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The Living Sacrifice

The Living Sacrifice

As we go through the book of Romans, we’re beginning chapter 12. This is where Paul starts his concluding remarks.

What we have to realize is that you can’t understand this section properly, without a grasp of what he taught in chapters 4-8. We need to walk by the spirit to receive the power to fulfill what he’s about to bring to us.

The last chapters of Romans can never be accomplished in our own strength. But, first, Paul summarizes what he’s talked about so far.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

This is one of those verses that we wished wasn’t in the Bible. But it is, so we have to follow it. It says that there’s something we can do that’s holy and well pleasing to God.

The word offer means to stand beside your body. Paul is talking about something that can only be done in the spirit.

In the spirit I can stand next to myself and look at my flesh as the enemy – my greatest weakness. Only then can I offer it to God on His altar.

The original Greek says that it’s a burnt offering, living, holy, and to God – well pleasing. Wait a minute; we are to be a living burnt offering? Yes! There’s really no other way to say it.

Pleasing God requires sacrifice. But what exactly does that mean to us? Most people use the word sacrifice to mean they’ll try harder. They think it tells them to fast on holidays, eat according to the Old Testament food laws, dress like the 1940’s, and talk King James English.

That’s not what God is looking for. If you read the epistle to the Romans, you find that Paul writes about the walk of the spirit. If that’s in place, then you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. But how do we get there?

We need the fire of God to consume the sacrifice. In the book of Acts we see tongues of fire on the heads of those praying in the upper room. We’re also told (I Thessalonians 5:19) not to quench the Holy Spirit’s fire. Paul told his spiritual son, Timothy, to fan into flame the gift that was within him (II Timothy 1:6).

Paul was a man who had a rich experience of prayer in the spirit. He assumed that those he was writing to also knew how to pray in the spirit. When you pray in the spirit, you’re standing beside your body as a burnt offering.

The last part of the verse in Romans could be modernized as, logically – this is what you signed up for. We’re living out a spiritual walk. You can try harder, stumbling around in the flesh without Christ. But if I’m to be well pleasing, it will require a spiritual work.

In the first part of Romans, Paul showed us that righteousness could only be achieved by a walk in the spirit. That’s accomplished through a rich prayer life of praying in the spirit. As I pray in the spirit, I stand beside the burnt offering.

Remember, I’m not talking about whether or not you’re saved, or even acceptable to God. You’re all those things, and more, in Christ. I’m talking about going beyond acceptable and into the realm of well-pleasing to God.

This should be our desire if we want to see a move of God in our lifetime.

Question: Why do some believers find this sacrifice so difficult?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

In my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we’ve been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We’re placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We’ve also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes when we fail to understand that there’s a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It’s the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk. That’s what Paul is dealing with throughout the book of Romans. This is why I feel the importance of understanding this book.

It’s because of this that I had to clarify the concepts of adoption, sonship, spiritual position, and daily walk. Knowing these foundational issues are crucial as we go forward with the Apostle Paul’s teaching.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Weakness of the Flesh

The Weakness of the Flesh

We’re continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s bringing them, step by step, through the process of salvation, from sinner to a deep spiritual walk.

At this point he’s dealing with the possibility that although Christ set you free from slavery to sin, you can still sin voluntarily.

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

Romans 6:19

This is a very important verse in understanding our problem with sin. Paul is talking on the human level about the choices we make.

The phrase, natural selves, is really the word, flesh or sarx in the Greek language. He makes it clear that our flesh is our weakness. This begins a new level of teaching at this point in his letter.

So far, Paul has been talking about our body or soma in the Greek. There’s a distinction between these two concepts – body and flesh. In the battle against sin, our flesh is the area of our weakness.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Galatians 5:16-17

As in Romans, the phrase sinful nature is the word flesh in this verse. The flesh is the nature and will of the body. It is contrary to everything God wants for you. That’s our greatest weakness.

So in the pages of Scripture, the term, flesh, refers to the wants and desires of the body. That’s why Paul has referred to it as the body of death.

Getting back to Romans, chapter 6, Paul says that our new life should be the same as our old life. The only difference is who we’re offering our body to as a slave.

