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We must endeavor diligently to make the right use of all means appointed in the Word of God for obtaining and practicing holiness only in this way of believing in Christ, and walking in Him, according to your new nature by faith.
Though all holiness can be effectually attained by the life of faith in Christ, yet the use of any means appointed in the word for attaining and promoting holiness is not hereby made void, but rather established. True believers find, by experience that their faith needs help. They are not arrogant, proud or boastful about themselves.
We must understand the correct way of using all the principles of holiness for the obtaining and practicing holiness. For if we use these wrongly we will fail. We must believe in Christ and walk in Him, according to our new nature by faith. We also must use these principles as helps to the life of faith in its beginning, continuance and growth. Faith is the ONLY vehicle in all acts and exercises which the soul receives Christ and walks in all holiness in Him. All other principles are tools that depend totally on faith to have any spiritual value whatsoever. No doctrine or principle should ever be put in the place of Christ. We must take great care that we do not use these principles in opposition to the way of sanctification and salvation by FREE grace in Christ through faith. It is possible that we incorrectly use and abuse these principles for what they were originally designed for. If used wrongly these can be one of our greatest hindrances to our walking in a life of faith.
We must not idolize any principle of the gospel and put them in the place of Christ by trusting in them. It is a common error to make use of these principles thinking that they are effectual to imparting grace to the soul by working and using them. These are not works of righteousness that are preformed as a condition for acquiring salvation or somehow attracting the favor of God and the salvation of Christ. These are not to be considered absolutely necessary to salvation to make true faith void or of no effect. There is only ONE way we can receive salvation and that is by faith. We must endeavor not to use any principle of the gospel that would oppose the grace of God. These principles are designed to guide us to Christ for salvation by faith alone. If we attempt to use these to somehow gain or maintain salvation then that violates their very purpose. The ordinances of the law are designed to lead and guide us to only seek salvation in Christ by faith. If we take these ordinances and then use them instead of faith, we will fail. They will become snares and stumbling blocks to us. None of these ordinances have the slightest ability to give the LIFE that Christ alone freely offers by faith.
Here is a list of several ways of living holy, established in the word of God.
The Word of God, Scripture. We are to know the word of God that we may be wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. This is vital to the life of faith because faith comes by hearing the word of God. Faith comes by the Spirit of Christ birthing the words to life in one's soul. You need a knowledge of the word, as it is necessary and sufficient to guide you in receiving Christ, and walking in Him. You need a knowledge of the requirements of the law and your own sinful corrupt nature. You need to see the IMPOSSIBILITY of ever being saved by your own works. Then you need a knowledge of the FREE GRACE OF GOD for complete salvation. You need to see the extreme strictness of the commands and the exact perfection that they demand and require. When you have absolutely no hope of ever meeting these requirements then you are ready to receive God's gift of salvation and true holiness. The most effectual knowledge for your complete salvation is to understand these two points. To know your desperate sinfulness and misery of your own corrupted sinful condition. Then knowing the all sufficient FREE GRACE of God in Christ for your salvation. This way you will be humbled to the flesh and exalted in Christ alone.
By reading the word you will know the true difference between the two covenants, the old and new, or the law and the grace of God. Under the law you are forever shut up under the guilt and power of sin. Under the law you are cursed and only deserve God's wrath and punishment. Under the grace of the gospel you have forgiveness of sins and holiness shall be given you freely based on the works of Christ and His Spirit. Under grace you receive Christ's holy nature with all the spiritual dispositions, powers, abilities, and desires to truly walk in all holiness.
Warning!! There is great danger in learning and head knowledge that you put this knowledge in the place of Christ. If you do this you will, instead of gaining Christ, lose Him by trusting on your knowledge for your salvation.
Some worship doctrine and truth and make it their god. Christ Himself is truth. He is the embodiment and essence of truth. Words, doctrines, teachings and ideas are not truth. When the Holy Spirit reveals truth, He reveals Christ. When Christ reveals truth, He reveals Himself. Christ does not refer us to doctrines or to religious systems. He leads us only to Himself.
True doctrine is only a method of knowing Christ. We are to worship Christ, not the doctrine that reveals Him. We are to worship God, not the Bible. These only make us aware of the facts about Christ. They present Him for our acceptance. We are to receive the risen, living person of Christ. Christ is not an idea concept, mental image, thought, philosophy or doctrine. He is a real living being. No doctrine will ever save you. Some people make a fatal mistake of placing their trust and faith in some doctrine. Doctrine can never take the place of Christ. True doctrine only points the way to Christ.
