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Part of series, “What Is Holiness? – Volume 2
Approaching God is not a performance. It’s very simple. It’s very child-like. We’re coming as children to our Father. He doesn’t ask us to put on a performance, or to use a special tone of voice. In fact, the more we can relax the better it will be.
Now last night I made a very inadequate effort to depict what holiness is in God. This morning I’m coming down to the practics and my theme is “Holiness Outworked in Us.” As they say in America, “That’s where the rubber meets the road.”
We’re going to proclaim the last few verses of Psalm 19. Are we there?
Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Amen. Ruth ”Let the words of my mouth.” Derek: Oh, all right. I think we’ll start again. We didn’t make a very good job of that one. Me, not her. Ruth: He preaches, all I have to do is proclaim.
Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
Ruth” I would just like to make a correction to what I said about I only have to proclaim.Derek always tells people that you get two for the price of one. Well my job is to pray. I don’t just sit on the front row. I pray for Derek. So I am just as active as he is. I want to say that for the benefit of other wives who perhaps have felt that their role was not important.
Amen. Thank you. So I want to emphasize first of all the necessity of having a God-given vision. Without that we can never be successful in our ministry. Proverbs 29:18 says,
Where there is no revelation, [but the old version used to say, “where there is no vision” – the word means a prophetic vision.]Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.
And the only way we can exercise restraint effectively is if we have a God-given vision. I’m sure some of you have tried dieting at some time or another. They say most people in America have and most have failed. I have observed that dieting really does not work unless you have a vision. You have to see yourself the way you want to be and keep that vision before you night and day. Then you’ll have the discipline that you need. But without the vision the people cast off restraint. I can think of many people I know, good people, who started out and cast off restraint and lost out because they didn’t have a clear vision. They were not motivated by something that they intended to achieve.
Paul often uses the example of an athlete, and that is a very clear contemporary example. If you analyze the career of any successful athlete he’s motivated by a vision. He’s going to run faster or jump higher or throw something further than any one else has ever done. And he will subject himself or she will subject herself to the most stringent discipline. They will put themselves through things that we wouldn’t even dream of going through. Why? Because they have a vision. And all their life is subjective to achieving the vision. And I believe it has to be the same with you and me as Christians. If we don’t have a vision and I was nominally a pastor for about seven years – I was never called to be a pastor – but in those days you only had two alternatives. You were either a pastor or an evangelist. And I wasn’t an evangelist so I had to be a pastor. And I’d have to say that probably the hardest job in the church is being a pastor. And it becomes a very, I mean I filled many roles so I am speaking from experience, it becomes very dreary and monotonous just a day by day grind, unless you have a vision. Unless you see something so exciting that you’re prepared to give all for it.
Now, the Scripture that we’ve been using and we’ll turn again this morning is Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 14.
Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
Now when it speaks about pursuing peace with all men, we need to balance that by Romans 12 and verse 18. It is not possible to achieve peace with all men. We should aim at it but we should never be frustrated if we don’t achieve it, because there are some people that you cannot be at peace with. So Romans 12:18 says,
If it is possible as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
We can have the right attitude and the right motivation, but if we are encountering people who are totally wrong in their attitudes and their motivations, we will not be able to live at peace with them. So I say that in order to avoid bringing anybody under guilt because you are sitting here saying, “Well there’s somebody I’m not at peace with,” if It’s your fault you need to put it right. But if it’s not your fault probably there’s not much you can do about it.
But, let’s go back to Romans 12:14,
Pursue [let’s leave out peace] holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
That’s a very sweeping statement. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. There is a kind of version of quote “the gospel” which teaches us that we can be saved, and then if we feel disposed we can go on to be holy. That has no place in the New Testament. There is no salvation which doesn’t at least motivate us to become holy. It’s not; there’s o place for it in the New Testament. It’s a revised version, which has no authority. So the writer of Hebrews says, “Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” The “no one” includes you and it includes me.
Now the word pursue is a rather powerful word. I checked in the Greek and it’s a good translation. If you’re pursuing something you’re putting out a good deal of effort, maybe running, and you have in mind this particular thing that you are pursuing.
So how do we pursue holiness? We have to have the vision. The word pursuesuggests that it is something elusive. It’s getting away from you. You have to put on extra effort or you won’t get there. Not that I’m suggesting that we achieve holiness by our effort. But we’ll have to be really totally committed to achieve it.
