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A STUDY ON SANCTIFICATION THAT BUILDS ON THE INFLUENTIAL TEACHING OF WILLIAM H. DURHAM (AD 1873-1912), PART 4
by Karl Kemp
4/09/2019 / Bible Studies
We finish section 5.2 ("Excerpts from Chapter 3 of Five Views on Sanctification (Acadamie Books of Zondervan, 1987), which Is Titled "The Pentecostal Perspective," Written by Stanley M. Horton (on the back of the book it mentions that he was "Professor of Bible and Theology, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary"), pages 105-138").here at the beginning of Part 4 of this paper, then we go on the section 5.3.
I'll give one more excerpt where I have to disagree with Horton, but I could have given several more. (I don't want to leave a wrong impression about Horton: Large numbers of Christian teachers would agree with Horton on at least most of what He teaches about sanctification.) I'll quote a paragraph from the top of page 119: "In my book What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit [(Springfield, Mo.: Gospel, 1976), page 251], I [Horton] point out:
The Holy Spirit is also a witness to us that God has accepted Christ's sacrifice and 'hath perfected forever them that are sanctified' [(Horton's bracket) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy, NIV (Horton makes it clear in the last sentence of this excerpt/paragraph that he believes the NIV translation is the correct translation. I have to disagree.)] (Heb. 10:14). [[(This double bracket continues for six paragraphs.) There is a lot we need to discuss here. Hebrews 10:1-18 is a very important passage that powerfully teaches that we are called, and enabled, to walk in an abiding state of holiness, with the victory over all sin. (Hebrews chapters 8-10 are discussed in some detail in a paper on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching].) For one thing, the writer of Hebrews emphasizes the gigantic difference between the old and new covenants throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, very much including in Hebrews 10:1-18. This was very important because some of the recipients of this epistle (Hebrew/Jewish Christians) were wavering in their faith, being pressured (persecuted), and tempted, to turn back toward the old covenant. The writer of Hebrews exhorts and warns them that they will have to trample on the blood of Christ and insult the Holy Spirit on their way back (see Heb. 10:29).
Hebrews 10:1 says that the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant, was not able to make perfect those under the Law (cf. Heb. 7:19; 9:9). Believers under the Law were forgiven through their sacrifices (see Leviticus chapter 4, especially verses 20,26, and 35, for example) except for their willful and defiant sins, but the old covenant sacrifices couldn't get rid of the penalties that came on mankind because of the rebellion of Adam, including the major penalties of spiritual death and the bondage to sin that comes with spiritual death (see Rom. 5:12-21). To be MADE PERFECT through new-covenant salvation in the blood of Christ and the outpoured, indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit includes total forgiveness, BEING BORN AGAIN (which is a really big deal), BEING SANCTIFIED/MADE HOLY (which includes being called, and enabled, to live in an abiding state of holiness with the victory over all sin and demons), having a totally clear conscience, and having access to God beyond the veil.
If we want to understand Heb. 10:14 we cannot skip what the writer said in Heb. 10:10. (Horton, along with many others, skipped this super-important detail. It doesn't fit what they believe - think they know - about holiness. If it wasn't for that they would rightly emphasize what the writer said in Heb. 10:10.) I'll quote Heb. 10:10: By this will [referring to the will of God that deals with the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus spoken of in the preceding verses] we have been sanctified [or, we have been made holy]. It is very significant that the writer of Hebrews used the perfect tense here, which communicates the meaning that we have been made holy and the results (are supposed to) abide. (Our living in an abiding state of holiness is never automatic, because we have to appropriate God's enabling, sanctifying grace by faith on a continuous basis.) The writer of Hebrews was speaking of the ideal once-for-all transformation to an abiding state of holiness that has been provided for us in the blood of the Lamb and by the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of life. He was not speaking of a process whereby sin is progressively reduced as time goes on. The New Testament makes it clear we need to keep on growing throughout our lives in Christ, but in the ideal (which the writer of Hebrews is dealing with) we will not be growing out of sin because we will be walking with the victory over all sin.
I'll quote Heb. 10:14 again: For by one offering He has perfected [perfect tense again in the Greek, as in Heb. 10:10] for all time [The perfection that the old covenant could not provide through their sacrifices has now been provided by the Sacrifice of the sinless Son of God. In the paragraph before the last one, I pointed out what this new-covenant perfection includes. When we learn who the Lord Jesus is and what He has done for us in God the Father's new-covenant plan of salvation, and incorporate the fact that God hates sin, IT WOULD BE SHOCKING IF THAT ONE OFFERING/SACRIFICE DID NOT PROVIDE AN ABIDING STATE OF HOLINESS WITH THE VICTORY OVER SIN FOR ALL BELIEVERS. The writer of Hebrews is including the authority and power for Christians to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin here, as he often does in this epistle.] those who are sanctified [The having been made perfect (perfect tense) spoken of in the first part of this verse results, for one super-important thing, in the abiding state of holiness of "those who are sanctified." The King James Version, which Horton quoted above, has "them that are sanctified," which is a proper translation, along with "those who are sanctified" or "those who are holy" or the equivalent). But Horton is basing his interpretation on the translation of the NIV, "those who are being made holy [which would communicate the same meaning a "are being sanctified"]."
It's true that the Greek at the end of Heb. 10:14 could be translated "those who are sanctified (or, made holy)" or "those who are being sanctified (or, being made holy)." The Greek is ambiguous here in verse 14 and could be translated either way. HOWEVER, what the writer of Hebrews said in verse 10 was not ambiguous: He made it very clear that He was speaking of having been sanctified (perfect tense), which results in an abiding state of holiness. (It results in an abiding state of holiness for all those who know of and appropriate God's powerful sanctifying grace by faith.) The reason why many opt for the wrong translation at the end of Heb. 10:14 is because they know - they think they know - that Christians cannot live in an abiding state of holiness with the victory over all sin. Most of them will admit and promote that fact: that we are not called, or enabled, to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. It is clear to me that the writer of Hebrews believed it along with the rest of the writers of the New Testament. (now continuing to quote from Horton:)]] This is confirmed by Jeremiah's prophecy (Heb. 10:16 [and 8:10]; Jer. 31:33), even though Jeremiah himself did not mention the Holy Spirit. [[I believe Jeremiah's super-important prophecy about God's writing His laws on our hearts through new-covenant salvation fully confirms what I am saying about Hebrews 10:1-18. God transforms us in our hearts by writing His laws on our hearts, thereby enabling us to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God as His born-again children, with the victory over all sin.