Exactly like you offered up your members to serve impurity, going from lawlessness to lawlessness, now offer them to righteousness.

We find that once we take first step, it’s easier to take second. So I must offer up my members as servants of righteousness. That will lead me toward holiness and deeper into a walk of righteousness. The fact is that I can force my body to obey God even if my flesh doesn’t want to.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:20-23

Now Paul asks another question. Looking back, what fruit did you hold by the things you’re now ashamed of? At that time in your life the point you were aiming at was death.

Now you’re liberated from the reign of sin. You can be a voluntary servant of God. Now the fruit that you produce leads you toward holiness. More than that, your life is now aimed at a perpetual, forever-life.

In the last verse, Paul summarizes what he’s said so far. The wages paid by sin are death. Please understand, wages are not paid immediately. On the other hand, God’s gift is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Question: What are the difficulties in voluntarily serving God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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“I’m Only Human”

“I’m Only Human”

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church.  He’s speaking about those who think that following religious rules makes them better than others.

In my last post we saw that there’s an advantage to being religious.  At least you have access to the Scripture.  So, you have a foundation to eventually build your faith on.

Paul now talks about some arguments people have who think that their good works will save them.

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say?  That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us?  (I am using a human argument.)  Certainly not!  If that were so, how could God judge the world?  Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?”  Why not say — as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say — “Let us do evil that good may result”?  Their condemnation is deserved.

Romans 3:5-8

This is the problem with looking merely at good works.  We can’t judge by outward appearances.  It leads us to some wrong conclusions.

“I’m only human, so I’m not perfect.  That should bring out God’s perfection even clearer.  So, I shouldn’t be corrected when I do wrong.”  That’s a human argument that flies against the teaching of Scripture.

I’ve heard it said in many different forms, but it all comes down to the same theme.

“What do you expect, I’m not Jesus.”

“Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

“It doesn’t matter as long as you try your best.  God can’t judge you for that.”

“If I were God…”

All of these are based upon human logic and the desire to justify ourselves.  In reality, they fail to take into account the power of the Holy Spirit who wants to work in us.

The fact is that God is going to judge everyone based upon His righteousness.  It has nothing to do with what we, as human beings, think about as fair.

If we’re in Christ, then we receive the “not guilty” verdict because of His righteousness, not ours.  Without Christ, no matter how many good works we’ve accumulated, we’re condemned.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Even as believers we’ll be judged on our obedience.  That’s how our rewards, or lack thereof, will be determined.

That brings us to the second half of the above passage.  It’s the old saying that the ends justify the means.

It doesn’t matter how I accomplish it, as long as I get the right results.  Paul is clear.  That kind of thinking is condemned by the Lord.

I’ve seen this tactic used in many different ways throughout my years as a believer.  I’ve seen churches that have used prostitutes to attract the unsaved to hear the Gospel.  Others promised a big bank account if you come to Christ.

Paul goes through all of this because he’s trying to make a point.  There is an advantage to being religious – you have a basic understanding of who God is.  The problem is, what you do with this knowledge.

The important thing is to follow through on everything that the Bible teaches us.  We need the whole revelation of the Lord. 

Then we’ll rest upon the salvation that’s only found in the name of Jesus Christ.  After that, we’ll submit to the working of the Holy Spirit in us to perfect true righteousness and holiness in us.

Question: How has the Lord changed you since you accepted Him as your Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2020 in Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our First Calling

Our First Calling

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome.  In the introduction of this epistle, he talks about the goal of his writing.

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6-7

The first thing Paul does is to make it clear who’s doing the calling.  He literally says that they are called by Jesus Christ.  That brings me to an important point.

Most people read Scripture without ever thinking about the words being used, or the order we find them.  For instance, many believers think that the names “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus” are synonymous and interchangeable.

While I agree that they both refer to the same person, it’s also important to understand their differences.  They speak a lot about what the writer is trying to get across to us.

The name, Jesus, speaks of His earthly body, while Christ refers to His eternal divinity.  So when they’re put together an important union is formed.  It’s all about the Lord’s high priestly office.

