We Belong To God: A Study of the Doctrine of Separation
Lesson 1-Righteousness and Holiness, Defined
The Biblical doctrine of separation from sin and the world is one of the least taught and most important doctrines of the Bible. Everybody wants to feel God’s presence and experience the joy of the move of His Spirit. Many even follow God through the Bible’s plan of salvation. Few, however, truly desire to know God in a realm of obedience to His commandments learned through a careful study of His Word.
God’s Word is filled with lines and boundaries that encircle and protect His people from sin and the sinful world system that would destroy us. These boundaries are in the form of commandments, admonitions, warnings, principles, and proverbs that can help us walk the narrow path to Jesus Christ.
The truth was, and still is: God made a way for His children to be happy and free-a way for us to know the beauty of His presence without ever having to leave it. This way is the way of righteousness and holiness, the way of separation from sin and separation unto God.
Righteousness is defined by Vine’s as the “character or quality of being right or just”. We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus alone. This process is called justification. The Blood of Jesus is continually effectual in our lives even after salvation, if we choose to follow Jesus (1 John 1:7). Simply stated, righteousness is the state of being justified-free from sin-and the actions that we do and don’t do which arise from that freedom.
Vine’s says holiness is “the state of being separated to God and the conduct of those separated” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 7; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 12:13-15). We have to pursue-to follow-peace and holiness on purpose. It doesn’t happen by accident, but by a careful study and application of God’s Word and by following the leading of His Spirit (Colossians 3:1-12).
Lesson 2-Righteousness and Holiness, Caught or Taught?
Is it right for us to expect God to teach us the difference between right and wrong? Can we understand the Word for ourselves? What about the Spirit? Can’t we just depend on God to speak to us personally? Do we need the ministry to guide us in the ways of Scripture?
God promised David the continual guidance of His all-seeing eye in Psalm 32:8. He promised the disciples in John 14:21-26 that obedience would bring the abiding Spirit of the Father in another form-the Holy Ghost. Romans 8:4, 5, reveal to us the concept of living in and walking in the Spirit. Paul states the clear difference between the two in Galatians 5 (vs. 16-25) when he reveals the manifestations of the flesh and the evidence of the Spirit. Romans 6:15-23 explains that, through salvation, we voluntarily take upon ourselves the yoke of Jesus Christ. We become “servants to righteousness (justification) unto holiness (sanctification)”. Walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16,25) is thriving spiritually-knowing Jesus deeper each day by the word of faith which is taught of the Spirit of God.
Next, the Scripture teaches us to desire the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2). We are admonished to develop a desire for the Word of God. The Spirit will birth this within us, but it has to be nurtured. Peter spoke of a hunger for God like a newborn baby’s desire for his mother’s milk. The path of Christian growth begins with this desire and leads the saint to the Word of God. Life itself is attributed to the Word by Moses (Deuteronomy 8:3). Moses seems to say that a life with only bread of this earth is only half lived. Indeed, this is true for all mankind. We are lost and languishing without the clear direction of the Bible.
He has given gifts to the Church to make it possible for the People of God to understand the Will of God. These gifts are revealed in Ephesians 4:7-14. The five-fold ministry is God’s gift to the church. The Word and the Spirit cannot be properly followed without the ministry. The scripture demands perfection in the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 13:9; Hebrews 6:1) and gives the responsibility for “perfecting the saints” to the five categories of overseers God has placed over His people. Titus 1:3 is one of many scriptures which define preaching as God’s voice to humanity in this age. Therefore, each of us must hear and receive the Word of God and the guidance of the Spirit that is brought to us by the ministry. We cannot live for God without His divine order.
So the question is: Righteousness and holiness, caught or taught? The answer is yes.
Lesson 3A-Faith with Works is Not Dead
James 2:14-17 James’ lesson on faith and works is teaching that salvation has not come to us on the basis of “once saved, always saved”. Rather, salvation is found in the safety of the covering Blood and the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ. If we wish to stay saved, we must please God with our heart and our actions. We must be obedient to be saved!
