We have studied the subject of holiness in the Old Testament. Let us now turn to the New Testament. Here we shall find the teaching deeper and richer, inasmuch as the dispensation of grace is in advance of the dispensation of law. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth (reality) came by Jesus Christ." (John i. 17)
I. The Signification of the Words for Holiness in the New Testament.
There are five Greek words from the same root translated holy or holiness (sanctify or sanctification) in the New Testament, namely: a verb-hagiazo; an adjective-hagios; and three nouns--hagiasmos, hesgiotes, and hagiosune. They are all practically synonymous in meaning with the Hebrew word Kadesh. Thus the verb hagiazo signifies primarily the sacredness, veneration, or hallowedness, which a person, place, or object possesses by virtue of contact with God. In the Authorized Version the verb is translated by the words holy, hallow, and sanctify.
II. The Application of the Words for Holiness.
As in the Old Testament, there is a wide application of the words for holiness in the New Testament.
For example: First, to Places. The City of Jerusalem, the sanctuary of the temple, and the temple of believers are holy. Matthew iv. 5; xxiv. 15; Ephesians ii. 21. Second, to Objects. The covenant of God, the Scriptures, and the law are holy. Luke i. 72; Romans 1. 2; vii. 12. Third, to Persons. Believers, often in the epistles called "saints," the prophets, and the angels are holy. Hebrews iii. 1; I. Corinthians i. 2; II. Corinthians i. I; Acts iii. 21; Revelation xiv. 10.
Besides these and many other instances the word "holy" is applied to the Divine Being, thus: the Father is holy. John xvii. 11. The Son is holy. Mark i. 24; Luke i. 35; I. John 11. 20. And the Divine Spirit is holy. Matthew iii. 11; Acts xiii. 2; Romans xv. 16.
As in the Old Testament, in every instance of the occurrence of the word holy in the New Testament, whether applied to persons, places, or objects, the fundamental idea of contact with God is prominent.
III. The Use of the Words for Holiness.
The full discussion of the nature of ceremonial and moral holiness in the Old Testament makes it unnecessary to go over the ground again in detail. The fundamental principles are the same. The Greek words for holiness or sanctification are employed with the wide range of meaning of the Hebrew word:-separation from sin, dedication to God, and consecration to service-in a word, moral and ceremonial holiness. If the contact with God be material, the holiness is ceremonial; if the contact be spiritual, the holiness is moral.
First, Ceremonial Holiness.
Both ceremonial and moral holiness are taught in the Old and in the New Testament-but with this difference: in the Old Testament the emphasis is upon ceremonial holiness, while in the New Testament it is upon moral holiness.
1. The Ceremonial Holiness of Things. The following are a few illustrative examples:
"Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
"And, whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
"Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?" (Matthew xxiii. 17-19.)
"For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; For it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer." (I. Timothy iv. 4,5.)
2. The Ceremonial Holiness of Persons. There is a striking example of the ceremonial holiness of persons in I. Corinthians vii. 14: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean; but now they are holy. On this passage Meyer's comment is: "The Christian sanctity affects even the non-believing partner in a marriage and so passes over to him that he does not remain a profane person, but through the intimate union of wedded life becomes partaker (as if by a sacred contagion) of the higher Divinely constituted character of his consort." And Dr. Lias, in the Cambridge Bible, adds: "This principle applies also to the children of such a marriage. The sanctity, i. e., the consecration, of the parent possessing the life of Christ, and living in holy wedlock with an unbelieving husband or wife, descends to the child, which from its birth may be regarded as 'holy to the Lord."'
Second, Moral Holiness.
We will notice, in the first place, the holiness of Christ and, in the second place, the holiness of believers.
I. The Holiness of Christ.
"Say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" (John x. 36.)
"And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." (John xvii. 19.)
In these two passages, with reference to our Lord, the expressions "hath sanctified" and "sanctify" can be understood only of His setting apart for the work of redemption. Says a great English scholar: "We ought to interpret these passages in the light of the sanctification of the priest, the altar, and all the holy things of the older dispensation which were the shadows, while Christ was the substance. The Lord was 'set apart' from the foundation of the world for the work of redemption, and His incarnation, temptations, and sufferings were the processes whereby His atoning death was prepared for and rendered valid."
In this connection we may examine, in passing, a peculiar use of the word sanctify in the Scriptures, which refers exclusively to God Himself.
"Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying I will be sanctified in them that come nigh unto Me, and before all the people I will be glorified." (Leviticus x. 3.)
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." (I. Peter iii. 15.)
In these passages the word "sanctify" seems to be used in a declarative sense, so to speak; that is, to hold God in reverence and worship and honor Him.
