Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!
We, your brothers and servants of the Lord, request and beseech you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to begin immediately with the fulfilling of His will concerning sanctification. Do not postpone it! Do everything possible which you can do, so that all hindrances along the way of further sanctification may be removed.
The need for sanctification is perceivable everywhere. And if this is true, can we, who have heard the command of the Lord, still remain indifferent to the question of sanctification?
May it never be! What pleases God must also please us. His commandments must be the obligation of all the children of God.
Because purification is the very focal point of sanctification and usually involves practical efforts and actions of the whole people of God, and because turning away from the commandments of God and sin are not only hindrances on the path of further sanctification but also present a deadly danger within themselves for the salvation of a great number of God's children, we exhort you all, to pay special attention and to do everything necessary for purification, so that we may lay aside every burden and every entangling sin, cleanse ourselves and remove every hindrance and obstacle in order to follow the Lord (Heb. 12:1).
In the context of the above discussion we consider it necessary to discuss the matter of purification in greater detail.
Therefore, we turn our attention to all the children of God, not because all are living in a sinful state (thank God, there are many who have not bowed the knee to sin), but rather because, even if there are only a few who are unclean and the congregation knows about this and does not free themselves of them, in such a case the congregation will experience neither blessing nor success.
Even one sinner is a root of bitterness that makes many unclean (Heb. 12:15). Therefore we direct our call to all and to every individual and we appeal to you to examine your standing before God and before the people of God. "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our heart -with our hands unto God in the heavens " (Lam. 3:40, 41).
Everyone must realize and understand that each one who commits a conscious sin will perish unless he repents. Many believers, when they commit a sin, disregard the Word of God and avoid the part of Scripture in which the Lord speaks about death for sin. This is a most dangerous condition and forces us to exhort you to purification from all conscious sin.
Perhaps some think that when we speak about sins, we mean drunkenness, theft, fornication, etc. But do you comprehend which sins the Lord means? Do you know that whoever commits sins such as envy, wrath, debauchery, hatred and strife will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21)?
Some who have turned away from the truth intentionally maintain an indifferent and careless attitude toward the warnings of the Lord regarding the punishment for sin, and teach that the grace toward and for themselves will cover over all sins. With that they turn the grace of our God into an occasion for debauchery (Jude 4).
But the Apostle Paul teaches, "Be not deceived" (1 Cor. 6:9) and "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (Eph. 5:6).
In the Old Testament, purification needed to be performed every time a member of Israelite society had committed a sin or had touched anything unclean (Lev. 5:1-6; 11:44; Num. 19:11, 12; 2 Chron. 29:5).
Having performed the requirements of purification, the Israelite received forgiveness for that sin. He became cleansed from his uncleanness and was restored as an equally legitimate member of the people of God.
However, if the one who had become unclean or who had committed a sin disregarded the commands of the Law and did not cleanse himself, he was regarded as one who had rejected the Law of Moses and was punished with the death penalty without mercy (Heb. 10:28; Num. 19:20).
Thus, for the Israelite, being clean or unclean meant life or death. However, if the whole people of Israel sinned and violated the commands of the Lord, then the Lord brought them into distress and abandoned them, and they, having lost the blessing, were defeated by their enemies.
We read in the Word of God, "Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant ... Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies ... neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you" (Josh. 7:11,12).
If, however, in their need and defeat, they remembered God, that He is their refuge and strength, if they turned back to Him again, then the first thing the Lord said to them was "Sanctify yourselves" (Josh. 7:13).
Out of this we see that purity and holiness determined even success in war. Israel's power was not in the number of its armies and not in its weapons but in their purity and holiness.
For Israel there was not the slightest significance in the amount of armies the enemy moved against them; they had no necessity to count the enemy's army, but it was necessary for them to examine the holiness of their own number. Therefore, Israel's power was measured by its holiness and its relationship to God.
Purity or impurity, therefore, for each individual Israelite, as also for the whole of Israel, meant being or not being in the Promised Land; entering into the Promised Land or falling in the waterless desert; to have a blessing or to receive a curse; living or dying (Deut. 28)!
