15:3)” (Wuest).

John MacArthur writes, “Israel's greatest holy day was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest selected two unblemished sacrificial goats. One goat was killed, and his blood was sprinkled on the altar as a sacrifice. The high priest placed his hands on the head of the other goat, symbolically laying the sins of the people on the animal. The goat was then taken out deep into the wilderness, so far that it could never find its way back. In symbol the sins of the people went with the goat, never to return to them again (Lev. 16:7–10).

But that enactment, beautiful and meaningful as it was, did not actually remove the people's sins, as they well knew. It was but a picture of what only God Himself in Christ could do. As mentioned above, aphi i (from which forgiveness comes) basically means to send away. Used as a legal term it meant to repay or cancel a debt or to grant a pardon. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ actually took the sins of the world upon His own head, as it were, and carried them an infinite distance away from where they could never return. That is the extent of the forgiveness of our trespasses” (22).

Forgiveness is the results of the “redemption through His blood.”

Jesus alone forgives sin.

You sins are not taken away by some act you perform; they are forgiven as a result of the redemption of Christ.

It is clear in the NT that Jesus had the authority to forgive sin.

In Matthew 9:1-6, it says, “Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. 2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? 5 "Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'? 6 "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—then He said* to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." 7 And he got up and went home.”

In Acts 13:38-39 Paul said to the Jews, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”

This was clearly the message of the early church.

After His resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 24:46-47, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

In the OT, there is a passage that tells us:

God alone forgives sin

Isa.43:25 says, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

This passage sounds like a contradiction with the others we read about Jesus forgiving sin.

There is no contradiction here—God alone forgives sin and Jesus is God the second member of the Trinity.

Jesus accomplished redemption for those chosen by God before the foundation of the world. As a result, they are forgiven of their “trespasses.”

The Meaning of Trespasses (v.7d)

“Trespasses” Gr.paraptoma, from parapipto. It means “to fall beside a person or thing, to slip aside.”

The noun form paraptoma means “to fall beside or near something; a laspe or deviation from truth and uprightness, a sin, a misdeed, a trespass” (Wuest).

Marvin Vincent says, “In classical Greek the verb is often used of intentional falling, as of throwing one's self upon an enemy; and this is the prevailing sense in biblical Greek, indicating reckless and willful sin (see 1 Chron. 5:25; 10:13; 2 Chron. 26:18; 29:6, 19; Ezek. 14:13; 18:26). It does not, therefore, imply palliation or excuse. It is a conscious violation of right, involving guilt, and occurs therefore, in connection with the mention of forgiveness (Rom. 4:25; 5:16; Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:1, 5)” [Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament].

Paul mentions this word again in 2:1 when he says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”

This word occurs 20 times in six different forms in the NT and is predominantly translated “transgression.”

The Decree of God’s Forgiveness (vv.7d-8a)

We have all of this “according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

Kenneth Wuest says, “This forgiveness is "according to the riches of His grace." The words "according to" are the translation of kata, a preposition which in its local meaning has the idea of "down."

The word "down" speaks of domination. The word "domination" speaks of control.
The degree of this forgiveness was controlled, dominated by the riches, (ploutos) wealth, abundance, plenitude of God's grace.

This forgiveness is therefore a complete, an unqualified, an unchanging one, since it is controlled by the plenitude of God's grace, and that plenitude is infinite in proportion” (41).

The idea of “lavished” (perisseuo) means, “to exceed a fixed number or measure, to be over and above a certain number or measure, to exist or be at hand in abundance” (Thayer).

“God’s grace—like His love, holiness, power, and all His other attributes—is boundless. It is far beyond our ability to comprehend or describe, yet we know it is according to the riches of His infinite grace that He provides forgiveness” (MacArthur, 24).


“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”

The Redeemer is Jesus; the recipients are the elect, the redemption and remission was by His blood.

Have you experienced that redemption and remission that the Redeemer provides?

I want to invite you to turn to Him today.

Jesus is the only Redeemer that can save you from your sin.

Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

If you will repent of your sin and turn to Him He will save you and grant you forgiveness and eternal life.


What do you think of when you hear the question, “Who did Jesus die for?”

When Paul says, “In Him, we have redemption through His blood,” who are the “we?”

What does redemption and forgiveness have in common?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Train Yourself to Be Godly

We are currently in a study on “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

In our last three messages, we have talked about how holiness is not only our standing in Jesus Christ, but also how we are to live everyday.