2. The Holiness of Believers.
The following are among the most important passages in the New Testament, which refer to the sanctification of believers in heart and life.
(1). "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth." (John xvii. 17.)
(2). " that they may receive inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me." (Acts xxvi. 18.)
(3). " even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." (Romans vi. 19.)
(4). But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." (Romans vi. 22.)
(5). "Unto the Church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." (I. Corinthians I. 2.)
(6). "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." (I. Corinthians i. 30.)
(7). "And 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 God." (I. Corinthians vi. II.)
(8). "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." (II. Corinthians vii. I.)
(9). "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it: that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the water of washing by the Word." (Ephesians v. 25, 26.)
(10). To the end that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." (I. Thessalonians iii. 13.)
(11). "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.
"That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.
"For God hath not called us into uncleanness, but unto holiness." (I. Thessalonians iv. 3, 4, 7.)
(12). "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I. Thessalonians v. 23.)
(13). "For we are bound to give thanks to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (II. Thessalonians ii. 13.)
(14). "Nevertheless she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (I. Timothy ii. 15.)
(15). "If a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (II. Timothy ii. 21.)
(16). "For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of One: for which He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Hebrews ii. 11.)
(17). "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews x. 10.)
(18). "For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews x. 14.)
(19). "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, whereby he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace." (Hebrews x. 29.)
(20). "For they verily chastened us for a few days after their pleasure: but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness." (Hebrews xii. 10.)
(21). "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews xii. 14.)
(22). "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." (Hebrews xiii. 12.)
(23). "Elect according to God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (I. Peter i. 2.)
(24). "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called." (Jude i.)
(25). "That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life." (Luke i. 74, 75.)
(26). "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians iv. 24.)
(27). "And when Peter saw it he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness, we had made this man to walk." (Acts iii. 12.)
(28). "The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness." (Titus ii. 3.)
(29). "Now are ye clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you." (John xv. 3.)
(30). "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another; and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (I. John i. 7.)
(31). "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I. John i. 9.)
(32). "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." (Matthew v. 8.)
(33). "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." (I. Timothy i. 5.)
(34).".....keep thyself pure." (I. Timothy v. 22.)
(35). "...But follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart." (II. Timothy ii. 22.)
(36). "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
(I. Peter i. 22.)
(37).`"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (I. John iii. 3.)
(38). ".....and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (Acts xv. 9.)
(39). ".....Exercise thyself rather unto godliness." (I. Timothy iv. 7.)
(40). ".....But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (I. Timothy iv. 8.)
(41). "According as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue." (II. Peter i. 3.)
(42). "But 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. (I. Peter i. 15, 16.)
(43). "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (II. Corinthians vi. 14-18.)
(44). "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (I. John v. 21.)
While by no means an exhaustive list, yet the above citation of passages may be taken as fairly representative of the teaching of the New Testament Scriptures on the subject of holiness.
IV. The Two-fold Aspect of Holiness.
Holiness in the New Testament is presented under a two-fold aspect, which may be called the Historical and the Experimental.
First, the Historical Aspect.
The sanctification of believers is represented as having been accomplished by Christ on the cross. Our holiness is part of the finished work of redemption. This aspect of the subject is sometimes called judicial or positional holiness. It has no reference whatever to the character or state of the believer, but rather to his standing before God. The citation of a few passages already quoted in another connection will make this phase of holiness clear:
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews x. 10.)
" For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews x. 14.)
"Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered without the gate." (Hebrews xiii. 12.)
"Unto the Church of God, which is at Corinth to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." (Literally, "called saints.") (I. Corinthians i. 2.)
Second, the Experimental Aspect.
The sanctification of believers is also represented in the New Testament as an experimental possession, a present fact wrought out in the heart and life by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This aspect of holiness has no reference whatever to the believer's standing before God, but rather to his character and state. It means moral holiness, as we have come to understand the term. This is the more usual and familiar sense of sanctification and the one to which the great majority of passages that have been quoted refer. For example:
"But now being free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness (or sanctification), and the end everlasting life." (Romans vi. 22.)
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I. Thessalonians v. 23.)
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews xii. 14.)
Now, these two phases of sanctification are distinct, yet vitally and inseparably connected. They are like the two halves that make a whole. What Christ did for us on the cross, the Spirit must do in us as a personal experience. The teaching of the Holy Scriptures is clear and emphatic that the believer's state in grace must conform to his standing before God. One passage will suffice:
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." (II. Corinthians vii. 1.)
