Holiness and Victory Over Sin #25
by Karl Kemp 1/11/2012 / Bible Studies
Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to rightly divide your Word. We want to understand your Word. We want to live your Word. We want to glorify you. In Jesus' mighty name! Amen!
Last time when we stopped, we were in the middle of a study of Heb. 10:8-18. Now we're ready for Heb. 10:14, a very important verse. For a start I'll read Heb. 10:10, 14 from the "New American Standard Bible," 1977 edition, which was used in my book. The book is titled, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." (The book is available at my website and at amazon.com.) Hebrews 10:10, "By this will [the will of God, which was spoken of in verses 7, 9] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ["We have been sanctified." That's a perfect tense in the Greek, which communicates the idea that we have been sanctified and we now live in an abiding state of holiness.] ... (14) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."
I'll read what I said in my book under the words, "For by one offering He has perfected" (but as I have mentioned, sometimes I modify what is written in the book for these articles). The old covenant sacrifices could not perfect the worshippers, because, as we have seen, they could not dethrone sin, impart spiritual life, or sanctify the hearts and lives of the believers (see Heb. 7:11, 19; 9:9; and 10:1). I'll read Heb. 10:1, "For the Law [the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant], since it has only a shadow of the good things to come [referring to new covenant salvation, which is based on the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ] and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near."
"By one offering," however, the Lord Jesus Christ has dethroned sin, imparted spiritual life, sanctified believers, and removed the veil at the entrance to the holy of holies, thereby opening the way into the presence of God. "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb. 10:14). The PERFECTIION of believers includes having spiritual life and being sanctified, and it includes having access to God (see, for example, Heb. 7:19, 25; 10:19-22; and Eph. 2:18-22). On the words, "He has perfected," see Heb. 11:39, 40. I have an endnote that discusses these verses. I'll read the six-paragraph endnote, Since these verses (Heb. 11:39, 40) are quite important, and since their meaning is not especially obvious, it will be helpful to discuss them.
First I'll read Heb. 11:39, 40, "And all these [the believers from Old Testament days, who are spoken of throughout Hebrews chapter 11], having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, (40) because God had provided something better for us [for us new covenant believers], so that apart from us they should not be made perfect." The believers who lived in the days of the Old Testament could "not receive what was promised" until it became available through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ and new covenant salvation. "What was promised" includes the being "made perfect" spoken of in Heb. 11:40 (and in Heb. 10:14 and other verses). Hebrews 11:40 says that "apart from us they could not be made perfect." They had to wait for the Lord Jesus Christ to overthrow spiritual death and sin by His atoning death and to open the way into the presence of God. Now that this salvation has become available, these believers HAVE BEEN MADE PERFECT along with us, the new covenant believers.
Although this perfection (which is a relative perfection, not an absolute perfection) has been provided for new covenant believers, many Christians have not been walking in the fullness of this perfection. For one thing, THIS PERFECTION INCLUDES BEING SANCTIFIED AND LIVING IN A STATE OF HOLINESS. True Christians can sin, but to the extent we sin, we are not living in a state of holiness, or walking in the perfection spoken of here. But as long as we are living in the center of God's will, by His saving grace, by faith, it can be said that we have been perfected, even though it is understood that we still have the potential to walk in the flesh and to sin, even though it is understood that we still have a need to grow in the things of God, and even though it is understood that we have not been glorified yet.
Let's briefly discuss what it meant for those Old Testament believers to be perfected. Hebrews 12:23 speaks of those believers with the words, "the spirits of righteous men made perfect," and it shows that they are now in heaven. They are called "spirits" because they died physically and have not yet received their resurrection bodies. They are called "righteous" because they were believers and were accepted by God; and as Hebrews chapter 11 and many other passages show, those believers lived (relatively) righteous lives (by grace) through faith (see Heb. 11:4, 7, 33; and Gen. 6:9, for example). I'll read part of Gen. 6:9, "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God."
Although those believers lived relatively righteous lives, they are saved by grace through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Before He had dethroned sin and death (both spiritual death and physical death) and made them perfect, those believers were in spiritual death, like all the descendants of Adam. At death they went to Sheol/Hades (the abode of the dead), but not in the sense that it was a place of punishment for them (see, for example, Gen. 37:35; Psalm 16:10; Isa. 38:10; Luke 16:22-31; 23:43; and Acts 2:27-32). ("Sheol" is a Hebrew word; "Hades" is a Greek word.) The name "Paradise" was sometimes used for the believer's compartment in Sheol/Hades. (These things are discussed in more detail in my verse-by-verse discussion of Ephesians chapter 4 on my internet site: Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) Now that the sin problem has been solved and spiritual death has been overthrown through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, those believers have been taken to heaven. This is a big part of what it meant for the Old Testament believers to be "made perfect."
