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Builders of Faith Explorer I:  Exploring Bible Truth

Lesson 7—Called to Holy Living

 

 

1.  What is the larger purpose of salvation beyond giving the saved an eternal, perfect life with God?

 

“And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works….”  Ephesians 2:8-10.

 

Answer:  Notice that Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus will save His people from their sins, not in their sins.  Indeed, the second passage declares that those in Jesus were created to do good works.  In other words, salvation’s larger purpose is to change people’s character, to make them better people—not to leave them with their sinful habits.  And isn’t that logical?  If Jesus had to come to earth to live a perfectly righteous life on our behalf, then we ought to live more like Him even though we can never equal His performance because of our sinful nature (review Lesson #5).

 

 

2.  Can you be saved while you are willfully disobeying God’s Word?

 

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22.  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Matthew 7:21-23.

 

Answer:  No.  Note that those who hear the word but do not practice it are deceiving themselves; they think they are saved, when actually they are lost.  Even the working of miracles and other mighty works in Jesus’ name does not mean that you will be saved if you are practicing lawlessness, i.e., if you are living without God’s law.

 

 

3.  What is God’s will for our lives, and what does it mean?

 

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification….”  I Thessalonians 4:3.  “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”  I Peter 1:15-16.

 

Answer:  God wants us to be sanctified, or holy.  The words “holy”, “sanctified”, “sanctification”, and “saint” all come from the same Greek root in the New Testament.  It means to be “set apart” from the world and to God.  Thus, saints are not super good Christians who have more righteousness than they need for themselves so that they can mediate for you with Jesus.  They are all of those committed to Jesus, to live for Him.  The nature of the word and its usage in I Peter 1:15-16 mean that there are two aspects to sanctification:  (1) positional sanctification—one’s being set apart in order to act in a different way, and (2) progressive sanctification—the work of becoming more like Jesus in your character.

 

 

4.  How do we obtain positional sanctification?

 

“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  John 3:5.  “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”  Acts 2:38.

 

Answer:  Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that we must be baptized by water and by the Holy Spirit in order to enter God’s kingdom.  In other words, we are spiritually born again, which makes us new people.  Although there are some exceptions in the New Testament, ordinarily one receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit at His water baptism, just as Jesus did (see Matthew 3:16).

 

 

5.  Besides water baptism, what one must do in order to receive the Holy Spirit?

 

“And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  Acts 5:32.

 

Answer:  This text does not mean that we earn the right to have the Holy Spirit by our obedience, for all of God’s favors are given by grace as gifts.  But it does mean that only a person who is making honest attempts to follow God’s will is serious enough to be given the privilege of divine assistance in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

6.  How does Scripture define the new position that born-again believers have with God?

 

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  I Corinthians 6:19.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation….”  II Corinthians 5:17.  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Romans 8:14-17.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus….”  Ephesians 2:4-6.

 

Answer:  When we belong to Jesus and have the Holy Spirit living in us, we have been adopted as the children of God, and therefore we are heirs with Christ.  We are even pictured as sitting with Jesus in heaven by faith right now.  That is a very lofty position with God!

 

 

7.  How does this new position with God change the believer’s attitude toward sin?

 

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”  Romans 6:11-13.

 

Answer:  We should consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.  And we demonstrate this attitude by presenting ourselves as instruments of righteousness.  In other words, when we realize our position in Jesus, it gives us great psychological power to actually act on that position.  This means, among other things, that we should expect God to successfully help us live a righteous life.  What we think about ourselves, about God, and about what is possible are very important in living a holy life.

 

 

8.  If believers have a new spiritual nature (via the indwelling Holy Spirit), isn’t it easy to live a holy life?

 

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  Romans 8:5-6.  “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh….  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Galatians 5:16-17, 22-23.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5.

 

Answer:  Review Lesson #5 for the fact that the best of Christians still possess a sinful nature until the Second Coming of Jesus.  Thus, the believer is actually a walking civil war, with two opposing natures warring against each other.  But the Christian must choose to set his mind on the things of the Holy Spirit and to thus abide in Jesus in order to bear much fruit.  That is certainly not impossible, but neither is it easy.