Like Horton said, Jeremiah didn't mention the Holy Spirit here; he didn't mention the all-important atoning death and blood of the Lamb of God either, but we learn of them from other verses. Ezekiel 36:25-27 is a very important prophecy dealing with the Spirit's work in new-covenant salvation. I'll quote 36:26-27: Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. And Isaiah chapter 53 is a very important prophecy dealing with the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God that, for one thing, makes us righteous and holy (enables us to be righteous and holy with the victory over all sin). Of course, we always have to appropriate God's enabling sanctifying grace by faith on a continuous basis until we are glorified.]] In this case, the 'perfecting' was accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. "Forever" [KJV of Heb. 10:14; the NASB has "for all time"] means either continuously or for all time and refers to the fact that His sacrifice was 'once for all' (Heb. 9:28). [The point is that His one Sacrifice fully solved the spiritual death and bondage to sin problem for all time, including for the believers under the old covenant. They are saved through His atoning death. God has done all that He needs to do for us to live in an abiding state of holiness.] 'Sanctified' [(Horton's bracket) being made holy, NIV] is in a continuous form of the verb, 'those who are being sanctified [made holy (Horton's bracket)] or consecrated, dedicated to God and His service." As the translations of the NASB and KJV demonstrate, and as I have mentioned, the form of the Greek verb used here (a present tense participle) is ambiguous: It can just as well be translated "those who are sanctified" (or the equivalent) as "those who are being sanctified." But, as discussed above, Heb. 10:10 confirms that the intended meaning is "those who are sanctified." This is important! It is a great blessing – VERY GOOD NEWS - to learn that we are called, and enabled, to live in an abiding state of holiness, with the victory over everything that God would consider to be sin for us. AMEN
5.3. I'll Quote what the Assemblies of God Say under "Sanctification" under "Our 16 Fundamental Truths" on their Official Web Site. They don't say very much, but I believe what little they say here is good. Christians could have faith for victory over all sin based on what is said here. They make a few comments and list quite a few verses. The verses are not written out, but you can click on KJV or NIV to read the verses while on the internet.
"Sanctification is an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God."
Then they list Romans 12:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 [It makes a big difference how we interpret this verse, as I discuss in this paper. I believe the apostle Paul prayed that these newly converted Christians, who had known much opposition from the beginning, including the fact that the apostle Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica early because of opposition, would be sanctified spirit, soul, and body in the very near future. For one thing, Paul prayed that God might direct his way to Thessalonica to help them.]; Hebrews 13:12 [This verse isn't especially helpful.]
"The Scriptures teach a life of 'holiness without which no man will see the Lord' [Heb. 12:14].
By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to obey the command: 'Be ye holy, for I am holy' [1 Pet. 1:15-16]."
"Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by the faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit."
Then they list Roman 6:11; Romans 6:13; Romans 8:1-2; Romans 8:13; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:12-13; and 1 Peter 1:5.
5.4. I'll Quote Quite a Bit from Foundations of Pentecostal Theology by Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. VanCleave [Copyright © 1983. 1987 by L.I.F.E. Bible College at Los Angeles 2006, 2008, Foursquare Media, Los Angeles, CA], 630 pages). As I mentioned, I’ll also comment on the Foursquare denomination's view on sanctification. It is similar to the Assemblies of God view. There are some who believe that we can walk with the victory over sin, but it seems that the majority believe in progressive sanctification where sin in progressively put off throughout the Christians' lives.
When I asked a few Foursquare ministers what book(s) they would recommend, this is the book they mentioned. I am not satisfied with what the authors have to say on sanctification/holiness and victory over sin. (For one thing, it seems that these scholars were influenced more by popular evangelical teaching on sanctification/holiness than by the views of Aimee Semple McPherson, who founded the Foursquare denomination, and some other Foursquare ministers. The excerpts under the next section of this paper (section 5.5.) that follow will demonstrate this: Those excerpts have a much more positive view regarding victory over sin.) I'll give quite a few excerpts with many of my comments. I'll limit these excerpts (here in section 5.4) to under the heading "Sanctification," on pages 242-251.
I could quote many positive things the authors have to say about victory over sin from this book, but much that they say under "Sanctification" doesn't fit the viewpoint that we can be holy/sanctified now, abiding in a state of holiness with the victory over all sin. What they say is in agreement with a very widespread view among Christians, but I don't believe that view lines up with the dominant view taught in the New Testament. WHAT I'M SHARING IS GOOD NEWS! What I'm sharing is in essential agreement with what William H. Durham and A. S. Copley were teaching back in the early 1900s. Most true Christians know that God hates sin, and they would like to have the full victory over all sin. However, for one super-important detail, what we can appropriate by faith is limited to what we believe God's Word teaches.
Under the subheading, "The primary meaning [of sanctification]" (pages 242-243), they say, "Sanctification entails a dedication, consecration, or setting apart for some specific and holy use." They go on to speak of dedicating a house, a field, or the vessels in the temple. When this use is applied to Christians it doesn't say much, and it can significantly confuse the issue. It doesn't say anything about our actually being set apart for God from sin and demons in our daily lives, with the victory over sin. We need to actually be set apart from sin and everything defiling for God in our daily lives. They also say, "It is important for every Christian to realize that he is a chosen vessel, set apart for a very special purpose for the glory of God. In this sense he is already sanctified." This could be called positional sanctification. I believe this label is more confusing than helpful: We need the actual set-apartness that is the dominant meaning of the word when used of Christians in the New Testament. I'll quote 1 Peter 1:14-16 for an important example of a large number of examples:
As obedient children [children of obedience], do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance [before these Gentiles became Christians], (15) but like the Holy One who called you, 'be holy yourselves in all your behavior [The words "in all your behavior" show that Peter is speaking of actual holiness, which is typical when referring to the holiness of born-again Christians]; (16) because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY [I prefer "Be holy" with the NIV], FOR I AM HOLY." Verse 17, and many other verses of 1 Peter, confirms that Peter is speaking of actually being set apart from everything sinful, defiling, and unholy for God and His holiness.
On page 244 they have a heading "Three aspects of sanctification." Under this heading they have "a) The initial act of sanctification is positional. The moment a person is born again he is said to be sanctified." I don't believe this concept is helpful. More importantly, I don't agree with the interpretation of the verses they quote here to demonstrate this so-called "positional" sanctification. I'll take the time to discuss all of the verses they quote here. This is important! 1 Corinthians 6:11 (KJV). Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. They use the KJV unless otherwise noted. It isn't of crucial significance here, but the Greek would typically be translated "but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified....” as in the NKJV, NASB, NIV, etc. In this context the apostle Paul was rebuking some of the Christians at Corinth for their sin, as he frequently was throughout 1 Corinthians. He strongly warned them that their sins that he was dealing with in that context (along with all other sin) are totally incompatible with being a Christian. He gave them a very strong warning: I'll read the two preceding verses, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NASB). "Or you do not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? [In verse 8 he had just spoken of Christians at Corinth sinning, even sinning against other Christians.] Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. To miss the kingdom of God is to miss heaven, and there is only one alternative destination. The apostle was powerfully warning them for the primary purpose that they would repent. It wouldn't suffice for them to ask forgiveness and continue with their sinning, and he wasn't reminding them that they have a so-called positional sanctification.
