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The Scriptorium

Perfecting Holiness

It's our calling. 2 Corinthians 7.1

2 Corinthians 7 (1)

Pray Psalm 86.16, 17.
Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Sing Psalm 86.16, 17.
(Andrews: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven)
Turn to me, LORD; be gracious to me;
grant me Your strength; save Your servant, LORD!
Let me a sign of something good see;
shame all who hate me beneath Your Word.
LORD, be gracious to me, LORD, be gracious to me,
for You help me, sovereign Lord!

Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 7.1.

1. To what should God’s promises lead?

2. How must we relate to God?

The promises to which Paul refers are those stated at the end of chapter 6: God will receive us, make us His people and children, and will dwell and walk with us in all our ways. These are precious and very great promises, indeed, and by them, through our Lord Jesus Christ, we may have true and vital fellowship with God (2 Pet. 1.2-4).

But we must apply ourselves to working out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2.13). This means continuously cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit and taking up those disciplines that lead us to obey the Lord unto sanctification. We will not bring holiness to completion in this lifetime, but we aim at that goal and strive toward it nonetheless. We want to become more like Jesus every day, as we look to the Spirit to open the Word of God to us and show us the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 4.6).

Paul says the promises of God and the fear of God are the twin motivators in this process. The promises remind us of the love and unfailing Presence of the Lord; we obey God because of His love for us and our love for Him. The fear of God acknowledges our deep need of His mercy and grace and our respect for His almighty power. We both love and fear the Lord, therefore, and these together help us make progress in sanctification day by day.

Holiness is the path we walk in our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12). The more we work at holiness, the more we will know the joy and purpose of our salvation.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
It's August, and it’s hot. Flies are buzzing and night is about to fall. You have spent the day with numerous children, both yours and those who belong to others. You have had a picnic with all the fixings, and the finishing touch is watermelon. Lots of it, eaten without utensils, and the juicy essence of it has run down your hands and arms—you are sticky. The children are all sticky, and you are holding one of them on your lap. Now it's time to go home. Earlier at home, this hot August day, you washed and changed the sheets on your bed, and they are fresh and cool to the touch.

The children have all been delivered to their respective homes; amazingly, you brought yours home with you. And now you have a choice: You can either put everyone to bed as is, yourself included, or you can take a cool, soapy, cleansing shower. Either is an option. Please choose correctly.

God is telling us the same: Look, I have given you the promise of being your Father, and I want you to be my children, but you are sticky. I want you to cleanse yourself before you hop into My clean work in the Kingdom. I have given you all the tools you need to get clean (Jesus being first and foremost) so choose wisely.

Paul says to us, “Cleanse” yourself from “all filthiness of the flesh and spirit”; and then he adds, perfect “holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7.1).

Do we have the courage to pray like David did, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies”? (Ps. 141.3, 4)

Will we say with him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”? (Ps. 139.23, 24)

Are we also willing to say, “Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me”? (Ps. 19.12, 13)

Indeed we are. We have no desire to dirty up God’s clean sheets with our stickiness. Let’s jump in the shower, daily, keeping ourselves, through the power of the Holy Spirit, “always within the boundaries where God’s [Fatherly] love can reach and bless us” (Jude 21 TLB); always keeping our hearts clean and set on keeping God’s decrees “to the very end” (Ps. 119.112 NIV).

So, as God’s blessed sons and daughters, we strive only to be clean before Him, because “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 Jn. 3.3).

“Perfecting Holiness”

For reflection
1. When do we need to “cleanse” ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit?

2. Why is this important? What can happen if we don’t do this?

3. How can we know when we are increasing in holiness?

The promises of God are strong reasons for us to follow after holiness; we must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. If we hope in God as our Father, we must seek to be holy as he is holy, and perfect as our Father in heaven.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7.1

Pray Psalm 86.7-15.
Call on the Lord to teach you the way of holiness, to guide and empower you for holiness, and to have mercy on you as you tell His grace and mercy to others.

Sing Psalm 86.7-15.

(Andrews: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven)
When in my trouble, LORD, I call You,
You answer me; there is none like You!
There are no works like Yours, and all whom
You have created shall worship You.
LORD, be gracious to me, LORD, be gracious to me,
all shall glory give to You!

For You are great, You wondrous do;
You are the only and sovereign LORD.
Teach me Your way, let me give heed to,
with all my heart, Savior, all Your Word!
LORD, be gracious to me, LORD, be gracious to me,
praise Your Name forever, LORD!

Great is Your mercy, LORD, toward me;
You have delivered my soul from hell.
Though dreadful foes and threats arrayed be,
You will Your grace and Your mercy tell!
LORD, be gracious to me, LORD, be gracious to me,
slow to anger, loving well!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today needs revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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