 

 

9.  So where does the power to live a holy life come from?

 

“…that He [God the Father] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man….  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”  Ephesians 3:16, 20-21.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13.

 

Answer:  The power to live a holy life comes from the Holy Trinity:  Notice how God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus are all involved in giving us this supernatural power.  At the same time, we have seen that our sinful nature wars against our spiritual nature.  So how does the spiritual nature win the battle against sin and temptation?  We need to feed the spiritual nature while starving the sinful nature.

 

 

10.  How do you feed your spiritual nature?

 

A.  Romans 12:1-2:  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—First, note that God expects only our “reasonable service”; He does not expect something (perfect performance) that we cannot do.  Second, the mind is the real spiritual battlefield in the Christian life.  We need to transform ourselves by renewing our mind, that is, by focusing on spiritual things rather than the things of this world.

 

B.  Philippians 4:8:  “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”—This text tells us that it is of vital importance to avoid music, reading material, visual material, conversations, and environments that unduly expose us to worldly influences.  Instead, we should replace them with all that which exposes us to the spiritual influences of heaven in our daily lives.

 

C.  II Corinthians 3:18:  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”—In this context, the Lord’s glory is not His brilliant light, but His character (see Exodus 33:22; 34:6).  In other words, we need to spend time each day beholding (thinking about) the Lord’s character.  And as we do this, we are gradually transformed in our own character to better reflect Him.

 

 

11.  What does Bible study have to do with living a holy life?

 

“Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your word is truth.”  John 17:17.  “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”  Psalm 119:11.

 

Answer:  Bible study is a great aid in living the sanctified life, because the promises and other truths of God’s Word help us avoid yielding to temptation.

 

 

12.  Since sanctification is by faith, doesn’t God obey for us in us, so that the only fight we have is to make certain that we allow Him to do it rather than relying upon our own strength?

 

“…that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”  Acts 26:18.  “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20.

 

Answer:  Sanctification is indeed by faith.  But Galatians 2:20 is often used to teach this false idea of passive sanctification—that all we do is to sit back and wait for God to obey in us.  Moreover, since God makes no mistakes, this theology says it’s possible to reach perfection of performance.  First, if we read the verses around Galatians 2:20, the context is principally about justification, that is, God declaring His people righteous because of Jesus’ righteousness that He lived outside of us on our behalf.  Second, the reference in verse 20 to the Christian life is indeed a reference to sanctification, but the point is that the believer lives a holy life by faith in focusing on the cross of Jesus as His great demonstration of love for us.  That is how Jesus lives in us!  Finally, passive sanctification makes Jesus our puppeteer and us His puppets, an idea that Christian experience with temptation tells us never works.  If you wait for Jesus to do your obeying for you, then you will yield to temptation every time.  Therefore, this somewhat popular view of passive sanctification is surely a doctrine of demons.

 

 

13.  What role does the believer play in resisting temptation and living the holy life, apart from baptism, recognizing our new position with God, and feeding the spiritual nature?

 

A.  Philippians 2:12-13:  “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”—First, the apostle Paul is not here contradicting what he teaches elsewhere, that we earn our salvation by our works.  Instead, the Greek verb for “work out” was used to describe what silver miners did, that is, they worked out of the ground what was already there.  In this case, the believer works out what God has placed in our minds—the “will” or desire to do right and the power (“to do”) to do right.  So while God supplies the desire and power to overcome sin, we must do the actual resisting of temptation and the doing of the right thing.  This also refutes the false teaching of passive sanctification.  

 

B.  James 4:7:  “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”—There are two great dangers in living the Christian life.  First, many attempt to resist the devil without being in real submission to God, which involves the feeding of the spiritual nature as outlined in Questions #10 and #11 above.  Second, many attempt to be in submission to God and hope that He will do the obeying for them.  Both contradict clear Bible teaching, which declares that we must both submit to God and then resist the devil in that spiritual context.  

