Be Holy

March 11, 2013

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

© March 10, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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Max

“Too many people leave church on Sunday … as they came in.” Brother Havner had that right 40 years ago and it’s getting worse!

Thank you Brother Kirksey for the reminder that holiness is still a requirement even in the 21st century. I’m old enough to remember when holiness was preached in Southern Baptist ranks! Along the way, that message has become almost muted as if holiness is something that gets on pentecostals and we don’t want it on us! In my humble, but accurate, opinion I believe the heart of the problem is still the heart. Perhaps we don’t have much holiness preaching these days because we don’t have a holy pulpit to preach it, nor a holy pew that wants to hear it. We continue to drag as much world into the church as we can and still appear Christian. Holiness is still the standard … without it, we won’t see God move in personal renewal, church revival, or national spiritual awakening.

theoldadam

I am glad that we are declared holy, for Jesus’ sake. ‘Holy’ means set apart, for a particular purpose. Jesus does this, for us, when He sets us apart, through faith.

To be on a ‘holiness’ project (the quotes above), is to play the same game that the Roman Catholics are playing. A religious/spiritual ascendancy game. The result of which is either pride…or despair…and or phoniness.

Thanks be to God that we are declared holy and righteous for Jesus’ sake. That’s the gospel.

    Max

    Adam, there is much in Scripture to confirm “His” part and “our” part when it comes to holiness. Certainly, believers have been declared holy and righteous through Jesus – Praise God! But, as Dr. Olford noted in the above quote, holiness involves both the positional (His part) and the practical (our part) as Christians live out their faith on planet earth. Brother Kirksey’s reference to the 12 resolutions in Hebrews indicates a “let us” desire for holiness. This is not a “works” thing, but a pursuit of holiness by believers as enabled by the Holy Spirit.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Amen! This is a wonderful article that makes the point clear.

      Lydia

      Max, I have often thought it would be helpful to label Justification passages and Sanctification passages.

      The Book of James says:

      22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

      I know old Luther was not real happy with James but perhaps we can assure our Lutheran siblings we won’t resort to buying indulgences just because we know we can do “our part”.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Lol! Classic. :)

theoldadam

“Our part”.

There it is. We must play some role in our justification/sanctification. One might as well be a Roman Catholic. They believe that baloney, also.

“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”

What’s so hard to understand about that?

When we take on the religious/spirituality ascendancy project…it actually makes us worse. Because we are then focused on the ‘self’…and Jesus has already taken care of that…by dying for us, forgiving us, putting us to death, and raising us…over and over and over again. The whole of the Christian life ought be one of repentance and forgiveness.

Here’s a bit of “good news”…”It is finished”.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Those platitudes sound good, but they are incomplete ones. The Bible says:

    2 Thessalonians 3:13 “As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.”

    Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

    2 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

    James 4:8 “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

    Ephesians 4:22 “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,”

    1 Peter 1:22 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,”

    2 Timothy 2:21 “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

    Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

    Colossians 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

    1 John 3:3 “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

    No one here is combining justification with sanctification. Sanctification involves YOU doing something. God doesn’t obey for you. You are enabled to obey, you are enabled to live holy, but you must actually live holy. Do you understand what an imperative is? The Bible is full of them. If you have been justified, you will not have a problem with doing “your part” in increasing holiness. God doesn’t do all the lifting in sanctification. We are not puppets. We are not automatons. We are filled with the Spirit.

    “Grace is opposed to earning, but not opposed to effort.” – Dallas Willard

    You say, “The whole of the Christian life ought be one of repentance and forgiveness.” No, not the whole, just a part of the Christian life ought to be that. That, however, is not the total sum of the Christian life, lest you do away with all the imperatives in the Bible that are there for you to obey (if you love God and Jesus Jn. 15:10, 1 John 5:3).

    No offense, but platitudes are not an argument. You must deal with Scripture. Isn’t that what Luther said? “Scripture, Scripture, Scripture.”

    By the way, do you know what Jesus meant by “It is finished”? In what sense do you think that overturns your obligation to be holy in your living by obedience?

    In Philippians 1:6, it is worth noting that the “you” is plural. ;)

    You make a common error in thinking that because God does something in you, it means you aren’t to do something in yourself. This is unBiblical thinking and contrary to the small sampling above of the overwhelming data in Scripture that demonstrates otherwise.

    No one is saying holiness or works saves anybody. But we have to deal with the text. You can not set some texts against other texts, and these texts tell you to do something.

    Do them. King Jesus demands it and is worthy of all of us being obedient to Him and God’s Word. This is so far from being a focus on self, but a focus on God and His Word, that you make little Biblical sense.

    What is so hard to understand about that?

    Max

    “… religious/spirituality ascendancy project …”

    Whew! This walk of faith is not a project, it’s life … and I find it to be more abundant with each passing day! I know that there are folks who feel they must work themselves into a frenzy for a righteous standing before God – I’m certainly not in that camp and I don’t believe the majority of Southern Baptists hang our there either, as some would have us believe. I simply look at the balance of Scripture on justification and sanctification and see this: the same Christ who justifies me gives me power to overcome sin. I was young and now am old … and along the way, I’ve found that “self” surrenders while I am still being sanctified. If there’s any “project” in my journey, it’s this: I’m His project still under construction. The old man doesn’t look like he used to.

      theoldadam

      Exactly.

      “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”

      It boggles my mind why ‘how-to’ Christianity is so popular. Not really. People love to be told ‘what to do’.

        Lydia

        It boggles my mind why ‘how-to’ Christianity is so popular. Not really. People love to be told ‘what to do’.”

        You mean like:

        “Repent and believe”
        “Love God, love others”

        Is that what you mean by “how to” Christianity and being “told what to do”?