James twice asked a question regarding profit. He seems to have been directing the church towards spiritual profit. To be a “Christ Follower”, one must be following Christ. Following Christ means moving, not standing still. Profit comes from forward movement. Profit matters! As Christians, we are supposed to be a spiritual profit to the Kingdom of God and benefit from spiritual profit internally.
We need to consider the eternal and spiritual weights of our actions or lack thereof. James wanted the Church to realize that salvation is given through faith and that faith brings action.
Paul taught Titus about a people who professed faith in God, but dishonored Him by their lifestyle (Titus 1:16). One cannot deliberately reject the conviction of God’s Word and the validity of the leading of the Spirit and not offend God. God will not dwell in an unclean temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We evict the Holy Spirit through continually warding off His gently guiding hand (Romans 1:18-23; 28).
Titus 3:3-8 shows us that salvation points to us a better way of living. Now that we have the privilege of being “heirs” (vs. 7) to God’s realm, we are expected to act like it! Vs. 8 says that we should be “careful to maintain good works”. Paul was saying that we must live up to God’s standards in order to keep from sliding back into the world. These standards are clearly detailed throughout the Word. If we’re not following the Word, we’re heading in the wrong direction.
Lesson 3B-Faith with Works is Not Dead
James made it clear that works of righteousness and holiness are the demonstration of our faith. Our faith in God will create room for God to work in our lives.
We are baptized into the Body of Christ by God’s grace alone. The process of New Testament salvation is merely God’s grace working in our lives in response to our faith. Faith creates an environment for God’s power to show itself in our lives. Faith alone cannot save us. If it could, the demons and Lucifer himself would be saved. James makes it clear that they believe. And they do believe. They believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah (Matthew 28:28, 29; Luke 4:33, 34; Acts 16:16-17). The account of the possessed girl in Acts 16 proves that demons also believe that Jesus’ work on Calvary and His shed blood can save us. They have no doubt of that fact. Interestingly enough, that faith and knowledge of the saving power of Jesus Christ has not saved them.
The fact of Jesus’ deity solidified the demonic persecution of the Church. Their words and works proved their faith. Because of the power of the Spirit working through them, their allegiance was clear.God judges our faith through the lens of our actions. In Genesis 15:4-6, God saw that righteousness was in Abraham by his faith. Genesis 22:11, 12, however, shows us that Mount Moriah was God’s test of Abraham’s faithfulness and fear of God. He believed in God and proved it.
Joshua 2:12-14 is Rahab’s oath to the spies of Israel. She heard about the God of the Hebrews and believed. Then, when presented with an opportunity to act on that faith, she acted.
Just as the body must contain the spirit of a person to be alive, our spiritual being must contain both faith and works to be accepted before God on a continual basis. He expects something out of us after our original salvation. He requires us to live up to the standards of His Word and the leading of His Spirit.
Lesson 4-“All That Is in the World”
1 John 2:15-17
The mind sets that drive the world are based on one of these three categories of fleshly desire and thinking. It is the Will of God that none of “all that is in the world” be in us. Therefore, He has made a way for us to be free from the bondage of the world. Righteousness and holiness are not forms of bondage, but of freedom in Jesus Christ.
Verse 15 is John’s commandment against love of the world. Jesus defined His followers as separate from the world (John 15:18, 19). Jesus even said that a mark of His followers would be the contempt of the world. Ephesians 2:1-3 further outlines the state of the world by revealing Satan as “the prince of the power of the air”. The people bound in the world are living according to “the lusts of the flesh”, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind”, and are known as “the children of wrath”. Jesus, by contrast gives us peace that surpasses understanding (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7) and that lasts forever.
In Romans 12:2 Paul further admonished us to resist conformity to the world and its ways. Keeping ourselves free from the world’s influence can be complicated or simple. The choice is ours. We can choose to follow the Spirit and the Word. We can also choose to follow the trends of this world. Who makes your decisions for you? Paul asks this question in Galatians 1:10 when he boldly proclaimed that the Gospel he preached was free of worldly or traditional religious influence. We must follow Jesus alone! If you don’t have convictions of your own coupled with the Word of God, you’re just as vulnerable to worldly sway as a sinner on the street. Don’t follow me unless I’m following Christ. If we follow Jesus, He’ll get us out of here.
