“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 1 Peter 1. 4
Gill comments: not the corruption and depravity of nature, which is never escaped by any, nor got rid of so long as the saints are in the world; but the corrupt manners of the world, or those corruptions and vices which, are prevalent in the world, and under the power and dominion of which the world lies;
and particularly the sins of uncleanness, adultery, incest, sodomy, and such like filthy and unnatural lusts, which abounded in the world, and among some that called themselves Christians, and especially the followers of Simon Magus.
Now the Gospel, and the precious promises, being graciously bestowed and powerfully applied, have an influence on purity of heart and conversation, and teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; such are the powerful effects of Gospel promises, under divine influence, as to make men inwardly partakers of the divine nature, and outwardly to abstain from and avoid the prevailing corruptions and vices of the times.
What then is true practical holiness?
It is a hard question to answer. I do not mean that there is any want of Scriptural matter on the subject. But I fear lest I should give a defective view of holiness, and not say all that ought to be said; or lest I should say things about it that ought not to be said, and so do harm. Let me, however, try to draw a picture of holiness, that we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds. Only let it never be forgotten, when I have said all, that my account is but a poor imperfect outline at the best.
a) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgement-hating what He hates-loving what He loves-and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.
b) A holy man will endeavour to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have a decided bent of mind toward God, a hearty desire to do His will-a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the world, and a love to all His ways. He will feel what Paul felt when he said, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22), and what David felt when he said, “I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).
c) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in Him, and draw from Him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labour to have the mind that was in Him, and to be “conformed to His image” (Rom. 8:29). It will be his aim to bear with and forgive others, even as Christ forgave us-to be unselfish, even as Christ pleased not Himself-to walk in love, even as Christ loved us-to be lowly-minded and humble, even as Christ made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself. He will remember that Christ was a faithful witness for the truth-that He came not to do His own will-that it was His meat and drink to do His Father’s will-that He would continually deny Himself in order to minister to others-that He was meek and patient under undeserved insults-that He thought more of godly poor men than of kings-that He was full of love and compassion to sinners-that He was bold and uncompromising in denouncing sin-that He sought not the praise of men, when He might have had it-that He went about doing good-that He was separate from worldly people-that He continued instant in prayer-that He would not let even His nearest relations stand in His way when God’s work was to be done. These things a holy man will try to remember. By them he will endeavour to shape his course in life. He will lay to heart the saying of John, “He that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6); and the saying of Peter, that “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Happy is he who has learned to make Christ his “all”, both for salvation and example! Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented, if men would oftener ask themselves the question, “What would Christ have said and done, if He were in my place?”
d) A holy man will follow after meekness, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights. We see a bright example of this in the behaviour of David when Shimei cursed him-and of Moses when Aaron and Miriam spake against him (2 Sam. 16:10; Num. 12:3).
e) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body-to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts-to curb his passions-to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose. Oh, what a word is that of the Lord Jesus to the Apostles, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life” (Luke 21:34); and that of the Apostle Paul, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27).
f) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavour to observe the golden rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men speak to him. He will be full of affection towards his brethren-towards their bodies, their property, their characters, their feelings, their souls. “He that loveth another,” says Paul, “hath fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). He will abhor all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating, dishonesty, and unfair dealing, even in the least things. The shekel and cubit of the sanctuary were larger than those in common use. He will strive to adorn his religion by all his outward demeanour, and to make it lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all around him. Alas, what condemning words are the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and the Sermon on the Mount, when laid alongside the conduct of many professing Christians!
g) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. He will not stand all the day idle. He will not be content with doing no harm-he will try to do good. He will strive to be useful in his day and generation, and to lessen the spiritual wants and misery around him, as far as he can. Such was Dorcas, “full of good works and almsdeeds, which she did,”-not merely purposed and talked about, but did. Such an one was Paul: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you,” he says, “though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved” (Acts 9:36; 2 Cor. 12:15).
h) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation. Who shall dare to talk of strength when David can fall? There is many a hint to be gleaned from the ceremonial law. Under it the man who only touched a bone, or a dead body, or a grave, or a diseased person, became at once unclean in the sight of God. And these things were emblems and figures. Few Christians are ever too watchful and too particular about this point.
i) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment, and would be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him. What a noble example Nehemiah gives us of this! When he became Governor at Jerusalem he might have been chargeable to the Jews and required of them money for his support. The former Governors had done so. There was none to blame him if he did. But he says, “So did not I, because of the fear of God” (Neh. 5:15).
j) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world. He will understand something of Abraham’s feeling, when he says, “I am dust and ashes;”-and Jacob’s, when he says, “I am less than the least of all Thy mercies;”-and Job’s, when he says, “I am vile;”-and Paul’s, when he says, “I am chief of sinners.” Holy Bradford, that faithful martyr of Christ, would sometimes finish his letters with these words, “A most miserable sinner, John Bradford.” Good old Mr. Grimshaw’s last words, when he lay on his death-bed, were these, “Here goes an unprofitable servant.”
k) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life. He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls, but even better, because he has higher motives, and more help than they. Those words of Paul should never be forgotten, “Whatever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord,”-“Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Col. 3:23; Rom. 12:11). Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can help it. Like Daniel, they should seek to give no “occasion” against themselves, except “concerning the law of their God” (Dan. 6:5). They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good neighbours, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides. Holiness is worth little indeed, if it does not bear this kind of fruit. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to His people, when He says, “What do ye more than others?” (Mt. 5:47).
l) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people-these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God. He will enter into something of David’s feeling, when he says, “My soul followeth hard after Thee.” “Thou art my portion” (Psalm 63:8; 119:57).
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT SIN IN SUMMARY:
This is where we need to begin…again. We must understand what it cost God to send His son to die in our place. Sin is not something that makes you sick but kills you. It murders and is murderous. We cannot allow Arminian tradition to downplay how devastating sin actually is. So, to summarize the biblical teaching we must understand that the same death Adam experienced passes upon us all (Romans 5:12) making it necessary for God to quicken us (Ephesians 2:1-3), to make us alive (Colossians 2:13) because the thoughts of our hearts are evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Like David we are sinners from our conception (Psalm 51:5), wicked from birth (Psalm 58:3) and continue in evil (Genesis 8:21, Ecclesiates 9:3). For this reason it is necessary to receive the gift of regeneration from God the Holy Spirit to even see the spiritual offer of the Gospel (John 3:5-6). Don’t trust the traditions of man or the inclinations of your own heart (Jeremiah 17:9) for all evil comes from a depraved heart (Mark 7:21-23). Humanity loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19), for in the flesh, the natural mind is at enmity (that means extremely hostile to) toward God (Romans 8:7-8). I cannot emphasis this enough, the unregenerate cannot understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14) due to their sin making them total unable to understand (Ephesians 4:17-19). All of us were once in this state (Ephesians 5:8) and performed the devil’s will (John 8:44), willingly following the him. (Titus 1:15). Therefore Doctrines of Grace aka “Calvinism” is in fact the correct exegesis of scripture.
I would like to finish up this series of posts with a word to those who have not heard the Gospel or have not had the Gospel presented clearly.
THE BIBLICAL GOSPEL
Jesus answered them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”
We have many ideas about what a person has to do to get to heaven. Some believe we must follow the “Golden Rule,” and do good deeds which will eventually outweigh the bad we have done, tipping the scales in our favour….after all, we are all basically good people…right?
If we assume we are good people we are also assuming a standard for what we consider good. Since we assume there is an absolute standard for what is good there must be an absolute standard giver. The Bible repeatedly states that God has given mankind a holy, universal Law, that is written on our hearts and our conscience bears witness to this Law. This Law is revealed and summarized in the Ten Commandments. When we look at God’s Law, we must understand that we have all sinned in some way or another; remember, you don’t have to break all Ten to be guilty of breaking the Law. The Bible warns, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”
“… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27
Let’s look at a few of the Commandments and see how we fare:
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? If you have, you are a blasphemer and can not enter the Kingdom of God.
“Honour your father and mother.” Have you always honoured your parents in a respectful manner? In a way that God would consider honouring?
“You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you (irrespective of its value)? What do you call someone who takes something that doesn’t belong to them? A thief – You cannot enter God’s Kingdom.
“You shall not bear false witness.” Have you ever told a lie? Just one? What do you call someone who told a lie? A liar. The Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire.
You and I are guilty of sinning against God by breaking His Law, and because we have a conscience, we have sinned “with knowledge.” Isn’t it true that when you steal, lie, etc. you know that it’s wrong? Does the fact that you have sinned against God bother you? The punishment for breaking God’s Law is Hell. Eternal Death.
“Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. [from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards titled, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God]
WHAT MUST YOU DO TO BE SAVED FROM THE PENALTY OF BREAKING GOD’S LAW?
There is good news, there is a GOSPEL. God the Father has given us a mediator in Jesus Christ who is the incarnation of God. Jesus took upon Himself man’s nature, becoming subject to the Law of God, and perfectly obeying the Law in thought and deed for His entire lifetime on earth. While on earth Christ took the sins of His people upon Himself, and suffering the punishment due to all their sins paid the penalty by dying on the Cross, “…for the wages of sin is death.”