In 1 Cor. 6:11 the apostle was reminding them that Christians, by definition, are those who have been sanctified [and he was speaking of a sanctification/state of holiness that included being set apart from everything sinful]. It was necessary for the Christians at Corinth who were sinning to repent and become what they are called, enabled, and required to be with a top priority. There is no thought here of a positional sanctification/holiness. That idea would work against what Paul was exhorting his readers to do: To repent and become what Christians are enabled and required to be.
Paul had one primary thought on his mind: The Corinthian Christians needed to repent. They needed to submit, by faith, to the powerful sanctifying power of the blood of the Lamb and the HOLY Spirit who indwelled them to become what they are called, enabled, and required to be. I realize that this involves warfare, and it certainly isn't always easy, but we cannot afford to modify what God has called us to.
After 1 Cor. 6:11 the authors quoted and discussed 2 Thessalonians 2:13. We are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit [I prefer "by the Spirit" with the NASB, NKJV.] and faith in the truth. They say, "This is positional sanctification. At this time the holiness of Jesus is imputed to the believer. He may not yet be holy in his daily living, but the holiness of Jesus is put to his account, much like the righteousness of Jesus is put to the account of the believer when he is justified." I don't believe the thought of a positional sanctification that had nothing to do with actually being set apart from sin for God entered Paul's mind here. He was speaking of actually being set apart from sin for God. He knew that God hates sin and that He paid an infinite price in the Sacrifice of His Son to set us free (redeem) us from the kingdom of sin, darkness, and Satan and to make us holy and righteous, and that the Righteous, Holy Spirit of God dwells in every born-again Christian. God imparts His holiness and righteousness to us. Jesus didn't just bear the guilt of our sin so we could be forgiven and have a right standing with God (positional righteousness) and a so-called positional sanctification/holiness: He bore our sins, including Adam's with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, "so we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet. 2:24).
The authors quoted 1 Corinthians 1:30 next: But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us...righteousness, and sanctification, [and redemption]. I won't quote what little the authors say here, but I don't believe this verse offers any support for "a) the initial act of sanctification is positional." And I'll quote most of the second, and last, paragraph that they have under this subheading: "Believers are called saints the moment they are saved [[The Greek adjective hagios can be translated "holy" or "saint(s)." If it refers to Christians, the translation "saints" is used; saints means "holy [set apart] people.") The reason (at least it is the primary reason) they can reasonably be called saints is because they have received new-covenant salvation, which is a salvation that calls, enables, and requires them to be set apart from spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons and makes them holy. The apostle was writing to the true church of God at Corinth. Christians are expected to appropriate and walk in the enabling grace of God in Christ to be holy, but it was reasonable for Paul, for example, to write from the point of view that those who become Christians will be faithful to do what is required of them, by grace, through faith. The gospel wasn't, and isn't, going to change, even if many Christians at Corinth or in the United States two thousand years later, were/are walking in the flesh to a considerable extent, instead of walking by the Spirit on a continuous basis, which they were/we are required to do (Gal. 5:16, for example). Christians are required to know God's definition of Christianity and holiness, etc. and submit to it in faith. Paul didn't write the word saints in 1 Cor. 1:2, for example, so the Christians at Corinth who were not living a sanctified life could feel good about themselves. He wrote that word to exhort such Christians that they must make it top priority to become and do what they are required to be and do.]]: 'Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints' (1 Cor. 1:2). [[(This double bracket continues for four paragraphs before I continue to quote from these Foursquare authors.) What I said above regarding the interpretation of 1 Cor. 6:11 fully applies here too: The apostle is writing from the point of view of God's definition of Christianity. In 1 Cor. 6:11 Paul wrote "but you were sanctified" even though he made it clear in that context that he knew that some (or many) of the Christians at Corinth were not sanctified in anything near an adequate sense. Christian sanctification/holiness, by definition, excludes all sin. In 1 Cor. 1:2 and 6:11 Paul was reminding his readers and exhorting them with the glorious call, and enablement, and requirement to actually be set apart from sin and everything defiling for God. Anywhere we are not set apart, we need to make it a top priority to get set apart, by grace, through faith.
One of my favorite passages to demonstrate what Paul was doing in 1 Cor. 1:2 and 6:11, and often, is 2 Cor. 5:17-6:1. A key verse there is 2 Cor. 5:17, Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature [or, creation]; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. The context shows that the apostle Paul did not say this so the Corinthian Christians at Corinth could boast on what they were in Christ. He wrote what he said in 5:17 to remind his readers what is supposed to be true for all true Christians, and to exhort them to become what they are required to be by God's saving, sanctifying grace in Christ. I'll quote 2 Cor. 5:20-6:1 where Paul goes on to exhort those who needed to repent to repent and become what they are called, enabled, and required to be as Christians: Therefore, we [referring to Paul and those who ministered with him] are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us [which God was doing in a very real sense]; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God [to be reconciled to God required repentance for those living in any sin, and there was quite a bit of sin among the Christians at Corinth who were not adequately walking by the Spirit; they were fleshly/carnal.]. (21) He [God the Father] made Him [the Lamb of God] who knew no sin [He was sinless.] to be sin on our behalf (([This double parenthesis continues for two paragraphs.] He became sin when He bore our sins with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin that came on mankind through the rebellion of Adam. The Hebrew noun chattath that means "sin" was also often used in the Old Testament for "sin offering," including in Leviticus chapter 16 that deals with the Day of Atonement. They called the "sin offering" "sin" because they understood that their sins with the guilt and the penalties were literally put on the sacrificial offerings. There is an obvious gigantic difference between the old-covenant sacrifice of animals and the new-covenant Sacrifice of the sinless Son of God who had become the God-man through the virgin birth, but both became "sin" in that they bore "sin."
The old covenant sacrifices provided forgiveness for believers (unless the sins were deliberate and rebellious; God knows the heart), but they could not deal with and take away the spiritual death and bondage to sin that resulted from Adam's rebellion. When we learn who the Lord Jesus is and what He has done for us in His all-important atoning death, and knowing that God hates sin, and knowing that God had promised to solve the spiritual death and bondage to sin problem through new-covenant salvation, IT WOULD BE SHOCKING IF CHRISTIANS WERE NOT CALLED, AND ENABLED, TO WALK WITH THE VICTORY OVER ALL SIN! We must understand that Jesus, the Son of God, the virgin born Messiah, the sinless Lamb of God bore our sins back to Adam with the guilt (so we could be forgiven) and with the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, so we could be born again and be set free from bondage to sin.)), so that we might become [or, be] the righteousness of God [which includes the righteousness of God that is imparted to us in new-covenant salvation, and in which we are enabled to walk in union with Christ (see Romans chapter 6 and 1 Pet. 2:24, for example].] (6:1) And working together with Him [speaking of the ministers Paul mentioned in 5:18-20], we also [along with God] urge [strongly exhort] you not to receive the grace of God in vain [They would receive the grace of God in vain (in other words, they would not really receive God's saving grace) if they rejected God's call to repent (but instead willfully pressed on in sin) and become what they are supposed to be.] (Now I'll continue to quote what the authors say regarding 1 Cor. 1:2:)]] This reads literally, 'called saints.' The to be is in italics in some versions, signifying that these words were not in the original [Greek] text, but supplied by the translators. The Corinthian Christians were not called to be saints; they were saints [not really for those who were fleshy and needed to repent], but anyone reading the epistle of 1 Corinthians is well aware that this church was far from being a perfect church. In fact, they are accused of being carnal [fleshly] and guilty of numerous dreadful sins. But they illustrate this first aspect of sanctification. They were positionally holy, having the holiness of Christ imputed to them, but they were far from manifesting His holiness in their practical living. [[(This double bracket continues for two paragraphs.) Again, I don't believe the apostle's Paul included the idea here that these fleshly Christians were "positionally holy." That idea wouldn't lead to any good results. He was again reminding them of what they have been called to be in Christ, and strongly exhorting them to repent and, by grace, through faith, become what they are supposed to be.
