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- A legal declaration goes forth from heaven that moral offenses are pardoned for those who confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who have faith that his shed blood and death are meant to cover their own sin and deserved punishment.
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- Romans 3:24,25, has been the classic biblical passage for centuries to support the position that salvation comes by faith alone. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (atonement) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (Citations KJV unless indicated)
- However, Romans 6:6, most clearly demonstrates the legal basis of salvation.
- Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
- Who is this old man found in Scripture joined to Christ in his crucifixion? He just made an appearance at Romans, chp. 5, which contrasts two images, Adam and Jesus, who represent the worldly man and the spiritual man, old humanity and new humanity. (Note verses 12,15).
- Jesus Christ being crucified represented Adam being crucified, the old man. We accept Christ’s crucifixion as our own, and thus, legally our old man is crucified, as we are no longer identified with Adam, or old humanity. Like Christ, we have been resurrected to eternal life, to become a part of a new humanity.
- But, having this legal declaration, how does someone live the Christian life? What is being a Christian like in actual experience?
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- The believer continues to sin. The apostle Paul writes at Romans 7:19,23,24: For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do…but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (RSV) — cf. I John 3:6,9; 5:18.
- Then, what do we do? For our old man is crucified, that we should not serve sin.
- First, realize that continuing sin is a common frustration of the Christian experience.
- Second, do not condemn yourself. Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- Third, focus on the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus to overcome sin. Romans 8:2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
- What is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus?
- The concept has been made so complicated by scholars, that the new translations of the Bible even take liberties in changing the actual wording of Romans 8:2.
- This law is a guiding force, like the principle of gravity, that comes from the Holy Spirit working within us, to help us overcome sin. It can be contrasted to the law of sin of Romans 7:23; (see II. A., page 70).
- This law of the Spirit applies to those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit; (see Romans 8; note verse 5).
- Therefore, we live the Christian life by walking in the Spirit. But, how do we do that?
- The answer can be a long intellectual discourse, but a basic biblical guide will serve just as well.
- Romans, Chp. 5, sets in contrast two images, (note I. B. 2., page 70). One is the man of flesh, who lives according to a wisdom derived from knowledge perceived through the five senses, who represents the worldly man, or Adam. The other is the spiritual man, Jesus Christ, who represents a new humanity, that is being established by God from those who live by what is known in faith, cf. I Corinthians 15:49.
- To walk in the flesh is to focus on the image of Adam, the worldly man, as your guide. To walk in the Spirit is to focus on the image of Jesus Christ as your guide through the help of the Holy Spirit.
- A description of the man of the world is given at Romans 1:28–32. This image is found in movies, magazines, or on television. The image of Christ is found in the Gospels and throughout Scripture.
- What is the final goal of walking in the Spirit?
- Romans 8:28,29: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first among many brethern.
- Striving to be conformed to the image of Christ is our present goal in life, cf. I Corinthians 11:1; II Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 5:1,2. Incidentally, this is what most Protestants call holiness.
- We will accomplish our goal fully, when Christ returns. Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, cf. I John 3:2.
- The legal declaration that believers are justified by the blood of Christ is referred to as positional sanctification in seminaries. The life time process of becoming more like the image of Christ is assigned the name progressive sanctification.
- Other views have arisen on what is holiness, due to confusion over the train of thought in Romans, changing the meaning of verse 6:6. (Note I. B. 1–3., page 70).
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- Eradication Theory — John Wesley taught that the old man crucified and the body of sin destroyed of Romans 6:6, referred to the actual experience of the believer, rather than a legal declaration.
- Accordingly, the believer could expect to experience an instantaneous event of entire sanctification, of becoming completely holy in this life, as a second blessing after salvation.
- As the Israelites conquered the promised land, the believer should move to receiving the fullness of the Spirit, thereby completely destroying inward sin, including pride, self-will, anger, and love of the world.
- The believer is made perfect in love through faith and by loving God with all the heart, mind, and soul.
- Counteraction Theory — Holiness conventions of the 19th century actually changed the translation of Romans 6:6, to mean that the power of the Holy Spirit within a person constantly counteracts sinful desires instantaneously as they arise in the flesh.
- Note the Williams New Testament translation of Romans 6:6 — for we know that our former self was crucified with Him, to make our body that is liable to sin inactive, so that we might not a moment longer continue to be slaves to sin.
- If sin is a deliberate violation of the will of God, then the ability not to sin is available to anyone, as the Holy Spirit exercises a counterforce within the believer to overcome temptation.
- Martin Luther (Simul justus et peccator/simultaneously just and sinner) — By this viewpoint holiness is little more than the art of getting used to being legally justified by the blood of Christ.
- Sanctification should not be sought but received from the Holy Spirit.
- However, people become nervous over justification by faith alone and unnecessarily add something to it.
- What is the biblical concept of holiness?
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- At Leviticus 19:2 and I Peter 1:16, we are admonished to be holy, for the Lord God is holy.
- However, the word holy describes a distinctive characteristic of God, what constitutes his essential nature.
- Isaiah 6:1–3:…I
saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims…And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
- Psalm 89:34,35: My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness…, cf. Amos 4:2.
- God alone is holy: it is not a human quality, Exodus 15:11; Hosea 11:9.
- Holiness is the exaltation, terribleness, perfection, and majesty that is associated with having the supernatural power that created the universe.
- For the human being, who is only familiar with the natural world, holiness is an awesome mystery.
- Holiness is not an elevated moral standard but the personal essence of God.
- God is not simply a loving Father, a judge of sin: he is an overwhelming power.
- The absolute superiority of God, his complete otherness and perfection, makes him as unapproachable as a king, Leviticus 10:1,2; Numbers 1:51,53; 3:10,38; I Samuel 6:20.