Now the first step, and one which I have to say according to my observation, is not often emphasized in the contemporary church that I move amongst. Now I don’t move amongst, very often, amongst evangelicals. And I believe that evangelicals probably have a higher standard of holiness than we whatever you want to call us, Pentecostals or Charismatics or Full Gospel or whatever it is. Because they have less, so they’re more concerned with what they have.
So I want to speak about this rather unpopular topic of dealing with sin. And the Lord I believe has brought to my mind a very vivid picture. The first picture is Jesus on Palm Sunday entering Jerusalem, the most popular person in the city. The crowds gathered, they spread their clothes on, the branches of trees in the street, everybody was saying, “Who is this?” They said, ”This is the Prophet, Jesus from Nazareth, of Galilee.” And he had a confrontation with the religious leaders and completely silenced every kind of accusation they would bring against Him.
Now you and I would call that a revival. The whole city was stirred. Jesus was the central figure. What more/ Let’s take over the kingdom. And He could have done, there’s no doubt. He could have declared Himself king and put the religious leaders on one side and being the most popular figure in Israel at that time.
Then my mind goes forward about five days to Good Friday and what do I see? A lonely naked figure on a cross. Why? Because God will never compromise with sin. Jesus could have had the kingdom if He’d been willing to compromise with sin. Because He was not willing to compromise with sin he became very unpopular. And sometimes that will cause unpopularity. I think especially in the contemporary church.
So we have to face this fact in our lives that God will never compromise with sin. And if we compromise with sin in our own lives we are out of harmony with God.
Now I think of the story of King David. I’m sure most of you are familiar with his tragic failure. And it’s interesting, the chapter that describes it which I’m not going to turn to, says at the time, the season of the year when the kings went out to war – David was a king and he was a mighty man of warrior, a might man of valor. But this particular time he didn’t go out. He stayed home and enjoyed the comfort and the luxury of his palace and cast his eyes upon a naked woman in the next apartment building, and committed adultery with her. And then to cover up his adultery he procured the murder of her husband and got away with it. I mean, nobody checked on him. Nobody accused him. The husband who could have made a complaint was dead, so there he was. It was all right with everybody except one person. That was God.
And then, you know the story. God sent the prophet Nathan. And Nathan with great wisdom didn’t approach the thing head on. He told him this little parable about the rich man who had many flocks and the poor man who just had one little ewe lamb. And when the traveler came to the rich man, instead of taking one of his own flock, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb. And David was indignant! I mean he was really angry. He said, “The one who has done this thing shall surely perish.” And Nathan said, “You are the man.” And then he proceeded to outline briefly David’s sins. And to his credit David repented. I believe David’s whole career hung in the balance. He could have said, “I’m the king. Don’t bring accusations against me. It will cost you your life.”
Many monarchs in the subsequent history of Europe would have done that. But David had the grace given him by God to humble himself. And he repented, and then he wrote this beautiful Psalm of repentance. Psalm 51, and I want to read the first six verses.
Have mercy upon me. O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of
Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when you judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me,
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
I believe true wisdom only comes from truth in the inward parts. We can have a lot of superficial wisdom and having been a professional philosopher that was my particular field. And you can put on a great show. You can use a lot of complicated intellectual words. You can spin all sorts of theories, and people will pay you for it. I mean they actually paid me when I stop to think about it. Not very much, but they did. But it wasn’t real wisdom because it didn’t come from truth in the inward part. And I believe that’s what God would say to you and me this morning. “You desire truth in the inward parts.”
David prefixes it with the word behold.It came to him as a sudden revelation. What God is looking for is truth in the inward part. He’s looking for a life that is the same inside as it is outside. He is not willing to accept any kind of superficial performance that doesn’t convince Him, because He sees right below the surface. And I feel today that that’s what the Lord is saying to us. We’re saying you desire truth in the inward part. It’s very easy in the ministry to put on a religious performance. You can use the right language, pray the right prayers, say the right things, be very loving and kind, but something else is inside. And God says, “I’m looking for truth in the inward part.” Your inner life has to be expressed in your outer life. Your outer life cannot be a cover up for what’s going on inside.