It's true, as the authors said, that the words "to be" were not included in the Greek of 1 Cor. 1:2, but I believe these words were rightly supplied by the KJV and NKJV; the NIV has "called to be holy"; and the NASB has "saints [or holy ones] by calling." I believe all of these translations communicate the apostle's intended meaning in English. The words "called to be an apostle" (KJV) of 1 Cor. 1:1 are similar. I believe the words to be were rightly supplied by the translators there too. The NKJV and NIV also supply the words to be in 1:1 (but the NIV doesn't put the words in italics, which is typical for the NIV; I strongly prefer adding words in italics), and the NASB communicates essentially the same meaning with "called as an apostle." The idea is that Paul was called to be an apostle. (I'll quote a little more from their second, and last, paragraph here.)]] ... The basis of this sanctification is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross: 'By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all' (Heb. 10:10 [KJV]). [[The translation of the NASB, NKJV is better, "we have been sanctified"; the Greek has the perfect tense here, which was used to emphasize that something gets done (at least is supposed to get done; we always have to appropriate God's enabling grace by faith on a continuous basis against the opposition of the world, the old man, and the devil and his hosts) and the results abide. Hebrews 10:10 is a verse of key importance. I discussed this verse above under section 5.2, and it is discussed in some detail in its context in my paper on Hebrews chapters 8-10 that is on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). I believe it is clear that the writer of Hebrews was speaking of Christians actually being sanctified through the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God in Heb. 10:10. It very much confuses the issue to mention a positional sanctification here.]]: 'Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate' (Heb. 13:12). [[The writer of Hebrews was exhorting his readers who were being tempted to turn back to old covenant sacrifices, etc. with the crucial need to stay faithful to Christ and new-covenant salvation - to be sanctified and live in an abiding state of holiness (see Heb. 13:9-15). They must stay outside the gate of old-covenant salvation (and everything else that would be sin for them) and be faithful to Christ and new-covenant salvation, even though it would result in some persecution.]]
I'll quote part of what the authors say under "b) The process of sanctification is practical" (pages 244-247), under "Three aspects of sanctification." I discussed 1 Thess. 5:23 in some detail above (under 5.1). I'll quote what the authors say regarding this verse. "He [Paul] recognized that these Christians were sanctified [the authors mean positionally sanctified], in that the holiness of Christ was imputed [imputed sanctification/holiness is positional holiness, not an actual setting apart for sin and everything that is defiling] to them [I don't agree that this was the apostle's thought: His whole emphasis and prayer was designed to get these recently converted Christians, who had known much opposition from the time they became Christians, sanctified in their hearts and lives as soon as possible, in the very near future. For one thing, he prayed that he would be able to go back to Thessalonica to help establish them (see 1 Thess. 3:10-13).], but now they needed that this imputed holiness should progressively become a practical part of their daily Christian living" pages 244-245). Rather, the apostle wanted to see them sanctified very soon, as soon as possible, and then kept in that abiding holy state until the Lord Jesus returns, or until they die.
I'll quote part of the third paragraph under this subheading (b), "Thus sanctification is seen to be a continuing process throughout the Christian's entire lifetime. [[Rather, the dominant viewpoint, the ideal viewpoint throughout the New Testament, is that Christians are called, and enabled, to live in an abiding state of holiness, through walking by the Spirit and in line with the teaching of the New Testament, by faith. It's true that the apostle Paul, for example, had to often deal with Christians sinning, but he always exhorted them to fully put off the old man and sin, and to fully put on the new man and the righteousness of God, to become and to do what Christians are called, enabled, and required to be and to do. As I have mentioned, we also need to always be growing in Christ, but in the ideal this growing will not include putting off sin, because it will already have been put off. In the ideal (which is a reasonable ideal) we should be sanctified (living in an abiding state of holiness) and growing.]] ... There must be a positive conformation to the image of Christ. This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace: 'But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ' (2 Pet. 3:18), 'But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18); For whom he did foreknow [foreknow with favor], he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he [the Son] might be the firstborn among many brethren' (Rom. 8:29) [We will not be fully conformed to the image of Christ until after we are glorified, and then we will not be fully conformed in every sense: He will be deity and worshipped with the Father and the Spirit, including being worshipped by us, the glorified saints]; "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" [when He returns] (Phil. 1:6)." The apostle Paul would not have been able to sincerely say what he said about the Christians at Philippi here of all of the Christians he ministered to. They were more solid in the faith than the Christians in many other places. The dominant emphasis in each of these four verses, in their contexts, is on Christians being progressively transformed through new-covenant salvation, but none of them is speaking of a progression to less and less sin. They are dealing almost entirely, if not entirely, with the transformation/growth of sanctified Christians (Christians who were living in an abiding state of holiness). In the ideal (a realistic ideal) we will live in an abiding state of holiness, and we will be progressively conformed to the image of Christ.
I'll quote the first sentence of their next paragraph, which is very important (on page 245): "There is no promise in the Scripture that a Christian, in this life, will ever reach a place where he will no longer sin [Rather, we are consistently called to victory over all sin throughout the New Testament, but it is clear that this victory is far from being automatic or always easy. Christians can sin!]: 'If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth of God is not in us' (1 John 1:8)." It is very important to see that the apostle John wrote these words against the Gnostic heretics who denied that they were sinners and who totally rejected the all-important blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. They said that salvation comes through learning their secret knowledge. Although large numbers of Christians agree with the authors that John was speaking of true Christians sinning here in 1 John 1:8, there is widespread agreement that the apostle wrote this epistle to refute the Gnostic heresy. He deals with this heresy throughout this epistle.