The history of Israel is full of blessing and the greatest miracles; yet, at the same time, it is full of examples of massive, tragic defeats, captivities and affliction because of their uncleanness. Open up any page of the Old Testament at random and if it deals with affliction, read the preceding verses and you will find that the cause of this affliction is uncleanness.
If you open at a passage where it speaks about blessing and victory, read the preceding verses and you will find the key to discovering the cause of success—purity, holiness.
We see the tragic result of sin when we read about Israel in 1 Cor. 10:5. It says, "But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness." The entire society, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, remained in the desert and did not enter the Promised Land.
The example of transgressions against the holiness of God in our personal walk before God serve as an even more serious warning for us. The most blessed Israelite, the great man of faith and the leader of the people of Israel, Moses, who had a long history of serving the Lord, brought the people of Israel to the Jordan, repeated all the commandments of the Lord to them, and on that same day heard the words of the Lord, "Get thee up into this mountain... behold the land of Canaan ... and die in the mount whither thou goest up ... because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel... because ye sanctified me not... Yet thou shall see the land before thee; but thou shall not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel" (Deut. 32:49-52).
Some might say, "The question of purity was a question of life and death for those who were under the Law, but we live under Grace."
Actually, for uncleanness, for sins, no immediate stoning awaits us as it was with the people of Israel where for sins such as idolatry, violation of the Sabbath, adultery, etc. there was no purification at all, but rather, only death.
We are in a much happier position than the Israelites. But if we live as Christians under grace and do not purify ourselves from sin, but rather, above that, even commit conscious sin and wander away from the truth, then something more than merely death awaits us in eternity.
The Word of God says, "He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:28, 29).
The Word of God states very clearly that without "holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14), that "the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:21;
Eph. 5:5), that "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth" (Rev. 21:27), and that "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable ... shall have their part in the lake which bumeth with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21:8).
That is incomparably more than mere physical death. That is why it has been said, "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them" (2 Peter 2:21).
So it is with the one who calls himself a Christian and yet sins consciously. And if such a person, who commits sin and strays from the truth, is not disturbed by such warnings of the Lord, this goes to show that he simply does not believe the Word of God and prefers to remain in self-deception because he has his own false concept on the matter. However, one must consider that the one who has sinned, as long as he does not repent, he will have no blessing and no success in his spiritual life and in his service. For he can have no fellowship with the Lord and that means he can have neither holiness nor power. For him there is only one promise, that is forgiveness when he repents (1 John 1:9).
If we live in sin. God hears no other prayer but the prayer of repentance, "when ye make many prayers, I will not hear ... wash you, make you clean ... Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord" (Isa. 1:15-18). "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear " (Isa. 59:1, 2). "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (1 Peter 3:12; 1 John 3:20). That is why David says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa. 66:18). David knew this from experience. Every born again Christian must also know this both on the basis of the Word of God as well as from personal experience. Each one who reads these passages of the Holy Scripture and hears what it says, even if he has already sinned consciously, he can confirm the truth of these Bible quotations because he has personally experienced this.
Beloved, you yourselves can respond to how purification manifested itself in an Israelite and how it manifests itself in a Christian.
Surely, you know this yourselves, brothers and sisters; but we want to awaken you with tears and with grief, in the Name of our Lord, through reminders for the sake of those who sin, and for the work of the Lord. For with the Lord, no word remains powerless but it will all be fulfilled in each one of us, as God warns us, just as it was fulfilled in Israel.
Therefore, dearly beloved, all must think about it, all must
examine themselves and walk soberly for "let him -who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
"When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked. Thou shall surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live" (Eze. 33:13-16).
So then, beloved, today is the acceptable time, and we have a fountain of cleansing. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from allfilthiness of the flesh and spirit" (2 Cor. 7:1).
"Purge out... the old leaven" (1 Cor. 5:7) "lest I bewail many," says the Apostle Paul, "which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness" (2 Cor. 12:21).