Lesson 5A-“The Pride of Life”
1 John 2:15-17
John mentioned three categories of fleshly desire and thinking. The “lust of the eyes” is a classification of desires in which sight is the catalyst. The “lust of the flesh” refers to the cravings of the flesh. The “pride of life” is that arrogance of mind that fills a person with self-righteousness, doubting, bitterness, and/or rebellion. These four sinful attitudes are basic to most, if not all, sins of the flesh.
Sin has to start somewhere. Before it is acted upon, it will be reflected upon (James 1:12-15). Because it starts in the mind we must be consistently diligent to battle the strongholds of wicked thoughts. Arrogance is one of those strongholds.
All forms of arrogance are open doors to temptation and desire and are all sins (Proverbs 21:4). Also, if we allow the arrogance of our flesh to flourish it will birth much sin. One cannot have a haughty attitude towards God or his fellow man without consequences (Pro. 16:18, 19).
Within each of us is a tremendous capacity for independence. God would like to use this for His glory. It is His plan that we be dependent on Him and independent of this world’s influences. Arrogance is a barrier to this surrender.
Pride, in any form, is a sign of spiritual sickness or death. Pride grows so quickly and disguises itself so well that it can sometimes be hard to recognize.
Paul taught in Galatians 6:7, 8 that “corruption” is the only possible end result of the path of flesh. It may be the path of least resistance. It may even make sense at first. However, in the end, it will lead to “a fall”. Then, we will only have ourselves to blame.
Additional study: Numbers 21:2-5; Luke 8:7, 14; Matthew 7:1-5; Judges 2:11, 12; 2 Kings 12:2, 3; 14:1-4; 15:1-4.
Lesson 5B-Examples of “The Pride of Life”
Exodus 5:2-Pride can drive a person to commit unwise and self-destructive acts, even in the face of God’s judgment. Pharaoh’s doubt led to self-reliance and rebellion. God used Pharaoh’s impudence to teach an entire nation of His almighty power.
2 Kings 5:11-Pride can block a blessing. Naaman’s arrogance and self-righteousness caused a lack of understanding and anger. God wanted to humble him, and through that process, to heal him.
2 Chronicles 26:16-Pride can cause us to forget our place. Uzziah’s “heart was lifted up”. He had a problem with his role in God’s Kingdom. Uzziah was struck with leprosy and removed from power because of his arrogance and jealousy of the Levites place in God’s order.
Daniel 4:30-Pride can cause us to worship the creation instead of the creator. Nebuchadnezzar’s self-righteousness lead to a rebellious self-idolatry. Daniel tried to warn him (Daniel 4:24-27), but he wouldn’t listen. This brought a humiliation from God of the grandest sort.
Luke 18:11-Pride can cause us to assume God’s seat of judgment. This Pharisee assumed himself to be righteous based on his own knowledge of another person’s sins. God sees a person unrepentant in heart the same as a person unrepentant in deed.
John 9:40-Pride drives the heart to become manipulative in its search for power and control. The Pharisees controlled the people for their own political purposes. They turned a blind eye to their own evil tactics and false commandments and prohibitions. Due to their blindness, Jesus proclaimed them to be in sin.
1 Corinthians 4:16-18-Pride can make us feel as though we don’t need God or that His presence is inconvenient. The Corinthians were self-reliant and this developed to a form of rebellion. The presence of Paul or Timothy-or any other Apostolic authority, for that matter-represented a threat to the flesh-based and self-idolatrous teachings of the Corinthian church. Arrogance brings the heart to a place where it feels that it needs no help. Sin needs the sinner to be bound by a sense of independence from God’s ordained authorities.
Revelation 3:17-Pride blinds us to our own actions and drives away the Holy Spirit. Self-sufficiency is a typical symptom of pride. We still trust in God when we are at church. We still hold to a “form of godliness”, but the “power thereof” grows ever intrusive to our lifestyle. Thus, Laodicea slowly shook off the yoke of God and took on carnality…all the while still having church as usual.
Lesson 5C-Part 1-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
This passage refers to “the works” which the flesh can produce (Romans 7:18). The attitudes that we have will often determine the actions we commit. God’s way in our lives is hindered by fleshly attitudes and actions.