The apostle John did not write 1 John 1:8 to rebuke some Christians who thought they could walk with the victory over all sin. John believed and taught that himself: This epistle strongly teaches victory over all sin. I encourage the reader to see the thorough discussion I have on this epistle, with an emphasis on the correct interpretation of 1 John 1:8, in both of my holiness books (Holiness and Victory Over Sin and Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin. They are both available at amazon.com.) Here I'll just quote one short passage and two other verses from this epistle where it is (almost) shocking the level of purity and righteousness that Christians are called to manifest in their daily lives: 1 John 2:3-6. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. (4) The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him [These words were aimed at the Gnostic heretics. They were not even trying to keep God's commandments. For one thing, they taught that the Old Testament commandments were given by an inferior god.]; (5) but whoever keeps His word [and this is required of all true Christians], in him the love of God has truly been perfected [John is speaking of God's love that is in us through the indwelling Spirit of God (cf. 1 John 4:12). As we walk by the Spirit, which we are enabled, and required, to do on a continuous basis, by grace through faith, the love of God will be manifested in us and through us, and the righteousness and holiness of God, etc.] By this we know that we are in Him [and that the Gnostic heretics were not in Him; they didn't have the true gospel or the imparted love or righteousness and holiness of God]: (6) the one who says he abides in Him [and all true Christians are called to abide in Him] ought himself to walk in the same manner He [the Son of God] walked. This passage, by itself, should suffice to keep us from misinterpreting 1 John 1:8, but the next two verses I'll mention here are equally strong on victory over all sin. 1 John 3:3. And everyone who has this hope [the hope of seeing God just as He is after we are glorified; I believe John is speaking of seeing God the Father; I discussed these verses in some detail in my last paper, Will We See God the Father After We Are Glorified?, that is on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching)] fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He [The Greek more literally has that One (Greek ekeinos) here instead of "He." There is widespread agreement that that One refers to the Son of God here (as in 1 John 2:6; 3:5, 7, 16; and 4:17; all of these verses use ekeinos).] is pure. Isn't that a shocking call to purity? It certainly includes the victory over all sin! The next verse is equally shocking and super-important. 1 John 3:7. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices [who is doing] righteousness is righteous, just as He [more literally, that One (Greek ekeinos), referring to the Son of God] is righteous. Being righteous as the Son of God is righteous certainly includes victory over all sin. Verses like these should cause some (hopefully many) to very seriously reconsider their interpretation of 1 John 1:8. The authors have a lot more to say under the heading "Sanctification," but I'll stop here on page 245. I believe I have shared enough to demonstrate that I cannot be satisfied with what they say about sanctification/holiness.
I'll include one more excerpt from this book to bring a little balance, but the positive things they say here must be read in the light of what I have quoted above. I'll quote some of what the authors say under the heading "Regeneration," which means to be born again (pages 233-240), under the subheading "The Results of the New Birth." In the index at the back of the book, the only page they list under "victory over sin" is page 239. The quotations I'll give here come from page 239 with a few lines from page 240. "... It [the new birth] makes the believer a new creation and a partaker of the divine nature (2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:4 [2 Pet. 1:4 is one of a large number of very weighty verses that teach holiness and victory over all sin]). Thus his whole attitude is transformed. He now loves the brethren [and they quote 1 John 5:1 and 3:14]. He now loves God in a new and deeper way: 'We love him, because he first loved us' (1 John 4:19). He also has a deep love for the Word of God [and they quote Psalm 119:97 (which refers to a believer who hasn't born again yet) and 1 Pet. 2:2; they go on to mention Christians loving their enemies too]. ...
It enables the believer to live a life of victory over sin and the world. 'And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. [[I would translate Eph. 4:23, "be renewed by the Spirit in your mind," or "in your thinking." This other translation, which perfectly fits the apostle Paul's teaching (especially see Rom. 8:5-9 [Eph. 4:22-24 and Romans 8:5-9 are both discussed in some detail in both of my holiness books, Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ and Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin]), tells us how we put off the old man and sin and put on the righteous and holy new man, which is super-important information. Paul is speaking of an ideal, once-for-all putting off the old man and putting on the new man, which results in the victory over all sin and an abiding state of holiness; however, as I have mentioned, we will keep growing in Christ.]]; 'And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness' (Eph. 4:23-24). 'If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of him' (1 John 2:29). Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God' (1 John 3:9). The tense of the verb here doth not commit [does not commit] used here makes it clear that what John is saying is that the born-again child of God does not practice sin. He does not make it the habit of his life because he has a new nature within." It is clear that the apostle John was not saying that it is impossible for born-again Christians to sin; however, the Greek does not require the interpretation the authors gave, but it allows that interpretation. A better translation of the Greek would be "and he is not able to continue to sin." One reason we know that John did not mean that Christians cannot sin is because in 1 John 2:1 he spoke of the possibility of Christians committing sins. I'll quote 1 John 2:1, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin [John meant not sin at all." As some commentators have pointed out, the Greek verb used here (aorist tense) helps confirm that what John meant here is "so that you may not commit an act of sin," or "begin to sin." This entire epistle confirms this is what John meant (see, for example, 1 John 2:3-6; 3:3, 7; I quoted these verses above, and I discussed 1 John 1:8 above).] And if anyone [referring to Christians here] sins [same Greek aorist verb, which communicates the idea of committing an act of sin, but I'm not suggesting that Christians can only be forgiven for one act of sin; that would be clearly wrong; but the apostle John was always exhorting Christians to not sin at all.] we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (2) and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world [In other words, Christ died for all people.]. So, 1 John 2:1-2 proves that Christians can sin, but THE EMPHASIS THROUGHOUT 1 JOHN IS ON THE FACT THAT WE ARE CALLED, AND ENABLED, TO WALK WITH THE VICTORY OVER ALL SIN THROUGH THE SUFFICIENT GRACE OF GOD IN CHRIST BY FAITH - WE SHOULD NOT BE SINNING AT ALL. THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS! WE CAN APPROPRIATE THIS GRACE BY FAITH! However, we cannot appropriate God sufficient sanctifying grace by faith to stop sinning until we see (see in our hearts) that this grace is available. It is of critical significance that we understand that the New Testament does call us to walk with the victory over all sin by grace through faith. Our faith must be based on what the Word of God teaches. It is clear that the victory over all sin is far from being automatic or always easy. We must wage warfare. By grace through faith, against the world, the flesh/old man that still wants to sin, and the devil, evil angels, and demons.
5.5. I'll Quote from Another Foursquare Book on the Topic of Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin that I Can, for the Most Part, Agree with. For one thing it is clear that the content of this book, Foursquare License Interview Process (updated 2012), was strongly influenced by the teaching of Aimee Semple McPherson (AD1890-1944), the minister who founded the Foursquare Church in 1927. (Much of the material in this book was taken directly from her teaching.) At that time they had over 100 churches. Now it's almost 60,000 churches in 144 countries.
Page 16 (at the front of the book; the page numbers in this book are not consecutive; each new section starts at page 1) is titled "Creedal Statement" (Compiled by Aimee Semple McPherson). I agree with all 40 of the short creedal statements she makes here, but I'll just quote numbers 25-27: "(25) In the maintenance of good works and holy living. (26) In the victorious life over sin, self, and bad habits by Bible study and an incessant prayer life. (27) In Christian perfection and holiness, through absolute surrender and consecration." I'm totally sure that Aimee didn't mean the absolute perfection that will only become available when we are glorified at the end of this age. But her wording in number 27 (and in 25-26) includes a call to walk in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over everything that He would consider to be sin for us.