The attempt to divorce judicial holiness from experimental holiness is always attended by consequences more or less disastrous to moral character and conduct. Of sanctification as well as of marriage is it true, "What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." There are Christians who think that judicial holiness is sufficient, and who make their sanctification by the cross an excuse and a justification for an unsanctified life. They feel that since their standing before God is perfect, it matters little if their walk before men is imperfect. Then there are other Christians who do not go quite so far, yet who are unconcerned over irregularities in their character and conduct unbecoming the children of God. By some it would even seem as if Christ's work of sanctification on the cross was believed to grant a certain degree of moral laxity. Evidently, such Christians are guilty of sin, according to the plain teaching of the Scriptures; yet they rarely admit that they are guilty. Not infrequently, indeed, they condone their faults, seeming at times almost to extol them into virtues. What the Bible calls sin, these believers call "mistakes" or infirmities." But of course all this is entirely wrong, being not only contrary to Scripture but also destructive of moral sense. In discussing this very subject of the relation of the Christian to the law, Paul asks: "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" His reply is an emphatic "God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans vi. I, 2.) It is, indeed, this belief, and worse still, this kind of Christian life which turns away so many people who are really spiritually hungry from the otherwise attractive doctrine of Scriptural holiness. Such a profession is a distortion and a perversion of the truth. Judicial sanctification alone does not save from the power of sin and the tyranny of the flesh. Those believers who possess nothing more than historical holiness are in reality the bond-servants of sin, and are "of all men most miserable."
V. The Mode of Holiness.
We come, finally, to consider the mode or process of holiness as set forth in the New Testament. Just as in the Old Testament, this is by contact with God. If the contact be external or material, the holiness is ceremonial. But if, on the other hand, the contact be internal or spiritual, the holiness is moral. And if the contact with God be in any wise broken, holiness is lost. For, holiness is retained only while contact with God is maintained.
First, Ceremonial Holiness.
Very little, comparatively, is said in the New Testament about ceremonial holiness. Dispensationally, the Levitical offerings and ritual cleansings belong to the Old Testament. These things were types of Christ. They were the shadows of which He is the substance; and they were all done away with in Him. (Colossians ii. 17; Hebrews viii. 5; x. 1.)
Yet the Jews in Christ's day observed, to a more or less extent, the Mosaic ceremonial system. Indeed, in His clashes with the Pharisees, Jesus condemned them, because they regarded ceremonial holiness as all that God required. (Matthew v. 29; vi. 16; xxiii. 13-33; Mark vii. 1-23; Luke xi. 37-54.) When Jesus healed the lepers, He commanded them to observe the ritual cleansings enjoined by the law. (Matthew viii. 4; Luke xvii. 14.) The enemies of Christ would not enter Pilate's judgment hall, lest they should be defiled and thus made unfit to eat the Passover. (John xviii. 28.) Pilate himself washed his hands as a symbol that he was innocent of the blood of Jesus. (Matthew xxvii. 24.) The Apostle Paul on one occasion was under the vow of a Nazarite. (Acts xviii. 18; see also Numbers vi. 18.) We further read of four men in Jerusalem who had vows upon them. By advice of James and in order to allay the prejudice of the Jews, Paul took these men, purified himself with them, and entering into the temple, made the offerings prescribed by the law. (Acts xxi. 20-26.)
As further examples of the mode of ceremonial holiness let us take two passages already quoted in another connection:
The first instance is I. Corinthians vii. 14. It is the case of an unbeliever being married to a believer and becoming "sanctified" by the holy life of the partner. Here the marriage tie is the means whereby the one who is not a Christian is accounted holy. In the same way a sanctifying influence is extended to the children of such a union. This does not, of course, mean that the children are saved; they still have need of the new birth. But they are covered by a Christian home, and by the faith of one of the parents are brought under the protection of the covenant mercies of God.
The second instance is I Timothy iv. 4, 5. Here the Jewish law concerning the distinction between clean and unclean animals is in question. This distinction was originally made to help the Israelites to understand the difference between moral defilement and moral holiness. (See Leviticus, chapter xi.) The Jews extended the distinction to human life, regarding the people of all other nations as unclean. It was this view that led Peter, upon being sent for, to hesitate to go to Cornelius. But by the vision of a sheet let down from heaven filled with all manner of beasts and creeping things and fowls, the Lord showed him that under the Gospel this old distinction in the animal world was done away with, and that now the Gentiles as well as the Jews were accounted clean in His sight. Peter learned his lesson, for in his message to Cornelius he said: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him." (Acts x. 34, 35.) With reference to the animal world, and especially to food offered in sacrifice to idols, Paul states in Romans xiv. 14: "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." Whether, therefore, in the passage we are examining, the meat had been offered in sacrifice to idols or not, made no difference to the believer whose mind and heart were spiritually enlightened. "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. Here the means whereby the "creature of God" was sanctified was "the Word of God and prayer."