Usually, the name Jesus Christ is used when the writer is emphasizing something that’s directed from man to God.  The name, Christ Jesus, directs the emphasis from God to man.

In this passage we are called by Jesus Christ.  That tells me that the emphasis is man to God.  Jesus is calling us so that we can approach God through His work in us.

That’s what this letter to the Roman church is all about.  Paul is taking them on a journey from the outskirts of God’s grace to the inner circle of maturity in Christ.

The next two things Paul talks about are applicable to all people.  That’s the fact that they’re all loved by God and they’re all called to be holy (saints).

This is important because God’s calling is based upon His love for us.  God loves everyone and desires all to come into His salvation.  Unfortunately, not everyone accepts His invitation.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the Lord loves them anyway.

Everyone is also called to be holy – set apart to God.  I explained that term a couple of posts back.  The Lord wants everyone to be a part of His household.  That’s because we’ll never truly be satisfied until we discover our true purpose for living in Christ.

That brings us to the final two parts of what the book of Romans is majoring on.  Paul wants to see them operating in the grace and peace of God.

These are two very important aspects of our walk with God.  Grace is the vertical portion.  We look to God by faith in His Word.  The Lord then responds to our faith by pouring out His grace upon us.

Peace is the horizontal aspect of our spiritual life.  There are many believers who don’t understand this concept.  Peace is that open relationship between God’s people.

It also deals with all the blessings God has provided for me.  This includes, but isn’t limited to, healing, provision, encouragement, and protection.  What we don’t understand about this is that all of these blessings come through other people – the horizontal.

If I’m in need of resources and pray to God to supply my need, these things don’t just fall out of the sky.  They come from other people.

So if I build walls between myself and other Christians, I’m cutting myself off from potential supplies.  I’m also destroying my chance of passing on God’s blessings through my life to others.

We’re all called to come near to God.  That’s where we receive the grace and peace needed to fulfill our earthly ministries.

Question: How have you seen God’s grace and peace at work in your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Our View of the Holy Spirit

Our View of the Holy Spirit

As we continue through the book of Romans, we come to a verse that should really capture our attention.  It describes Christ and how He was revealed to the world.  It should get us thinking about our relationship to God.

…and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 1:4

Jesus Christ was shown to be the Son of God.  Not just by someone’s testimony.  It was an act of power by God raising Him from the dead.

That in itself is not news to us.  The part that we should really take to heart was who did the declaring.  The passage says that it was through the Spirit of holiness that He was shown to be the Son of God.

That’s what I find to be interesting – the Spirit of holiness.  Why did Paul not call Him the Holy Spirit?  Isn’t that the more common term?  Actually, this is the only place in Scripture where He’s called the Spirit of holiness.

Holiness is something that this generation of believers really needs to come to grips with.  It seems that we tend to back away from any mention of holiness.  We find it boring and old fashioned.

This is a subject of great importance in the Bible.  It’s found throughout the New Testament.  We are to be a holy people before God.

Holiness is related to separation.  It means to be set apart for God’s purpose.

It’s like this.  When Christ found us, we were like a dirty, cast off piece of pottery in the trash heap of the world.  When we turned to Him as our Lord and Savior, He rescued us from that place – that’s our salvation.

He then took us as His own and placed us on display in His household.  We are now to be exclusively used for the Lord’s purposes.  That’s holiness.

As we remain in His house, Christ continues to clean us up and restore us.  That’s our sanctification.

By using the term, Holy Spirit, we mean the Spirit of God who is set apart from the world and the things of the world.  The phrase Spirit of holiness brings it to a whole other realm.

He’s not only the Spirit who’s set apart – but the Spirit who sets us apart.  He’s the Spirit of God who makes us holy.  That’s where we try to water down the truth.

We like to think of the Holy Spirit as the power source of the church.  Miracles, healings, signs, and wonders always draw a crowd.  But separation, on the other hand, sounds too much like commitment.

This generation seems to want the power without the holiness.  I believe that it’s time for us to seek the Spirit of holiness.  At the place where we are separated for God’s exclusive use, we will find all the power we need to live victoriously and win the lost.

