II Corinthians 6: 16 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. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 7:1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Holiness. Is it possible? How is it possible in this human nature? Paul is writing this second letter to the church at Corinth and it is meant not only for them but for churches throughout the ages. The Holy Spirit put it down in the Word and helped form the book of books—the Bible.
The church at Corinth was about the bottom of the barrel. You name it and it was going on within the congregation. Later, when the Apostle John was about 100 years old and the time was around 100 A.D. some of the churches had fallen and weren’t even mentioned by John in his writing. We don’t hear about the church at Corinth. It may be an indication that Paul was not setting the bar too high, that people could reach it.
When we hear the word “perfected” we think can we be? Being holy is attainable and it depends not as much on us as it does our dependence on God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. We cannot be absolutely perfect. We do sin. Paul wasn’t making an impossible demand. Understand that it is possible for God to look down and say we are his people just as he did Israel. He speaks of them as being a holy nation. Verse 16 says 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. This comes from the book of Exodus and Paul is laying down the same principle. The children of Israel weren’t saved by adherence to the Ten Commandments. Only their faith in God saved them. Eventually a person breaks them. Moses broke them. Because of pride and unbelief at the rock God didn’t allow him to lead Israel into the Promised Land. God’s a strict God and he means business. Moses found that out.
Peter said in First Peter 1:16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And in verse 15 he said but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. This means that our way of living should reflect that we are children of God, the way we walk and talk. Remember the promise in verses 16 and 17 in Corinthians: and I will receive you. This is not about perfection but separation. Look at verse 17 again: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate. Don’t go along with what’s trending. It doesn’t mean not to help or interact with sinners in day to day living. We can’t ignore sinners. There are unsaved in each of our families. We’re going to see them and be brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers.
People go from one extreme to another. On one hand we see the pious persons who think only their denomination is going to heaven and all others are going to hell. We saw Paul get mad at Peter and him at Paul. Paul and John Mark parted ways. In his first letter Paul told the Corinthians they can’t brag about their deeds and told them he could brag of way more, but he didn’t lay claim to perfection. His being holy was in being wholly given to God.
How can we, saved by grace, but in this body be holy? Be different from others but maintain separateness even when you interact. Draw the line in the practice of something sinful. Walk off. I’ve had to do that at family functions. Don’t act “better.” Act saved. Let your light shine but don’t give others sunburn. God needs to burn our hides but we don’t need to burn anyone. Sinners don’t know how to do anything but sin so we have to show them. Galatians 2:20 says I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. We can’t do it…by ourselves. But by our faith in Jesus we can.
We can’t reach moral or character perfection. So you never get mad? You never slip and say a bad word? You always make spiritual decisions? None of us can say that. The rich young ruler told Jesus he had kept all these things from his youth. Maybe he had. Jesus looked at him and loved him. He told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He went away sorrowful because he had great riches. He refused to separate himself from his riches. Holiness is attainable only by faith in Jesus. It doesn’t raise us to sinless-ness. There is a group that believes you do become sinless. They can look down at others because they feel they are sinless. They disdain others saying anyone outside their group is going to hell. Not so. None are sinless.
God is holy and says for us to be holy. If we don’t interact with the lost how can we witness to them? The only way to win them is through the Holy Spirit of living like Christ and behaving like him. Peruse a relationship with God in true holiness. Break these traditions. We all have a lot to learn about being pleasing to God. Be willing to make decisions every day of whose pattern you’ll follow. Be a Christian. Do people realize where you stand? Draw the line. It’s a sacred position to be a child of God. Hold it high. In every day, in every way we can still be like him.
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. People will take notice when we live in the fear of God. When they see our love and fear there is holiness. It’s not sinless-ness. We can be holy. One day we’ll be sinless. Do your best to let God shine in love. Warm others to the light of God and bring them to Jesus.