In our time together this morning, I want us to consider a phrase that Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:7.

If you have your Bibles, and I trust that you do, turn with me to 1 Timothy chapter 4.

Paul is writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, instructing him on matters of church life.

In chapter 1 he begins by instructing Timothy to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith” (v.4)

Later in verses 18-19, he challenges him to “fight the good fight of faith, keeping faith and a good conscience.”

In chapter 2, he urges that “entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men” (v.1) and that “the men in every place...pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (v.8).

Then in verses 9 and 10 he says he wants the women to “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim for godliness” (vv.9-10).

They are also to “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” (v.11) when the church assembles nor are they allowed “to teach or exercise authority over a man” (v.12) since Eve was created after Adam (v.13) and she “fell into transgression” (v.14) leading the entire human race into sin.

In chapter 3, he says those who serve as elders and deacons are to be qualified before they serve.

The purpose of this instruction was so that everyone would “know conduct [themselves] in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (v.15).

Now as we approach chapter 4, Paul gives Timothy further instruction.

This instruction which began in verses 3 and 4 of chapter 1 is now resumed in verses 1-10.

These false teachers would arise and cause “some [to] fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

So Timothy is to “have nothing to do with their worldly fables fit only for old women.”

What does that mean?

Simply, he is to avoid all false teaching.

To “have nothing to do with” (paraiteomai) means he is ““to refuse, decline, shun, reject, beg off, get excused, avoid.”

In short, it is a strong word, meaning “reject,” or “put away” (2 Tim. 2:23; Titus 3:10).

The next word, “Worldly” (bebelous) can also be translated “profane.” This is a word that describes what is radically separate from what is holy. It could be translated “unhallowed,” and refers to anything that contradicts the Word of God.

“Fables” (mutheous). Hiebert uses the adjective to picture the “myths” as “nothing but silly fictions, fit only for senile, childish old crones to chatter about.”

Timothy is directed to order those who promulgate these myths to cease this and to put their minds on the gospel.

Not for one moment is [Timothy] to treat them seriously, discuss them, [or] argue against them.

Paul states this again in chapter 6, verse 20 when he says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge.”

He states it two more times in his 2 letter to him.

2 Timothy 2:16, which says, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness.”

And verse 23, “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

Some false teaching is best ignored rather than discussed.

We have to be very careful what we expose ourselves to in terms of teaching.

John MacArthur writes in his commentary on this verse, saying, “The mind is a precious thing, and God expects those in leadership to have a pure mind, one saturated with His Word. There is no place for foolish, silly myths that are in reality the doctrines of demons. The excellent minister maintains his conviction and his clarity of mind by exposing himself to the Word of God, not to demonic lies that assault the Bible.”

He doesn't meditate on error but on truth!

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

2 Timothy 2:16 says, "But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness."

Paul says later in 1 Timothy 6:11, that Timothy is to “flee from these things.”

What things?

In this context, the love of money but the chapter includes unhealthy teaching.

In fleeing from these things, he is to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

This, as we have been stating for the past three weeks, is a “pursuit.”

We are to pursue holiness or more specifically as 1 Timothy 6:11 states, “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

This is no different than what Peter tells his readers in 2 Peter 1:5-7 when he says, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love."

So in avoiding one thing, Timothy is to pursue another.

Going back to 1 Timothy 4:7, not only is he to reject false teaching, he is on the other hand to “discipline [himself] for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (vv.7b-8).

So in contrast to following the vapid vagaries of the false teachers, Timothy was to seek after God.

Timothy is not to occupy his time and attention with them, "but rather cultivate piety, and seek to become more holy" (Barnes).

Notice the last part of verse 7:

Timothy is to “discipline [himself] for the purpose of godliness” (v.7b).

His attention is to be on his soul.

That is not to say he is not to take care of his physical body.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

But his attention should be on the discipline of his soul “for the purpose of godliness.”

Timothy is told that as an athlete trains his body, so the Christian must train his soul.



The word “discipline” at the end of verse 7 could also mean “train” and might even be a better translation considering the meaning of the word.

This is the word gumnos which means “naked” and is the word from which we derive our English word gymnasium.

In traditional Greek athletic contests, the participants competed without clothing, so as not to be encumbered. Therefore, the word “train” originally carried the literal meaning, “to exercise naked.”