Question: What are some examples of the Holy Spirit setting you apart for His use?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2020 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Growing in Christ

As we continue through the epistle of Second Corinthians, we see that Paul is now transitioning to a new subject.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

There are some important points to glean from this Scripture.  The first is that there are things we allow into our lives that not only contaminate our body but our spirit as well.

That caught me by surprise.  I thought that my spirit was beyond contamination.  Now I realize that there are things that can hinder my fellowship with the Lord.

That’s because my spirit is the part of my being that communicates with God on His level.  That’s the part of me that the Holy Spirit inhabits.  So I have to be vigilant to keep it clear of anything that would defile it.

The second important issue is that our holiness needs to be perfected.  That word literally means to fulfill further or to bring to completion.

When we bow our knee to Christ, He imparts His holiness into us.  But it doesn’t end there.  This holiness has a work that it needs to accomplish in me.  It is cleaning up my life and setting me apart for God’s exclusive use.

That means that I need to cooperate with God’s plan for me.  This consists of me continually seeking God’s Word and then obeying what I hear.

Most people would agree with this line of thinking.  The challenge comes when we see how Paul then applies this truth.

Make room for us in your hearts.  We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one.  I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.  I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you.  I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
2 Corinthians 7:2-4

If you remember the flow of this blog, I’m going through the New Testament in the order that the Holy Spirit revealed it to the church.  So far we’ve gone through groups of books that were foundational.  Then we went through the books that were for personal growth.

Now we’re in the books that deal with our corporate walk – our relationship with the church.

Part of cooperating with the Holy Spirit at work in you is found in your relationship to the body of Christ.  We need each other.  We will never reach our full potential in Christ without being a part of a local body of believers.

We also need pastors, teachers, and other leaders to help mentor us.  That’s what Paul is getting at.  We need each other if we’re going to become the church that Christ is returning for.

Question: How has your growth been affected by other Christians?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Three Components of God’s Wisdom

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is laying out the basis for walking in the power of God.  According to the apostle, it’s through the Word of the cross that this power is accessed.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Never forget that all the power we need for life and godliness is from one source.  It’s all because we’re in Christ.  It has nothing to do with how good I am, or how faithful I’ve been to God.  It’s His work, only, that’s given me this blessing.

We know from the rest of this chapter that the cross was the supreme revelation of the wisdom of God.  When I grasp what happened there, I can embrace and walk in the power of God.  Of course, we have to wait until chapter 2 to see what it takes to lay hold of this wisdom.

But for now, Paul gives us a description of what are the major components of this wisdom.  There are three specific parts to how God operates in us.

The first is His righteousness.  Simply put, righteousness is being seen as right or correct in God’s eyes.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, we can be seen as righteous no matter what our past is like.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Because I’m in Christ, God the Father sees the righteousness of Christ, rather than my personal failures.  That allows me into His presence, where my life can be changed, daily, into the walk of righteousness.

Next is holiness.  This is the description of anything that has been made clean and consecrated for God’s use.  In the Old Testament, everything used in the Temple had to be made holy.  Giving us a position of holiness was another work that Christ did on the cross.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith…
Colossians 1:22-23a

By trusting in what Christ did on the cross, I’m now seen as holy; set apart for God’s personal use.  This is an important truth because nothing impure or unholy can enter God’s presence.

On my own, I have no holiness to offer.  Because of this, I would have no right to come into God’s presence.  The problem is that I can only be made clean in His presence.

Now, because I’m seen as holy in Christ, I can come before God without any accusation.  In that way, I can be purified to live a life of holiness in Him.

The third part of God’s wisdom is redemption.  This is probably the greatest gift of all.  It’s what the enemy never saw coming.  Redemption means that on the cross, Christ made the complete payment to buy us out of slavery to Satan and the world.

Righteousness and holiness would have been little help to us if we were still under the authority and control of sin.  Because of the work of Christ on the cross, we are free to serve God as a part of His kingdom.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…
Ephesians 1:7

The wisdom of God is the most wonderful part of our life with God.  In the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul says that we can access it in our walk with the Lord.