“Uncleanness” or the “impurity” of morals (NASB/Vine’s) is first mentioned. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6, Paul defended his leading of the Thessalonian church by disputing that he had any “uncleanness” in motivation. He was contrasting teachers of righteousness with false teachers who were manipulators.
We shouldn’t practice manipulation in any way. If we can’t get what we want we should ask for it or pray about it rather than trying with ulterior motives to tease others into submission to our desires. That is what creates entrenched and even subconscious grudges in the hearts of both parties: the user and the used.
Peter explained in 2 Peter 2:10 that uncleanness has a propensity for birthing evil desires. In fact, he said that uncleanness has a specific lust all its own. Rebellion and the hatred of authorities is listed as a side effect of impure morality. Presumptuousness is a grievous sin and is also part of the bevy of weapons in the arsenal of uncleanness (Psalm 19:12-13). Peter called the unclean “self-willed” and disrespectful-a people who feel they need no advice. We must understand and practice submission to all authorities (Romans 13:1-5).
1 Thes. 4:7 depicts uncleanness as the opposite of holiness or sanctification. 1 Corinthians 13 is all about the motivations of heaven. God’s agape-selfless love-is our calling. Purity is our calling. Uncleanness is not a potential threat when we are submitted to the Word and the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). Philippians 4:8; John 13:34, 35
Lesson 5C, Part 2-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
Lasciviousness is limitlessness immoral thought and the actions which result from that thought. The NASB uses the term “sensuality”. The NIV uses “debauchery”. Vine’s says “absence of restraint”. Either way, this pattern of thought is unbridled depravity.
In Mark 7:22, Jesus warned of corruption from within. He mentioned everything from “evil thoughts” to “murders” to “foolishness”. He also said that unbridled sensuality originates in the heart and grows until it reveals itself in our actions. According to Jesus, “the heart[s] of men” are corrupt.
We must resist the natural thought processes of the carnal mind. Once they start, there’s no stopping them. These imaginations will produce sin and sin will escalate until either the conscience is gone or we are living in complete rebellion. This is the process of growth of unbridled sensuality. Sensuality is basically the worship of the pleasures of the flesh. It starts in the mind and soon enough lasciviousness is compounded with sins relating to addictive idolatry. The Bible says the carnal mind is God’s enemy (Romans 8:7 ). Consequently, sensuality must be brought in submission to the Spirit if we are to conquer the enemy between our ears. Ephesians 4:17-19 teaches a contrast of thinking and lifestyle. This was a frequent theme in the teachings of the Apostles. 1 Corinthians 14:33; Romans 1:20-32
There is hope, however! Paul promised renewal in the Spirit in Ephesians 4:20-24. We are not bound to the pathway of sensuality. We have been reborn! In Christ, we have relearned how to think and feel. We have been given a new conscience by the Spirit. Verse 23 says we have been renewed in our minds. We can live each day in the hope of this newness and vibrancy of spirituality and mental stability. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Lesson 5C, Part 3-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
We are called out of the world into the love of God. We are called to love God. We are called to share the love of God with the world and with one another. Vine’s says “enmity” which is from the same root, is “the opposite of agape” which is God’s selfless compassion and devotion. For this reason, hatred is a sin that has no place in the Christian’s mind or heart, thoughts or emotions. We must maintain an emotional base of devotion to God and compassion towards others.
In Matthew 5:20-22, He taught that the righteousness of the inner man was just as important as not committing the actions of sin. In 1 John 3:13-15 and 17, we are taught of the contrast of lifestyle between the world and the Church. John said we shouldn’t be surprised if we are hated by the world. However, hatred in the church with or without cause is the same as murder. If we hate anyone, we do not have “eternal life abiding” in us. We are, in essence, evicting the saving grace of God through hatred.
Hatred creates enemies where there are only friends. Hatred creates enemies when there is an empty room. Hatred creates enemies among total strangers. Proverbs 28:1 says a wicked person will run when no one is chasing them. In Romans 1:30, Paul listed “haters of God” among many other base practices of depraved societies. John 3:19, 20.