The purpose and only aim of scripture, teaching and doctrine is to lead a person to the Triune God until he is fully joined to Him. God within us is our only source of divine life, light and love. Some have made the fatal mistake of making these the focal point and god of their lives. A person should never make truth or doctrine into an idol. A person's learning and wisdom becomes alive and takes God's place. Instead of being in and experiencing the kingdom of God, he is living in and experiencing the kingdom of self. This consists in self-power of his own logic and learned reason.
Truth and guidance can never come from self; they only come through God. No man can bring himself into divine knowledge by the power of his own reason and imagination. Reasoning is nothing else but a full confidence and faith in oneself. When a person relies on himself he departs from God and falls under the rule and dominion of his own reason, and appetites. Some go on day after day defining and redefining religious teachings and doctrines. They are critical and full of judgment. They are dead to God.
Reasoning is from self and the work of the flesh. It is full of vain opinions, false judgments, errors and delusions. A person's ideas, opinions, and theories about scriptural doctrine have absolutely no effect in making him holy or removing his sin. No amount of reasoning by a sinner will make him a saint.
Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." A person can spend much time in the study of the Bible. The letter of the scripture kills when a person rests in it. The scripture has no goodness by itself. It will only bring death when built into systems, doctrines and opinions. The kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. The kingdom of God is nothing else but the power and the presence of God, living, dwelling and ruling within the believer.
All the outward works of religion can be done by an entirely selfish man. He can perform all church duties, know doctrine and appear to have every outward Christian virtue. No person can ever go higher than this legal outward formality of his selfishness until led and governed by the Holy Spirit. These outward acts have no spiritual value because God was not the initiator and doer of them.
No outward acts of religion can remove evil out of a person or bring divine life into him. True religious works are only the result of the spiritual life of God willing and doing within the believer. The person who does not have the Spirit of God continually inspiring and working in him, has a religion of his own making and is still living in his corrupted sinful condition.
A person can read and study all about Christ without ever experiencing Christ's life and truth. Truth or life can only be found in a believer where the Spirit of God is in a reality born within him. We are all without real knowledge of Christ until He reveals Himself to us and quickens us. True knowledge is only possible and only exists in the Triune God. The point or goal of the gospel is to make a person holy as God is holy.
True Christianity consists in heart obedience to God, not in head knowledge. I know many people who understand every fact in this book. Some people know it better than I, but the problem is some just have head knowledge. Many in the church have a head knowledge of biblical words and doctrines. They lack the living divine knowledge and reality of the Triune God living and working within them.
A person can study and learn all the doctrines and teachings of any spiritual leader. He may become proud of his knowledge. He then will be full with the spirit of self, satanic pride and worldly wisdom in all that he does.
This happened to me in my early days of study. I took my facts from the bible and other books. I started to place my trust and confidence in my own reasonings and logical thinking ability. I removed myself from God's presence within me and turned to myself. All I had was a religious system full of facts and doctrines. My religious knowledge came from myself not from God. I had great pride in these facts and doctrines. I became puffed up in knowledge and looked down with critical disgust on all others who disagreed with me.
I was an idolater for I worshiped myself and my ideas of doctrines. It does not matter if a person's doctrines and definitions are correct. No doctrine or definition can give life, truth or love. These only exist by God's own rule and kingdom within. Doctrine should never replace Christ nor should be worshiped along with God.
Any religious knowledge that a person gets not from the abiding Spirit of God is full of vanity, emptiness and delusion. The only thing that can come from one's own reason is the work of the flesh and the devil.
Facts only puff up a person's pride. A person's knowledge of doctrine will not make him more like God even if his doctrine is absolutely correct. Facts do not make any person more like God. A person can believe the facts of the scripture without ever repenting from selfishness.
Any person can believe facts without having the Life of Christ. Comprehending and explaining doctrine may never convert or humble the sinner. No one is saved by their knowledge of doctrine. Let the facts lead you to Christ. Facts are important but only as sign posts that point toward Christ and the continual working of His Spirit living and dwelling within. A person can have much knowledge but only be wise in his own conceits.
A person must not rely in his own knowledge but must be obedient from the heart to all the light that God has given him. If a person rejects God's light he will go on to establish his own truth and fall into deception. God will never give a person any more light until he first obeys all the light he has. There is much deception about faith today. There are many books, tapes, and teachings on faith. Many teach if you believe something and speak it out, you will cause it to happen. They teach that you can create what you want out of your words. The problem with this teaching is, it places us and our words above Christ. Faith can never be placed above or take Christ's place. True faith receives and submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all His relations, roles and functions.
In 1 Cor. 13:2 Paul said that even if he had the faith to remove mountains, and did not have God's pure love, he would be nothing. Christ said in John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." This nothing is sin. Remember without God's love in the heart all that is done is sin.
