Text: 2 Cor. 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Because iniquity will abound…. Matthew 24:12
1 Tim. 4:1-6 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ…
2 Tim. 3:1-5 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
As it was in the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37; Gen. 6:5,6)
As it was in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28; Gen. 19)
There are 4 sections to this verse, each section being separated by a comma.
Section 1 answers the question of Why
Section 2 answers the question of Whom
Section 3 answers the question of How
Section 4 answers the question of What
I want us to examine each section, beginning with section 2 first (WHOM), then section 4 (WHAT), next we will look at section 1 (WHY) and then finally at section 3 (HOW)
I. SECTION 2 – WHOM
To whom is Paul writing? Paul addresses this statement to those he calls “ dearly beloved ”
He is writing to those who are of like faith, who are in the body of Christ; to those who are part of the family of God – those who are his brothers and sisters in the Lord, and perhaps even his sons and daughters in the faith – those he personally has led to Christ.
Paul is speaking to Christians. Thus what he writes applies only to those who are in Christ. He is not speaking to those who are yet in the flesh, for they cannot mind the things of the Spirit (See Rom. 8)
II. SECTION 4 – WHAT
Next we see that what Paul writes to those who are in Christ is that we should be “ perfecting holiness in the fear of God ”
It is important to note 2 things about this section:
1. That the word perfect is not an adjective – in other words Paul does not speak of perfect holiness, but of perfecting holiness–
Paul does not speak as one who is already perfect - Phil. 3:12 “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:” - Nor do I!
2. The verb is a present active participle which denotes continuous action
Sanctification is a continuous process. It begins at the new birth, and continues until our time of death.
III. SECTION 1 - WHY
Now you will notice that what Paul says in 2 Cor. 7:1, “Having therefore these promises,” is predicated on what he says in the previous chapters, especially chapter 6.
Having therefore “what” promises?
These promises refer to God's … 6: 14, 16-18
1. Abiding Presence – we are the temple of the Holy Spirit
2. Acceptance – I will receive you
3. Adoption – He will be our Father
Because of God's gracious promises, we have some spiritual responsibilities (2 Cor. 7:1). We must cleanse ourselves once and for all of anything that defiles us. It is not enough to ask God to cleanse us; we must clean up our own lives and get rid of those things that make it easy for us to sin. No believer can legislate for any other believer; each one knows the problems of his own heart and life. ---Warren Wiersbe
The verb “let us cleanse ourselves” is an aorist active subjunctive which denotes something that started at a particular time in the past. Thus it could be rendered,
“Let us keep on cleansing ourselves”
There are 4 aspects of Salvation:
Three of these - regeneration, justification, and glorification – are entirely the work of God. In other words, we play no part in either of these.
But with Sanctification, we do play a part. We cooperate with the Holy Spirit when it comes to our personal righteousness. That is why we are told to cleanse ourselves .
We must make it clear that we do not do this in order to be saved, but because we are saved.
Remember, our motivation is because the Spirit of God lives within us, and because we are already accepted by Him in Christ, and because He is our Father.
IV. SECTION 4 - HOW
How do we cleanse ourselves?
1. By knowing the Truth – Our call to Holiness
Eph. 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
1 Thess 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
1 Thess 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
2 Tim. 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Hebrews 12:14 Follow after peace with all men, and holiness, without which, no man shall see the Lord.
1 Peter 1:15-16 And as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy, in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.
2 Peter 3:9-11 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Also, remember that our Lord overcame His temptations by quoting the Scriptures!
2. By relying on the Spirit
Rom. 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Rom. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
3. By practicing self-control
Paul says that we are to exercise ourselves unto godliness:
1 Tim. 4:7-8 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 ?For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
He says that we are to flee youthful lusts.
2 Tim. 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
He says in another place that he disciplines his body daily.
1 Cor. 9:27
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: (KJV)
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, (NKJV)
2 Peter 1:5-7 Add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
Jesus said that if we want to come after Him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.
Matt. 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.
Leonard Ravenhill (1867-1942)