Second, Moral Holiness.
In connection with the mode of moral holiness in the Old Testament reference has already been made to the mystery attending all the operations of God, especially the working of Divine grace in the human heart. Just how God does anything man may never fully understand. If we could always comprehend God, He would cease to be God. Nevertheless, the teaching of the New Testament, as well as that of the Old Testament, is clear that the holiness of man flows from contact with God. And this contact is established and maintained in a five-fold way, viz., by the will of God, by the work of Christ, by the indwelling of the Spirit, by the faith of the believer, and by the Word of God. Let us look a little at each of these points.
1. Christians are sanctified by the will of God.
This is the ground of holiness.
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification." (I. Thessalonians iv. 3.)
"Then said He, Lo! I come, to do Thy will, 0 God.....
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews x. 9, 10.)
2. Again, Christians are sanctified by the work of Christ.
This is the procuring cause of holiness. It is the historical or judicial aspect of sanctification, which has already been explained, and which, perhaps, needs no further consideration. "For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews x. 14.)
"Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." (Hebrews xiii. 12.)
3. Again, Christians are sanctified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Agent, so to speak, of our holiness. On the Divine side He is the connecting link between God and the believer. This is, in part, the experimental aspect of sanctification elsewhere unfolded.
"And 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 God." (I. Corinthians vi. 2.)
"But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (II. Thessalonians ii. 13.)
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you. and peace, be multiplied." (I. Peter i. 2.) Thus sanctification is a Divine work: it is ascribed to the joint action of the Trinity:
(a.) The Father sanctifies. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly ." (I. Thessalonians v. 23.)
(b.) The Son sanctifies. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (I. John i. 7.)
(c.) The Holy Spirit sanctifies. "God hath chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit." (I. Peter i. 2.)
4. Again, Christians are sanctified by faith. Faith is the human means, so to speak, of holiness. This is also, in part, the experimental aspect of sanctification. On the human side faith is the connecting link that brings the believer into vital contact with God.
"And God, Who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us;
"And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (Acts xv. 9.)
".....To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Me." (Acts xxvi. 18.)
".....God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (II. Thessalonians ii. 13.)
5. Finally, Christians are sanctified by the Word of God.
The Holy Scriptures, in connection with the Divine Spirit and the faith of the believer, complete the means whereby experimental sanctification is secured.
"Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth." (John xvii. 17.)
Here the expression "word of truth" probably refers both to the Incarnate Word and the Written Word.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word." (Ephesians v. 25, 26.)
"Now are ye clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you." (John xv. 3.)
While sanctification is a Divine work, there is one sense in which the child of God may be said to sanctify himself. This is by the use of the Scriptures, illuminated by the Holy Spirit. In this light we are to understand a class of passages, of which the exhortation in II. Corinthians vii. 1, is a striking example:
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." See also Colossians iii. 8, 9; Hebrews x. 22; James i. 21; I. Peter ii. 2. In this connection we may also notice Psalm cxix. 9;
"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word."
Now, it is only through the Holy Scriptures that the child of God can cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. How, then, is this cleansing accomplished? By the joint action of the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth applying the blood of Christ to the heart and life. Among the emblems of the Scriptures are the mirror and the layer.
First, the Bible is a mirror of revelation. It shows us our need of cleansing.
"For if any man be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass;
"For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
"But whoso looketh into the perfect haw of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James I. 22-25.)
Second, the Bible is a layer of cleansing. What the light of truth reveals, the blood of Christ cleanses.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it;
"That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word." (Ephesians v. 25, 26; see also Exodus xxx. 17-21; John xv. 3; and Titus iii. 5.)
When the believer comes to the Scriptures with his mind and heart illuminated by the Holy Ghost, he finds his condition of life portrayed therein. Just as a looking-glass reflects dirt on the face, so the Bible is a mirror of revelation, not only disclosing crooked ways but also uncovering secret faults. Indeed, to make use of another Scriptural figure, the Word of God is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner (literally, a critic) of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews iv. 12.) The Holy Ghost comes with the light of truth in one hand, so to speak, and the blood of Christ in the other. What the light reveals, the blood cleanses. This is the meaning of I. John i. 7.)
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
Here the Greek verb translated "cleanseth" is in the present tense, indicative mood, and its force is to express continuous action in present time. Literally, as already mentioned, it may be rendered "keeps cleansing," or, even better, "keeps on cleansing." The idea is this: if we keep walking (here the verb is in the present subjunctive, denoting continuous action, too) in the light, the blood will keep cleansing us: and the result will be that we shall have fellowship one with another. That is, primarily, the child of God will have fellowship with the Father; and, secondarily, the children of God will have fellowship with one another.
