What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 (ESV)
The Christian call to holiness that began in the apostolic age represented the highest standard of right living of any contemporaneous religious system. Greco-Roman deities, themselves driven by pride, greed, and lust, could issue no credible call to righteousness. Religious leaders known as Pharisees claimed to uphold and champion the Mosaic law, but Jesus said of them – “Do … not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” Remarkably, Jesus even raised their standard of keeping the external law to encompass not just his listeners’ actions, but the very attitudes of their hearts.
No one tried harder than the Pharisee Saul to live up to God’s perfect standard. He was educated by Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in high honor. From his circumcision at eight days of age, he kept the law blamelessly, and when the nascent Christian church arose, no one worked harder to snuff it out. In everything, Saul strived to be a faultless Hebrew of Hebrews.
Despite his intense efforts, however, Saul could not cleanse his own heart. As devotedly as he labored to avoid every external sin, he despaired of ridding himself of wrongdoing that ate away at his heart from the inside – covetousness. And the more he knew the law, the more the law produced in him all kinds of covetousness. His despair was so great that he cried out in soul-wrenching anguish: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Into that utter dismay, the voice of Jesus spoke to Saul–who was also called Paul–and his life was changed forever. From abject despair, he rose up to shout: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The chains of sin’s slavery were shattered, and he became a slave of righteousness. From that day, he would no longer be consigned to struggle in total futility against sin; sin would no longer have dominion. And wherever Paul went and whomever he wrote, he proclaimed this victory.
As Paul wrote the Corinthian church to encourage them to cleanse themselves in body and spirit, he wanted to assure them that they wouldn’t battle alone. So he called to mind for them vital biblical promises that were their, and still are our, inheritance:
God will dwell and walk among us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Wherever we go, His presence accompanies us.
He will be our God, and we will be His people. We are not abandoned or left alone to our fate. The very Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe is on our side.
God will welcome us. Peering down the road, waiting to run to greet us and celebrate our coming with honor, God welcomes us with boundless love and joy.
God is our Father; we are His sons and daughters. As a father shows compassion on His children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.
God promises to walk with us, identify with us, welcome us, and father us! Armed with these incredible promises, let’s pursue holiness in word, thought, deed, and heart attitude, remembering also the glorious promise Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
Our Father, we thank You for the precious and very great promises that You have given us. You have assured us that You will walk with us, identify with us, welcome us, and father us. Fortified by these incredible truths, empower us to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God, confident that You are faithful and will surely do it. In the name of Jesus Christ the blameless one, Amen.
COO|CFO, Christian Union
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