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Holiness and Victory Over Sin #22

by Karl Kemp  
12/04/2011 / Bible Studies

Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to rightly divide your Word. We want to live in line with your Word. In Jesus' mighty name! Amen!

When we stopped last time, we were discussing Eph. 4:17-32. We'll start where we stopped last time. I was reading what I said on these verses in my paper that includes verse-by-verse studies of Ephesians chapters 1 and 4. That paper is on my internet site. First I'll read Eph. 4:17-23 from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition with a few comments; then I'll read the last paragraph that I have under Eph. 4:23 in the paper; that's where we stopped last time.

Ephesians 4:17, "So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility [or, "in the emptiness"] of their mind [or, "of their way of thinking." Paul was especially concerned about the thinking we do in our hearts, in our inner man. If we think wrong in our hearts, we will live wrong.], (18) being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; (19) and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. (20) But you did not learn Christ in this way, (21) if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, (22) that, in reference to your former manner of life [your former sinful manner of life], you lay aside the old self [or, "put off the old self" or, "PUT OFF THE OLD MAN." As we have discussed, the apostle is exhorting his Christian readers to ONCE FOR ALL AND COMPLETELY PUT OFF ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THAT IS SINFUL.], which is being corrupted [or, better yet, "which is corrupt" with the KJV] in accordance with the lusts of deceit [Deceit and deception are the opposite of the truth, and as verse 24 shows, the truth includes righteousness and holiness.] (23) and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind. [[This verse is extremely important but, in my opinion, typically not well translated or well understood. I (in agreement with others) would translate, "and BE RENEWED BY THE SPIRIT (the Holy Spirit) IN YOUR MIND" (or, "IN YOUR WAY OF THINKING"). This verse explains, in large part, how we can begin to think right in our hearts and to live in the righteousness and holiness of the truth. Our way of thinking is renewed when we submit to the Word of God and walk by the Spirit of God (by faith), and the righteousness and holiness of God are manifested in our hearts and lives. We discussed these super-important things in some detail in the last article (and in earlier articles). Now I'll read the last paragraph that I have under Eph. 4:23 in my paper.

As Christians we should be living in the righteousness and holiness of God, with the victory over all sin (that is the ideal); and we should be growing (growing in knowledge and wisdom, growing more like the Lord Jesus Christ, growing in the fruit of the Spirit, etc.) This is good news! If we rightly respond to God's Word (with humble faith), it will bring transformation. And if we should slip into sin, God, who knows our hearts, knows if we are making Him and His Word top priority. I'm sure He finds it rather easy to forgive and to sanctify those who are quick to repent and who making Him, His Word, and His righteousness top priority.]] (24) and put on the new self [[I prefer, "PUT ON THE NEW MAN." We can't stop with putting off the old man; we must also put on the new man. When we discussed verse 22, I mentioned that the aorist tense of the Greek verb used there fits the idea of putting off the old man once for all and completely. The aorist tense of the Greek verb used here in verse 24 fits the idea of PUTTING ON THE NEW MAN ONCE FOR ALL AND COMPLETELY. I listed some verses here. One of the verses I listed is Col. 3:10, which is another verse where the apostle Paul spoke of putting on the righteous and holy new man. I also listed Rom. 13:14, which I'll read, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."]], which in the likeness of God [[The NASB has the words "the likeness of" in italics. I could live with this translation, but the Greek more literally reads "in accordance with God," which I prefer. Instead of being in accordance with sin and the lies/deceit/deception of the devil, the new man in Christ is "in accordance with God." These words probably include the ideas that the new man has been created by God (see Eph. 2:10, for example) and that it is in accordance with the will of God and His truth, which (as the words that follow in verse 24 demonstrate) includes His righteousness and holiness.

When we think of Christians being "in accordance with God," we think of Gen. 1:26; 5:1; and 9:6. Genesis 1:26 speaks of man's being created in the image of God, but it must be understood that's God's new creation in Christ takes man to a much higher place than what Adam had before the fall (see 1 Cor. 15:44-57, for example). I have a footnote here, which I'll read, Most of the glory of what it means to be a son of God in union with Jesus Christ, who is the unique Son of God, is reserved for the (near) future ("Christ in you the hope of glory"), but we have already entered into the preliminary phase of that glory, including the imputation and impartation of the righteousness and holiness of God.

When Christians are thinking right and living right through new-covenant salvation, they are living "in accordance with God" - they certainly are not sinning.

