Some Comments on "Destined to Reign" by Joseph Prince and Righteousness and Holiness, Part 6
by Karl Kemp 9/13/2011 / Bible Studies
(I have a few paragraphs left to read from the lengthy footnote dealing with the interpretation of John 16:8-11.)
Words like those of John 3:18 ("he who does not believe [in Christ] is judged [condemned] already") demonstrate the seriousness of the sin of rejecting Christ and the gospel. John 3:19, 20 go on to tell why many people rejected Christ, the Light: "...men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds [works] were evil. [Their works showed where their hearts were; their hearts were far from God; such people typically did not repent.] For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds [works] will be exposed." These words about being condemned already speak of the fact that these people have their final judgment (in a very real sense) at the time they reject God's only plan of salvation. In a footnote I went on to discuss the glorious fact that when people submit (in faith) to the Lord Jesus Christ and God's plan of salvation, they too (in a very real sense) have already had their final judgment (John 5:24), but we must stay faithful to Christ by God's enabling grace.
Now I'll read part of what I said under John 16:10. The primary idea here is that, even though the Jews (the world) had condemned Jesus to death for His supposed sinfulness against God, the fact that He was resurrected and went back to the Father, to sit at His right hand, EFFECTIVELY DEMONSTRATED HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, His righteousness according to the verdict of the ultimate Judge, God the Father. [I pointed out in a footnote that God made known the resurrection of Christ in many ways, and subsequent events, like the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, starting on the Day of Pentecost, and the start of the Christian church, with the transformed lives and all of the miracles testified loudly to the fact that Jesus was indeed at the Father's right hand.] If He was righteous, which He certainly was, then they must have been seriously blinded by the god of this world and in serious bondage to sin (and in desperate need of the Savior) since they rejected the Righteous One as a sinner (see, for example, Acts 2:14-42; 3:13-15; and 7:51-60). Satan, the god of this world, was actively involved in the murder of Christ Jesus (see Luke 22:3-6; John 13:2, 27; 14:30; and 1 Cor. 2:8).
Rather than quote what I said under John 16:11, I'll just briefly mention, that Satan has been condemned/judged at the cross. His condemnation will be fully manifested at the end of this age, but even now it is obvious that he cannot stop people from becoming born-again righteous new creations in Christ. He cannot stop the miracles, the demons being cast out, etc. And if the god of this world has been condemned and is headed for the lake of fire, it must be understood that those who continue to be aligned with him will be condemned along with him. The Holy Spirit has come to convict people (all who will listen) of these super-important facts."]]
(Now I'll continue to read what I was saying in a bracket in response to what Joseph had said; then I'll quote two more sentences from what Joseph said about the Holy Spirit not convicting Christians of sin on pages 134, 135.)
Although there aren't any other verses, beside John 16:8, 9, that specifically mention the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin, there are many other verses that speak of the Holy Spirit doing things that include convicting us of sin (as required). God hates sin and the heartbeat of the new covenant is our being set free from bondage to sin and living in a state of righteousness and holiness through Christ Jesus and by the Holy Spirit. The New Testament speaks of our being sanctified by the Spirit; of the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit; of the Spirit (in us) waging warfare against sin; of the Spirit of truth, who will guide us into all truth (the truth includes righteousness and holiness [see Eph. 4:24]); of our being renewed by the Spirit in our thinking; of the righteous and good fruit the Spirit produces in us; of the word of wisdom and word of knowledge by the Spirit; of our being taught by the Spirit; led by the Spirit; directed by the Spirit; walking by the Spirit; thinking by the Spirit; of our being strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell (fully dwell) in our hearts by faith; and of our not grieving the Holy Spirit by sinning.]] The body of Christ is living in defeat because many believers don't understand that the Holy Spirit is actually in them to convict them of their RIGHTEOUSNESS IN CHRIST [Joseph's emphasis]. Even when you fail, He is ever present to remind you that you are CONTINUALLY CLEANSED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS [my emphasis]. That's the Holy Spirit." Joseph means that they are continuously cleansed in the sense they are automatically and continuously forgiven and are righteous in the eyes of God; they have been perfected and they are righteous forever, period (with a positional righteousness).
I won't quote any more from what Joseph says here, but I'll comment on his point (on page 135) that Christians don't need the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sins, because they know when they have sinned. The New Testament demonstrates that many Christians are not aware of many of their sins, even with the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 provide a prime illustration of this fact. It seems that the Christians at Ephesus, who had so much right (much more than most Christians do today), didn't realize that they (according to the Lord Jesus) had a very serious need to repent of the sin of having left their first love (their love for God and His Son) and to do the works they did at first. He said that if they didn't repent, He would come and remove their lampstand (the lampstand that showed that those Christians were part of His church).
