Be Holy

By Franklin L. Kirksey
2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1


Introduction

Be holy is the title assigned in the Believer’s Study Bible to our text found in 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1.    

Duncan Campbell [1898-1972] said, “A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day…  Revival is always marked by an overwhelming sense of Christ’s presence in the church… a heightened awareness of holiness with confession, repentance, and restitution.”[1]

Dr. W. Graham Scroggie (1877-1958) explains, “We must distinguish between cleansing and holiness.  You cannot be holy with being cleansed, but you can be cleansed without being holy.  The Book of Leviticus is divided into two parts: the first part is about cleansing and the second part is about holiness.  Cleansing is by an act: holiness never is.  There can be no holiness until there is cleansing.  Cleansing is never progressive: holiness always is, and they are intimately related.”[2]

God says to His people in Leviticus 11:44a, “For I am the Lord your God.  You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.”  He also commands in Leviticus 20:26, “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”

Peter echoes this command in the New Testament.  We read in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “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.’”  Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) comments, “Be not only moral, upright, truthful, and so forth; but ‘be ye holy.’  That is a very high attainment: ‘Be ye holy;’ and observe the reason for obedience to the command: ‘for I am holy.’  Children should be like their fathers, there are many children who bear, in their very faces, evidence, of their sonship; you know who their fathers were by the image that the children bear.  Oh, that it were always so with all the children of God: ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’”[3]

Dr. Stephen F. Olford explains, “Holiness of life is not an option; it is the obligation of a man who is born of God (1 Pet. 1:14-16).”[4]

After the death of the saintly Robert Murray McCheyne, a letter addressed to him, which he had never shown to anyone, was found locked in his desk.  The anonymous writer testified that McCheyne had been the means of leading him to Christ, and concluded, ‘It was nothing you said that made me wish to be a Christian; it was rather the beauty of holiness which I saw in your face!’”[5]

From 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1, we read, “O Corinthians!  We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.  Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  ‘I will dwell in them / And walk among them.  I will be their God, / And they shall be My people.’  Therefore ‘Come out from among them / And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, / And I will receive you.’  ‘I will be a Father to you, / And you shall be My sons and daughters, / Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  Says the Lord Almighty.’”

Please note three truths from our text.

 

I. First, we find a Promotion. 

From 2 Corinthians 6:11-12 we read, “O Corinthians!  We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.”  Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “In spite of all the problems and heartaches the church had caused him, Paul still loved the believers at Corinth very much.  He had spoken honestly and lovingly to them; now he tenderly asked them to open their hearts to him.  He felt like a father whose children were robbing him of the love that he deserved (see 1 Cor. 4:15).

Why were they withholding their love?  Because they had divided hearts.  The false teachers had stolen their hearts, and now they were cool toward Paul.  They were like a daughter engaged to be married, But being seduced by an unworthy suitor (see 2 Cor. 11:1-3).  The Corinthians were compromising with the world, so Paul appealed to them to separate themselves to God, the way a faithful wife is separated to her husband.”[6]

False teachers do not promote holiness; they promote waywardness, worldliness, and wickedness.  Unlike the false teachers, Paul was a powerful, plainspoken promoter of holiness.  What he lacked in eloquence he made up for in enthusiasm.  The term enthusiasm comes from two words en theos or in God.  Paul communicated God’s message of scriptural truth not man’s message of sensual trivialities. 

Rev. Ron Dunn (1936-2001) explains, “It is God’s holiness that causes Him to save us and He saves us so that we may become holy ‘even as He is holy.’  We have been called to holiness.  In Ephesians 1:4 Paul writes, ‘…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.’  And in the fifth chapter he tells us that Christ’s purpose in cleansing the church is ‘that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.’  (Ephesians 5:27)”[7]

            When a professing Christian whines about the “restrictions” of a holy life they need to check up.  It is the sign of a spiritual problem.  It reveals carnality or a lack of conversion.

            As a train is to travel on the track, a Christian is to keep the commandments.  We read in 1 John 5:1-3, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.”

 

II. Second, we find a Prohibition. 

            Rev. A. Morgan Derham (1915-1998) author of Growing the Jesus Way and The Mature Christian, explains, “Saying ‘yes’ to God means saying ‘no’ to things that offend His holiness.”[8]  Actually this prohibition is two-fold.  Please note a conditional promise follows this double prohibition.

A. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14a).

To those who obey this prohibition we find God’s promise.  In 2 Corinthians 6:16b we read, “God has said:  I will dwell in them / And walk among them.  I will be their God, / And they shall be My people.”

Paul lists five incompatible things further expanding the thought of being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” in 2 Corinthians 6:14b-16a, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.”

B. “Do not touch what is unclean. . .  ” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

To those who obey this prohibition God promises, “‘I will receive you.’  ‘  I will be a Father to you, / And you shall be My sons and daughters, / Says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:17b-18).