After all, David was still King, he was still the head of the people of Israel, he was still reputed as a mighty warrior. He could have gone on with the act. But God was so merciful to him. He arrested him. He said, “David, I’m looking at what you really are inside. I’m not impressed by your outward performances. You can impress the people. You can go through with your act, but you’re not convincing Me because I know what’s inside.”
I believe there are times when we have to face the fact that God requires us to be honest about our own inner life. He’s saying, “I’m desiring truth in the inward part. You can put on a religious performance. You can use the right language.” I’ll tell you one thing that always puts me off. When people use a different tone of voice to pray than they do to speak. That says to me this is a performance. And we, religious people, we’re adept at performance. Unfortunately we often teach our people to do the same. We want a nice external, a nice sanctuary, nice seats, and if possible an organ. I don’t think most of us here would want stained glass windows, but we really want everything nice. And there’s nothing wrong with being nice. But it’s not a cover-up for what is not nice inside.
I want to suggest to you maybe four or five particular sins that we may need to come face to face with, some of us. I’m going to mention them. I’m not going to belabor them. I’m not going to come to you and point my finger in your eyes and say, “This is your problem.” Incidentally I’m often guilty of it. I think it’s ridiculous to call sin a problem. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. It doesn’t cleanse us from problems. I mean, I so often use that word myself that I am in a way convicted. You don’t have a problem. You have a sin. And the only remedy for sin is outlined in the Bible.
So let me just suggest, and I make some of these suggestions on the basis of people that Ruth and I have been dealing with over some years now. I will not mention any names. I will not give any indication of the place or the person, but actually I think all these things that I’m going to mention, Ruth and I have encountered in people in the ministry.
First of all the abuse of a child, which is frighteningly common today. Maybe sexual abuse or verbal or emotional abuse. Physical. I mean I just don’t want to go too deep, but Ruth knows that from her own childhood. And she was brought up in a Christian home, Lutherans, and yet that, it was a wound that it took it years to uncover and deal with. Because most people who have been abused never want to talk about it. The last thing they want to do is to see it brought out into the open. But it has to be brought there if it’s to be dealt with.
Then again broken marriage vows. I’m really interested in the fact that because we had no proper building when I was a pastor, we used to go to the registrar’s office to get people married. And in those days, I don’t know whether it’s still true, but in every registrar’s office there was a very conspicuous board or sign that said, “According to the law of this country marriage is the union of one man with one woman for life to the exclusion of all others.” I can’t believe they still have that in registry offices. But I don’t know when they took it down. It was a bad move when they did. So that’s what marriage is, the union of one man with one woman for life to the exclusion of all others. And the vows that we make when we get married are some of the most sacred vows we ever make. Nevertheless, it is possible sometimes in a moment of weakness or pressure to break that vow.
I can talk about people in another country. I used to know a man, a real committed Christian. He worked for the, I think the electricity company, and he used to have to go round and read the meters. So he had to knock on every door and go into every house. And when he arrived at one door the woman who opened the door only had her barest underwear on, nothing else. And he ended up by committing adultery with her. I would say that was a real difficult temptation, but he was tormented by it for years, until he acknowledged it, confessed it to his wife and was forgiven. So I’m not pointing a finger at anybody who may be saying, “Well, I was not completely faithful to my marriage vows.” Just once, or who knows how. But remember, God knows. And you will never have full peace until you have settled that issue with God and maybe with your marriage partner. In the case of which I’m speaking, the wife when she heard this story, fully forgave her husband. But there had been something between the two of them for a good many years before it was brought out into the open.
And then again, a temptation which is very near to those in ministry – wrong dealing with money. After all there are times when it’s marginal. Is this money for me or for the church? Or if I just make a few adjustments in my income tax return I won’t have to pay so much. I think in America the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, is regarded as the enemy of all preachers. And may preachers just feel they can do anything they like with the enemy, provided they get away with it. But you don’t get away with it with God. God has the strictest accounts of all. So you need to consider, “Have I always been totally upright and honest in my dealings with money.