By dying in place of His people Jesus Christ became the mediator between God and man and revived in His people the righteousness, holiness and true knowledge lost as a consequence of sin.
As we find ourselves before a holy God we are convicted for breaking His righteous Law. The Holy Spirit moves in the soul to bring us to acknowledge our guilt and brokenness before God and His righteousness. We come to hate sin and find Jesus Christ precious. The Holy Spirit convinces the broken sinner of the shamefulness of sin and then brings the offender to a place where they can, “repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
If you feel the weight of sin on your heart and have come to see the blackness of your soul in the light of God’s Law…if you have been brought to a place where you dread the judgement of the trice holy God, BELIEVE THE GOSPEL! If you believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins the Bible assures us that, “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Yours in Christ,
This extract is from his book entitled “Primitive Piety Revived, or The Aggressive Power Of The Christian Church.”
Love prompts to entire devotion. “Every drop of my blood thanks you,” cried a condemned criminal, as he cast himself at the feet of Dr. Doddridge, who had procured his pardon, “for you have had mercy upon every drop of it. Wherever you go, I will be yours.” Love inspires the desire to please. We are slow to grieve a bosom friend. Said our Saviour, “If a man love me he will keep my words.” It cannot be otherwise. And hence the strong language of some of the early Christians, on whose hearts the pure flame of love burned so brightly. “It seems to me,” said one, “much more bitter to offend Christ, than to be tormented in hell.” Another declares, “I say the truth, if on one hand I saw the pains of hell, and on the other the horror of sinning against the love of Jesus, and I must be plunged in one, I would choose the pains of hell, — I could never sin against this love.” We, too, could adopt such language, if, like them we were so full of love divine, as to be beside ourselves unto God.’
Love leads to ready sacrifices. From the force of this principle, the mother disregards her own comfort for the babe of her bosom; the father or husband lavishes his hard earnings upon a companion, or children; and the patriot sacrifices himself for the good of his country. “What a pity,” cried the Roman, “that we have but one life for our country!” Christ’s yoke is easy, and his burden is light, when we are borne upward and onward by the transporting power of love.
Now this grace, like all others, grows by exercise. And where else is it called into exercise, as at the cross of Christ? How much the Saviour loved us, is best seen in what he has done and suffered for us. In like manner our love to him is best proved by doing his will and bearing his cross. At his cross must we linger, if we would awaken all that is tender in affection, and self-sacrificing in devotion. On Calvary is found “a demonstration to convince the mind, and a talisman to kindle the heart.” How can we fail to love Christ, and strengthen the principle of entire self-devotement, if we study our obligations at the foot of the cross?
Under the inspiration of the affecting scenes that cluster around that sacred spot, self-denial becomes a pleasure. It is a positive relief to suffer. We rejoice that we are counted worthy of it, and are dissatisfied with ourselves if not suffering. We cannot, we will not be contented to offer to him that which costs us nothing; but gratitude will cast all her living into the treasury of the Lord, and Love will pour her most “precious ointment” upon the Saviour’s dying head; the one, feeling that her all is too little, and the other, that her most costly tribute is too poor to express the fervor of her affection, and ‘the entireness of her devotion.’
Read online here.
Also found in print by Sprinkle (Gano) Publications
“Follow after righteousness.” –1 Timothy 6:11
We may understand two things by this expression. First, the discovery to the conscience of Christ’s imputed righteousness, in the way of justification; and secondly, the communication to the soul of a divine or righteous nature, whereby it brings forth the fruits of sincerity and uprightness before God. Both are to be followed after. But it may be asked, Why the first, if a man has a knowledge of his justification, and a sense of his acceptance with God? But may not a sense of interest in Jesus’ glorious righteousness, and the inward testimony of the Spirit be lost in the enjoyment of them, or at least considerably diminished, for a time? We read (Luke 15:8) of the woman who lost a piece of silver. Was there not a lighting of the candle, a sweeping of the house, and a diligent search into every corner until it was found again? The woman’s piece of money was not really lost; it was still in the house; but as to her feelings, it was as much lost as though she were never to receive it again into her possession.
Just so, a sense of acceptance and justification by Christ’s righteousness, this precious coin from heaven’s mint may be lost for a time in feeling, though not really lost out of the heart. And what will the soul do that has lost it but diligently search the house in every corner, by the candle of the Spirit, until it finds the piece of money again? From J. C. Philpot’s Daily Portions
“Try by this whether you have grace or no.
Dost thou walk in the exercise of thy grace?