Question: What blesses you the most about God’s wisdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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From Holy to Holy

In my last post, I finished my series on First Thessalonians.  The next Scripture that was inspired by the Holy Spirit was Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church.  The background for these is found in Acts 18-19.

The Apostle Paul ministered in Corinth for about two years, establishing the church.  After some further travels, he came to Ephesus, where he stayed for almost three years, working with that church.

During his stay at Ephesus, Paul began to hear rumors of disorder in the Corinthian church.  He then made a hurried visit, but matters only got worse.  He then started to receive numerous visits and letters from the leadership of the church in Corinth.

As a result, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to write his first letter to the Corinthian church.  This is probably the most practical of all his letters.  It deals with many of the issues that believers face in their daily lives.

His opening statements are important in setting the tone for this letter.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3

This is probably one of the most important things that believers of any generation need to hear.  I think that sometimes we miss it in our present walk with God.  It’s Paul’s statement that we are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.

We don’t get it because of the words used in the translation.  Both the word, sanctified and the word, holy are the same Greek word, just different tenses.  Sanctified means to be made holy.

The next question that arises is; what does holy mean?  The definition of holy is to be pure, clean, and blameless in a religious sense.  It’s used in speaking about something that has been set apart and consecrated to God for His purposes.

In the Scripture, holiness has two important uses.  We need to know both.  The first is the position of holiness that we’re given in Christ.  Because the Holy Spirit lives in me, I’m holy in Christ; set apart by God for His use.

There’s also the walk of holiness.  That’s when I actually live like I’m set apart to God.  The Bible speaks of both kinds of holiness.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
2 Timothy 2:20-21

When I submit to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, He can work God’s holiness into my life.  Then those around me will recognize the fact that I’m set apart to the Lord.

We need both the position and the walk of holiness if we’re going to fulfill our callings in Christ.  That’s why Paul starts this letter on that foundation.  He’s going to be explaining this in detail to the Corinthian church.

It’s something that I believe we also need in our generation.  As I’ve said before, the first letter to the Corinthians is one of the most important messages to strengthen our walk with the Lord.

Question: How does the walk of holiness differ from the position of holiness?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Holiness – Walk or Position

In my last post I talked about how church leaders need to spend quality time in God’s presence. They need to hear a Word from God to pass on to their people.

Much of church teaching today has no effect on the people. I believe it’s because most church people know that it doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit, but from the training and study of the teacher. Of course a leader must train and study, but the goal should be to hear what God wants said at the meeting.

Now Paul is going to talk to them about a segment of the known will of God.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

In my last post I explained why 1 Thessalonians was one of the foundational books. In this verse we see another “first”. This is the first time that the word sanctification or holiness appears. This is important to us.

Paul tells us that we should be sanctified – made holy – and uses an example of what it looks like. One of the signs is an avoidance of sexual immorality. The word Paul uses for this is the general term for any sexual sin.

I know that there are a lot of believers who like to deal with people about the sin. That’s not the right place to start. We should be stressing holiness. If we understood true holiness, then sin wouldn’t be an issue.

The problem of understanding stems from the fact that there are two forms that holiness takes. When we’re saved, God immediately declares us to be holy in Christ. We’re set apart to Him and are free to approach His throne whenever we want. This is called positional holiness.

Paul isn’t talking about positional holiness in this verse. Because he explains a sanctification that can be seen in your lifestyle, he’s talking about the walk of holiness.

One of the imbalances I see in the church these days is the overemphasis on the position of holiness. The Holy Spirit felt that it was important that the first mention of this principle in Scripture, be the walk of sanctification.

I believe that when an immature Christian hears about their positional sanctification, without hearing about the corresponding change of lifestyle, they become apathetic to the life-changing work of the Spirit of God.

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

This passage sums up what’s been said so far. Paul is talking about a lifestyle of holiness. We should expect to see our lives changed by the salvation of God at work in us.

If there’s no ongoing change in a person’s life, that’s evidence that they’re rejecting God. After all, when we’re saved, God places His Holy Spirit in us. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to change us into the image of Christ.

We must allow the Holy Spirit within us to continue making us holy.

Question: How would you describe the difference between the position of holiness and the walk of holiness?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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