And then another sin which is amazingly common in the church and amongst ministers is pornography. When I fist discovered how much pornography there was inside the church I was astonished. Again Ruth and I remember a man, a pastor, quote “successful pastor,” who came to us and confessed this sin. And he said, “When I travel,” and he traveled a good deal, he said, “I don’t dare to do whatever you do to get to the pornographic channel on TV because then there will be a record of it. But,” he said and this may sound amazing, “at two A.M. those pornographic demons wake me up and compel me to go and watch.” Now he was wonderfully delivered, but he never would have been delivered if he hadn’t acknowledged his sin.
There was a young man in the camp we were in last. And he came to me with quite a long written list of problems. But I didn’t understand his language, you see, because he had a problem with strong visual stimulation. Well, I’m sorry I’m so innocent, I didn’t know what that was. But in plain simple language, he was hooked on pornography. And he was desperately ashamed. And I’m not sure that he was really willing. I don’t know whether he repented or not.
Now I still haven’t come to the most prevalent sin amongst preachers, which is gluttony. Over indulgence of our physical appetite. And it’s so common it’s positively respectable. But amongst the list of the fruit of the spirit there is self-control. And self-control and self-indulgence are opposites. Where you have one you cannot have the other. So God has been dealing with me about this for years, stage by stage. I don’t know whether He’s finished with me, but I’m very different from what I was, let’s say, ten years ago. This is purely personal and I’m not recommending it to anybody. When I’m confronted with food now I ask myself, “What will this do to my body?” Because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I have no right to introduce trash or poison. I have no right to desecrate that temple with self-indulgence. And further more, it’s probably going to make you ill in due course sooner or later.
So those are five sins that I would suggest we just bring before the Lord. Number one, abuse of a child, sexual or physical or emotional. Number two, broken marriage vows. Number three, wrong dealing with money. Number four, pornography. Number five, gluttony.
Now how do we deal with them? The first thing we have to do is confess them. 1 John chapter 1 verse 9 says,
If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There is an “if.” “If” we do what? Confess. That’s right. God has never committed Himself to forgive any sins that we are not ready to confess. And sometimes the confession is like pulling a cork out of a bottle. It releases all sorts of things. We’ve kept all sorts of things pressed down inside trying vainly to keep them in control because we were not willing to take the cork out. But God has never committed Himself to forgive any sin that we are not willing to confess.
Then in the same chapter of 1 John, chapter 1:7 it says this, and I want you to notice that both sentences begin with an “if.” A lot of people read the Bible as if the “if” wasn’t there. But both of them are conditional statements.
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.
Now in the Greek language all of those are in the continuing present tense. It’s not a one-time experience. When I was being criticized for casting demons out of people, a well-known preacher was asked whether a Christian could have a demon. His reply was, “Demons cannot cross the blood line,” which sounded good but didn’t really resolve the problem. This is one of the most controversial issues in some places. But people have a wrong impression about the application of the blood of Jesus. Every one of these verbs is in the continuing present tense. “If we walk in the light continually, we continually have fellowship and the blood is continually cleansing us.” It is not speaking about a one-time application of the blood. It’s speaking about being continually protected by the blood. “If we walk in the light we have fellowship.” The first evidence that you’re walking in the light is that you are in fellowship with your fellow-believers. Anyone out of fellowship is out of the light, and the blood does not cleanse in the dark.
The second is the blood continually cleanses us. Yesterday’s cleansing is not sufficient for today. We have to be walking in the light. And the evidence of our walking in the light first of all is that we are in fellowship with our fellow-believers. The second consequence is, we are being continually cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
I have to say, and I’m a Pentecostal for fifty-seven years standing, for a lot of Pentecostals the blood is a fetish. They say, “I plead the blood. I plead the blood. I plead the blood. The blood, the blood the blood.” They have absolutely no Scriptural right to do that. They have no basis for it. I honor and respect the blood of Jesus. I’m not by any means including the suggestion that the blood is without its efficacy. But there are conditions on which you have to base your use or your application of the blood of Jesus.
I have to say, and I didn’t plan to say this and I’m not saying it to defend myself – I don’t need to be defended, but the ministers that persuade people who need deliverance from demons that they cannot have demons are really not faithful to their commitment. In the United States Don Basham, who’s now with the Lord, and I were somewhat notorious for a few years for casting demons out of people. And one of the major denominations in the United States, which I will not name, officially classified us as heretics. I mean, not just verbally, but in print, because we were casting demons out of Christians. So I said to Don, “What do they expect us to do? Leave them in?” Of course the implication was a Christian cannot have a demon, therefore they can’t be cast out. You might as well say a Christian cannot have a cold in the head, or appendicitis. It’s very illogical.