The Word of God calls each one unclean who sins consciously, who does unrighteousness consciously. In the first letter of the Apostle John, chapter 1 verse 9, we read, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
If one must cleanse himself from "all unrighteousness," then all unrighteousness and all uncleanness likewise is also sin (1 John 5:17).
The unrighteousness of which the Word of God speaks is not only deceit and untruth, as is usually thought. Unrighteousness is, first of all, an unrighteous action, an unrighteous deed. Everything which does not conform to the righteousness of God and is not according to the Word of God is sin, is unrighteousness, and defiles that person. From this we get the terms "righteous" and "unrighteous." The Apostle John says, "He that doeth righteousness is righteous" (1 John 3:7) and further, "he that is righteous, let him be righteous still" (Rev. 22:11) and again, "depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity" (Luke 13:27).
Sin is every individual act which we perform for which our conscience reproves us, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart" (1 John 3:20).
Every Christian can come into a situation which overwhelms him and so he falls into sin—although he ought not to have done it. In the first letter of John we read, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:1, 2). "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
The Lord cleanses us only through our own direct participation that is based in our repentance. Whatever the sin may be. God commands repentance (Acts 17:30). "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness" (Acts 8:22). "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen" (Rev. 2:5).
Our repentance is the only condition by which God cleanses us. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
The number of our sins is so great and diverse that one could never count them all. Sin proceeds out of the heart of man, therefore, the number is just as endlessly great as the number of evil thoughts is endless!
Perhaps you have never yet investigated such a sin that may be equal to your own and no one outside yourself may know about your own sin for, "what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit... which is in him?" (1 Cor. 2:11). However, we must know one thing, each and every sin, whether it is big or small in our mind, be it secret or open, it is a sin that defiles and dishonours a person. Therefore, one must cleanse the conscience of all sin through repentance.
It is not necessary to repeatedly repent of sins which have been committed before conversion, or after, if repentance for them has already been done. One must not allow any doubt, but rather thank the Lord for their forgiveness. However, if you have repented but have not relinquished that sin, then you are required to abandon that sin and repent of it. If, however, someone has relinquished the sin (it does not matter from what motivation: whether there was no opportunity to sin or one voluntarily stopped sinning), yet did not repent properly, then the sin remains exactly the same no matter how much time has passed. For the sin is not forgiven by the passage of time but only through the blood of Jesus Christ when we have proper remorse for it and repent of it.
Thanks be to the Lord, there are no such heavy sins which can surpass the mercy of God and the blood of Jesus Christ. We have already referred to those passages in the Word of God which are rich with blessings. In these it is said that "the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son cleanseth us from all sin" and "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Only those sins will not be forgiven for which the sinner does not repent; or even if he does repent, he does not do so sincerely, not as it ought to be done, without forsaking the sin. No rivers of purifying water and blood are able to wash clean the Israelite if he is not prepared to give up his uncleanness; so also exactly, neither can a Christian become clean if he does not separate himself from his sin and repent of it even though he knows that he is sinning (Heb. 10:26). Any and every conscious sin is a sin unto death, because "sin, when it is finished, bringethforth death " (James 1:15). We read however, "Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" (Eze. 18:23). Therefore, when a person repents as he should and forsakes his sin, however terrible the sin may be—the blood of Jesus Christ is powerful to wash it away. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (lsa. 1:18).
Concerning those situations where the sinner repeatedly repents and sins again, we must remember that He Who taught to forgive until "seventy times seven " has an incomparable, boundless mercy, and we are required to fulfil that which Jesus taught. Sometimes, however, it is necessary, until the person's full recovery has taken place, not to receive such a person into the congregation.
There is only one sin that will not be forgiven, neither in this age nor in the age to come; that is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin consists in that, when a believer sees the working of the Holy Spirit he credits it to Satan, therewith blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:22, 29). An unbeliever, however, cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit because he does not believe on Him.
The congregation cannot form a judgement regarding this sin. The Lord Himself grants blasphemers no forgiveness and no mercy and they cannot repent. God alone knows who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit. As far as the congregation is concerned, they receive the sinner who has repented. If God has given anyone the Spirit of true repentance, that person has not blasphemed the Holy Spirit.
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