Those believers are still waiting for their resurrection bodies (with the exception of the select group mentioned in Matt. 27:52, 53), even as new covenant believers are waiting. The glory reserved for us in the future, including reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ, will come to us (all believers) through His all-important atoning death. (I recommend the commentary by F. F. Bruce on these verses ["Epistle to the Hebrews," published by Eerdmans in 1964] and the commentary by F. Delitzsch ["Epistle to the Hebrews," a 1978 reprint by Klock and Klock].) That completes the endnote, now I'll turn back to where we were on page 159.
I'll read Heb. 10:14 again, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." I'll read what I said under the words "for all time." This "one offering" solved the sin problem for all believers, including the believers from Old Testament days (see Heb. 11:39, 40). Every person who enters God's new Jerusalem will enter because of this one offering (see Rev. 21:27, for example). And if a Christian should slip into sin, restoration is provided when they repent through this same "one offering" (see 1 John 2:1, 2, for example).
I'll comment briefly on the words, "those who are sanctified" of Heb. 10:14, "Those who are sanctified" are the one who "have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" of Heb. 10:10. They have been set apart by God for God, set apart from everything unholy and sinful.
Now we come to the subheading, "A Discussion of Hebrews 8:6-13 and 9:13, 14." These passages are very important, and they will help us understand Heb. 10:8-18. I'll read Heb. 8:6-13 from the NIV, "But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs [the old covenant high priests] as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. (7) For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. (8) But God found fault with the people and said: 'The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. ["The Lord" is Yahweh in the Hebrew throughout this passage. We Gentiles can be very thankful for the fact that God has invited us to be saved through the new covenant too.] (9) It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. (10) [This is a very important verse. It speaks of God's sanctifying His people by an inner transformation.] This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws within their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (11) No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord." Because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (12) For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.' (13) By calling this covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." The very important quotation contained in verses 8-12 is from Jer. 31:31-34, a very important prophecy.
I'll read what I said under Heb. 8:9, This verse shows why a new and better covenant was needed. The people of Israel were sinners (like the rest of the offspring of Adam), and they rather consistently broke the old covenant - "they did not continue in [God's] covenant."
I'll read Heb. 8:10 again, then comment on this super-important verse. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." This verse is extremely important to help us understand the nature of the new covenant salvation that became available through the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. At Mt. Sinai God had given the people of Israel His laws, but in general, they did not take His laws into their hearts and live by them (see Heb. 8:9). By the new covenant, however, God dethroned the sin and spiritual death that was reigning in the hearts of His people; by His indwelling, life-giving, sanctifying Spirit, He puts His laws "in their minds" and "on their hearts." (The renewal of the mind by the Word of God and the Spirit of God is discussed under Rom. 8:5-7 in chapter 6 of this book.) These words through Jeremiah were an effective way for God to say that He would make His people (true Israel) righteous and holy. Christians (as they walk by faith and by the Holy Spirit) fulfill the requirement of God's Law in their daily lives (see Rom. 8:4, for example).
Under Heb. 8:11 I said, God's people know Him on and experiential level through His indwelling Spirit (see, for example, John 17:3; Rom. 8:14-16; and 1 John 2:3, 4, 12-14). And under verse 12 I said, This verse speaks of the all-important forgiveness of sins that has been provided through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we come to the subheading Hebrews 9:13, 14. These verses are very important, but I'll skip them for this article. Now we come to Heb. 10:15-18. We have already discussed Heb. 10:8-14. I'll read these verses from the New American Standard Bible, 1977 edition, but I don't fully agree with this translation. We'll get into the details as we continue. "And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, (16) 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them.' He then says, 'and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' (18) Now where there is forgiveness [Greek aphesis] of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin."
Hebrews 10:15 says "the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us." The writer of Hebrews means that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truthfulness of what has been said in the preceding verses about the sin problem (which was not solved by the old covenant) being solved now through new covenant salvation. The idea is that the Holy Spirit bears witness in that He was the One who spoke through Jeremiah the prophet, who is loosely quoted in the two verses that follow, verses 16, 17.