There is hope! God gives us the gift of His love with His saving grace. With this we have a responsibility to love Him, His people, and the world’s people (1 John 3:16). God’s love always leads to self-sacrifice. We are called to give of ourselves. The more we give up, the lighter our load of worldly burdens and cares. The opposite of hate is love. We can successfully destroy inner hatred by loving God, His people and others. Romans 7:14, 15; Jude 1:23; Revelation 2:6; Hebrews 1:9; Romans 5:5-9
Lesson 5C, Part 4-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
Paul uses a word called “variance” to describe what the NASB calls “strife”. The word “strife” used later on in verse 20 is referred to in some versions as “discord”. Troublemakers commit strife and cause discord.
Strife is a state of mind from which a person can judge anyone at anytime as worthy of an argument or an instigation of some kind. Strife is based upon a feeling of superiority. We consider ourselves better than a person or all people. Therefore, we have the right to meddle with their peace. Their peace is a gift from God. Taking someone’s peace is a mortal wound and it will be repaid with strife. Strife begets strife and freedom from strife is a peaceful place. Strife however, is not always caused or projected. Often, a person may live with a disagreeable heart. In this case, it will be interactions with others that become uncomfortable due to constant negativity. Proverbs 26:20.
Discord is the opposite of accord or harmony. Acts 2:1 reveals that the Apostles and others were in perfect harmony or “one accord” before the Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost. An attitude of conflict is predisposed to be juxtaposed. Conflict brings constant disagreement, whether within or without, for disunity’s sake. Numbers 11, 14, 20
There is hope, however! We are given clear instructions in Philippians 4:6-8 on how to overcome conflict within and without. First, Paul gives instructions for the spiritual side of the situation. Peace from God only comes when we continually commit ourselves to God in spiritual prayer. Then, we must obey the Spirit of peace by dwelling on the things of God. If we do this we can be free personally from strife and our church can be free as well!
Lesson 5C-Part 5-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
“Emulations” is a term used to describe jealousies and mimicries of various types. These are considered “works of the flesh” to distinguish them from the thought processes and mental desires of Christians who walk in the power of the Spirit.
We are free in Jesus Christ to be who God has created us to be, not who we want to be. We are His “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10). The world is repeatedly identified in Scripture as a separate entity (Luke 12:30, 31; 1 John 2:15-17) from the Church-the Kingdom of God. We are not in competition with the world (John 14:5,6; Matthew 7:13, 14). The individuality that He has given each of us is His mark of creation on our lives. God has blessed His Kingdom-with a culture all her own. This culture is meant to engage the culture and draw sinners into the Kingdom of God rather than identify with the culture of the world.
Covetousness is included in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 7). Israel rejected God’s governmental design because it made them different (1 Samuel 8:7, 19). 1 Thessalonians 4:2-5 is part of Paul’s admonition to the church to come out from the Greek lifestyle of hedonism and live by a separate standard of living. Paul also taught against Judaizers and their legalism (Galatians 3:1-3).
There is hope, however! Eph. 2:11-13 teaches us that in our rebirth, we were changed from who we were. We were recreated “in Christ Jesus”- made near to Him “by the blood of Christ”. If we follow God’s will we will free ourselves from desires of emulation. In Colossians 1:9-11, Paul proclaims his earnest desire was that they would come to a knowledge of God’s will with complete understanding. This is true freedom. A desire to please Jesus!
Lesson 5C-Part 6-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
Fear overcomes the human spirit and keeps it captive indefinitely. Jesus Christ overcame the fear within the flesh by doing God’s will in spite of His many apprehensions. He gave us an example of how we can use the indwelling Holy Ghost to conquer fear once and for all.
Rev. 21:8 is a clear warning to Christians. If fear rules us, we will, with other sinners, be punished eternally. Often, we are tempted to think that fear is an allowable sin, but fear is listed equally with idolatry, witchcraft, and murder. We have been equipped spiritually to live above fear by the grace of God that is continuously available through the Spirit.