Thus, there is a cleansing power in the Word of God, when applied to our hearts by the Divine Spirit. How often the blessed Comforter brings a passage of Scripture or a personal message to our souls with purifying influence! May this indeed not have been what the Psalmist had in mind, when he prayed: "Quicken Thou me according to Thy Word." (cxix. 25.)
Now, in conclusion, let us briefly review the ground we have covered in our study of Scriptural holiness, emphasizing some already familiar facts and anticipating, perhaps, some new points yet to be more fully developed:
1. In a general way it may be said that the Scriptural words for holiness or sanctification have three meanings, namely: First, separation from sin; second, dedication to God; and third, appointment to ministry. The fundamental idea is the setting apart of a person or thing for the work of God.
2. Holiness is of two kinds-ceremonial and moral. Ceremonial holiness belongs alike to persons and things. Moral holiness belongs only to persons. Ceremonial or official holiness is purely a matter of external relationship to God, and invests a person or thing with a sense of sacredness. Moral holiness, as the term implies, is spiritual renovation of character and practical righteousness of conduct.
3. As a Divine attribute holiness is purity; God is pure from every thought, feeling, and deed of evil.
4. Likewise, as a requirement of the Christian holiness is purity; the child of God, like his Father, must be free from every thought, feeling, and deed of evil. Purity is not merely a negative quality, but a positive attribute as well. Both in God Himself and in the child of God purity involves the possession of righteousness, goodness, and truth. In a word, the believer must have the holiness of renewed character and of righteous conduct. "As it is written, 'Be ye holy; for I am holy."' (I. Peter i. 16.)
5. The holiness of the Christian is the holiness of Christ. All that God the Father is and all that He requires of His children, He has embodied in His Son. "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him." (Colossians ii. 9, 10.) As we cannot offer to God a holiness of our own, He offers to us a holiness of His own. Nor is the Giver apart from the gift; "for both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of One." (Hebrews ii. II.) The holiness which God offers to us is the holiness of His Son. Christ is the sum and substance of the believer's sanctification. In fact, every instance of the use of the word holiness or sanctification in the Scriptures seems to be connected, either typically or vitally, with the person of the Lord. Indeed, in one passage at least this inseparable connection between holiness and the Holy One becomes actual identification. "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus Who of God is made unto us.......sanctification." (I. Corinthians i. 30.)
6. Our holiness flows from contact with God. This contact has both a Divine and a human side. On the Divine side there are two points of contact-the work of Christ on the cross, and the personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost. On the human side there are likewise two points of contact, whereby we become partakers of the holiness of Christ-a step of entire surrender and an act of appropriating faith.
7. The result of such contact with Christ is a new Christian experience, a second definite work of grace-a crisis as radical and revolutionary as the crisis of conversion. In nature it is not a gradual development, but a sudden change. In regeneration we pass out of death into life; in sanctification we pass out of the self-life into the Christ-life. In regeneration we receive a new spirit;" in sanctification the Holy Spirit definitely and personally comes and takes up His abode within the "new spirit." This second and distinct work of sanctification is connected with the definite and personal coming of the Holy Ghost to our hearts. After conversion the Holy Spirit is with us; but after sanctification the Holy Spirit is within us. To make use of the figure of another, in regeneration the Holy Spirit builds His temple; but in sanctification He moves in and occupies it. Thus, it is by the definite reception by faith of the person of the Holy Ghost that the vision of the indwelling Christ is made real to our hearts.
8. Sanctification means a radical and revolutionary transformation of personality-a clean life and a blameless walk. But this renovation of character and conduct is only in and through Christ Himself. Apart from the person of the Sanctifier the blessing of sanctification would not be permanent. The cleansed temple must be possessed and occupied by the Lord of the temple. While the diver is connected with the atmosphere by the breathing tube, he has all the air he needs; but disconnect the breathing tube and the diver dies. Put an iron in among the coals, and the iron is in the fire and the fire is in the iron, and while the iron is among the coals, the fire extends to and sets in rapid motion every particle of the iron; but take the iron out of the fire, and it grows cold and the particles become still. In like manner, while a believer is in vital contact or conscious fellowship with Christ, the holiness of Christ flows into the believer and becomes his personal possession, transforming his character and conduct. But apart from Christ, the believer becomes cold and dead. Therefore, by loving obedience and living fellowship we must abide in Christ; for, as Jesus said, "without Me ye can do nothing." (John xv. 5.)