I'll quote part of what they say under "The New Birth"; "Declaration of Faith," Article VII (four pages), and then under "Daily Christian Living," "Declaration of Faith," Article VIII (five pages). The original "Declaration of Faith," which included listing some verses came from Aimee Semple McPherson, but the section of this book that I am quoting from adds a lot of discussion to what she had said.
"The New Birth." " 'We believe that the change which takes place in the heart and life at conversion is a very real one; that the sinner is then born again in such a glorious and transforming manner that the old things are passed away and all things are become new; insomuch that the things once most desired are now abhorred, while the things once abhorred are now held most sacred and dear; and that now having imputed to him the righteousness of the Redeemer [I believe it is Biblical to speak of the righteousness of the Redeemer being imputed to those who become Christians, but it is very important to see that the righteousness of God is also imparted to believers. (See, for example, on Rom. 1:16-17 on pages 88-98 in my book, Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin. It's available on amazon.com.)] and having received of the Spirit of Christ, new desires, new aspirations, new interests, and a new perspective on life, time and eternity, fill the blood-washed heart so that his desire is now to openly confess and serve the Master, seeking ever those things which are above.' (John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17; John 15:19; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 3:24, 25; Ps. 1:1, 2)." What I have quoted here is the original Declaration of Faith written by Aimee Semple McPherson, which included the verses listed here.]
I'll quote part of what the writers say under "Introduction" under Article VII, "The New Birth" (pages 1-2). "... By highlighting this transformation [that takes place in the new birth, or, is supposed to take place: We must understand and do the things that are required of us, including repentance, by faith], our founder [Aimee] emphasized the importance of faithfully presenting the gospel. [We must be adequately informed of the truths of the gospel, including what is required of us to be able to do what is required of us.] The truths of the gospel must remain pure and uncompromised so that those who respond will indeed be 'born from above' (John 3:3-7) by an infusion of God's Spirit. Christians are not meant to be people who have merely changed their orientation toward God or even those who merely feel sorrow for their sins. Rather they are intended to be people so changed by the Holy Spirit it can be said they are 'born again.'"
I'll quote the paragraph under the heading "Why must we be born again" (page 3). "Until the Holy Spirit miraculously transforms us, we are hopelessly trapped in a vicious cycle: our minds, hearts, and wills are corrupted and lead us to sin against God. This sin then brings condemnation and further separation from Him (Rom. 3:10, 23; 6:23; Isa. 64:6). In addition to our own inclination to sin, there are other powerful forces that further enslave us and prevent us from obeying God. The New Testament describes us as being in bondage to the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13) [which refers to the curse(s) that came through rebelling against God's Law (under the old covenant)], the spirit of sin Rom. 6:18; Eph. 2:2), the flesh (Gal. 5:16; 6:12, 13) [We must understand that "the flesh" in verses like Gal. 5:16 refers to a lot more than the physical body; the NIV translates "sinful nature."], and demonic powers (Eph. 6:12). [It is totally necessary for us to understand that some of our warfare against sin is directly against demonic powers that are trying to get us to sin, and keep us in sin.] Apart from the new birth, people are unable to obey God; they fall into increasing bondage and condemnation."
Lastly, I'll quote what they say under "A new will," under the heading "What occurs in the new birth?" "A new will - Before receiving the atonement of Christ our wills were not free to obey God nor were they even inclined to do so. Powerful forces held us captive: sin (Rom. 6:18), the flesh (Rom. 6:12, 13) and the influence of the devil (Eph. 6:12; Col. 1:13; 1 John 5:19). As descendants of Adam and Eve, we were all born into this world subject to these forces and are, in one way or another, trapped by them in a downward spiral of rebellion against God. But in the new birth, the grip of these corrupting forces is broken. Our wills are at last free to submit to God. Although we remain able to choose right or wrong, the Holy Spirit puts God's laws upon our hearts and writes them upon our minds (Heb. 10:16; Jer. 31:33). In fact, the moral inclination of a believer is so profoundly changed by the new birth that it can be said no one who chooses to continue sinning is 'born of God' (1 John 3:9). Even if believers sin, they do not want to, and with God's resources available to them, they will stop as soon as they are able. [[We must admit that some sinful habits, for example, do not always automatically disappear when people become born-again Christians. But we must not just accept this situation. We must make it a top priority to gain the victory over all sin and demons BY GOD'S SUFFICIENT GRACE, BY FAITH. Many such problems involve demon spirits, but far too often much of the Christian church of our day isn't equipped to adequately deal with demons. For one thing, we must acknowledge their existence, and we desperately need the gifts of the Spirit to adequately deal with demons.]] Like a parent, the Holy Spirit teaches, disciplines, convicts, encourages, and comforts until we not only obey God but also come to agree that His ways are right." He also answers prayer, anoints, empowers, gives gifts, reveals, delivers, etc.
I'll quote two paragraphs from what they say under "Daily Christian Living" (from page 1) and make a few comments in brackets. This article is Article VIII in the 'Declaration of Faith.' I'm not quoting the one paragraph article here. The two paragraphs under the heading "Introduction" that deal with this article that I quote here will suffice.] This article...expresses an important conviction that is held, modeled, and promoted in all Foursquare churches and ministries: Having been made positionally holy [This idea of Christians having a positional holiness seems more confusing than helpful to me; however, I don't have (much of) a problem here since the writers go on to include a real (actual) setting apart/holiness that is provided for, and required of, Christians.] and practically holy through the new birth of the (Holy) Spirit, we are now called and enabled to be holy in our daily lives. [Well said!] Although some Christians may think or behave as though the way we live is of no great importance, our church family believes there is a way to live that makes a huge difference in our relation to God [How we live reflects what is in our hearts. If we don't live for God by His grace through the faith in our hearts we forfeit salvation (cf., e.g. Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-7).], for ourselves, for others, and for the honor and effectiveness of the gospel. When human beings harmonize their lifestyles with the life of God and live in ways for which they were designed, they can be healthy, happy, strong, and true blessings to others. This is also pleasing to God. But behaviors that weaken and damage human life ultimately lead to sadness, disease, and death. [I need to point out that the writer(s) also make it clear that Christians need to keep growing (growing more like the Lord Jesus, growing in knowledge and wisdom, growing through experience, growing through being in the presence of God by His indwelling Spirit, etc.). In the ideal we will be living in a state of holiness and growing.]
Throughout history there have been expressions of Jesus' Church that have exhibited the extremes of inappropriate license or rigid, deathly 'legalism.' The Foursquare Church seeks neither. Instead, our church wants to receive, reflect, and reproduce the spirit and life of Jesus, 'The Holy One of God' (Mark 1:24/Luke 4:34) in our daily lives, practicing a lifestyle in harmony with the goodness and rightness of God's new kingdom and in keeping with the directives of God's Word and Spirit. It is, therefore, expected that Foursquare ministers will experience, model, and teach the importance and power of daily Christian living in a healthy, balanced, and practical way and promote the growth in themselves and others through faith, love, obedience, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines."