Take something more respectable that’s not a demon. You take some condition of the throat and lungs which is caused by bacteria. Virus is all right, it will do. They’re both respectable. So this fine young man has this persistent infection. But he goes to a gospel crusade, comes forward gets wonderfully saved, his life is changed. But he still has the infection. Now before he was saved it was caused by bacteria. Is it ridiculous to say it is still caused by bacteria after he’s saved? Suppose it was caused by demons. He is a prisoner of fear, compulsive fear that grips him from to time. He gets wonderfully saved but he still feels the same compulsive fear. Is it impossible that that would be caused by the same demon that caused it before he was saved? There are some subjects that are almost taboo and demons sometimes are one of them. I’m not afraid of talking about demons. I can say without exaggeration I have dealt with thousands of demons, and I know that if we meet the conditions and humble ourselves, we have the victory over the demons. But to pretend that they don’t exist is just foolish. And really it’s in a way it’s part of the same thing that I’m talking about maintaining your religious respectability.
I did preach in one church where the man said, “I don’t mind your casting demons out but don’t call them demons.” Really. He said, “I don’t want”... he said, I think, “problems.” I mean, I’ve been through some strange things. Another church, and I was a friend of the pastor and said, “I don’t want you to preach about demons, but we’ve got this man who really needs help. Will you pray with him in private?” Well, the man was an American citizen but a former Nazi. And he had the most raid hatred of the Jews, and he was a strong, burly man. And I said to myself, “If I’m alone with this man I’ve got to be careful.” So I tell you I preached that man a sermon on repentance like you never heard. I spent twenty minutes telling him what repentance is. Then I prayed with him and he turned around and he began to pound on the floor with his fists for probably ten minutes. I thought to myself, “If I hadn’t told him about repentance, it would be me he would be pounding on.”
Now coming back to 1John 1:7,
But if we continually walk in the light as He is in the light, we continually have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son continually cleanses us from all sin.
There is no cleansing in the dark. The blood does not cleanse in the dark.
Now what is the light? I have one simple Scriptural answer which is from Psalm 119 and verse 105. The Psalmist is speaking to the Lord and he says,
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
So very obviously when we walk in the light we use the lamp and the light, which is the word. In other words, walking in the light is walking in obedience to Scripture. And that’s the only condition on which we can claim continuing cleansing with the blood of Jesus. There is no sort of easy I don’t know what, sort of gimmick that gets you off the hook. You have to lead a righteous life. That’s essential.
How do we walk in the light? And there are many Scriptures I’d like to give you 2Peter 1:3–4. So we come to 2Peter chapter 1, verses 3 and 4.
His [that’s God’s] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...
That’s important to realize. We don’t need God to gives us anymore than He has already given us. He has given us all things.
Through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, [And it all comes through the knowledge of the Lord. But then this is the application,]
By the knowledge of the Lord have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
So God’s provision is in His promises, the promises of His word. And through these we can become partakers of the diving nature. That is an astonishing statement. But that is what it says and I believe it. But we have to walk in the light of the word of God. We have to be obedient to Scripture. We cannot choose our own path or go our own way or do our own thing. We have to be obedient to the word of God. There’s no alternative. There’s no other way. The Scripture is the way of life. It’s the light in a dark place. I’d like to say in the same chapter, 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 19, Peter says,
We also have the prophetic word [the word of God] the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.
