It is the Lord’s will to, “Sanctify and cleanse his church with the washing of water (flesh) by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should holy and without blemish”( Eph.5:26-27).
The state of holiness is of such intrinsic importance, that we have been admonished to, “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb.12:14).
Now since there is no partiality with God, and he is no respecter of persons, why should this holy and un-blemished state be applicable only to some, and not to all humanity for whom he died and lavished his grace?
The reason for this is because, this promise is conditional. It is dependent on the individual’s choice to keep his part of the agreement. For this reason, the apostle Paul found it expedient to exhort all believers saying; “Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor.7:1).
To accomplish this goal of becoming holy and without blemish, the church is admonished to:-
1. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”
For some reason people want to limit this admonition strictly to a marriage relationship between a believer and a non believer. But judging from the context of the passage of scripture which gave reasons why believers should not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, it seems to imply that the believer and non believer should not have fellowship and communion with each other.
For as clearly stated, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God” (2Cor.6:14-16).
Marriage relationship is by no means excluded from this admonition, but it is applicable in a much broader sense, and encompasses the church as a whole.
A yoke is designed to coordinate the operation of two separate or individual entities, in order that the two can work harmoniously and simultaneously together. A yoke is something that joins, unites, bind or tie two things together to operate as one entity.
God’s promise to those who keep their part of this agreement is; “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
But who is truly a believer?
It is written for example “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19). On one occasion two demoniacs coming out of the tombs so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold they met Jesus and cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time? What then! Should one associate him/herself with demons because they believe that there is one God and tremble? And because they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Absolutely not!
Moses and Aaron thought they believed God when God instructed them saying; “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals (Num.20:8).”
But instead of doing exactly what the Lord commanded them to do, “Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock; and he said to them. ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?
Then Moses (instead of speaking to the rock as instructed) lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.’
‘Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron saying; “Because you did not believe me, to hallow me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given you” (Num.20:7-12). Record shows that neither Moses nor Aaron was allowed to enter the promise land just because of this one incident of not believing God.
The People in Jesus’ day requested a work and a sign from him so that they could believe him. They said to him, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he sent.”
Therefore they said to him, “What sign will you perform then, that we may see it and believe you? What work will you do? (Jn.6:28-30).
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die.’
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever, and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (Jn.6:47-50).
How many of the Jews and his followers truly believed him? The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us his flesh to eat? Many of his disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it? (Jn.6:52, 60).
Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at what he said; said to them,
“Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.”
What words spoken by Jesus Christ that are spirit and life, and which some did not believe? They are the words regarding eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood, without which no one has life.
For, Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe, and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Jesus asked the twelve, “You do want to leave too, do you? Then Simon Peter answered him and said; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the holy One of God” (Jn.6:62-69).
A true believer is one who believes the testimony that God has given of his Son.
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.”
To draw this eternal life from Jesus Christ one must believe him. This is what Jesus said concerning the life which is in him; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed; and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks abides in me, and I in him” (Jn.6:53-56).
A true believer is also one who believes that, Jesus, as the living bread is God’s offering, the food for his offering, his sweet smelling aroma which the believer is to be careful to offer to him at the appointed time, or in due season (Eph.5:2; Num.28:2, Exo.29:39-42).
The appointed time, or due season for God’s offering is:-
a. Morning and evening as the regular (often) offering (Exo.20:39-42; Num.28:3-8;1Chro.23:30-31;Ezra 3:5; Neh.10:33)
- On the weekly Sabbath (Saturday) (Num.28:9).
- At the beginning of months (New Moon)
- At the Annual festivals (viz.) Passover/Unleavened bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Eight Day.
2. “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean.
The second part of the agreement comes as the result of the believer keeping his first part of the agreement, and Christ fulfilling his promise, and as a result the Lord Almighty says, “I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters” (2Cor.6:17-18).
Because of these promises we are required to:-
A. “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”
For, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as he is pure” (IJn.3:1-3).
How feasible it is for any mortal man to fulfill this requirement? Since no one can say; “I have no sin.” Nor can any say; “I have not sinned?”
This can only be feasible by the blood of Jesus which only can wash away sins, and make one whole again. As the popular song goes, “For my pardon this I see, for my cleansing this my plea; nothing can for sin atone, not for good that I have done; This is all my hope and peace; this is all my righteousness; nothing but the blood of Jesus.
B. “Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.”
How can one go about perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord?
Holiness is a unique quality of divinity. It is spiritual purity, a sinless state in which the new man was created in Christ Jesus at his resurrection.
Righteousness and true holiness is the nature of the new man. Holiness is being perfected by presenting one’s self as slaves of righteousness, as it is written; “For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness” (Rom.6:19). And now, “Having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Rom.6:22).
But what act of righteousness can anyone perform in order to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord? When it is stated unequivocally that, “A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ Jesus, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal.2:16; Rom.3:20).
The irony of truth is, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes,” but he is not the end of the law of righteousness. In fact, “Having been set free from sin you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom.6:18), and it is the enslavement to righteousness that leads to holiness.
The righteousness to which one is enslaved, and which leads to holiness is, the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ, and this faith in Jesus is demonstrated by first having a walk worthy of the calling, so that one can partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in a worthy manner.
We have received from the Lord this admonition: “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous” (1Jn.3:7). And if you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of him” (1Jn.2:29).
It is by the regular cleansing of sins, which takes place during the fellowship of those who are truly walking in the light, and having no fellowship with darkness, is one able to be perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.
Let us therefore heed the Lord’s admonition which says; “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers;” and, “Come out from among them and be separate.” Let us not be more righteous and holier that the Lord Almighty who says; “O house of Israel, let there be an end to all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning it, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood” (Exek.44:6-7)
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