Ephesians 4:22-24, and especially verse 24, demonstrate how the apostle can exhort Christians to "be imitators of God, as beloved children" in Eph. 5:1. That's quite a challenge, isn't it? And it certainly includes the victory over all sin. Along this same line, compare, for example Matt. 5:48; 1 Cor. 11:1; 1 John 2:5, 6; and 3:1-10. I'll read some of these verses. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, "THEREFORE, YOU ARE TO BE PERFECT, AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT." In 1 Cor. 11:1, the apostle Paul said, "BE IMITATORS OF ME, JUST AS I ALSO AM OF CHRIST." And I'll read what the apostle John said in 1 John 2:6, "THE ONE WHO SAYS HE ABIDES IN HIM [IN CHRIST] OUGHT HIMSELF TO WALK IN THE SAME MANNER AS HE WALKED." I'll also read what he said in 1 John 3:3 and then 3:6, 7, "And EVERYONE WHO HAS THIS HOPE FIXED ON HIM PURIFIES HIMSELF, JUST AS HE IS PURE." And, "NO ONE WHO ABIDES IN HIM SINS; NO ONE WHO SINS HAS SEEN HIM OR KNOWS HIM. Little children, MAKE SURE NO ONE DECEIVES YOU; THE ONE WHO PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS [or, "THE ONE WHO IS DOING RIGHTEOUSNESS"] IS RIGHTEOUS, JUST AS HE IS RIGHTEOUS."

Ephesians 5:1 ("THEREFORE BE IMITATORS OF GOD, AS BELOVED CHILDREN") undoubtedly builds on the last verse of chapter 4, and the preceding verses. I'll read the last verse of chapter 4, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." When Christians do the things spoken in that verse, and the preceding verses, they are imitating God (by His saving, enabling, sanctifying grace).

Now I'll read all of verse 24, including the last words of the verse, which I haven't read yet, "and put on the new man, which in accordance with God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." It is important to know that the truth of God includes His righteousness and holiness. When people use the word "truth" in our day, they typically don't include righteousness and holiness, but God's truth puts an emphasis on His righteousness and holiness. When we submit to the truth of the gospel, which is backed up by the mighty Holy Spirit of God, we become righteous and holy new creations, for His glory.]] (25) Therefore, laying aside [or, 'putting off'] falsehood [As I mentioned, putting off falsehood, is just part of putting off the old man once for all and completely.] speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. [Speaking the truth is the opposite of speaking falsehood (lying), and the fact that we are members of one another in the Body of Christ makes it all the more imperative for us to speak the truth to one another.] (26) be angry, and yet do not sin [See Psalm 4:4]; do not let the sun go down on your anger [[Most agree that Paul was not exhorting his readers to be angry here, but cautioning them to make sure that anger doesn't lead to sin. As James 1:19 cautions, we must be "slow to anger." It is possible for Christians to be angry without sinning (see Mark 3:5, for example), but anger can be sinful, and it can lead to great sin. That's why the apostle cautions believers to quickly deal with the cause of the anger and to not let the sun go down on their anger. Sometimes we can get issues resolved quickly, before the sun goes down. On those occasions where the issues cannot be resolved quickly, or be resolved at all (for one thing, we cannot act for the other person or persons who may be involved), we can take our concern to God (we can cast our care upon Him) and leave it there. He will take care of the details; they will be in good hands; and we can stay in peace and rest. What a privilege! See Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Pet. 5:7, for example.]] (27) and do not give the devil an opportunity [[more literally, "DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL A PLACE." Compare John 14:30; James 4:7. We don't have to, and we must not, give the devil any place in us. We would give him a place in us, for example, by allowing anger to continue to abide in our hearts. We would give the devil a place in us if we allow things that aren't true (very much including false doctrine), or any sin, to have a place in us (including stealing, see verse 28; or speaking unwholesome words, see verse 29). ]] (28) He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. (29) Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (30) Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [[I'll read Isa. 63:10, "And they [God's people] rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them." All sin, including accepting false doctrine, grieves the Holy Spirit. We must make God and His truth, righteousness, and holiness top priority, and if we should slip into false doctrine or any other sin, we must be quick to repent.]], by whom [the Holy Spirit] you were sealed for the day of redemption. [[We were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when we submitted to God and His gospel in faith and became born-again Christians through the Holy Spirit of life who began to dwell in us (see Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:9, for example). We have already been REDEEMED out of the kingdom of sin and spiritual death, but we are still waiting for the DAY OF REDEMPTION, when we will glorified. The day of redemption will begin when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. At that time all true Christians will be caught up into the fullness of eternal life and will begin to reign with Him.]] (31) Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice [This is part of the putting off of the old man that the apostle spoke of in verse 22.] (32) Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." This is part of the putting on of the new man that the apostle spoke of in verse 24. The Bible strongly warns Christians that they must forgive if they expect to be forgiven and to maintain their forgiven status before God (see, for example, Matt. 6:12, 14, 15; 18:21-35). Also, Christians must be quick to ask for forgiveness before God and before any people they have wronged. And there are many situations where more than asking forgiveness is required, things like repenting and making things right as far as it is possible.]