So Peter particularly emphasizes the prophetic element in the Scriptures. And he says, “We’re in a dark place, but this is a light in a dark place.” And if we walk according to it we will be successful. But I, unfortunately, I have to say that I know a high proportion of professing Christians who really ignore the prophetic Scriptures. And consequently they’re doing all sorts of things which are ridiculous. They’re praying ridiculous prayers, because the prophetic Scriptures indicate the world is going to get darker and darker and more and more evil. To pray against that is to pray an empty meaningless prayer. We have to use the prophetic Scriptures. At least one third of the Bible is prophecy. Not only do we have the prophetic books, we have prophecies in the Psalm, we have Jesus the greatest prophet of all whose last discourse was a prophetic discourse, and is given in three gospels. It’s so important that it’s given to us three times. And yet I hear Christians talking and praying in ways that are absolutely contrary to what Jesus indicated when He was here. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man.” And in the days of Noah the earth was filled with violence. Violence is not going to grow less not matter how many committees we hold. It’s going to increase because it’s the expression of being in the days of the Son of Man. It’s good that we are not hoping for something unrealistic. It’s important that we tie our hopes and expectations to the revelation of Scripture. Because there’s much to encourage us, but we can’t live on false assurances. Jesus said, “When you see these things come to pass...” all the terrible thins that He’s been, “look up and lift up your heads for your redemption is drawing near.” So there is a positive way to respond in the light of prophecy.
But to ignore prophecy is just to...you know they say ostriches bury their heads in the sand? Well it’s not true. That’s a slander on ostriches. I preached a sermon on ostriches once. One of my least popular sermons. I was pastoring this very small congregation in London and there were some of those very quote “spiritual ladies” that would drop in on us and then they would go to another, and then they’d go to another, and come back. So I got provoked with them so I preached this sermon on ostriches, that they can run very fast but they cannot fly. They bury their heads in the sand and don’t know what’s going on. They lay eggs and do not hatch them. Well all that was true of these good ladies, but I learned later that it wasn’t altogether true of ostriches.
Shall I share with you a little word of wisdom especially as pastors? Because in every congregation, almost every congregation, there are those who want to manipulate the pastor. And one common Pentecostal way is Sister A will give the tongue and Sister B will give the interpretation. “My son, the Lord would say to you, or thee and so on...” But there’s another way that people manipulate you and this is more subtle. I can remember these two ladies. One was called Miss Leg and the other was called Miss Barefoot. They must be with the Lord now so I don’t fear to name hem. I mean this was forty years ago. But they somehow convinced me that I had to have their approval for what I preached. And if they didn’t like what I reached they withheld their approval. And for a while I was captivated by them. I just focused on getting the approval of these two ladies. Then I learned later that one of the ways that witchcraft operates is by convincing people that you need my approval. And I want to warn you against it because it is very common. You need the Lord’s approval. All right.
So going back to 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 4, it says,
By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these [the promises] you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
So it is through the promises of Scripture that we can become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Which is saying the same thing as if we walk in the light we have fellowship, the blood cleanses us. There is no substitute for Scripture. I’m so glad that God called it Scripture in one place. I was preaching in the church in which I was once an elder, and I said to them something like, “How do we escape deception?” I don’t remember exactly what I said. Somebody said, “By the word of God.” And I said, “No. By the Scripture.” Because the Scripture is the word of God which He has caused to be put down in writing. Lot’s of people can come up with things that they call the word of God that really are not. But the Scripture is absolute. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable etc.”
And so I warn you. I’ve been a pastor long enough to know some of the problems. You will get people who will come in and put on an act and prophesy and say all sorts of things. Before you accept it, check with the Scripture. God has been so merciful to give us the Scripture. God has said many things which are not recorded in Scripture, but He has caused the things that we really need to know to be recorded in Scripture.
I want to come back with just to emphasize what I’ve already said, that holiness is not optional. It’s not an add-on package to your tour which is the way many people view it today. Ruth and I conducted tours for some years and we would plan the tour and if you wanted a little more extra, to see some other places like Petra or something like that, you signed up and you paid a little more. But most people didn’t pay anymore. Didn’t sign up. And I think a lot of contemporary Christians view holiness as an add-on package, which is optional. If you want to sign on for it, you can do it. Anyhow you’re saved. I question whether you are saved. I don’t know how you can be saved without being concerned about being holy. I don’t think that salvation exists in the New Testament. It’s a concoction of the church.
So let me just give you three Scriptures that emphasize the importance of holiness. The first we’ve already looked at but we’ll look at it again. Hebrews 12:14,
Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord;
That to me seems very emphatic. Then 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 13 through 19. See, again I think many people misuse, not intentionally, the blood of Jesus. They say, “I’ve been saved by the blood. I’m safe.” That’s not what the Bible says. Particularly a lot of Christians resent any message that enforces the fear of the Lord. “Well, brother I’m saved. I don’t need to fear anything. Now I’m safe.” That’s not what the New Testament says. 1 Peter 1:13,
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be bought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning in fear;
knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
The fact that we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus does not set us free from the obligation to fear the Lord. On the contrary Peter says, “Fear the Lord in the light of the price that’s been paid for your redemption.” So that’s part of the message of the gospel.
