Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
“Therefore” is given at the beginning of this chapter, asking us to reflect on what has thus far been presented in verses 6:16-18. The promises that Paul cites there are for those who are willing to set aside that which is unclean in order to be acceptable to the Lord and to be considered a true child of God, in right standing with Him. Go back and read those three verses in order to reflect on this “therefore.”
And so, “having these promises” which have been presented, Paul calls the recipients of his letter “beloved.” It is a term of endearment, probably used to temper the note of stern warning in his words. It is what a father may say when speaking to his disobedient son. By adding in a term of endearment, it will help calm any tension between the two. After that, more guidelines can then be given, just as Paul does here.
He says, “…let us clean ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” All of us need to constantly work towards purifying ourselves as we walk in this sin-stained world. Jesus gave us an example of this on the night before His crucifixion. During that encounter He said –
“He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.” John 10:13
By using two different words in the Greek for “bathed” and “wash,” He was telling us that salvation is a done deal. We are purified unto salvation once and for all. However, we need to continually strive to wash away the impurities which come into our lives as we carry on in this earthly existence. It is the same thought which John later writes out in his first epistle –
“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3
We are saved once and for all time, but we are to constantly be purifying ourselves as we continue in our saved state. The end-goal of this process is declared by Paul. It is to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The word for “perfecting” indicates bringing something to an end or to finish something. We are to constantly strive to bring in holiness until it is all that is left. And this is to be done “in the fear of God.”
Just as a child shows a respectful fear to his father who is trying to steer him in the right direction, we are to show a much greater, reverential fear toward our heavenly Father. We are to strive to be like Him and not flaunt our sin in His face. Rather, we are to abhor it and work to put it behind us once and forever. In Romans 12:9 we are admonished to “abhor what is evil and to cling to what is good.”
The race is set before us and we should strive to do our best in it, just as Paul is recorded as doing in Philippines 3 –
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippines 3:12-14
Life application: God has saved us to join Him in the eternal ages ahead. In doing so, He asks us to turn from our sin and to purify ourselves from all unrighteousness. What a terrifying corruption we have in our hearts that would keep us from accomplishing this to the very best of our abilities. Pray for strength and wisdom to be obedient to His call.
Heavenly Father, I can see how desperately wicked my heart is by the things I do which are certainly displeasing to You. You have saved me and set me in Your heavenly realm for all eternity, but while I am waiting for that day, I am living in a fallen and corrupt world. As I walk through it, I get tempted to follow such terrible desires and thoughts. Give me the ability to put these things behind me and to live for You, purifying myself from all unrighteousness. Amen.