By New Testament times it referred to exercise and training in general. But even then it was, and is, a word with the smell of the gym in it — the sweat of a good workout.

“Gymnasticize (exercise, work out, train) yourself for the purpose of godliness” conveys the feel of what Paul is saying.

There is no such thing as drifting into godliness; the ‘stream of tendency’ is against us.” There must be exercise and effort.

And Paul’s use of the present tense verb indicates that was to be Timothy’s constant pursuit. Timothy was to train his inner man for godliness.


Paul says this “exercise” or “workout” is not that of the physical body but that of one’s mind, emotions, will, the spiritual part of man.

George Knight, says this word is also used figuratively “of mental and spiritual powers” in extrabiblical literature, as here and consistently in the NT (The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text). 197.

When he says “for the purpose of” that means “with a view to.”

Just as a Greek athlete would exercise with a view to winning in the athletic contests, so Timothy is exhorted to exercise with a view to excelling in godliness.

You might already be asking, “What is godliness?”

Godliness (eusebeia) is a right attitude and response toward the true Creator God...[It is] a preoccupation from the heart with holy and sacred realities. It is respect for what is due to God.

John Calvin says, "By the word godliness, he means the spiritual worship of God which consists in purity of conscience."

We'll say more about this later but let's suffice it to say that when Paul says to Timothy to train himself in godliness, this spiritual self-discipline is the path to godly living and the pursuit of the highest virtue a Christian can pursue.

So how does that flesh out in our daily walk?

Let’s answer that question and see what the Scripture says about...


First, it means we have the right belief and obedient action.

We do not subscribe to “worldly fables” (1 Tim.4:7) or “strange doctrines” (1 Tim.1:3) and “endless genealogies” (1 Tim.1:3) but to “sound doctrine” (Tit.2:1).

That is, healthy teaching about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, hell, heaven, godly living and so forth.

When Paul wrote to Titus about “sound doctrine,” he told him to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

And what was he to “speak”?

The rest of Titus chapter 2.

Listen to what it says:

Titus 2:1-15: “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

The phrase “sound teaching” appears in both the Old and New Testament.

In Proverbs 4:2, Solomon tells his son, “For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction.”

What did “sound teaching” refer to in this passage?

Obeying your parents, getting wisdom, not following after wicked people, watching over your heart!

You could include everything before chapter 4, which would include fearing the Lord, not being enticed by sinners, following after wisdom, trusting God.

You could also include his instruction in chapters 5 & 6: avoiding the sensual woman, and hating the things God hates.

Back in 1 Timothy, when Paul mentions “sound doctrine,” he says that it is anything contrary to the gospel, like lawlessness, rebellion, ungodliness, unholiness, murder, immorality, homosexuality, kidnapping, lying, perjury” and “whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted” (1:9-10).

When he uses the word with Titus, it includes “older men” being “temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance” (v.1), “older women” being “reverent in behavior, not malicious gossips, not enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good” (2:1), “young women” loving “their husbands...their children...[being] sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands” (vv.3-4), “young men” being “sensible” (v.6), Titus, “showing [himself] to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach” (v.8), “bondslaves” being “subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith” (vv.9-10).

So living it each day means we have the right belief and obedient action.

Next, we could say it means you “do [your] best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men” (Acts 24:16).

That’s what Paul said as he stood before Felix answering the charges the Jews brought against him in his preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul said to Timothy that “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

In verse 19, he told him to keep “the faith and a good conscience.”

You might be asking, “What does Paul mean when he speaks about the conscience?”

Is it the voice of God or the Holy Spirit?

No, it is that human faculty that “entreats us to do what we believe is right and restrains us from doing what we believe is wrong.”

The conscience “judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive.

When we violate our conscience, it condemns us, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace, and even fear.

When we follow our conscience, it commends us, bringing joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being, and gladness.”

Having a “good conscience” or a “blameless conscience” means having a “tender heart” (2 Chron.34:27) or being “upright in heart” (Ps.7:10).

When David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps.51:10), he was seeking to have his life and his conscience cleansed.

He wasn’t trying to suppress, overrule, or silence his conscience.

He wasn’t trying to say the real blame for his wrong behavior lies in some childhood trauma, the way his parents raised him, societal pressures, or some other cause beyond his control.

Nor was he trying to convince himself that his sin was a clinical problem, not a moral one.

