2 Corinthians 7:1 - Purification and Holiness.
2 Corinthians 7:1 - Purification and Holiness.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV) Since we have these promises, dear
friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body
and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (EAV) Therefore, since these [great] promises
are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that
contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to
completeness in the [reverential] fear of God.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (TLB) Having such great promises as these,
dear friends, let us turn away from everything wrong, whether of body
or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the wholesome fear of
God, giving ourselves to him alone.
CLEANSE OURSELVES. Men are unable to cleanse themselves, for
there is no power inherent in man to put away sin (Rom. 7:22-24). The
believer can be made holy only by letting God work in and through him
(Phil. 2:12, 13; cf. 1 Peter 1:22). The Christian must make use of
God's appointed means for cleansing. God awakens the will in order
that men may use it. The armor of Christ is available for all
Christians, but theirs is the responsibility for putting it on (Eph. 6:10,
11). God's power and grace are ineffective in one who has an
altogether passive mind and will. God is with the one who fights "the good
fight of faith," and will bring him victory (1 Tim. 6:12; see on Rom.
8:37). [SDA Bible Commentary]
FILTHINESS. Or, "pollution," "contamination," "defilement." As
this admonition applies to the flesh, it refers to all those kinds of
sin that require the various avenues of the flesh for their
commission. As it applies to the spirit, it refers to sins of the mind, such
as evil thinking, pride, and ambition. See on Mark 7:15, 23; 2 Cor.
10:4, 5. [SDA Bible Commentary]
HOLINESS. Sanctification is a lifetime work, something not
accomplished by any single act or at any point of time in this life. Two
stages of the Christian life are indicated. The first is justification,
or the cleansing and putting on of the new man "created in ...
holiness" (Eph. 4:24). The second is sanctification, or the continued
development of the new man to the point of perfection. The first, God alone
can bring about, with man's consent, repentance, and acceptance.
With the second, God and man cooperate together throughout the
lifetime of the believer (Phil. 3:12-14).
Justification is the gateway to holiness. It includes the
remission of sin, reconciliation, and regeneration. A man must be set
right before he can go right. In justification the primary requirement
of the believer is faith (Rom. 3:20, 28). This experience occurs at
the very threshold of the Christian life, and must be repeated in
case of backsliding. The moment a man becomes a partaker of the
divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and spiritual life is implanted within him
(Rom. 6:4), he is obligated to work in active cooperation with God.
The Christian is to cooperate with God by availing himself of the
divine resources of grace and power--Bible study and meditation,
personal and private prayer, private and public worship, and spiritual
exercise through the medium of service for others. The body is linked
with the spirit in the work of sanctification (1 Cor. 1:8; Col. 1:28;
1 Thess. 5:23). See on Rom. 3:28; 4:3, 8.
Cooperation with God in the work of sanctification requires
unquestioned acceptance of God's standard of holiness. The original standard
is the nature and character of God (Ex. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; Matt.
5:48; 1 Peter 1:15; Rev. 4:8). That man may understand something of
His holy character, God has given us His holy law, which is a
transcript of His character (Ps. 19:7-10; Rom. 7:12) and delineates the
kind of character He would have us develop. As the life is measured
day by day by this divine standard, the grace and power of God
transform the character of man to resemble His perfect character (see on 2
Cor. 3:18). Thus the image of the Creator, lost when man sinned, is
to be restored (Gen. 1:26, 27; 2 Cor. 3:18). The achievement of a
Christlike character is a lifelong pursuit. Only when probation closes will
the Christian who has conscientiously and consistently aspired to
holiness "be holy still" (Rev. 22:11, 12). Many professed Christians come
far short of holiness and true sanctification because they ignore or
lightly esteem God's standard of holiness. They are satisfied with a
mediocre and halfhearted obedience, and aspire only to the form of
godliness, without its power (see on Matt. 7:21-27; 2 Tim. 3:5).
The holiness of which Paul speaks comes only through vital,
spiritual contact with God. This contact takes place through communion
with God and a study of His Word (John 17:17; 1 Peter 1:22), and by
the mediation of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26; 2 Thess. 2:13). [SDA
THE FEAR OF GOD. True sanctification takes place in the life of
the believer who is ever conscious of being in the presence of God.
A holy reverence for God is essential to the perfection of
holiness. A consciousness of the divine presence leads to true reverence.
As the eye of faith beholds God there is cultivated in the soul an
intense hatred of sin and an earnest desire for righteousness. To fear
the Lord means to live every moment under the paternal eye of a holy
God. The fear of the Lord is the basis of worship, obedience, and
holy service. [SDA Bible Commentary]
Christians are to cleanse themselves of everything that can
defile. In 1 Corinthians, Paul used the word "defile" to describe how
eating food sacrificed to idols made a conscience impure. Paul was
primarily worried about the way the Corinthians were still participating
in some of the pagan feasts. Paul explained to the Corinthians that
participating in such feasts would be wrong and would provoke God (see 1 Cor
10:14-22). By abstaining from these feasts, the Corinthians would begin to
cleanse -- or more literally, "to purify" or "to prune" -- evil out of
their lives. The Corinthians were to have nothing to do with paganism.