Faith is not like a genie in a lamp that you rub to get your dreams and wishes fulfilled. True faith never works by selfishness. Faith does not force nor manipulate God in any way. Faith is not a button to press that receives God's service. God is not a person's servant to do his bidding. A true Christian has Christ as his King and Ruler. He serves Christ and is totally submissive to Him. Any doctrine, teaching or practice that presents the idea that God is to serve us is wrong and deceptive. Many people use faith and God for their own selfish interest. These people are not true Christians for they are the god of their own realm and only use God as a way to serve their own selfishness.
Faith cannot be put in the place of Christ. Faith is not anyone's savior. Jesus Christ is the only Savior there is. Faith is simply the only method to receive Christ. Without Christ salvation is impossible. It is Christ that saves us. Without faith, we would never receive Christ, but without Christ salvation is impossible.
Faith is not to be worshiped. True faith exists only as a result of the working of God and Christ. It only exists as the result of the influences of Christ on the mind. Jesus Christ Himself is the only true source of a person's faith. Heb. 12:2a "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." It is impossible for a person to have true faith independent of Christ. Faith is a result of God's free grace. True faith always works by love, makes the heart holy, and overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil.
I John 5:1-5 "Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the son of God?"
Jesus Christ is the only true source of faith there is. All one needs to do is take Him as Lord, King and only source of faith. One must always be totally dependent on Christ for faith. The proof of true faith is a true love for God and others that keeps His commandments. A person who claims to have faith but does not overcome sin nor keep God's commandments is deceived. He does not have God's love.
No amount of positive confession, possibility thinking, or positive thinking can ever produce faith. The power of thinking never can produce anything that God considers good. If it could, then we would never need God.
Even Bible reading does not produce faith. Romans 10:17 "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith comes by the Spirit of Christ birthing the words to life in one's soul. It does not come from just hearing the words of the Bible. A person can read or listen to the Bible all day without the production of any faith. Faith is a simple act of submission. No amount of preparatory work of any kind can lead to faith.
Examination of your condition and ways according to the Word. The Bible commands everyone to examine himself to see if he has true faith in Christ. II Cor. 13:5 "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
This is another way for promoting the life of faith. You must take great care in doing this self-examination correctly. Do not do it in a way that would hinder or destroy the life of faith. You must put your trust on Christ not upon your self-examination. Do not waste your time in searching your heart to see if you are good enough to trust Christ. Do not search to see if you have faith before you dare to be so bold as to act faith in Christ. Know that you will never find that you have any faith or holiness. Having this knowledge IF you NOW BELIEVE on Him that justifies and makes holy the ungodly, it shall be accounted to you for righteousness.
Meditation on the Word of God. This is a way we remind ourselves of Gods benefits of grace. As we reflect and ponder His word, the Spirit brings us food and nourishment by which we are strengthened for every good work. The word is our spiritual food and as we consider it we grow more and more. Meditation is useful to press upon our conscience the strictness of our obligation to holy duties. By these we our moved to faith to Christ for life and strengthened to accomplish them. This way we may receive His life and strength, that we may be enabled for their immediate performance. We must meditate with full confidence on Christ's saving benefits as they are discovered in the gospel. We must take special care not to place our trust or confidence in our meditation. Meditation should never be put in Christ's place. We must act faith in our meditation by mixing the word of God's grace with it or else it will not profit us. When we set the loving-kindness of God frequently before our eyes, by mediating on it with full belief, we will be strengthened to walk in the truth.
Joshua 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success".
Psalms 1:2 "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
Psalms 63:6 "When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."
The sacrament of baptism.
Many pervert and misuse baptism. Some make baptism an idol, putting it in the place of Christ. Others claim that without it salvation is impossible. It is Christ alone who saves us and sets us free. Baptism should be used only to confirm grace and stir up and strengthen us. It will have great value if it is viewed as the burial of the old man and then a resurrection in Christ's new life. By faith we are buried with Him by baptism into death. By faith we are raised up from the dead in newness of life in Christ. If you have been baptized you can look back and reflect on and draw much grace and help by it. Many miss the actual blessing that God really intended by thinking that baptism is just an observance or symbol. You must understand that by faith you can actually receive much strength from baptism. It is a good way to establish that you have died to the old nature and walk in freedom from sin because "he that is dead is freed from sin".
Rom 6:3-9 "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him."
Col 2:9-15 "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper. This is a spiritual feast to nourish our faith and to strengthen us to walk in all holiness, by Christ living and working in us. The Lord's Supper reminds us of the spiritual blessings by which we are blessed in Christ, and our enjoyment of them by faith. It also is a method and instrument that God does really exhibit and give forth Christ and His salvation to true believers. God does stir up and strengthen believers to receive and feed upon Christ by present acting of faith, while they partake of the elements.