The next heading under Article VIII is "Discussion." I'll quote the first part of what they say here" "We know that we are called not only to Christ but also to holiness:
'Made holy in Christ Jesus; called to be holy' (1 Cor. 1:2).
'As obedient children, do not conform yourselves to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, "Be holy, because I am holy" ' (1 Pet. 1:14-16; Lev. 19:2)."
This book that I have been quoting from makes frequent reference to the book The Foursquare Gospel. In the following section, I’ll quote most of a paragraph that I appreciate from that book.
5.6. An Excerpt from The Foursquare Gospel that Was Compiled by Raymond L. Cox (Copyright Foursquare Publications, 1969), 296 pages. It contains ten chapters by Raymond L. Cox and fourteen sermons by Aimee Semple McPherson. It also contains "Creedal Statements," the "Declaration of Faith," and other Foursquare information. I'll quote all but the first sentence of a paragraph by Raymond Cox from chapter 1, "Jesus Christ the Saviour," under the heading "Salvation by Faith in Jesus" (page 79). This excerpt speaks of victory over sin in rather strong fashion. I'll make several comments in brackets too, some of them very important.
"In regeneration [being born again] believers become new creatures in Christ. In justification God declares us righteous, imputing our sins to Christ and His righteousness to us. [[(This double bracket continues for two paragraphs.) In justification (when this word is used in the full sense that is often found in the New Testament) God declares us righteous, and He makes us righteous (transforms us). Our sins with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin were borne by the Lamb of God. (As the first three chapters of my book Holiness and Victory Over Sin demonstrate, and it is very important information that is not widely known (but is easy to verify), the Hebrew words for sin [iniquity, transgression] include the meaning of penalty/punishment for sin [iniquity, transgression] along with the meanings sin and guilt for sin.) For one thing, this involves a lot more than our sins just being imputed to Christ in a legal/positional sense. It's a whole lot more than just being forgiven, as important as that is.
The Bible frequently speaks of the very righteousness of God being imparted to us when we become Christians, not just righteousness being imputed to us. Sometimes, as in Rom. 5:1, 9, and 18, for example, justification (if we are going to translate the Greek verb dikaioo this way; we could translate it declare righteous and make righteous, for example) should be understood, as the context of Romans chapter 5 shows, to include God's transforming us and making us righteous. See my two books Holiness and Victory Over Sin and Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin for a lot of information on this topic. In his next sentence Cox helpfully states that becoming a Christian includes, or at least is designed to include, being transformed to live a holy life:]] And once a sinner is saved, his new nature and standing with God should express itself in holiness of life. [If we understand that we are called to live in holiness of life, and we walk by faith and by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis, we will be walking "in holiness of life."] As Dr. Walter Mussen declared, 'Jesus did not come to save us in our sins but from our sins. Christ did not break into the devil's corral and put his brand on certain sheep and leave them there.' [Amen! Matthew 1:21 says, "She will bear a son, and you [speaking to Joseph, the "father" of Jesus] shall call his name Jesus [which means "Yah saves" or "Yah is salvation," where "Yah" is short for Yahweh], for He will save His people from their sins."] No, God has 'delivered us from the power [authority] of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son [literally, "the Son of His love"]: In whom we have the redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins' (Colossians 1:13-14). [[(This double bracket covers five paragraphs.) I have a very important contribution to make here, which I believe Raymond Cox would appreciate based on what he says in this paragraph. The translation "forgiveness" for the Greek noun aphesis, though widely accepted for Col. 1:14 (and Eph. 1:7 and several other verses), is extremely unfortunate. I discuss Col. 1:13-14 in both of my books in some detail, and chapter 7 of the first book, Holiness and Victory Over Sin, is titled "A Study on the Meaning of the Greek Noun Aphesis."
Although there are verses where forgiveness (or the equivalent) is a good way to translate aphesis, which is used seventeen times in the New Testament, that translation is totally unacceptable in Col. 1:14 (and Eph. 1:7; Heb. 10:18 and a few other verses). That translation fails to communicate a big part of what the apostle Paul was saying. Everyone agrees that the two uses of aphesis in Luke 4:18 do not mean "forgiveness." (The NASB translates "release" and "to set free," which would be literally translated "to send in the release." The NIV has "freedom" and "to release." The KJV and NKJV have "deliverance" and "liberty.") A translation like release, or the equivalent, is required. The translation release works perfectly in Col. 1:14 (and Eph. 1:7; Heb. 10:18, and a few other verses), but we need to add some words to communicate the apostle Paul's meaning.
Here's a translation that, although wordy, communicates Paul's intended meaning for Col. 1:14: in whom we have [the (the definite article is included in the Greek); this is the redemption that is at the heart of new-covenant salvation] redemption [Now Paul is going to add some words in apposition with (put side by side with) "the redemption," words that have essentially the same meaning and help explain the redemption], the forgiveness [aphesis] of sins [I would translate the release from our sins with the guilt (which equals forgiveness) and with the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, or the equivalent].
Redemption means so much more than forgiveness. We were set free from bondage to sin, demons, and the darkness of spiritual death and Satan's kingdom through redemption ((see Col. 1:13, for example: "For He rescued [or delivered] us from the domain [literally "authority"] of [the] darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [more literally, "the Son of His love"])). Spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons for mankind started with the rebellion of Adam (and Eve). The old-covenant sacrifices were effective to provide forgiveness for the sins of the believers, except for the sins that were committed with a high hand, fully deliberate, rebellious, but they did not have the authority or power to take away the penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin and demons that resulted from Adam's transgression. However, the Sacrifice of the Son of God has the authority and power to effect forgiveness AND TO SET BELIEVERS FREE FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH AND BONDAGE TO SIN AND DEMONS. This is the heart of the gospel!
I'll give one more detail that strongly confirms the viewpoint that aphesis certainly doesn't always, or almost always, require the translation forgiveness (or the equivalent, like remission). Aphesis is used approximately forty-five times in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. The Septuagint was the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek. It was very important for the early Christians since very few Christians understood Hebrew, but most knew some Greek. For one thing, the Septuagint helped prepare many Greek words to proclaim the all-important gospel of new-covenant salvation. It is quite significant that aphesis is typically used with the meaning release in the Septuagint. Some twenty-five uses deal with the release of Jubilee, which prefigured the release of new-covenant salvation. I didn't find even one clear example where it was used for forgiveness in the Septuagint. (now I'll continue to quote from Cox:)]] We are to walk as children of light [and the light of God includes His truth, righteousness, and holiness]. Thus Paul exhorts, 'Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. [We should fear sinning against God; for one thing, He is our Judge, and we need Him and His protective care.] For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure [In other words, God enables us to live righteous and holy lives.] (Philippians 2:12-13). A professing believer who is not working out (notice Paul did not say, 'Work for' but to 'Work out') fruit meet for repentance [in other words "fruit that results from having truly repented and begun to live for God by His sufficient saving, sanctifying grace"] may have good reason to question whether God is actually working within him! Jesus declared, 'Ye shall know them by their fruits' (Matthew 7:16). Jesus Christ as Saviour includes His work as Jesus Christ the sanctifier!" Like I mentioned I appreciate this paragraph by Cox. He certainly isn't presenting the normal Christian life as one with the emphasis on continuing to sin and being forgiven that is so popular in our day.