And finally I’d just like to look in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 the last verse, well we can look at the last two verses of chapter 6, chapter 6 verses 17 and 18. These are quotations from the Old Testament.
“Therefore come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
Let me say, you need to read that verse in the context because I have heard so many people justify some little splinter group on the basis of “come out from among them.” If you read the context the people you’re to come out from among are the idolaters who are sacrificing to demons. They’re not your fellow Christians.
“Therefore come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do to touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
You know you can touch what is unclean simply in your thoughts. Thinking is a way of touching things.
I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My Sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty.”
[Now Paul goes on in his own words.]
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
And when Paul says, “Let us cleanse ourselves...” he’s not excluding himself. Sometimes people think that the Apostle Paul is so perfect that he never had any problems. That’s not true. So we are invited to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” Holiness is not an option. It’s required. Merely to think that holiness is an option in a way is to insult God. It’s to express a totally false picture of who God is. As it says, “He is holy.”
So I think we need now to take just a little while to consider how these truths that I’ve been proclaiming affect our lives. We come back to the first essential step which is, “If we confess our sins...” And the confession I understand should be made to God. On the other hand there is this saying which is not actually Scriptural. I think the principle is there. A confession should be as broad as the transgression. If you’ve sinned against the Lord only then you confess to the Lord only. If you’ve sinned against other people, then you have an obligation if possible to make it right with the other people. It’s not always possible.
Let me give you an application of this which concerns me deeply. I feel, myself, that pastors and leaders are responsible for what goes on in their congregation. Now any of us can be in a situation where demons manifest themselves. But how do we respond? Do we identify it as a demon and protect our people from deception. Or do we cover it up with a nice religious platitude. “Our sister’s a little over worked today.” I feel this is very relevant to the Charismatic movement and I’m not going to name people. But I feel there are Charismatic leaders who have tolerated the demonic in manifestations which are not Scriptural, and condoned them and left the impression that this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Now if that is true, in my opinion, those leaders do no merely have to confess to God, they have to confess to the people whom they have been deceiving. Because otherwise it will go on and on and on. Confession cuts a thing off. I’m not suggesting that this might apply to anybody here. I don’t know anything about you, but just bear in mind, I think it is a Scriptural principle, the confession must be as broad as the transgression.
Now we are not suggesting that you seek anybody out here this morning to confess to. But I am suggesting that you may need to confess to the Lord, individually, personally, while we’re here in His presence. Forget about me and focus on the Lord and His word. I’m going to pray for you.
Father, I thank you for these people gathered here, not by accident, Lord. We are here, everyone by a divine appointment. And I pray now that by your Holy Spirit you will speak to each one here. And where there is unconfessed sin, maybe covered up sin that has not even been acknowledged, You will convict of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. And give the grace to any who are convicted to confess and repent as we wait upon you here Lord in quietness, in silence. We just invite you to move among us by your Holy Spirit, doing what He alone can do, convicting of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. I pray, Lord, that there will be burdens that people have carried maybe for many years that will be lifted. There will be bondages that will be broken. There will be a new atmosphere even among us here as we wait upon You and worship You. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.
At the close of this message I need to add a brief account of what followed and which was not recorded on the original tape. The brothers leading the meeting acted on what I’d been saying about the need to confess our sins, and invited any people in the meeting who had specific sins to confess to come forward and make any needed confession. Over the next hour or more probably at least half the people present came forward to confess their sins.
As a result the Holy Spirit began to move in sovereign, supernatural power and many people received manifest powerful deliverance from demons. This lasted well over an hour and there were some very dramatic deliverances.
I myself prayed with one woman who was bound with a vicious and powerful spirit of hate. She was involved in some kind of Christian ministry but had never come to grips with the spirit of hate that had been poisoning her spiritual life.
Various other people also came forward and received manifest deliverance from demons of various kinds. Most of those who received deliverance were themselves in some form of Christian ministry.
This brief explanation will enable you to understand the words with which I open the next tape which you will be listening to.