        How does it work for you? Does the Holy Spirit force you to “do or not do”? Or, guide you? What you wrote above, were you forced to write it or did you choose to write it? Do you believe that Jesus obeyed for you on the cross, too so what you do or say after salvation does not matter? Do you agree with Luther to “sin boldly”?

        I am really curious to understand what you are saying in practical terms and application. Do you think Luther could have used some basic “how to” Christianity when he wrote such horrible things about the Jews? Or when he wrote that ‘reason is a whore’?

        I believe God gave us reasoning ability for a reason. (pun intended) :o)

          Max

          “… what you do or say after salvation does not matter…”

          Lydia, I have an increasing concern that certain theological threads being woven into the SBC garment will lead to antinomianism by some in our ranks.

            Lydia

            “Lydia, I have an increasing concern that certain theological threads being woven into the SBC garment will lead to antinomianism by some in our ranks.”

            I am with you, Max. A few cautions I have seen are:

            All sins are the same (which brings moral chaos) and you have a consistently wicked heart even after salvation no matter how long you have been saved.

volfan007

Johnathan,

Great answer to this….I’m having a hard time understanding how some people are getting justification and sanctification so confused…you showed very clearly the difference.

I do not work my soul to save
that work my Lord has done;
but I will work like any slave
for love of God’s dear Son.
“A true faith works.” -Dr. John McArthur

God does expect us to obey, and be holy….as He is holy.

David

volfan007

I put space between the poem and Dr. MacArthur’s quote, but it didnt come out that way when I hit post….and now, it looks like Dr. MacArthur wrote that poem…he did not. His quote was that “true faith works.” The poem is as old as the hills, and it was quoted by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, often.

Just wanted to clear that up.

David

mike davis

The promise of Philippians 1:6 is expected to motivate the believer to a holy, obedient lifestyle. This is evident in the next chapter, in Philippians 2: 12-13: “…just as you have always obeyedwork out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”(NASB)

Thus, the fact that we know God is working in us and will complete His work should actually cause us to be all the more diligent to be holy and obey His commands.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Yup,

theoldadam

It should. But the Old Adam is still alive in us, also. Rebelling against God and struggling to stay in the saddle at all costs.

    Norm Miller

    Clearly, the point at hand is not an either/or proposition, but a both/and proposition. Note John 14.12-15 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

    For me, the last sentence settles the matter. — Norm

      Max

      Amen Norm! As they say in my parts “It’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

        Norm Miller

        Jesus took up His cross, and He commands me to take up mine. He does not take up my cross for me. — Norm

volfan007

Norm,

Amen.

David

Robert

Lydia speaking of her concerns wrote:

“All sins are the same (which brings moral chaos) and you have a consistently wicked heart even after salvation no matter how long you have been saved.”

That second concern (i.e. “you have a consistently wicked heart even after salvation no matter how long you have been saved” in my opinion flows from a false conception of “total depravity”. The biblical understanding of depravity is that sin has effected every aspect of our being (so our mind, wills, thoughts, bodies, everything) are tainted by sin. This also means that apart from the pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit none of us would be able to put our trust in Jesus alone for our salvation. So depravity properly/biblically understood talks about the extensiveness of sin and that one of the effects of sin is our inability to trust in Jesus apart from the pre-conversion work of the Spirit.

Depravity does not mean that people are as bad as they can be nor does it mean that the unbelievers are incapable of ever doing any good work. The problem is not lacking a capacity to do good works for the nonbeliever, but trusting in the good works they do rather than trusting in Christ and what He did on the cross and by his resurrection. Paul never says to the first century Jews of his time that they were incapable of doing good works: instead he says their problem was trusting in their own good works rather than in Christ for salvation (cf. Romans 9:31-32, 10:2-4).

But some folks unfortunately have a false conception of depravity; in their thinking depravity refers to more than the extensiveness of sin and our incapacity to believe apart from grace. It means **to them** that people are evil and always will be evil.

But that belief is contradicted by the New Testament which teaches that while we were sinners separated from God and acting like his enemies. Once we are saved we join the family of God, become saints, and grow as saints not only positionally but also experientially. The bad fruit from this false conception of depravity that views us as always and only evil is that it completely wipes out sanctification, growth in the Christian life and the goal of becoming more mature believers. The NT is very clear, if you are a genuine believer you will do good works. Not in order to be justified before God (you already are justified before God as a believer) but because as a person who is now in God’s family, you love the Lord and desire to obey Him and His commands. If you do not obey, this suggests that you really are not a child of God. And if you understand the commands, you delight in obedience and the commands are not burdensome (cf. 1 Jn. 5:3).

Some wrongly claim that a person’s views on elements of TULIP (including depravity) don’t make much of a difference practically speaking. But this is false and this thread is a clear demonstration of what happens when someone’s conception of depravity is skewed. They tend to argue against practical obedience and tend towards antinomian beliefs and practices. That is also why Southern Baptists (and all Baptists for that matter) need to be on guard for false beliefs as they do have consequences.

Robert

mike davis

I was actually thnking that the requirement for practical holiness was an area where many Calvinists, Arminians, and Traditionalists agree. I think you can also find those who take an antinomian approach in all three camps.

There are many historical and contemporary Calvinistic teachers that urge believers to walk the walk. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges and The Mortification of Sin by John Owen both come to mind, as does a recent book by Dan Phillips, The World-Tilting Gospel. Pastor David (Volfan007) quotes John MacArthur above, while the post itself mentions C. H. Spurgeon. I don’t think those who disagree on this issue do so along Calvinist/non-Calvinist lines.

mike davis

Sorry, forgot to close the italic tag above. Hopefully the comment still makes sense.

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