And I'll give another illustration from the letters to the seven churches, it is clear that most of the Christians at Sardis were (at least to some significant extent) unaware of their very serious need to repent (see Rev. 3:1, 2), at least until the Lord Jesus informed that if they didn't repent, He would come upon them in judgment like a thief, and He indirectly stated that He would erase their names from the book of life. ((I had a footnote, It is clear that the Christians at Sardis that Jesus called to repent, or forfeit their salvation, were true Christians. What Jesus said to them in verse 2 about the need to wake up and strengthen the things that remained, which were about to die confirmed that were still in the Body of Christ. So too what Jesus said to them about having "soiled their garments." They wouldn't have had garments to soil if they hadn't become true Christians. (Jesus said there were a few Christians at Sardis who had not soiled their garments.) I'll read Rev. 19:8, which shows that the clean/white garments of Christians goes with their living righteous lives on the earth, "It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." And their names wouldn't have been in the book of life if they weren't true Christians. At the time Jesus spoke to the seven churches, all seven churches were part of the Body of Christ. They all had lampstands for one thing [see Rev. 1:20].)) Revelation 3:17 makes it clear that the Christians at Laodicea were not aware of the fact that they had a very serious sin problem, but Jesus made it clear that they had a very serious need to repent, or else.
For one thing, the more that Christians are walking in the flesh, like so many of the Christians at ancient Corinth were doing, for example, the more they tend to be unaware of their sin. And it is easy for Christians to walk in the flesh to a significant extent (even though this is incompatible with what we are called to in Christ, and it is dangerous). I have the impression that much of the Christianity of our generation is more fleshly than the Christianity of ancient Corinth. Like people in general, it is rather easy for Christians to see the sin in others, but not to see it in themselves. We desperately need to be convicted by God, and we need to have our hearts open to hear His convicting voice, as we make it a top priority to walk in His righteousness and holiness by His grace, through faith, in humility. It certainly will not help us listen to His convicting voice if we are being taught that "THE HOLY SPIRIT NEVER CONVICTS YOU OF YOUR SINS" [Joseph's emphasis].
I have some very important things to say (some very good news) about the words "CONTINUALLY CLEANSED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS" (page 135). Joseph was undoubtedly referring to 1 John 1:7, which he discussed on pages 108, 109 in his chapter 9, "The Waterfall of Forgiveness," which we have discussed to some extent already. I'll read the verse from his page 108, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN." Joseph interprets these glorious words to mean that we are continually cleansed by this waterfall of forgiveness. It automatically and continually keeps us forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness [in a positional, legal sense]. And that's at least one reason why we don't have to even confess our sins to be forgiven, according to Joseph. You will remember that (according to Joseph) we Christians are also automatically and continuously righteous because Christ fulfilled the law for us, which makes us righteous (with a legal, positional righteousness). I'll quote a few sentences from page 109, "Beloved, confessing your sins all the time will make you only more sin-conscious. But knowing that you are under Jesus' waterfall of forgiveness will keep you forgiveness-conscious. And knowing that you are forgiven of all your sins will give you the power to reign over every destructive habit and live a life of victory!"
We must make sure we repent and confess our sins and be forgiven and fully restored if we should sin, but, in general, knowing we are forgiven and have a right standing with God isn't where "the power comes from to reign over every destructive habit and live a life of victory." Knowing that you are forgiven (assuming that you really are forgiven), however, is a whole lot better than the totally unacceptable state of not knowing that you are forgiven. One of the most important things (if not the most important thing) we need to live with the victory over sin is to understand (clearly understand in our hearts with no room for doubting) that God has actually called us to such a walk and provided the enabling grace for us to do it. Quite a few times Joseph speaks of that grace, and I am sure that teaching proves to be a significant blessing to many in his church and others that hear him, but as I have mentioned, much of what he says in this book seriously confuses the issue. (I have a footnote, I'm not saying that Christians couldn't follow everything Joseph says in this book and live righteous and holy lives, but he certainly confuses the issue. Of course Joseph isn't the only one confusing the issue; there is plenty of confusion going around. God is merciful and he helps those who are looking to Him as much as He can, even if they don't rightly divide His Word on every topic. Nevertheless, it stands true that every error hurts. How desperately we need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches! I have observed over the years that one prominent reason why so many Christians don't make it a top priority to seek God for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches is that most Christians wrongly think they have it already. Somehow, they are the ones who have it right, even if everybody else is wrong. It's amazing! For one thing, it's rather easy for sincere born-again Christians to be motivated to some extent by sinful pride and not even be aware of it. That's one reason we must make it a top priority to humble ourselves and walk by the Spirit all the time, as we are enabled and required to do.)