They were to make a clean break with their past and give themselves
to God alone. (Life Application Commentary Series)
"Work toward complete purity" literally means "perfecting
holiness." The Greek word connotes "becoming mature" or "becoming
complete." Thus, Paul wasn't suggesting that the Corinthians could become
sinless in this life. Instead, he was prodding the Corinthians to work
at maturing in their faith. God had provided them with all the
resources they needed, and Christ's Spirit would empower them to become
Christlike (see Rom 8:2).
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul categorically denied
that he was perfect (Phil 3:12). But being imperfect was never a
reason for Paul to become apathetic about his own spiritual walk.
Instead, he saw his imperfection as a reason to press on, to strive
harder to become more and more like Christ (Phil 3:13-15). Paul knew
that only the Spirit within him could provide the power to pursue
spiritual maturity (Rom 8:2). Believers will finally reach perfection at
Christ's return. Until then, they are commanded to cooperate with the
Holy Spirit, maturing them in the faith (Jude 24-25).
Paul exhorted the Corinthians to pursue purity out of fear of
God. "Fear" means to keep respect or awe for God. He is the almighty
Creator. Just as we show proper respect to presidents and sports heroes,
we should show even greater respect to the King of kings. Genuinely
honoring and loving God means obeying him (see John 14:15). Thus, obeying
God's commands and pursuing spiritual maturity are the best ways to
show respect for God (see commentary on 5:11 for more on fear as a
How can we become perfect? In this life, we certainly cannot
be flawless, but we can aspire to be as much like Christ as
possible because we have the Spirit of Christ within us. We are to
separate ourselves from the world's sinful values. We are to be devoted
to God's desires rather than to our own and carry his love and
mercy into the world. We can't achieve Christlike character and holy
living all at once, but we must grow toward maturity and wholeness.
Just as we expect different behavior from a baby, a child, a
teenager, and an adult, so God expects different behavior from us,
depending on our stage of spiritual development. (Life Application
Most of God's promises are claimed simply by faith. Here's a
promise, however, that's contingent. "Touch no unclean thing" the Old
Testament says (Isa. 52:11), and "I will be a Father to you" (2 Cor.
At first this seems a strange promise. After all, God is our
Father through faith in Christ. But He is able to be a Father to us
only as we live holy lives.
My wife's oldest, Matthew, lives in Michigan with his father.
For five years he lived with us, and while he was here, I was able
to be a father to him. I disciplined him, took him on fishing
trips, got him to bed on time, and did all the other things that are
part of parenting. But when he moved to Michigan, I could no longer
be a father to him. The distance between us is just too great.
That's what Paul is telling us here. God, who is a Father to us, wants
to be a Father to us. But it's our responsibility to see there's no
distance between us.
Usually when you and I read Paul's warning in 6:14-16 about
being yoked together with unbelievers, we think of disasters that can
result if we disobey. We think of the partner we can't trust; of the
spouse whose values and commitments are so different from ours. But
Paul wants us to consider first the impact of being unequally yoked
in our walk with God.
You see, we Christians are to be completely separated unto
the LORD, with that separation as sharp as the dividing line between
light and darkness, between Christ and Satan, and between the temple
of God and a shrine where idols are worshiped. In short, we are to
"purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit."
Why? Because sin's contamination separates us from God. He is
our Father even then, but when we isolate ourselves from Him by bad
choices, He is not able to be a Father to us in the same, intimate way He
would if we were in close fellowship with Him.
What a joy it is to have God be a Father to us. To walk hand
in hand with Him. To be disciplined, yes. But then to be caught up
in His arms and comforted as well. No wonder Paul urges us to
purify ourselves from everything that contaminates out of reverence for
God. There is no greater experience here on earth than to walk with
the LORD, and have God be a Father to us. [The 365-Day Devotional
A Christian life should be a life of constant
self-purifying.... If we were left to the task of self-purifying by our own efforts
we might well fling it up as impossible.... But if we can believe
that God gives the impulse after purity, and the vision of what
purity is, and imparts the power of attaining it, strengthening at once
our dim sight and stirring our feeble desires and energizing our
crippled limbs, then we can "run with patience the race that is set
before us." . . .
It is no partial cleansing with which Paul would have us to
be satisfied, "all" filthiness is to be cast out.... Christian men
are to regard their work as unfinished as long as the least trace of
the unclean thing remains in their flesh or in their spirit. The
ideal may be far from being realized at any moment, but it is at the
peril of the whole sincerity and peacefulness of their lives if they,
in the smallest degree, lower the perfection of their ideal in
deference to the imperfection of their realization of it....
As we get near what we ought to be, we should be more
conscious of the things in which we are not what we ought to be. The
nearer we get to Jesus Christ, the more will our consciences be
enlightened to the particulars in which we are still distant from Him....
The saint who is nearest God will think more of his sins than the
man who is farthest from him. So new work of purifying will open
before us as we grow more pure, and this will last as long as life
itself. (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture) [Spirit
Filled Life Devotional SB]
TEXTS FOR FURTHER STUDY
2 Pet 1:4 (KJV) 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
2 Peter 1:5-7 (NKJV) But also for this very reason, giving all
diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge
self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to
godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
1 John 3:3 (NKJV) And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies
himself, just as He is pure.
John 17:17 (KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is
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