He that hath clothes, surely will wear them, and not be seen naked. Men talk of their faith, repentance, love to God; these are precious graces, but why do they not let us see these walking abroad in their daily conversation?
Surely if such guests were in thy soul, they would look out sometimes at the window, and be seen abroad in this duty and that holy action. Grace is of a stirring nature, and not such a dead thing, like an image, which you may lock up in a chest, and none shall know what God you worship.
No, grace will show itself; it will walk with you into all places and companies; it will buy with you, and sell for you; it will have a hand in all your enterprises; it will comfort you when you are sincere and faithful for God, and it will complain and chide you when you are otherwise.
Go to, stop its mouth, and Heaven will hear its voice, it will groan, mourn and strive, even as a living man when you would smother him. I will as soon believe a man to be alive, that lies peaceably as he is nailed up in his coffin, without strife or bustle, as that thou hast grace, and never exercise it in any act of spiritual life. What! man, hast thou grace, and carried as peaceably as a fool to the stocks by thy lust? Why hangest thou there nailed to thy lust?
If thou hast grace, come down and we will believe it; but if thou beest such a tame slave as to sit still inder the command of lust, thou deceivest thyself. Hast thou grace, and show none of it in the condition thou art placed in? May be thou art rich; dost thou show thy humility towards those that are beneath thee? dost thou show a heavenly mind, breathing after heaven more than earth?
It may be thy heart is puffed with thy estate, that thou lookest on the pooras creatures of some lower species than thyself, and disdainest them, and as for heaven thou thinkest not of it. Like that wicked prince that said, He would lose his part in paradise rather than in Paris. Art thou poor? why dost [thou] not exercise grace in that condition? Art thou contented, diligent? May be instead of contention thou repinest, canst not see a fair lace on thy rich brother’s cloth, but grudgest it; instead of concurring with providence by diligence to supply thy wants, thou art ready to break through the hedge into thy neighbour’s fat pasture; thus serving thy own turn by a sin, rather than waiting for God’s blessing on thy honest diligence.
If so, be not angry we call thee by thy right name, or at least question whether we may style thee Christian, whose carriage is so cross to that sacred name, which is too holy to be written on a rotten post.” William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour
“This enemy of your soul will steal upon you by silent and insidious encroachment. It has its disguises many. It will present itself masked in a proper regard for business, in a diligence in lawful callings, a prudent yielding to domestic claims, and will even quote scriptural precept and example, and assume the form of an angel of light; but suspect it, guard against it. Remember what is recorded by the apostle of a primitive professor: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” Be not a modern Demas: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” No Christian man can maintain his spirituality unimpaired, his love uninjured, his robe unspotted, his walk irreproachable, who secretly admits the world to his heart. How can he exemplify the life of a pilgrim and a sojourner; how can his heart rise in a constant flame of love to God? What attraction can the throne of grace have, what zest in spiritual duties, what delight in the communion of saints, while his heart goes out after covetousness, and worldly ambition, love of place, and human applause are the rival passions of his soul? Let it, then, be solemnly remembered, that an inordinate, uncrucified attachment to the world, must be parted with, if the precious grace of love to God is to enthrone itself in the affections of the believer.” – Octavius Winslow
“Gifts are not graces: a man may have all gifts and all knowledge, and speak with the tongue of men, and angels, and not have grace; there may be a silver tongue where there is an unsanctified heart. …sanctification a restoration of the lost image of Adam, or an amendment of that image marred by the sin of man; or a new vamping up of the old principles of nature” – John Gill
“Positionally, our sanctification by the Spirit results from our being vitally united to Christ, for the moment we are livingly joined to Him, His holiness becomes ours, and our standing before God is the same as His. Relatively, our sanctification of the Spirit issues from our being renewed by Him, for the moment He quickens us we are set apart from those who are dead in sins. Personally, we are consecrated unto God by the Spirit’s indwelling us, making our bodies His temples. Experimentally, our sanctification of the Spirit consists in the impartation to us of a principle (“Nature”) of holiness, hereby we become conformed to the Divine law. Let us consider each of these viewpoints separately.
Our union to Christ is the grand hinge on which everything turns. Divorced from Him, we have nothing spiritually. Describing our unregenerate condition, the apostle says, “at that time ye were without Christ,” and being without Him, it necessarily follows “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But the moment the Holy Spirit makes us livingly one with Christ, all that He has becomes ours, we are then “joint-heirs with Him.” Just as a woman obtains the right to share all that a man has once she is wedded to him, so a poor sinner becomes holy before God the moment he is vitally united to the Holy One. Everything which God requires from us, everything which is needed by us, is treasured up for us in Christ.” – A. W. Pink