He didn’t call his sin of murdering Uriah a disease or his adultery a disorder.

No, he called it what it was---sin, sin against God!

So we need to train ourselves to be godly.

That means we have the right belief and obedient action.

We have a good and blameless conscience before God and men.

It means, we “live godly” (2 Tim.3:12).

It means, we “deny ungodliness and worldly desires sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit.2:12).

It means we not “love the world [or] the things in the world” (1 Jn.2:15).

Or as John Gill says, "And exercise thyself rather unto godliness; either to the doctrines which are according to godliness, and tend to godly edification, which the above fables did not, study these, meditate on them, digest them, and deliver them to others; or to a godly life and conversation, exercise thyself, to have a conscience void of offense to God and men; or to internal religion, inward godliness, the exercise of the graces of faith, hope, love, fear, reverence, humility."


Before we close, I want to direct your attention to 2 Timothy chapter 2.

This is a parallel to what Paul is saying here in 1 Timothy 4:7.

2 Timothy 2 says, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."

Can you honestly say this describes your life?

Are you training yourself to be godly?

Are you putting off everything that would hinder your walk with Christ?

That is not only referring to things that are sinful but also things that are unprofitable.

I’ll close with Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

He says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Run that you may receive the prize!

Discipline your body and make it your slave!

Train yourself to be godly!


What are you doing to train yourself to be godly?

How are you discipling your body to be your slave rather than you being a slave to your body?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Holiness is Not An Option

We are in a series called “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

I have borrowed that title from a book I am reading again by Jerry Bridges.

In our last two times together, we saw how holiness is a pursuit and it’s based on the Holiness of God who calls us to this kind of living.

Now today, I want us to see if we are to be holy as God is holy, then holiness is not an option.

In fact, in Bridges book, he lists 4 reasons why this is not an option.

I want to talk about them today.

In Hebrews 12:14, where we began our study two weeks ago, we heard the writer of Hebrews give this sobering exhortation to his hearers.

Let me remind you of what he said: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

I remind you this is a pursuit.

It begins at salvation and concludes in glory!

Jesus said in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

This signifies a great struggle against conflict.

But understand that Jesus was not suggesting that anyone could merit heaven by striving for it.

No matter how rigorously they labored, sinners could never save themselves.

Salvation is solely by grace, not by works (Eph. 2:8, 9).

But entering the narrow gate is nonetheless difficult because of its cost in terms of human pride, because of the sinner’s natural love for sin, and because of the world’s and Satan’s opposition to the truth.

And because of that Jesus says to “strive to enter.”

We are to exert ourselves to the utmost to enter the kingdom by true repentance.

But once we enter by grace though faith for salvation, holiness is imputed to us.

We are now clothed in the righteousness of God (Rom.9:30) and Christ (Phil.3:9).

Scripture speaks of both a holiness which we have in Christ before God, and a holiness which we are to strive after.

These two aspects of holiness complement one another, for our salvation is a salvation to holiness: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).

To the Corinthians Paul wrote: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” (1 Corinthians 1:2, emphasis added).

The word sanctified here means “made holy.”
That is, we are through Christ made holy in our standing before God, and called to be holy in our daily lives.

So the writer of Hebrews is telling us to take seriously the necessity of personal, practical holiness.

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at our salvation, He comes to make us holy in practice.

If there is not, then, at least a yearning in our hearts to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine.

Now it is important to note before we look at these 4 areas that when we talk about personal holiness, we’re talking about obedience in biblical terms.

Both faith and obedience are inseparable.

Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples indicates just how foundational the matter of obedience is for believers.

He says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

While verse 19 involves proclaiming the Gospel, seeing people saved, and having them publicly profess their faith in Christ, verse 20 builds on the new converts’ salvation experience.

Disciplers, or any mature believers, will teach new Christians to obey God’s commands in His Word and to submit to Him.

Obedience is so foundational that if it is not present in the life of one who claims to be a Christian, that person’s faith ought to be questioned.

Jesus said in John 8:31 to those Jews who had believed in Him: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.”

In John 15:10, He said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.”

John makes it even more clear in 1 John 2:3-4 when he says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

All who profess faith in Jesus Christ must also demonstrate that faith by obeying God’s Word. Otherwise, their profession of saving faith is suspect.

All of this is synonymous with holiness.

When we’re talking about practical holiness or pursuing holiness, we’re talking about obeying Jesus Christ.

