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CAT | Holiness: Law OR Grace.

May/11

10

Holiness:Law OR Grace Pt 5

Jn 15:8 YOU SHALL BEAR MUCH FRUIT

We’ve seen that in Christ we are holy. Today we will look holiness being worked out in our lives which is called the process of sanctification. Sanctification is a verb and means to make holy.

What we must always keep in mind is that if holiness is from within, it can only be accessed by faith. Faith releases the power of God to to change us from within and release the fruit of the Spirit (character of God) into and through our lives; and that faith is released through God’s Word. Rom 10:17  Faith comes through hearing God’s Word.

Example: We hear a rumour at work that there will soon be redundancies. We now have 2 options: we can either worry, fret  and stress or we can trust God who is our provider and sustainer.

A) Worrying and fretting about anything is a work of the flesh’ (Gal 5:19-21) because we are seeking to resolve the situation by what we can do. It is putting our trust in our own abilities and strength and is unbelief; and when we work, He rests.

B) Trusting in God through His Word means we are looking to God to do the work on our behalf, therefore, “Father, according to your word of Phil 4:6, I will not be anxious, fret or worry about anything. Instead I give this situation to you and trust you to provide and sustain me. I will rest while you work”.

As we let go of the situation into God’s keeping, He works on our behalf and provides what we need. It may be we retain our job or are made redundant and have a period of inactivity before we find another one; but as we steadfastly trust God by holding to and confessing His Word, He will provide for us.

Heb 10:23-24 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  (NKJV)

Trusting God through His Word now releases within us and through us peace, joy and self control, the particular fruit of the Spirit that we need for this situation (Gal 5:22,23). Instead of exhibiting the work of the flesh, we are now bearing the fruit of God’s Spirit in our life.

This is the holiness that reveals God’s glory in our lives and is generated from within by the power of the Holy Spirit. John 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit. (NKJV)

Meditation Point: I must not exhibit the work of the flesh through struggle in my own strength but bear the fruit of the Spirit through trust and rest in God’s Word.


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May/11

6

Holiness: Law OR Grace Pt 4

I AM the Vine - You are the Branches Jn 15:5

The Parable of Jn 15 (the vine and the branches) perfectly illustrates New Testament holiness. Jesus often used God’s creation to teach spiritual truths.

A vine is fruitful because the life or sap of the vine travels up through the vine and out into and along to the end of the branches and produces the fruit; Hence the fruit is produced from within the vine.

To prevent the wastage of sap,the husbandman keeps the vine healthy by pruning (cleansing) the branches so they will bear more fruit and cuts off any branches that are dead or diseased.

As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46). Christ is the living vine and we are the living branches. Because we are now ‘In Christ’,  the sap or life of Christ flows from Christ into us producing the 9 fold fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22,23); Hence the fruit is produced from within us by the operation of the Holy Spirit.

It is important to realise that as a branch, we will never be cut off from Christ the vine. At the beginning of the Parable (v3) Jesus assures His disciples that they have already been cleansed (pruned)  by the Word of God.

In Christ we are now perfect and holy before God the Father (Eph 1:4) and now the process of sanctification (to make holy) takes place; that is, as we live out who we are In Christ, that holiness is worked out in us bearing fruit for God. Holiness and the process of sanctification produces fruit from within.

Holiness that is produced from the outside by our own achievements is dead works, whereas holiness produced from within by the Holy Spirit is good works and brings glory to God.

John 15:8  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (NLT)

Meditation Point: It is as I function out of who I am In Christ that the fruit of a holy life is expressed through me.

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Apr/11

25

Holiness:Law OR Grace Pt 3

Courtesy of: www.covenantoflove.net

2 Cor 5:21

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God. (NET)

In our last Blog we looked at Old Testament holiness. Today we’re looking at New Testament holiness.

What’s the difference between the two:

1) O.T. holiness is outward holiness achieved by obeying the law.

2) N.T. holiness is inward holiness achieved by receiving the grace of God.

N.T. holiness was imputed (given) to us at salvation. When Jesus died on the cross He took the judgement and punishment of God for all the sin committed by mankind, past, present & future; and His shed blood didn’t just cover sin (O.T. animal blood) but washed it away completely. we were cleansed from all unrighteousness.

But God went one step further: He not only forgave and took away our sins, He also nailed our sin nature to the cross with Christ. Therefore with Christ we were (past tense) crucified, we died, went down into the grave and rose from the dead to live in resurrection life; and when we rose from the dead, God gave us a new righteous nature. Our old sin nature was removed to be replaced by a new righteous nature.