True, fear may start as an emotion, but it can grip our mind to the point of paralysis. By succumbing to fear, we can lose our ability to make decisions! When a stronghold of fear becomes seated in our hearts, it takes over. The Bible specifically forbids us from giving “place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). We should have no room for him in our hearts. His power over humans is intimidation and temptation. We needn’t be submitted to anyone but Jesus Christ and the authorities He has placed in the world. Deuteronomy 20:8; Isaiah 51:11, 12; Matthew 8:26; Luke 12:4-9; John 12:42, 43; 1 Peter 3:14, 15
The Christian is commanded to live free from fear. We are no longer bound by fear if we have experienced the New Birth in Jesus Christ. The Spirit baptizes us with the opposite of fear. When we receive the Holy Ghost, we receive “power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). These are gifts that are granted by God’s grace, not our merit. We are free to live in these gifts by the continual sanctification of the Spirit. Romans 8:14-16; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 John 4:18
Lesson 5C-Part 7-Symptoms of the Pride of Life
The unbelieving. Those who choose not to believe in or trust God with all of their hearts. To believe is to commit to obey and to follow through with that commitment. One does not become a believer when he makes a mental decision to believe in God’s existence alone (James 2:17-22). He becomes a believer when he makes a mental decision to believe in God and obey His Word. Therefore, a true believer is one who believes and obeys in response to that belief. We are believers who trust God with our initial, momentary, and future salvation. We trust Him with our eternity. We are believers who once were saved and continue to trust God to save us. 1 Peter 1:3-9; Hebrews 11:6
Unbelievers err in one or more of these areas. In Hebrews 3, we are warned about Israel’s “evil heart[s] of unbelief” (vs. 12). We are called to “exhort one another daily” (vs. 13) to avoid the hardness and unbelief of heart that comes from sin. We are only “made partakers of Christ” if we endure in our initial faith to the end (vs. 14)! Verse 17-19 details the destruction of an entire generation of Israel who had first believed, but failed to follow through in commitment to God from their first faith to the end of the trial in the wilderness. Psalm 78; 106
In Mark 16:17 Jesus lists many signs-works of the Spirit-that will follow believers. These works only come by separation unto God which takes place through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:19-21). We have the power in Jesus’ name, if we believe. Matthew 14:29-30
We have this promise from Jesus in John 14:12-14: if we believe Him to be true to His word and trust Him continually, we will see His glory in our lives. We are carried through the trials of life by faith in Christ for this life and faith in Christ for the life to come (1 Corinthians 15:19, 20). It is faith that rescues us from unbelief!
Lesson 6-Part 1-Overcoming the Desires of the Flesh
The sin of lying is the basis for all other sins of the flesh. We must train ourselves to avoid lying and deception as truthfulness does not come naturally. When a bailiff hands me a Bible and I affirm “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, I am giving my word to explain the facts, in a complete manner-not withholding any evidence or details, and in a manner not adding to the facts or changing my words to disguise the purity of the facts.
Ananias and Sapphira were greedy when the Spirit was clearly leading the Jerusalem church to divest itself from much wealth (Acts 4:32-37; Acts 5:1-5) for the growth of God’s Kingdom. They were quenching the Spirit. God’s Word proclaims destruction to be the inevitable punishment of all liars (Proverbs 19:5, 9). Exodus 20:15, 16; Leviticus 19:11, 12
In Psalm 5:6 and Proverbs 12:22 God’s hatred of lying is revealed. Psalm 101:7 shows us that lying keeps us from God’s presence. Paul commanded against lying in Colossians 3:8-11. He called it the work of the “old man” which Christians have “put off” “with his deeds”. We are living as new creations, “renewed in the knowledge” of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:23-25).
Proverbs 12:19 promises establishment for the truth speaker in comparison with the temporal “moment” of the liar (Malachi 2:6). Jesus said, in John 3:21, that the person who commits truth is drawn to the light. He states in Ephesians 6:14 that truth protects our vulnerabilities and our ability to spiritually reproduce. In Psalm 51:6, David said God desired truth inwardly and asked God to fill him with holy wisdom. 2 Corinthians 12:6
Lesson 6-Part 2
Wrath is uncontrolled anger or rage. As Christians, we are called to forgive and seek healing. We must rid ourselves of wrath by using God’s Word and Spirit to control our temper. Then, we can overcome the consequences of rage and live in peace-with God and man.