Now let's discuss these super-important words at the end of 1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light...AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS HIS SON CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN." These words say much more than what Joseph, and very many others, think they say. This verse, like so many other verses in the First Epistle of John (and so many other verses throughout the rest of the New Testament), speaks of Christians actually walking in the light of God, and His light includes His truth, His righteousness, and His holiness. (I had a footnote, I have already mentioned a large number of such verses from the First Epistle of John and other books of the New Testament in this paper, and there are many more such verses. This is a dominant theme of the New Testament.) We cannot fellowship with God in the light while we are walking in the darkness, which is what the Gnostic heretics that John wrote this epistle against were trying to do, while they denied that sin was the problem and that the blood of Jesus is the answer.
The most important thing we need to see here is that the verb CLEANSES here means a whole lot more than being forgiven and maintaining a positional righteousness before God. A big part of what the apostle John was saying here is that WE ARE CLEANSED - WITH A SANCTIFYING, PURIFYING CLEANSING - FROM SINNING, which enables us to come into the light and continue to fellowship with God in the light. This sanctifying, purifying cleansing is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. This sanctifying, purifying cleansing is appropriated by grace through faith, in accordance with the terms of the new covenant. This cleansing is essentially the equivalent of our being sanctified and living in a state of holiness; of our walking by the Holy Spirit with the victory over all sin; of our walking in the (imparted) righteousness of God, which includes our being dead to sin; etc.
The Greek verb translated "cleanses" here is "katharizo," a very important verb. Quite often in the New Testament this verb is used of a sanctifying, purifying cleansing, including this verse (1 John 1:7) and Acts 15:9; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:26; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14; James 4:8; and 1 John 1:9. All these verses are discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ," except for Acts 15:9 and James 4:8. I'll take the time here to quote and discuss 2 Cor. 7:1 and James 4:8. This is very important!
2 Corinthians 7:1. "Therefore, having these promises [referring to the promises spelled out in the three verses at the end of chapter 6], beloved, let us cleanse ["katharizo"] ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting [or, completing] holiness in the fear of God."
The context shows that the apostle Paul was speaking of cleansing/purifying ourselves from sinning here. The blood of Jesus - backed up by the infinite Righteous Holy Spirit of God - is that powerful! This is God's power and He gets all the glory for our holiness.
The New Testament speaks of God's cleansing, sanctifying, purifying His people, but it also speaks, on occasion, of Christians cleansing themselves, purifying themselves, etc. The only way we can do these things is by the saving grace of God in Christ, by faith. God doesn't cleanse us, sanctify us, etc., or keep us clean and holy, apart from our cooperating with His saving grace by faith. That's the way God set it up.
Note that the apostle Paul was speaking to born-again Christians. To the extent they still needed to be cleansed (and the Christians at Corinth tended to be quite fleshly and sinful), Paul exhorted them to once-for-all cleanse themselves from all sinful defilement of flesh and spirit [heart/inner man]. Many Christians say Christians cannot be defiled in their spirits; you often hear it said that if a Christian sins, their spirits are not involved in any way. As far as I am concerned, this verse suffices to prove that view is wrong. We are not just automatically cleansed in our spirits, or kept clean in our spirits. In Mark 7:14-23, for example, Jesus said that sin is of the heart.
By cleansing themselves from everything that is sinful and defiling, they will be perfecting, or completing, holiness. In other words, they will come into the state of holiness in which all Christians are called, enabled, and required to live. It is very good news to learn that God was willing to pay an infinite price to call, and enable, us to live in a state of holiness through His sufficient saving grace in Christ. The apostle Paul knew all too well that there was sin in the church at Corinth, and he wanted to see that unacceptable situation rectified at once. He was not thinking (like so many Christians think in our day) of a gradual, lifelong cleansing from sin, where we never stop sinning this side of glory. He did, however, teach of a lifelong process of growth (2 Cor. 3:18, for example). In the ideal case we will be living in a state of holiness and growing too, growing in wisdom and knowledge, growing more like the Lord Jesus Christ every day, etc. The need for such growth is not sinful.
Paul's last words in 2 Cor. 7:1, "in the fear of God," are quite important too. We should be afraid to be living in any sin. Any sin, if it really is considered to be sin by God, the Judge, is a serious matter. (Many Christians call things sin that God doesn't consider to be sin. This further confuses the issue. (I had a footnote, I discussed this topic to some extent under the heading "What is Sin?" starting on page 214 of my book.) This should motivate us to make God and living in His righteousness and holiness (by His grace) top priority. We are called, by covenant, to make God and His will top priority in every way. We must be aiming at this target! What I am sharing is good news, very good news! Based on my studies and observations, a large number of Christians don't believe such a walk is possible; they don't believe (have faith) that they can stop sinning and live in the righteousness and holiness of God.