2 Cor 5:17  If anyone be in Christ, they are a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

As we see from 2 Cor 5:21 (above), Jesus who knew no sin, took our sin upon Himself and gave us His righteousness. This is the exchange that took place at the cross; and our righteousness now makes us holy. Holiness means to be set apart, we’ve been set apart from the world by dint of being righteous.

Eph 4:24 Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.   (KJV)

So we are now holy from within, therefore this holiness must find expression in our outward lifestyle. This is called sanctification which is the process of working out holiness in our life.

In our next Blog we will look at how we bear this fruit of holiness using the picture of the vine and the branches. Jn ch 15.

Meditation Point: Because I am ‘In Christ’, I am the righteousness of God and have been set apart (holiness) from the world.


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Apr/11

18

Holiness: Law OR Grace Pt 2

Old Testament Priesthood

Ex 39:27-28 For Aaron and his sons, they made tunics of fine linen, and the turban of fine linen, the linen headbands and the undergarments of finely twisted linen.  (NIV)

We saw in our last Blog how God expelled man from His presence to protect man from God’s judgement against sin which brought instant death; However, because God desired relationship with man He initiated the ceremonial law of a tabernacle, priesthood and animal sacrifices so He could have a dwelling place amongst them.

Man’s approach to God in the tabernacle involved elaborate ritual to the most exacting of standards in order to meet the demands of God’s holiness. The priests who worked in the tabernacle had to wash their bodies in clean water and dress in garments of fine white linen (picture above). This symbolised their covering of righteousness & holiness before God.

The priests would also sacrifice animals as substitutes for man. Animals would receive the punishment for sin in the place of man meaning their blood temporarily covered mans sin; Failure to comply with such stringent detail brought instant death (Lev 10:1,2).

Ritual accomplished meant God could release His mercy and forgiveness upon man enabling fellowship to take place. But let’s remember, all this ritual is outward show and only temporary: The garments covering their bodies gave a resemblance of holiness and the blood of animals covered their sinful behaviour. It was just enough to get by.

THIS IS HOLINESS BY LAW. Law says, do the right thing and I will bless you, do the wrong thing and I will curse you. Sadly, many in the Church have carried O.T. holiness over into the N.T. and placed demands on Christians to live a righteous holy lifestyle by their own means that they cannot live up to. Hence we have a Church carrying a burden of guilt, condemnation, shame, rejection, and fear. Peace, joy and rest have spread wings and flown away. Defeat, hopelessness and failure have taken their place, and like the man in Rom 7:24 we cry:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?   (NIV)

All this ritual without removing the sin of mankind. What was God up to, was He stuck with sinful man for ever or did He have a plan of salvation for the human race. Find out in the next Blog.

Meditation Point: Eph 1:4 He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.   (KJV)

Rom 8:30 And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them his glory.  (NLT)


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Ps 29:2  Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.    (KJV)

The subject of holiness has caused considerable debate and division in Church history. We hear many voices today saying such things as, “God needs to call His Church to return to holy living”, or “We need the presence of the fear of the Lord”, or “We need to repent from our sin and turn back to God”.

Are these statements true, is this the kind of holiness that God is looking for today. Over the coming Blogs I want to unpack holiness and show you what I believe is true holiness.

Let’s begin with Old Testament holiness. When man fell into sin He was banished from the presence of the Lord, he was expelled from the garden of Eden. First, because God didn’t want him to eat from the tree of life and live forever and second, if sin is allowed to remain in God’s presence, His righteousness demands that sin is judged and punished. We see this demonstrated when Aaron’s 2 sons came into the Tab of Moses and offered unauthorised fire before God; immediately, the fire of God broke out and consumed them. ( Lev 10:1,2.)

Even before God created man He foresaw that man would fall into sin and would need to be rescued from that sin. He would need to be restored to God’s righteousness and holiness. So God initiated a 2 stage plan. The first stage was called Old Testament holiness and the second stage was called New Testament Holiness. In my view, it’s the misunderstanding between these 2 types of holiness that has caused the debates, confusion and division.

Before The Mayflower left the shores of Britain for the new world of America, a member of that Pilgrim band called John Robinson said, “I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His holy word” ; and today God is restoring the revelation of true biblical holiness to his church.

Meditation Point: How can I worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Is holiness a set of rules and regulations or does it spring forth from within the believer.

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