 

III. Third, we find a Provocation.

            From 2 Corinthians 7:1b we read, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

According to the Reader’s Digest Encyclopedic Dictionary the term “provoke” is “To stir to anger or resentment, irritate, vex”, “To arouse or stir up to some action.”[9]

This definition reveals two potential responses.  Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) said, “Preaching the truth either makes people sad, mad, or glad.  Too many people leave church on Sunday neither sad, mad, or glad; they go out as they came in.  Better to out mad than just go out!”[10]

Rev. Palmer Hartsough (1844-1932), wrote the lyrics for the hymn titled “I Am Resolved”.[11]  Paul shares another resolution in Colossians 3:1-11 for Christ not carnality.  This is a major problem in Corinth as we read in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.  For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?  For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?”

In Hebrews 10:24 we read we are “to stir up love and good deeds.”  “Let us” is the language of resolution as there are twelve resolutions in the Book of Hebrews.  For example:

1.  Let us fear.  Hebrews 4:1
2.  Let us be diligent.  Hebrews 4:11
3.  Let us hold fast our confession.  Hebrews 4:14
4.  Let us draw near to the throne of grace.  Hebrews 4:16
5.  Let us press on to maturity.  Hebrews 6:1
6.  Let us draw near to the most holy place.  Hebrews 10:19, 22
7.  Let us hold fast, without wavering, our confession.  Hebrews 10:24

8.  Let us consider one another.  Hebrews 10:24
9.  Let us run with endurance the race set before us.  Hebrews 12:1
10.  Let us show gratitude.  Hebrews 12:28
11.  Let us go out to Him, outside the camp.  Hebrews 13:13
12.  Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise.  Hebrews 13:15

There are actually two resolutions in 2 Corinthians 7:1.  They involve the purification of the flesh and purification of the spirit.  British preacher, Rev. F. W. Robertson (1816-1853) cautions, “The purification of the flesh alone would not be perfect, but superficial holiness.”[12]  Rev. Robertson also cautions, “We must keep ourselves apart, then, not only from sensual but also from spiritual defilement.”[13]

From Daniel 1:8 we read, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”  From Ephesians 5:16-18 we read, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”  You can not be holy without the Holy Spirit and you can not be holy unless He controls your life.

 

Conclusion

Rev. J. Stuart Holden (1874-1934) author of Redeeming Vision, warns, “Holiness is not human life brought up to the highest possible development, but it is divine life brought down to the lowest possible level of condescension.  First, the recipient of God’s life of holiness must be brought down to the lowest level of contriteness before the Lord.”[14]

Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) often said, “God’s commandments are His enablements.”[15]  “Positionally”, to be holy there is God’s generosity of giving the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer (Romans 8:9b) and then practically, there is man’s responsibility not to grieve (Ephesians 4:30) or quench (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit to be holy.

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

 



[1]Available from: www.namb.net/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=8590122101 Accessed: 09/05/12

 

[2]Keswick’s Authentic Voice: Sixty-Five Dynamic Addresses Delivered at the Keswick Convention, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1959), p. 371

 

[3]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Salvation As It Is Now Received”, Sermon Notes, (1 Peter 1:8,9), Delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on Lord’s-Day Evening, June 23, 1872, Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon, 1 Peter 1, verse 15 and 16

 

[4]Stephen F. Olford with David L. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1998), p. 44, Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

 

[5]Henry G. Bosch, “The Beauty of Holiness,” Our Daily Bread (Grand Rapids, MI: RBC Ministries, July 29, 1972), Cited by Stephen F. Olford with David L. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1998), p. 44, Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

 

[6]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 2001) p. 651, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 

[7]Ron Dunn, “Called to Be Holy”, Sermon Notes, (1 Peter 1:13-16)

 

[8]Albert M. Wells, Inspiring Quotations Contemporary & Classical (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988), p. 89

 

[9]The Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, Including Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary (Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association, 1969), p. 1086

 

[11]Available from: http://www.gospelpiano.com/articles/i-am-resolved-28.htm Accessed: 09/05/12

 

[12]Frederick W. Robertson, Sermons Preached at Trinity Chapel, Brighton, Vol. II, (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1874), p. 362

 

[13]Life, Letters, Lectures, and Addresses of Fredk. W. Robertson, M.A., Incumbent of Trinity Chapel, Brighton, 1847-1853: Complete in One Volume, ed. Stopford A. Brooke, (New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, 1882), p. 669

 

[14]Archibald Naismith, 2400 Outlines, Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes for Sermons (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 108

 

[15]Franklin L. Kirksey, “What is Good?”, Sermon Notes, (Micah 6:8)

 

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com

http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684

http://www.wordsearchbible.com/products/Sound_Biblical_Preaching_1476.html

http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey  / fkirksey@bellsouth.net  / (251) 626-6210

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