The Problem of Lawsuits Page 11 of 12 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
When an unbeliever accepts the lord Jesus Christ through faith in His finished work, divine nature immediately replaces the old sinful nature. This does not mean that the old nature is completely eradicated, because as long as we live in this flesh we will be tempted. God is an eternal Spirit and He cannot be tempted with sin—“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13; KJV). But as long as we remain in the flesh, we can be tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is giving in to temptation—“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37; KJV).
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5; KJV). “He that believeth” overcomes the world, and this is victory that overcometh the world, even our faith—faith in Jesus who conquered the world, the flesh and the devil, death, hell and the grave, that we might be “more than conquerors.” How glorious a change does grace make! It changes the vilest of men into saints and the children of God. Such were some of you, but you are not what you were.
But ye are washed,
This does not refer to baptism, even though baptism symbolizes the washing away of sins. It is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us from all sin—not just from a few sins; we are not just partially clean; but we are cleansed from ALL sin, and without the shedding of blood there is no cleansing and no remission—“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22; KJV). Every sin under the law required atonement, and no atonement could be made without blood.
These Corinthian believers were genuinely saved; they did not just “join the church.” Paul had preached the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; he did not preach a social gospel, a message simply of religion; he preached the Cross, the blood, the resurrection. They received his message and were washed in the blood.
Washing is a symbol of purifying. They had been made pure by the Spirit of God. They had been baptized in water, and their baptism was a symbol of purifying; but the thing predominantly referred to here is not baptism, but it is something that had been done by the Spirit of God, and must refer to His action on the heart in cleansing them from these pollutions. Paul uses three words—washed, sanctified, justified—to denote the various activities of the Holy Spirit by which they had been cleansed from sin.
“Ye are washed.”
• It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration …” (Titus 3:5). Regeneration refers to the new birth which is produced by the Holy Spirit; not by baptism, which is a unique symbol commanded by God.
• And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16; KJV). We can have our sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.
• And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Rev 1:5; KJV). We are washed by the work of Jesus on the Cross for us.
• That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. (Eph 5:26; KJV). We can be washed by the Word of God.
But ye are sanctified,
When an unbeliever receives Jesus and becomes a believer, through the action of the Holy Spirit he is translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, removed from the kingdom of the devil, and placed over into the kingdom of God—“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col 1:13; KJV). God, through the gospel, had rescued them, and has translated them into Christ's kingdom. This occurred when they were converted. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32; KJV). All Christians are spoken of as sanctified. The “sanctified” are set apart, away from the world and unto God—by the work of Jesus on the Cross, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10; KJV); by God's Word, “And for their sakes
I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19; KJV); by faith in Jesus, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18; KJV); and by the Holy Spirit, “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:16; KJV). Sanctification is separation; you are separated from earthly things to be connected with spiritual. You are separated from time to be connected with eternity. You are separated from idols to be joined to the living God. Separation from common, earthly, or sinful uses, to be entirely employed in the service of the true God, is the IDEAL meaning of this word, both in the Old and New Testaments. Their becoming a Church of God was the consequence of their separation from the world—Ye were formerly workers of iniquity, and associated with workers of iniquity; but now ye are separated from them, and united together to work out your salvation with fear and trembling before God.
The sanctification referred to here is not something the believer gets by living a good life, or even by consistent Bible study, prayer and service. The moment a person becomes a Christian and is born into the family of God, this sanctification takes place. The instant the sinner exercises faith in the finished work of Christ, the instant the unbeliever believes on Jesus as Savior—in that instant, God the Father takes him out of the kingdom of darkness and places him into the kingdom of light. He does this on the grounds of the finished work of Jesus. This sanctification is through God’s grace—not by human merit: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30; KJV). In him we are made righteous, and obtain sanctification and redemption. This sanctification is the effect the death of the Lamb of God has on the relation of the born again believer to God the Father, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10; KJV); Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb 13:12; KJV). In order to cleanse his people by becoming the complete atonement he was willing, as an accursed thing, a sin offering, to be led without the gate and to suffer there.
Sanctification in the Corinthian epistles is of two kinds, but I think here it means positional sanctification, that is, being in Christ. This denotes the gradual and evolving process of purifying which comes after the regeneration of the Christian. Regeneration is the beginning of it—its ending is the perfect purity of the Christian in heaven; and it will be fulfilled in all in whom it is begun. It does not mean that they were perfect, because the reasoning of the apostle shows that this was far from being the case with the Corinthians; but that work was advancing, and they were under a process of sanctification. This means that Christ is on our side and all believers are brothers in Christ. If another Christian judges me, it means that one of my brothers is judging me. I would be willing to trust myself to the judgment of a brother.
The believer is separated from the world, separated unto the Lord. There is no middle ground: “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:18-22; KJV).
The work of righteousness is entirely God’s part in our salvation, but after we are saved by grace and placed into the kingdom of God, it is the responsibility of the believer to maintain a holy walk and a separated, sanctified life by trusting in the finished work of Christ, relying upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and studying the Word of God untiringly.
“‘Putting on Christ’ is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. —C.S. Lewis