That completes our study of Eph. 4:17-32, but I'll make a brief comment regarding Ephesians chapters 5, 6 and read 5:1 again before we go on to the next study. Ephesians chapters 5, 6 continue with the strong exhortation for Christians to walk in the manner they are called (and enabled) to walk, in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God. In Eph. 5:1 the apostle Paul said, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." He certainly exhorted his readers to walk with the victory over all sin.

Now we'll turn to a very important, but somewhat brief, discussion of the first three chapters of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." The information contained in these chapters will help us understand the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The primary emphasis is on the fact that He dethroned spiritual death and sin in His atoning death and enables us to be born again and to live in the very righteousness and holiness of God.

For a start I'll read a few paragraphs from the Introduction of the book, starting on page 1. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of this book have much in common. Chapter 1 is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Pesha.' " Chapter 2 is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Awon.' " And chapter 3 is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Chet.' " These three Hebrew nouns are similar in meaning. The NASB and KJV typically translate pesha as "transgression," awon as "iniquity," and chet as "sin." A prime goal for these three chapters is to show that these Hebrew nouns include within their range of meaning the ideas of sin (iniquity, transgression), guilt of sin, AND PENALTY FOR SIN.

It is quite significant, but it is not widely known, that these Hebrew nouns (unlike the English nouns) include within their range of meaning the idea of penalty for sin. (Sin always has penalties and consequences.) An understanding of the fuller meaning of these Hebrew nouns will enable us to better translate and better understand many very important passages of Scripture. For one thing, this insight will enable us to better understand sacrificial offerings. Since our salvation is founded on the all-important atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is very important for us to understand these offerings.

In chapter 2 (of this book) we will discuss Lev. 16:20-22. They are key verses in the chapter that deals with the very important sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. This was the one day of the year that the high priest entered the holy of holies with sacrificial blood. The verses we will discuss speak of the offering of the second goat of the sin offering (sometimes called the "scapegoat"). It is important to understand that when the high priest placed all the awon (plural) of the sons of Israel on the second goat, he was placing on it all their iniquities with the guilt and with the penalties. The sacrificial goat was then driven to a land cut off, a land cut off from the life and blessings of God. The goat took the place of, and bore the penalty for, those who had sinned. If the goat had not taken their place, those who had sinned would have been driven from the camp of God. The sacrificial offerings (speaking of the sacrificial offerings in general) bore the sins of the sons of Israel with the guilt and with the penalties (including the death penalty)

The passage that we will discuss the most extensively in chapters 1, 2, and 3 is Isaiah chapter 53. This is probably the most important chapter in the Bible that deals with the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Well over half of the combined content of chapters 1, 2, and 3 deals with verses from Isaiah chapter 53.) All three Hebrew nouns (pesha, awon, and chet) are used in this chapter of Isaiah.

As we will discuss, there were very definite limits to what could be accomplished through the old-covenant sacrifices. They did not have the authority or power to dethrone sin, spiritual death, or Satan and the demons. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, had no such limitations. Isaiah chapter 53 shows that full salvation - including the new birth and the victory over sin - is provided through His atoning death. He bore our pesha, awon, and chet so we could have full salvation, including ultimate glory in God's new Jerusalem.

Every aspect of our salvation comes to us through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mankind was under spiritual death, which came as a penalty for sin (Adam's sin); but now we (all true Christians) have been born again and are indwelled by the Spirit of LIFE (the Holy Spirit). Closely connected with spiritual death, mankind was in bondage to sin, but now we have been set free and are enslaved to God and His righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, bore the guilt of our sin, so we could be forgiven. HE BORE THE PENALTY OF SPIRITUAL DEATH, SO WE COULD GET OUT FROM UNDER THAT PENALTY AND BE BORN AGAIN. AND HE BORE OUR BONDAGE TO SIN, SO WE COULD BE MADE RIGHTEOUS AND HOLY WITH THE VERY IMPARTED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS OF GOD. Many key aspects of our salvation are reserved for the future (like resurrection and glorification); these things will also come to us through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now I'm going to reread a sentence from the Introduction of the book; then we'll turn to chapter 2 of the book, "A prime goal for these studies is to show that these Hebrew nouns include within their range of meaning the ideas of sin (transgression, iniquity), guilt of sin, AND PENALTY FOR SIN."

I'm turning to chapter 2, which is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Hebrew Noun 'Awon.' " Awon is used some 230 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Some spell it avon.

The NASB translates awon as follows: iniquity(ies) (189), guilt (21), guilty (1), PUNISHMENT (12), PUNISHMENT FOR INIQUITY (6), blame (1).