Now we'll discuss Heb. 10:16, 17. This loose quotation from Jer. 31:31-34, which was quoted in fuller form in Heb. 8:8-12 (verses that I quoted above), confirms that the sin problem has been fully solved by the new covenant. In Heb. 10:16, 17 the writer just loosely quotes that part of Jer. 31:31-34 that directly deals with salvation from sin. Especially relevant is his loose quotation of the words, "I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them" in verse 16. This "quotation" effectively shows that a major feature of new covenant salvation is the inner transformation (sanctification) of believers. New covenant believers are set free from the authority and power of sin and enabled to live in the righteousness and holiness of God. He puts His righteous laws upon the hearts and minds of Christians, and as we walk by the Holy Spirit (by faith, in accordance with the gospel), we fulfill the requirement of God's moral Law (see Rom. 8:4; 2:26, 27; and Ezek. 36:26, 27). That part of Jer. 31:31-34 that is quoted in Heb. 10:17 speaks of complete forgiveness as God remembers our sins and lawless deeds no more.
At the end of verse 16, the NASB has the words "He then says" in italics. The KJV has nothing to correspond with these added words, and my United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament" (fourth revised edition) does not include these words. The manuscript evidence for these added words is extremely weak. I believe it is very important that we do not include these added words. If we add these words, we set the stage to misunderstand verse 18, which is a very important summarizing verse The super-important words "I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them" of verse 16 are wrongly isolated from verse 18 by these added words.
It is true that we expect some words like "He then says" because verse 15 ends with the words "for after saying," and we expect the counterpart for these words. However, if we were to add words like "He then says," we should add them in the middle of verse 16, just before the words, "I will put my laws upon their heart." That way the added words would not lead to a misinterpretation of verse 18. As quite a few commentators have pointed out, apparently the writer of Hebrews used the words that were translated "says the Lord" to serve as the counterpart for the words at the end of verse 15.
Now we come to Heb. 10:18. I'll read the verse again, but I'm not satisfied with this translation, "Now where there is forgiveness [Greek "aphesis"] of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin." Rightly understood, this verse well summarizes the fact that the sin problem has been fully solved in the One Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, very much including the inner transformation (sanctification) spoken of with the words, "I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them." I believe it is clear that "forgiveness" is not an adequate translation for aphesis here in verse 18, at least not if we think of forgiveness in the widely accepted narrow sense of the forgiveness of the guilt of sin. In earlier articles we rather thoroughly discussed the fact that aphesis is sometimes used in a much fuller sense in the New Testament.
I believe an expanded translation like the following conveys the intended meaning, "Now where there is RELEASE from these things [that is, release from being under our sins with the guilt and the penalties (back to Adam) - WITH THE EMPHASIS ON OUR BEING RELEASED FROM THE PENALTIES OF SPIRITUAL DEATH AND BONDAGE TO SIN] - there is no longer any offering for sin." Since His one Sacrifice fully solved the sin problem, there is no longer a need for further sacrificial offerings.
Actually, if all we had was the forgiveness of the guilt of sin, we would still need a Savior to set us free from bondage to sin, spiritual death, and Satan. We would still be spiritually dead sinners in rebellion against God and His laws. However, since the One Sacrifice was fully effective and met every need, as the writer of Hebrews says again and again, there is no need for any further sacrifice. Also, if a Christian should slip into sin, forgiveness and restoration are provided through the One Sacrifice (see 1 John 2:1, 2, for example). That concludes our study of Heb. 10:8-18, very important verses.
Now I'll turn to the last chapter of my book; the chapter is titled, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin Through the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atoning Death." This chapter originated with the study of the meaning of the words "we have been sanctified" of Hebrews 10:10.
The Greek verb behind the words "we have been sanctified" is "hagiazo." This Greek verb, which is used twenty-eight times in the New Testament, is normally translated "sanctify" (in some form) by the NASB and the KJV. The NIV translates it "sanctify" (in some form) thirteen times. The NIV also translates hagiazo as consecrated, hallowed, made holy, make(s) holy, makes sacred, and set apart.
Hagiazo was derived from the adjective hagios, which is used over two hundred times in the New Testament and is normally translated Holy/holy or saint(s) by the NASB, KJV, and the NIV. The Greek noun hagiasmos, which was derived from the verb hagiazo, is used ten times in the New Testament and is normally translated holiness or sanctification by the NASB and KJV. The NIV has holiness four times. It also has be sanctified, holy, holy life, and sanctifying. The Greek noun hagiosune, which was derived from the adjective hagios, is used three times in the New Testament and is translated holiness by the NASB and KJV. The NIV has holiness two times and holy one time.
It is beyond the scope of this study to discuss the range of meaning of hagiazo, hagios, hagiasmos, and hagiosune. This study will be limited to one very important, but not well understood, New Testament use of these words. These Greek words are frequently used to communicate the idea that Christians are actually to be SET APART from sin and to live for God in an abiding state of holiness (basically) from the time of conversion. This is the ideal, and the New Testament does not present it as an unrealistic or unattainable ideal.
