What Saith the Scripture?


Fellow ship > An Urgent Call to Christian Perfection (Part IV) Complete: Our Salvation from Sin


An Urgent Call to Christian Perfection

An Exposition of the Doctrine of Christian Perfection

by Tom Stewart

IV. Complete: Our Salvation from Sin

  A. How clean is clean?

he question can be legitimately asked: "To what extent does God cleanse us from sin?" Again,
"What saith the Scripture?" (Romans 4:3).

    1. 1 John 1:7

"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." How much sin? All sin. What kind of sin? All sin. To be cleansed from "all sin" is to be perfectly clean. Who cleanses? Christ cleanses. How does Christ cleanse? With His blood.

    2. 1 John 1:9

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." To whom is the Apostle John writing? "My little children" (2:1). What will the LORD do when His little children confess their transgressions? Forgive and cleanse. How completely will He cleanse? He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Can we claim a child of God is honestly confessing his sin, if he is still knowingly harboring other unconfessed sin? Never! Only a hypocrite will attempt to persuade someone that he is truly repentant when holding on to known sin. Even so, when one truly confesses his sins, the result is: our faithful and just God will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    3. Titus 2:13-14

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ gave Himself for us for a purpose: "that He might redeem us from all iniquity". What glorifies Our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ more: to reform us from a few bad habits or to "redeem us from all iniquity"? Why do professed Christians insist that they are not redeemed from all iniquity? Or at least, why do professed Christians complain among themselves about "sin areas" that have not been taken care of? As Brother Finney stated: "When we sin, it is because of our ignorance of Christ."

    4. 1 John 3:5

"And ye know He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." Who was manifested to take away our sins? Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29). His purpose was, and is, "to take away our sins". All our sins. Are we to expect our sins (plural) to be completely removed when we get to Heaven- if we should ever get there? Surely, because "there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth" (Revelation 21:27). Can we expect our sins (plural) to be completely removed before death? Certainly! Scripture affirms: "as He is, so are we in this world" (1John 4:17). How is He? "in Him is no sin" (1John 3:5). If in Him is no sin, then so are we to be "in this world"!

    5. John 1:29

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Obviously, no one in the world will have any sin taken away if personal faith in Christ is not exercised. The Lamb of God is effectual to whosoever will.

    6. Psalm 51:9

"Blot out all mine iniquities." David asked God to blot out all his iniquities. Would the LORD grant such a request to an Old Testament saint, much less to a New Testament saint? Listen to the Scripture. "The desire of the righteous shall be granted" (Proverbs 10:24). David requested God to blot out all his iniquities with the full assurance that it would be granted. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7). How much more a New Testament saint should assure himself from the Scripture that the LORD will treat him so!

    7. Matthew 1:21

"Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins." The name Jesus is inseparable from the idea of Saviour. Saviour of who? His people. Save His people from what? Their sins. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2). Jesus came, not merely to save us from the consequences of our sin, but also to save us from sinning.

    8. Romans 6:18

"Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Christ has made His children free from sin and its consequences... death (spiritual). Freedom from sin means we are now "the servants of righteousness". To not walk righteously means to walk again as a slave of sin. It is plain that Christ "bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness" (1Peter 2:24). Christ not only saved us, but continues to sanctify us.

  B. What must we do to be free from sin?

Since our salvation from sin is complete, how does God expect man to cooperate with Him in this salvation?

    1. 1 Corinthians 15:34

"Awake to righteousness, and sin not." The LORD never demands man to do anything halfway, if it were possible. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). There is no duality to man's moral choice. The choice is either sinful or holy, but never both. There is, in the truest sense, a unity of moral action. [Please read "Unity of Moral Action" ---New Window by Charles G. Finney]

If we awake to righteousness, we will not be sinning. If we sleep to righteousness, we will be sinning. Notice that 1Corinthians 15:34 does not allow the following duality of moral choice:

(1) Awake to righteousness and sin, or

(2) Awake to unrighteousness and sin not. Both combinations are absurd!

    2. Hebrews 12:1

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us." How are we to "run with patience the race that is set before us" (12:1)? This is the "race" of faith. We cannot run with the weight of sin. To weigh ourselves down with sin is to stop the running of the race of faith. Either we "lay aside... sin" and "run... the race", or we weigh ourselves down with sin and cease to run the race. Do one or the other, but never both. There is, and must be, a unity of moral action.

    3. Hebrews 12:14

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the LORD." Holiness is a voluntary choice. Sin is a voluntary choice. Choose sin, and you must cease to be holy. Choose holiness, and you must cease to be a sinner. Obviously, a man cannot be sinful against his will any more than he can be holy against his will.

    4. Ephesians 1:4

"According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." Christ hath chosen us before the foundation of the world to "be holy and without blame". Christ hath chosen us so that we would choose to "be holy and without blame". "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). His predestination and choosing of us in Him, before the foundation of the world, is based upon His foreknowledge that we would choose to "be holy and without blame". Only God has foreknowledge. Christ's choice of us is praise to His sovereignty, while yielding us the benefit of taking away our sin.

    5. 1 Peter 1:16

"Be ye holy; for I am holy." Why are we obliged to be holy? Because God is holy. The foundation of moral obligation is... as He is, so ought we to be. "Because as He is, so are we in this world" (1John 4:17). "Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (1Peter 2:21).

  C. Compare those who commit sin to those who commit righteousness.

What should we understand about those who do, and do not, sin?

    1. 1 John 3:6

"Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him." Whoever walks, remains, and continues in Christ is not committing sin. Whoever is sinning has not seen or known Christ. How can these things be? To answer that, we must study the purpose for the writing of 1John.

1John was written
"that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" (1John 5:13). What is the basis upon which we can know that we know Christ? "Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments" (1John 2:3). If we walk in obedience, the Holy Spirit testifies that "we know Him". On the other hand, "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His Commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him" (1John 2:4). If we claim to know Christ, while walking in disobedience, the Holy Spirit testifies that we are a liar and the Truth is not in us. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

Assurance of salvation is only given to those who walk in obedience.
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:26-27). "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1Peter 4:17-18).

    2. 1 John 5:18

"We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." Whoever is born of God is not sinning. No man who is sinning can claim to be born of God. The Holy Spirit does not testify contrary to the Word. The "Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father... beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:15-16), if we "are led by the Spirit of God" (Romans 8:14). A backslidden Christian will deprive himself of the testimony of the Spirit of God that he is "born of God". All that a backslidden Christian will have left to testify of his salvation will be his comfortless memories and memorabilia of salvation, that both lost and saved show about. All that the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ will testify to the backslider, is a sense of God's anger and righteous judgment... "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation" (Hebrews 10:27)... "except ye repent" (Luke 13:3).

    3. 1 John 3:9

"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Strong language. One properly cannot do what he will not do. Take the example of God and His unwillingness to lie. "God is not a man, that He should lie" (Numbers 23:19). God wills not to lie. Paul writes to Titus... "God, that cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). God cannot lie because He will not lie. In the same way, whoever is born of God cannot sin because he is unwilling to commit sin "for His Seed remaineth in him".

    4. 1 John 3:7-8

"He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil." True righteousness is committed by those who are righteous. Commit one act of true righteousness, and you are righteous. Commit one act of true sin, and you are of the devil. Is this a hard thing to hear? Our pattern for righteousness is Christ, for "he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous" (3:7).

    5. 1 John 3:10

"Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." Just as he that doeth righteousness is righteous, he that doeth not righteousness is not of God. This follows to reason with the Spirit's testimony of His Word, especially John's epistle.

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