DECIDE IN THE FAVOR OF HOLINESS
2 Cor. 7:1 “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.”
Paul says, “Having therefore these promises . . .” The word “Having” means “to have or hold in the hand.” It is a present active participle. The present tense means that we have these promises right now. You know, all the promises of God are not for us. Some promises are limited to the day in which they were given. Some promises were given to Israel and they are not for the church. Paul is saying these promises are ours. What promises is he talking about? He is talking about the promises of chapter 6 verses 17 and 18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” The words “I will receive you” is a promise of fellowhip, communion and comfort. These words are being written to those who have already been received for salvation. It is a passage teaching Christians to separate themselves from idols. The words “And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” convey a promise conditioned on obedience to what verse 17 says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing . . .” There is intimacy promised in this verse. There is nothing more fulfilling in the life of a believer than to have that intimate communion with the Lord.
The words “dearly beloved” translate “agapetos” and means, “beloved, highly esteemed, very dear.” Paul is very careful as he ministers the Word, that they never lose sight of his love for them. All preachers and teachers of the Word would do well to practice this principle. I’ve wanted to tell some preachers that I have heard, “Hey, we’re not enemies you know! We are supposed to be on the same team.” I think there are those out there that see themselves as an Elijah attacking the prophets of Baal, when they get up to speak to their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then the verse continues, “let us cleanse ourselves.” The words “let us cleanse” translate “katharizo.” It means “to cleanse from stains of dirt.” In a moral sense it means to be free from the defilement sin and faults. It is an aorist active subjunctive verb. The aorist tense means to do this at a point of time. The point of time might cover the event which might cover a period of time where the process of breaking off with sin and obtaining forgiveness is referred to. The aorist tense is speaking of a once-for-all cleansing. It is subjunctive mood. This is the mood of possibility. Paul is appealing to their ability to respond. He tells them the truth. He asks and challenges them to cleanse themselves, but he leaves the decision to them. You cannot make another serve the Lord. You cannot make them break with sin. They have the ultimate say. Paul respected that. If he could decide for them he would. But he can’t. Therefore he puts it in the subjunctive mood. The word “ourselves” indicates that Paul is speaking in general and not finger pointing. He includes himself and all other Christian’s in this pronoun. It is our responsibility to do this. We must decide and take action and make a break with anything that defiles.
Next he says, “From all filthiness of the flesh and spirit . . .” The word “filthiness” translates “molusmos” and means “defilement, an action by which anything is defiled.” This definition is applied first of all to the “flesh.” Strong says: “the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.” When we are saved, we still have an old sin nature. There is conflict between the flesh and the Spirit: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17). This conflict is in every Christian’s life. The flesh is prone to defilement and involvement in sin. We are to discipline ourselves and constantly go to the cross for forgiveness. This is where cleansing takes place.
There are those who say that we do not have an old sin nature after we are saved. They believe in the perfection of the body in this life. All I have to say is that if they are perfect, they have a good way of hiding it. There are other fundamental Christians who do not believe in the eradication of the flesh but they do believe that we died with Christ, when He died, and that the old man is dead. I believe this also but not like they do. To them when you talk about two natures in a Child of God, you are teaching spiritual schizophrenia. The fact is, some good men believe this. I do differ with them on this subject. I believe the conflict will be there and to deny it or call it by another name only confuses. I used to know a preacher that preached if you doubt your salvation, you are not saved. He was married to a great lady and an accomplished pianist. She played the piano at Church. He baptized her nine times! I think she just finally gave up. I think the Lord was trying to show him something, but I don’t think he ever got the message! A wrong application of the Bible only confuses.
What about the defilement of the spirit? The defilement of the spirit here is referring to involvement in idolatry. This is brought out in chapter 6 and verses 14 to 16. Paul says there is no agreement between the temple of God and idols. And Paul tells them “ye are the temple of the living God . . .” To involve yourself with idolatry would be a spiritual defilement. Paul says: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Cor. 10:20-21). A Christian must come out of any religious movement that uses idols and claims that they are a means of worship. God tells us not to make graven images and use them in worship. I don’t care how sincere you are, you don’t worship God and at the same time reject what He says. You cannot be a partaker of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.
Psychics are abundant in our day. They advertise on T.V. I wonder if Christians go to them for information and have their “fortune told?” This is spiritual defilement. It must be confessed as a sin and abandoned. (See Deut. 18:9-13 where practices like this are forbidden).
Then Paul says, “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The word “perfecting” translates “epiteleo” and means “to bring to an end, to perfect, to execute, to complete.” It is a present active participle. The present tense refers to continuous action in the present. The Linguistic Key says, “The preposition in compound is directive indicating the concentration of the verb’s action upon some object.” The object is “holiness” and translates “hagiosune” and means “moral purity.” This is in contrast to the “filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”
The way to “cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit” is to come to the cross and confess. When we do that, He cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:9). Then we can proceed as forgiven and restored children of God and believe Him for the strength to stay right. Remember, getting right with God begins by confession and cleansing. You can’t be more right with God than the blood makes you.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.