1 Cor. 11:24-28 "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
Christ does give His body and blood to true believers as they receive it by faith. The Lord's Supper is not only a reminder of our living upon a crucified and resurrected Savior but also the instrument that brings us Christ, the bread and drink of life to us. By faith the body and blood of Christ is actually brought to us and then received by us.
Many miss the actual blessing that God really intended by thinking that this supper is just an observance of Christ's death and resurrection. You must understand that by faith you can actually receive strength from His body and blood that He so FREELY offers.
Prayer. We are to make our requests with supplication and thanksgiving. God is a God that hears and answers prayer. God will be prayed to by His people for the benefit that He is answered to bless them when once He hath enabled them to pray. Trusting assuredly we should perform this duty to Christ, the mediator of the new covenant, by which justification and sanctification are promised. Christ is also the mediator for acceptance of our prayers. The Spirit that sanctifies us, birthing us in Christ, and shows the things of Christ to us, is a Spirit of prayer. He is as fire inflaming the soul, and making it to mount upward in prayer to God. Prayerless people are dead to God. If they are children of God, yet they are but stillborn, dead children that cry not. Prayer is a duty so great, that it is put for all the service of God as a fundamental duty, which if it be done, the rest will be done well, and not without it. All other ordinances of worship are helps to it. It is the great means whereby faith doth exert itself to perform its whole work, and pours itself forth in all holy desires and affections, and so yields a sweet savor and so the same promises that are made to faith, are made also to prayer. It is our continual incense and sacrifice whereby we offer ourselves, our hearts, affections, and lives, to God. We act all grace in it, and must act it this way, or else we are not likely to act it any other way. And as we act grace, so we obtain grace by it, and all holiness. Our riches come in by it. Israel prevails while Moses holds up his hands. Prayer is added to the spiritual armor, not as a particular piece of it, but as the method of putting it all on. Prayer will help us to use all of our armor correctly that we may stand in the evil day. It is the way of transfiguring us into the likeness of Christ in holiness, and making our spiritual faces to shine, as Moses face shone after he talked with God.
1 Thess 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."
Singing of Psalms, hymns and sacred songs. These can be, songs of any sacred subject composed to a tune, hymns or songs of praise, and spiritual songs of any spiritual nature. God has commanded it in the New Testament. You must use it for the same end as meditation and prayer, according to the nature of what is sung. Use it to quicken your faith and to stir up joy and delight in the Lord, glorying in Him. You are never right until you can be truly merry in the Lord, and are able to have joy and delight walking in holiness. You will also to get more knowledge and instruction in heavenly mysteries, arid in your duty, teaching and admonishing.
Eph. 5:17-20 "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Fasting is also an ordinance of God, to be used for the same purpose and end, and is commended to us under the New Testament. You should use fasting as a help to extraordinary prayer and humiliation, that the mind may not be unsuited for these things by eating, drinking, or bodily pleasures. It is good only as a help to the soul, removing hindrances. Some people do not have enough spiritual-mindedness to give up themselves to fasting and prayer without great distraction. These are better eat off eating than going beyond their strength in a thing not absolutely necessary.
Fellowship and Communion with the saints.
First, this must be used diligently. Whosoever God saves should be added to some visible Church, and come into communion with other saints; and if they have not opportunity for it their heart should be bent towards it. Sometimes the Church is in the wilderness, and hindered from visible communion and ordinances; but they that believe in Christ are always willing and desirous so to add and join themselves. And they continued steadfastly in fellowship.
Second, this must be used rightly for the attaining of holiness only in Christ.
Do not trust on church-membership, or on any church, for the sake of communion with Christ. Many consider themselves Christian just because they are a member of a certain church. Going to church does not place you in favor in God's eyes. Belonging to a church is a help to fellowship with Christ, and to walking in the duties of that fellowship.
Keep communion with a Church for the sake of communion with Christ. Therefore you must keep communion in Christ's pure ways only. Seek Christ by faith, that in the enjoyment of those advantages you may receive and act in all godliness and holiness. You must aim at spiritual flourishing and growth in grace. Choose to fellowship with the most spiritual Churches. Judge the Churches and leaders according to the rule of the new creature, and try them, otherwise a Church may corrupt you.
There are other godly principles and ordinances found in the scripture. Make sure these are used only as helps and aids to the life of faith. None of them should ever be put in the place of Christ. We should never put our trust in any method or godly principle. If these principles and ordinances are used wrongly they will hinder us, instead of helping our walking in holiness. Many times a person sees a godly principle in the scripture and then applies it often bringing the desired results. Then this person may put his faith and trust in the principle or method used, instead of Christ. There are no magic formulas in Christianity. Our trust must be in Christ only and all these principles should only be used as helps and aids to further our walk in faith.