The two are the same.

The moment of salvation involves more than an isolated act of obedience.

When anyone places his trust in Christ’s atoning work and receives His forgiveness of sins, he also acknowledges that the Savior is Lord and Master over his life.

That means each believer has committed himself to a life of ongoing obedience, although initially he did not fully grasp all the implications of that commitment.

In Romans 6:16-18, Paul reminds us of our position in Christ and the kind of attitude we’re to have:

He says, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

Notice what Paul is saying:

When someone presents himself as a slave of someone else, the primary issue is obedience--doing what the master says.

So “when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey.”

That is true whether someone is an unbeliever and a servant to sin, or a believer and a servant to Christ.

Paul then takes that simple illustration and applies it to that phrase in verse 17, “obedient from the heart.”

Heart obedience is what God desires of His people.

That should be an overriding attitude and desire for any Christian.

You ought to have a strong desire for obedience that you constantly manifest obedience as a fundamental, inner trait of your Christian life.

Now with all that said, we need then to understand holiness is not an option.

Since God is holy, He requires everyone to be holy.

And since holiness is His standard for all peoples, it is then required and necessary for 4 things:

Let’s take them one at a time.

The first is:


Psalm 15:1 says, “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?”

Another way of stating that would be, “Who may have fellowship with You?”

What’s the answer?

Listen to Psalm 15:2-5: “He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”

This is another way of describing one who is pursuing holiness or obeying God.

Remember we’re talking about obedience or practical holiness.

We’ve already noted that Scripture does not teach that we can attain a certain amount of holiness for salvation.

We are saved by grace, through faith (Eph.2:8).

God is our standard.

Matthew 5:48 says, ““Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In our fellowship with God, we are to renounce all sin.

As the psalmist says regarding prayer in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

Not letting go of sin or certain sins causes God not to hear us when we pray.

So, in order to have intimacy with the Holy One, we must be serious about holiness.

We must grieve over sin in our lives instead of justifying it.

We must earnestly pursue holiness as a way of life.



Hebrews 12:6 says, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

This statement presupposes our need of discipline.

When we persist in disobedience, God disciplines us.

One example would be in 1 Corinthians 11.

When the Corinthians came to the Lord’s table they were coming drunk--they were not coming in a worthy manner.

Because of this, 1 Corinthians 11:30 says, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”

In other words, God was disciplining those who were in sin.

Some were “weak.” Others were “sick.” And some even died.

In Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the proceeds for the sale of some land they hand, they were killed on the spot.

They were disciplined severely because they had told God they were going to give all to Him.

Peter asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last.” (vv.3-4).

Verse 10 says the same thing happened to his wife. She too “breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead.”

These two illustrations are the ultimate of discipline where the Lord takes us home.

But we need to understand that holiness is for our well-being.

It keeps us from sinning and experiencing the discipline of the Lord.

David admitted in Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”

When God speaks to us about some sin, we need to heed and take action. To fail to deal with that sin is to risk incurring His hand of discipline.

Holiness is required for fellowship and our well-being.


That’s a no-brainer for some but others just don’t get it.

If you’re living in sin, do you honestly think God will use you?

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:21, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”

Holiness and usefulness are linked together.

We cannot bring our service to God in an unclean vessel.

In fact, every time we sin we grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph.4:30).

We must make every effort to walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Ephesians 4:1 says, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

Ephesians 5:1-5 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

We are to be “imitators of God” and walk in holiness.



True faith will always show itself by its fruit.

If we’re in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Cor.5:17).

The only safe evidence that we are in Christ is a holy life.

John said in 1 John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”


What’s your life like?

Are you in fellowship with God or with sin?

If we know nothing of holiness, we may flatter ourselves that we are Christians but we do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

We need to ask ourselves:

Is there evidence of practical holiness in my life?

Do I desire and strive after holiness?

Do I grieve over my lack of it and earnestly seek the help of God to be holy?

It is not those who profess to know Christ who will enter heaven, but those whose lives are holy. Even those who do “great Christian works” will not enter heaven unless they also do the will of God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons, and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21–23)


What are you doing everyday in your pursuit of holiness?

Do you have a desire to be holy?

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

How important is the Spirit’s work in your life?

What do you do to yield to the Holy Spirit?

Do you agree with the statement, “We cannot bring our service to God in an unclean vessel”?