- Only an act of God can transfer a person or thing into the sphere of holiness.
- However, to encounter God, a person’s conduct must be in keeping with God’s nature — pure, moral, blameless, Leviticus, chps. 17–27.
- The Hebrew word for holy comes from the root qds — to divide, and in relation to God, it signifies the concept of being cut off or separated for a purpose. Israel was set apart from the world for the express design of being God’s people. Thus, the nation was holy, and the people were held to a standard of moral excellence.
- Holiness for a Christian foremost is association with God, which entails moral purity.
- What is involved in the believer’s life to be conformed to the image of Christ?
- We must seek to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming our inner nature. We must exercise faith, perseverance, repentance, and diligently pursue the study of Scripture.
- The Holy Spirit teaches us all things, John 14:26, guides us unto all truth, 16:13, and convicts us in regard to sin, 16:8.
- Scripture sanctifies us through the truth, John 17:17. Cf. Ephesians 5:26 —…with the washing of water by the word.
- God disciplines us, that we may share in his holiness, Hebrews 12:10, for those he loves he also rebukes, Revelation 3:19.
- To begin to seek holiness, we must take our eyes off the world and focus on the image of Christ. Jesus emptied himself to become a servant of God. We must let go of our old self, to become like him, and to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:4; Philippians 2:5–7; 3:8.
- Does the Law of the Old Testament have a role in holiness?
- The Law was given to Israel to establish its covenant with God. It was a gift to the people as an act of grace, resulting from a promise to Abraham, who was called righteous due to his faith, Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6.
- The Law requires an unqualified love for God, Deuteronomy 6:5; loving one’s neighbor as one’s self, Leviticus 19:18; and circumcision of the heart as well as the flesh (outward actions from true inward purity), Deuteronomy 10:16.
- The Law acknowledges that people will sin, but it provides that by faith their righteousness is restored through repentance, and by making atonement according to a sacrificial system that admits their wrongfulness and their dependence on God, Leviticus 4:1–7:9; Numbers 5:6-8; I Kings 8:46–50.
- Today, the Law serves as an example of how grace, faith, love, repentance, and forgiveness actually set the foundation for a relationship with God.
- Does Jesus set forth a new code of ethics displacing the Law in the Gospels?
- As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers to be perfect, as the heavenly Father is perfect, referring to going beyond the Law, Matthew 5:48.
- Jesus teaches that one must enter eternal life through a narrow gate, Matthew 7:13,14.
- Not only murder and adultery are sin, but even anger with a brother or lust, Matthew 5:21,22,27,28.
- Not only must we love our neighbor, but even our enemy, Matthew 5:43,44.
- To follow Christ is to practice self-denial, to take up the cross, to save one’s life by loosing it, Mark 8:34,35. The believer must be willing to drink from the cup of suffering, Mark 10:38,39.
- However, at no time does Jesus present a system of ethical principles or show an interest in ethics as an end in itself.
- Christ emphasizes that the most important commandment of all is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, as well as to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, Mark 12:29–31.
- When teaching that a hand should be cut off or an eye plucked out, if it causes one to sin, he is speaking figuratively to focus on an ideal, Mark 9:43,47.
- Like the rich man who had to give up all he had to inherit eternal life, every believer must surrender totally to God, Mark 10:17–27.
- It appears that when Jesus refers to going beyond the Law, he is not appealing to a code of ethics, but to pursuing an ideal that sets himself as the example, one of total dedication to God and to loving others.
- Do the writings of John refer to sinless perfection?
- John states that no one who lives in Christ keeps on sinning, I John 3:6,9; 5:18.
- However, this epistle also states —
- that people who say they have no sin deceive themselves, 1:8;
- that all who confess their sin are forgiven, 1:9;
- and that those who do sin have an intercessor, who speaks to the Father in their defense, 2:1.
- John places the greatest emphasis for the character of the believer on love.
- As God showed his love by sending his son as a sacrifice, so we ought to love one another, I John 4:9–11.
- Whoever loves God, obeys his commands, John 14:15.
- Whoever obeys God’s commands, loves him, John 14:21.
- According to John, those who love God are not living in habitual sin. At times they might incur sin, but they are forgiven, as they are repentant.
1. For an overview of the train of thought in Romans and how verse 6:6, has affected the church’s view on holiness, see J. Sidlow Baxter, A New Call to Holiness — Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961. 29–31,56.
2. For further study on the biblical concept of holiness and the role of the Law in the Old Testament, see Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament Vol. I — Dallas: Word Publishing, 1982, pp. 319–326.
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This outline constitutes a chapter from Only The Essentials: Clear and Simple Outlines on Complex Theology. Copyright 2001 by Montgomery Paul Webb. All rights reserved. However, permission is granted solely to private individuals to make ten copies of any disc containing this book, to include whatever other publications are available therein from the Church of the Love of Christ, for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the contents of the disc is copied;— 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.
From printed material, photocopies only of any chapter can be made privately by individuals for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the chapter is copied and distributed, including the pages of the chapter rendering the name The Church of the Love of Christ, the author’s name, and the copyright notice; — 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.
Chapter outlines include — What Is the Bible? | Can God Be Known? | Who Is Jesus Christ? | Who Is the Holy Spirit? | What Is the Trinity? | What Is the Kingdom Of God? | What Is Faith? | What Is Holiness? and What Is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? | What Is the Church? | New Testament Giving and Prosperity. | What Is Spiritual Warfare? | Can Anyone Understand Predestination?
Additional chapters include — A Second Call to Reform and the Philosophy of the Church of the Love of Christ. | The Constitution of the Church of the Love of Christ.
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