I have observed over the years that many Christians do not have an adequate understanding of the meaning of words like holiness, holy, saint, and sanctify. There are at least two ways in which these words are often misunderstood:
1. Some reduce holiness to the mere positional or ceremonial. From this point of view, Christians are automatically holy, even if they are living in sin. I'm not saying that these words are never used in a positional, ceremonial sense, but this is not the typical New Testament use of these words.
2. Others agree that holiness means that Christians are actually set apart from sin for God, but they deny that Christians can be holy now, during this present life. According to this widespread viewpoint, the best a Christian can hope for (have faith for) is to be in a process (a sanctifying process) in which the amount of sin is decreasing as the years go by. I agree that Christians must be growing (see 2 Cor. 3:18, which speaks of our being transformed from glory to glory), but the New Testament doesn't normally use the words sanctify, holiness, etc. to speak of this growth. And, significantly, the New Testament makes it very clear that Christians are actually to be set apart from sin (to be dead to sin). In the ideal case, we will be living in a state of holiness, and we will be growing. This is good news!
Our faith must be based on what the Bible actually says. If we believe that the Bible says that we cannot have the victory over sin now, we certainly will not have the victory over sin. The world, the flesh, and the devil are very real opponents, and we cannot walk in victory over them apart from the sufficient grace of God in Christ, which is appropriated by faith. I'm not talking about the power of positive thinking; I'm talking about trusting God and being sanctified by His saving power and for His glory. It is necessary for us to understand the Word of God, but we will never understand it (to a satisfactory extent) if we wrongly define key words like sanctify and holiness.
In the following study the verses listed under hagiazo, hagiasmos, hagiosune, and hagios were chosen because the context, and sometimes the form of the verb (for example, "we have been sanctified") helps demonstrate that these Greek words fit the ideal pattern we are discussing in this chapter: that we are actually supposed to be set apart from sin and to live in an abiding state of holiness now. I have not included every verse that fits this pattern, but I believe the verses I have listed are more than sufficient to demonstrate that this pattern is widespread in the New Testament.
Several verses I have listed do not quite fit the ideal pattern, but they help demonstrate this pattern. These verses deal with situations in which some Christians were not adequately set apart from sin. Four such verses are 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Tim. 2:21 (both verses are listed under the verb hagiazo) and 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 3:13 (both verses are listed under the noun hagiosune). In each of these verses the apostle Paul was concerned that this inadequate situation be soon rectified and these Christians become sanctified. ...
We come to the heading, "Some Verses that Use 'Hagiazo' and Fit the Ideal Pattern." I listed Acts 26:18 (discussed in chapter 7 of this book); 1 Cor. 1:2 (discussed below); 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26 (discussed below); 1 Thess. 5:23 (discussed below); 2 Tim. 2:21 (discussed below); and Heb. 10:10, 14, 29 and 13:12 (Hebrews 10:10, 14 are discussed in chapter 7 of this book, and we have discussed these verses in this article and the last article.)
I'll reread Heb. 10:10, 14; then I'll read Heb. 10:29 in its context with Heb. 10:26-31. Hebrews 10:10, "By this will [the will of God] WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." "We have been sanctified," using the perfect tense in the Greek. Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering He has perfected [using the perfect tense in the Greek] for all time THOSE WHO ARE SANCTIFIED." "Those who are sanctified" in verse 14 are the ones who "have been sanctified" of verse 10.
Hebrews 10:26-31, "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (28) Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (29) How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant [the new covenant] BY WHICH HE WAS SANCTIFIED, and has insulted the Spirit of grace [the Holy Spirit, through whom Christians are born again and sanctified]? (30) For we know Him who said, 'vengeance is mine, I will repay.' And again, 'the Lord will judge His people.' (31) It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
The writer of Hebrews very strongly exhorted and warned his Christian readers here (and other places in this epistle) of the awesome seriousness of turning their backs on the new covenant that had sanctified them. He was dealing with the super-serious sin of apostasy in context, but his words don't leave room for any willful rebellion (sin) against God and His covenant.
We must take this warning against falling away from the faith very seriously, but the Bible also speaks quite a bit about Christians who have fallen away from the faith to one degree or another repenting and turning back to God. Quite often the devil has convinced backsliden Christians that they have gone too far and there is no possibility that God will forgive and restore them. God is merciful toward the repentant. I strongly encourage every Christian who has fallen away from the faith to one degree or another, to turn back to God.
We'll continue with this important study in the next article. God bless you!
My book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin; Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" is available on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching) and at amazon.com.
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.