 

 

14.  What exactly does the believer do in this struggle against temptation?  What constitutes resisting the devil and doing the right thing?

 

A.  I Timothy 6:9, 11-12:  “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition….  But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life….”—It’s not a matter of exercising our own willpower, because God supplies the power via the Holy Spirit.  The fight of faith is to exercise our will to flee from temptations and to pursue the righteous course.  And when we exercise our will in faith, the Holy Spirit provides the power to make the exercise of our faith and will successful.  This truth is illustrated in Joshua 3:13-17, when the priests believed God and put their faith into action by stepping into the Jordan River, and God parted the waters of the river so that the people could cross over into Canaan.  We need to exercise our faith in God’s power by taking the first step toward fleeing from temptation and/or pursuing the right course of action.  God won’t do that for us.

 

B.  Luke 11:24-26:  “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.  And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order.  Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”—This parable of Jesus gives us what may be called the Replacement Principle.  That is, when you get the victory over a particular sinful habit, you should replace that old habit with a good, new habit.  This will make it more difficult for the old sinful habit to return.

 

 

Quiz for Lesson #7—Called to Holy Living

 

1.  You can be saved while deliberately disobeying God’s Word as long as you have made the decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

False

2.  Which of the following terms are associated with God’s will for us? (3)

  Sanctification

  Holiness

  Saint

  Purgatory

Answer

Sanctification
Holiness
Saint

3.  How do we obtain positional sanctification? (1)

  By water and Spirit baptism

  By confession of sins

  By church membership

Answer

By water and Spirit baptism

4.  How does our new position with God change our attitude toward sin? (3)

  We should consider ourselves dead to sin.

  We don’t have to worry about ever sinning again.

  We should consider ourselves alive to God.

  We should present ourselves as instruments of righteousness.

  We can be indifferent to sin since God considers us as sitting in heavenly places.

Answer

We should consider ourselves dead to sin.
We should consider ourselves alive to God.
We should present ourselves as instruments of righteousness.

5.  If we have the Holy Spirit, is living the Christian life easy or difficult, and why? (2)

  It is still difficult because we still have a sinful nature that wars against the Spirit.

  It is as easy as a grape vine producing grapes.

  It is relatively easy because the Holy Spirit lives a life of obedience in us and for us.

  It is not particularly easy because there is still work for the Christian to do.

Answer

It is still difficult because we still have a sinful nature that wars against the Spirit.
It is not particularly easy because there is still work for the Christian to do.

6.  Identify the examples below for how to feed your spiritual nature. (2)

  Spend some time each day thinking about the Lord’s character.

  Transform our minds by focusing on spiritual things rather than the things of the world.

  Repeat the name of Jesus as a mantra several times a day.

  Pray at least ten times a day in addition to asking the blessing on your meals.

Answer

Spend some time each day thinking about the Lord’s character.
Transform our minds by focusing on spiritual things rather than the things of the world.

7.  Where does the power come from to live a holy life? (3)

  God the Father

  God the Son

  God the Holy Spirit

  Our will

  Our friends

Answer

God the Father
God the Son
God the Holy Spirit

8.  Why should we avoid passive sanctification? (2)

  Because it never works out in practice

  Because it is Jesus who lives in us

  Because it makes God our puppeteer and us His puppets, contrary to His character

  Because progressive sanctification is by faith

Answer

Because it never works out in practice
Because it makes God our puppeteer and us His puppets, contrary to His character

9.  We must be in submission to God and resist the devil in order to be successful in living a holy life. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

10.  What exactly should we do in the struggle against temptation? (3)

  We should feed our spiritual nature.

  We should preach a gospel sermon whenever someone will listen.

  We should exercise our faith by exercising our will to flee from temptation.

  We should replace a bad habit with a good habit.

  We should avoid being too righteous so that people will not want to follow our example.

Answer

We should feed our spiritual nature.
We should exercise our faith by exercising our will to flee from temptation.
We should replace a bad habit with a good habit.