Our Basis Of Doctrine: Part 18 - Our Responsibility

  • 11 September 2017

This is an ongoing series of blog posts in which we provide a brief overview of our church’s Basis of Doctrine as set out in the Church Constitution, by defining, explaining and proving from Scripture the various doctrines expressed. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study, so there is much that won’t be stated or defended. Click here to view our Basis of Doctrine.

Part 18
The responsibility of all saved souls to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age

DEFINITIONS

Soberly - serious-minded and sensible
Righteously-  good and upright
Godly - reverencing God, pious, godly, devout, a sincere worshipper of God

EXPLANATION

It is very clear in the teachings of the Scripture that no Christian is sinless (1 John 1:8-10), but it is also clear that God expects the true believer to not sin habitually. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” (3:9).
 
To “practice” sin is to sin as a way of life. An unsaved person lives a life of habitual sin. The sin of unbelief is a normal thing for the lost person. A true believer does not live in habitual sin. He may commit occasional sins but he will not make it a habitual practice.
 
The word “holy,” “holiness,” “saint” and “sanctify” comes from a Greek root meaning, “to set apart to God.” The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is set apart for God by the Holy Spirit. The “saint” is a person set apart for God, enjoying a holy standing before God in Christ Jesus, with the obligation of living a holy life (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
 
The evidence of the new birth is righteous behaviour in the life of the believer. Sanctification is evident in a changed life. God changes us from the inside out (2 Cor. 5:17).
 
J. C. Ryle in his book on holiness gave eight reasons why holiness is necessary in the Christian’s life (Holiness, pp. 40-44).
 
1. God commands that the Christian be holy (1 Peter 1:14-16; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7).
 
God said, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Be holy, and not conforming to evil desire. God’s holiness expresses His divine perfection. His innermost nature is holy, and a holy God calls for a holy people (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Cor. 1:2).
 
Holy living demands determination (Rom. 12:1). The Christian is responsible for his inner life and outward walk. All areas of our life should be in the process of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Sin is abnormal and unnatural for the believer. The Christian does not experience the sinless life perfectly on this earth (1 John 1:8, 10), however we do overcome sin through the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-21).
 
Holiness or sanctification can be perfected, i.e. completed or matured (Phi. 3:8-16). A maturing, or growing holiness, is an increased Christ-likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). It is a progressive sanctification, not sinless perfection.
 
We will receive glorification when we see Jesus in heaven, and not before then. Until then, we are to grow in His likeness (1 John 3:3). Our responsibility is to yield ourselves to the inner working of the Holy Spirit and keep on growing in His likeness (James 4:8).
 
2. The eternal purpose of God in Christ is for us to be holy. God has saved you by the Holy Spirit to make you His holy people (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Eph. 5:25-27).
 
Jesus Christ died to make us holy. The purpose of God in the atoning death of His Son for our sins is to save us from the penalty of sin, and to set us apart to God to become like His Son (Rom. 8:29). Our eternal destiny is to be conformed to the image of God in Christ Jesus (1 Jn. 3:3).
 
God loved us while we were His enemies and sent His Son to die for us, and we are now His children who are to be like their Father. A Christian who sins is a child sinning against His Father.
 
3. The only safe evidence that we have a saving faith in Jesus Christ is a holy life (Heb. 12:14; Jas. 2:26; 1 John 2:6; 3:9). No one can see the Lord God without holiness.
 
“For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:7). “For this is the will of God, your sanctification . . .” (v. 4, GNT). Sanctification is God’s stated purpose for the believer.
 
The Christian has been set apart to God and is therefore “holy” unto the Lord. We are “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
 
The person who sets his hope by faith on the Son of God experiences an inward purification that is as complete as a Christ’s own purity. We become like Christ as we focus our faith on His saving grace.
 
4. The only proof that we sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ is a holy life.
 
John 14:15 reads, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” (v. 21). “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word” (v. 23). The answer to the obedience problem is love. If you love Him, you will obey Him. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15: 14).
 
If you love Jesus, you will be holy. If you love Him, you will become like Him.
 
If you do not obey Him, you do not love Him. If you love Him, you will obey Him. You do not love Him if you do not do what He teaches.
 
Because the Christian knows God, he lives a life of obedience and does not practice sin.
 
5. The only sound evidence that we are true children of God is a holy lifestyle.
 
“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6). The child of God does not have the habit of sin because He has God’s divine principle of life dwelling in him. We cannot go on continuing to sin because we now have God’s very nature in us. A person who “abides” in a sinless Person must himself be sinless because he has a sinless regenerate nature.
 
God’s children act like their Father. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14). The Spirit of God leads to holiness because He will not lead you into sin and disobedience. If the Spirit leads you, you will live a holy life.
 
“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:15). “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (v. 9). The new birth involves a perfect purification from sin.
 
6. People who live holy lives are a blessing to others (Galatians 5:13).
 
Consistent holy behaviour is a powerful testimony to God’s saving grace.
 
God blesses the service of people who are holy. People who live holy lives are not selfish; they are a blessing to other people (1 Pet. 1:22).
 
7. Our present comfort depends upon living a holy lifestyle.
 
You cannot walk with the Lord and the world at the same time. God will chastise the sinning saint (Heb. 12:6, 9-10).
 
Our sanctification is not a personal attainment, but is a state or position into which God in grace has called us (2 Tim. 1:9). It is our responsibility, moreover to “sanctify” ourselves (1 Pet. 1:15; 2 Pet. 3:11). If we are going to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him, we must keep our lives from all known sin. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8).
 
8. Without holiness on earth we shall never be prepared to enjoy heaven.
 
“Strive for ... the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28). The physical changes of our redemption will take place when Christ returns and our bodies are glorified. “We know that when he appears we shall be like him” (1 Jn. 3:3; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:52-54). We will have new glorified bodies made for living in heaven. Because Jesus Christ shall return, we can and should keep our lives pure.

SCRIPTURE

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8)
 
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
(John 14:15)
 
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
(John 14:21)
 
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
(John 14:23)
 
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
(John 15:14)
 
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
(Romans 8:14)
 
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
(Romans 8:29)
 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
(Romans 12:1)
 
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
(1 Corinthians 6:19)
 
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18)
 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
 
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
(2 Corinthians 7:1)
 
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
(Galatians 5:13)
 
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:16-24)
 
For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
(1 Thessalonians 4:7)
 
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13)
 
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:14)
 
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
(James 2:26)
 
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
(James 4:8)

[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:13-16)
 
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
(1 Peter 1:22)
 
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
(1 Peter 2:9)
 
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
(2 Peter 3:11)
 
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
(1 John 2:6)
 
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:3)
 
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
(1 John 3:6)
 
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
(1 John 3:9)
 
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
(1 John 3:6-10)

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