6. I'll Quote from Melvin E. Dieter's "The Wesleyan Perspective" in Five Views of Sanctification (Acadamie Books of Zondervan, 1987), pages 11-46. (Dieter was "Provost at Asbury Theological Seminary" at that time.) I agree with a whole lot that Dieter says, but I am quoting from him, for the most part, to disagree with the idea of the eradication of the sinful nature and the attendant call for us to walk in perfect love on a very high level.
Christians being called, and enabled, to walk in the "perfect love" of God by the grace of God in Christ is mentioned in 1 John 4:18 (see 4:12, 17; 2:5), but I believe the overall teaching of the New Testament requires us to understand that these words must be qualified in the same way that the words regarding our old man being dead and buried and our being new creations in Christ must be qualified. I don't believe the New Testament teaches the eradication of the old man/sinful nature. I believe, rather, that it teaches that we must walk by faith and by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis to counteract the old man/flesh/sinful nature along with the input from the world and Satan, the evil angels, and the demons.
Although Gal. 5:16 exhorts us to walk by the Spirit and not sin, not sin at all, Gal. 5:17 shows that we (I believe the apostle Paul includes himself here) still have to wage warfare by the Holy Spirit against the flesh. The "flesh" here includes the old man/sinful nature that hasn't ceased to exist, and the "flesh" can include the input of demon spirits (Satanic spirits can, and often do, intensify temptation and the sin problem). However, and this is extremely important, although the apostle Paul spoke of warfare being waged against us in Gal. 5:17, he wasn't at all backing down from the fact that we are called, enabled, and required to walk with the victory over all sin that he spoke of in Gal. 5:16. HAVING WRONG DESIRES OR THOUGHTS, THOUGH UNDESIRABLE, ISN'T SIN IF WE RESIST THEM BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH AND DON'T ACT ON THOSE WRONG DESIRES OR THOUGHTS.
We will walk with the victory over sin only to the extent that we understand what we are called to in the New Testament and walk in line with this truth, by grace (which includes all the work of the indwelling Righteous, Holy Spirit of God) through faith, on a continuous basis. The apostle Paul consistently exhorted his readers that these glorious things are far from being automatic, and we can sin; and we will sin, if we don't continue to walk by grace through faith based on what the New Testament teaches. This is far, very far, from being automatic since we have to wage warfare against the world, the flesh (the old man that hasn't been eradicated/annihilated) and the devil and his hosts. Anyway, it is super-important to know that we have been called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over everything that God, the Judge of what is sin, would consider to be sin for us.
I don't want to undercut any Christian's pursuit of the very highest level of righteousness and holiness they can experience in God (God forbid!), but it will ultimately hurt many Christians if we speak of the eradication of the old man/sinful nature that hasn't been eradicated, or at least not fully eradicated. Again, I don't believe the New Testament teaches the eradication/annihilation of the old man.
"[John] Wesley's lifelong passion for Christian holiness was fired by his conviction [a conviction that I share] that the Word of God teaches, by precept and promise, that Christians should not be 'content with any religion which does not imply the destruction of all the works of the devil, that is of all sin [referring to 1 John 3:8, which includes the destruction of everything that God would consider to be sin for us].' " (I won't quote Dieter's references to Wesley's writings in these excerpts from Dieter; page 13 in Five Views of Sanctification). On pages 13-15 Dieter mentioned that Wesley grounded everything he taught on the Scriptures; that he believed that Christians never get to the place where they cannot sin or lose their salvation; and that he taught that we must always be growing in grace. I agree! This is important!
I'll quote part of what Dieter said under the heading, "Sanctification According to Wesley." "By grace God would restore to us [in entire sanctification, which includes, according to Wesley, the eradication of the sinful nature] the holiness that had been lost in the Fall by our first parents" (page 15). "There was a remedy for the sickness of systemic sinfulness [sinfulness that is part of what we are], namely, entire sanctification - a personal, definitive work of God's sanctifying power by which the war within oneself might cease and the heart be fully released from rebellion into wholehearted love for God and others. This relationship of perfect love could be accomplished [only by faith in Christ and His atoning death].... It was a 'total death to sin and an entire renewal in the image of God (page 17).' " I believe this excerpt overstates the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches regarding our status before we are glorified at the end of this age (including the idea that there is no more warfare/struggle against the potential to sin), but I totally agree we are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over everything that God would consider to be sin for us.
I'll quote part of what Dieter said on this same page about the "sickness of systemic sinfulness" before being sanctified entirely: "...a continuing element of rebellion, a systemic illness, which weakened the will to holiness and love and divided the intention to love God and neighbor without reserve. [Wesley taught that according to the Scriptures]...there are two contrary principles in believers...the flesh and the Spirit...." Again, this is before entire sanctification. Dieter mentioned that "although other theological traditions of his day believed that the struggle against an innate, inward rebellion was a normal and even a necessary element of the Christian's quest for the holy life, Wesley believed that the whole gospel, in promise and command, indicated otherwise." We desperately need the balanced truth of what the New Testament teaches.
"... ...entire sanctification is a cleansing of the heart, which brings healing of the remaining systemic hurts and bruises from Adam's sin. ...it is a freedom, a turning of the whole person toward God in love to seek and to know His will, which becomes the soul's delight" (page 18). "[Wesley] and his followers set before their hearers the promise of a heart perfected in love, a personal restoration to the moral image of God, and the responsibility and power to express that love in relationship with God and neighbor. Through Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, the 'bent to sinning' could be cleansed from the repentant, believing heart, and a 'bent to loving obedience' could become the mainspring of one's life" (page 21). This finishes the excerpts from under the heading "Sanctification According to Wesley." (In the next section of this paper (section 7), I'll quote extensively from John Wesley on this topic. I have significant respect for Wesley, but I believe he missed the balanced truth here.) I'll include one more excerpt from Dieter:
"... ...Wesley saw God's response [to the fall] as a plan of salvation that promised the gracious restoration through faith of that relationship of perfect love for God that the first man and woman enjoyed" (page 23). I believe the concept of "perfect love" must be qualified by the fact that the sinful nature has not been eradicated; therefore, we must always walk in faith and by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis to keep the sinful nature from manifesting itself in sin. It seems clear to me that the flesh/old man/sinful nature will always manifest itself in sin if it is not kept crucified on a continuous basis by faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is not compatible with the idea that the flesh/old man/sinful nature has ceased to exist/been eradicated. I don't believe we can walk in "perfect love" in any full sense, on a consistent basis, until after we are glorified, but I believe we are called, and enabled, to walk with the victory over everything that God would consider to be sin for us, by grace through faith. THAT IS A LOT!
This paper continues in Part 5.
Copyright © by Karl Kemp (karlkempteachingministries.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.
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