The KJV has: iniquity(ies) (218), mischief (1), PUNISHMENT(S) (6), PUNISHMENT OF INIQUITY (4), sin (1), fault (2).

The NIV has: sin(s) (109), iniquity(ies) (22), guilt (35), CONSEQUENCES OF SIN (3), PUNISHED (2), PUNISHMENT (9), PUNISHMENT FOR SINS (1), and they translated this Hebrew noun quite a few other ways too.

I believe the NASB, KJV, and the NIV are typically correct in those places where they translate awon as "punishment," "punishment for iniquity," or the equivalent. In my opinion, however, there are many more verses where this emphasis should be recognized. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon (under awon) lists sixty-four verses under the sub-heading "consequences of, or punishment for, iniquity." (The KJV has "punishment(s)" or "punishment of iniquity" ten times; the NASB has "punishment" or "punishment for iniquity" eighteen times; and the NIV is similar.) I agree with the BDB Hebrew Lexicon on at least most of these sixty-four listings, and I would add several more to their list, including Isa. 53:5 and Dan. 9:16.

Now we come to the heading "Quotations from the Article on 'Awon' in the 'Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament' (which was published by Moody Press in 1980). "Moreover, as the above references indicate, it [awon] denotes both the deed and its consequences, the misdeed and its punishment. Both notions are present, but sometimes the focus is on the deed ('sin'), and at other times on the outcome of the misdeed ('punishment'), and sometimes on the situation between the deed and its consequence ('guilt')."

I'll quote one more paragraph from this important article. "The remarkable ambivalence between the meanings 'sin as an act' and 'penalty' shows that in the thought of the OT [Old Testament] sin and its penalty are not radically separate notions as we tend to think of them. Rather in the OT the action of man and what happens to him are presupposed to be directly related as one process within the basic divine order." For one thing, God wanted His people to understand that He hates sin and sin has penalties/consequences.

Now we'll discuss Gen. 4:13, one of the many verses in the Hebrew Old Testament that uses awon. For a start, I'll read Gen. 4:8-13 from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition. "... And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (9) Then the LORD [Yahweh] said to Cain, 'Where is Abel your brother?' And he said, 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?' (10) He [Yahweh] said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground. (11) Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. (12) When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.' (13) Cain said to the LORD [Yahweh], 'My punishment [my awon] is too great to bear!' "

The NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, and the BDB Hebrew Lexicon all translate awon as "punishment" here in Gen. 4:13. The context makes is clear that Cain was complaining about his punishment. Genesis 4:2-10 spell out the iniquity of Cain that led to this "punishment," and verses 11, 12, and 14 spell out something of the "punishment" (penalty) that Cain was to bear.

"To bear" is a translation of the Hebrew verb "nasa". This Hebrew verb is frequently used with awon in the Old Testament. (This verb is also used with the Hebrew noun chet in the Old Testament.) We often hear of persons bearing their awon or chet, with the emphasis on the fact that they are bearing the punishment/penalty/chastisement for their iniquity/sin. Several places we read of a sacrificial offering (especially the Lamb of God) bearing the awon or chet in place of those who sinned. Cain was bearing his awon; he was bearing his iniquity with the guilt and with the punishment/penalty, but the context puts the emphasis on his bearing the punishment/penalty for his iniquity.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, didn't just bear our sin with the guilt so we could be forgiven, as important as that is. I think essentially all evangelical Christians understand that the Lord bore our sin with the guilt so we could be forgiven, but that's only a rather small part of what He did for us (and earned for us) in His all-important atoning death. He bore our sins with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, not to mention hell. He bore the penalty of spiritual death that originated with the rebellion and fall of Adam and Eve, so we could get out from under that penalty and be born again. AND HE BORE OUR BONDAGE TO SIN, SO WE COULD GET OUR FROM UNDER THAT EVIL TASKMASTER AND LIVE IN THE VERY RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS OF GOD THROUGH NEW COVENANT SALVATION IN UNION WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. I'll read 1 Pet. 2:24, one of a very large number of verses in the New Testament that shows that we are set free from bondage to sin and enabled to live in the righteousness of God through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, "and He Himself bore our sin in His body on the cross [HE BORE OUR SIN with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES], SO THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS; for by His wounds you were healed." And verse 25 goes on to say, "For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."

The new birth and holiness and victory over sin have been provided and are available to us now. At the end of this age we will be glorified and begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in God's new Jerusalem. Those glorious things will also come to us through the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course our salvation is also dependent on His subsequent resurrection, ascension, etc.

It's time to stop. We'll come back to the study of these three Hebrew nouns in the next article. God bless you!

Copyright by Karl Kemp 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.

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