Now, let's look at James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse ["katharizo"] your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
The context makes it very clear that James is using the Greek verb "katharizo" of a sanctifying, purifying cleansing here. He means STOP SINNING with your hands (or anything else). A different Greek verb for PURIFY is used for "purify your hearts, you double-minded." It is clear that James was exhorting his readers (including us), to stop being double-minded in their hearts (if we are being double-minded) through the powerful, sufficient saving grace of God in Christ. It is good news to learn that God provides the enabling grace for us to do these things.
I'll read James 1:5-8. "But if any of you lacks wisdom [especially wisdom that will enable us to live in the center of God's will, in His righteousness and holiness], let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach. [He wants us to ask! He knows we are totally dependent on His grace.], and it will be given to him. (6) But he must ask in faith without any doubting [God will enable us to walk in faith without any doubting in our hearts, as we walk by His Word and by His Spirit, appropriating His enabling grace.], for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, (8) being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." We must not be divided in our hearts. We must be sold out to God and give him all of our heart; it is not acceptable for our hearts to be divided, with part of our heart devoted to God and part of it devoted to something else. He requires us to live for Him, which includes doing things His way, which includes living in His righteousness and holiness on a continuous basis by His grace and for His glory. He is, after all, our Creator, our Savior, and our God!
On page 141 (in chapter 11) Joseph has a heading, "His Grace is Greater Than Your Addictions." "Are you overwhelmed by an addiction today? It may be smoking, pornography, alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Whatever it may be, my friend, God's grace is greater than any addiction in your life. His grace will swallow up your addiction." I'm thankful that Joseph teaches that God's grace is greater than addictions and that he is helping Christians break addictions.
This chapter is titled, "Unearthing the Deepest Root." And Joseph goes on to tell us that condemnation is the deepest root, and that the deepest root represents "the fundamental tactic that the devil uses against man." That helps explain why Joseph goes on on page 142, 143 emphasizing positional righteousness. Emphasizing positional righteousness is a dominant theme in this book. Joseph believes that if he can get you to believe that you are righteous [with a positional righteousness that has nothing to do with your works (how you are living)], then "the voice of the accuser who comes to condemn you will have no more dominion over your life."
I assume that Joseph's teaching will help some Christians who are overwhelmed with condemnation. His putting all the emphasis on positional righteousness probably helps some Christians cast off the lies of the devil and begin to see that God really does care about them and wants to help them have the victory over their addictions (and all sin). And Joseph really does believe, along with many other Christians, that positional righteousness is all that the Bible is talking about when it uses the word righteousness. As I demonstrated earlier in this article, however, it is important to see that the more basic meaning of the word righteousness deals with actual righteousness. For one thing, God's grace is not at all limited to the positional, legal dimension. Confusion in this area greatly distorts the gospel. Every error hurts and this is a big error. Positional righteousness, positional holiness, positional cleansing (cleansing from the guilt of sin), positional redemption (just being forgiven), positional salvation (saved from the guilt of sin), etc. If we aren't careful we may end up in a positional heaven. We need some heavenly reality NOW and in the future. Joseph says that God's grace covers everything that we need, but as I have said, his teaching substantially confuses the issue.
We don't have to wrongly limit the word righteousness to positional righteousness to help people cast off the lies of the devil. (We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible, especially the New Testament, teaches!) We don't have to listen to the devil. We must not listen to the devil. The New Testament makes it clear that we are forgiven through Christ when we repent and ask for forgiveness, and even more important, the New Testament is literally packed with teaching that God has already paid an infinite price so we can actually be righteous and holy in our daily lives.
Our faith for victory over all sin must be based, not on the fact that we are forgiven and have right standing with God, but on the fact that holiness and victory over sin is about 90 percent of what the gospel is all about. Study Romans chapter 6, for example, and there are hundreds more similar verses, including 1 Peter 2:24, which shows that Jesus died for us, so that we could stop sinning and live for God in His righteousness. That sounds good, doesn't it? "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds [referring to all that Jesus bore for us in His atoning death] you were healed [referring to Isa. 53:5]." Isaiah 53:11 is one of the most important verses in the Bible which shows that victory over sin has been provided through the atoning death of the Lamb of God: the Righteous One (Christ Jesus) makes righteous the many. (I had a footnote, Isaiah 53:11 is discussed on pages 26-29 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.)
This concludes Part 6. We will continue this discussion in Part 7.
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.