Ephesians 2:1-3 explains how we, without Christ, were living in wrath. The roots of the rage in each human spirit are based in human nature. The sinner is living a life bound for bitterness resulting from an overabundance of frustration. Thus, he is a child of wrath. Isaiah 1:4-7, 18-20
Paul gave instructions regarding learning to control anger in Eph. 4:26, 27. He said that anger had its place. No doubt, for all of us some anger is inevitable. However, anger can “gain control over” (NLT) us if we allow it to rule in our mind or body. Notice Jesus’ reaction to the defilement of the Temple. Jesus defended the reputation of God’s house by punishing and shaming the “thieves” (Matthew 21:12,13; John 2:13-16). Yet, in all this Jesus did not sin.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to humble us, we will live our lives with a feeling of gratefulness towards God’s manifold grace. This will help us to keep our temper in check. Jesus, ended the parable of the publican and the Pharisee by stating the benefits of meekness before God (Luke 18:14). Eph. 4:31, 32; 6:4; Colossians 3:8, 17-24; James 3:8-13
1 Thessalonians 5:6-10 teaches us to stay awake spiritually, continually guarding ourselves against the wiles of the flesh and our adversary, the Devil.This can only be accomplished by walking in the Spirit and trusting in God’s role and plan for our lives. Eph. 2:4-7 shows us that we are called to a higher plain-one where we can live in “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” not awaiting the wrath of God, but the “exceeding riches of his grace”. Praise God! We are free from wrath and free to live in peace!
Lesson 6-Part 3-Overcoming the Desires of the Flesh
“And the tongue is a fire…” This how James refers to the wicked tendencies of our spoken words in James 3:6. False doctrines, angry words, gossip, lies, and negativity are oft spread among God’s people by those who would fail to control their tongues. We all have the power to control our tongue! We must use the power of the Spirit within us to keep this “unruly” member in check.
James 3 warns us about the tongue and gives us admonitions to control its power. The person who doesn’t offend is called “a perfect man” (vs. 2). Therefore, if we can control our tongue, we can “bridle the whole body”. The tongue is likened to a “bit” and the “helm” of a ship (vs. 3, 4). The “tongue is a little member” of our body, but it has great power, much like a bit or a helm. It is a “little fire”, much like a match or a spark on a dry blade of grass (vs. 5). Likewise, the wrong or right words can be catching. A word can bring peace and a word can destroy that same peace. Matthew 15:16-20
God alone is the originator of all wisdom, whether in the ways of this world or in matters of the supernatural. We are challenged to reveal inner Godly wisdom by our righteous lifestyle. We may take “glory” in self-righteousness for a time, but the tongue will always win out to reveal our inner sin. James called it lying “against the truth” (vs. 13, 14).
If we have, as the Scripture leads us to, received a “love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10), we will not speak against it. If we desire holy wisdom, we will disdain the “earthly, sensual, devilish” nature of our flesh. This will bring an end to “confusion” and bring about peace. Peace in us and from us, from the root of peace to the plant to the branches to the end result: the “fruit of righteousness” (James 3:16-18). Galatians 5:18; John 7:37-39
Lesson 7-Part 1-Overcoming the Desires of the Eyes
Galatians 5:20; 1 John 2:15-17
Scripture mentions sexual sins in two categories: adultery and fornication. “Adultery” seems to specifically refer to sins committed outside of marriage with another person, whether mentally or physically. Paul warns against sexual sins when he explains that our bodies, when filled with God’s Spirit, are betrothed in marital engagement to Christ. We are committed to Him (1 Corinthians 6:15-17). 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Mark 2:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Matthew 6:22, 23; Psalm 101:2-4; Matt. 5:27, 28; 2 Peter 2:12-14
It must be clearly understood that sexuality and its expression are gifts from God. When in the protection of marriage, sexuality should be celebrated as a sanctioned and holy blessing of God. Adam and Eve took pleasure and comfort in each other’s sexuality (Genesis 2:25). Why should they be ashamed? Adam was created in the “image of God” (Gen. 1:27) and Eve was created as the “the glory of the man” (1 Corinthians 11:7). This was God’s perfect design (Gen. 2:20, 23, 24) Satan’s deception along with Adam and Eve’s sins brought about fleshly shame (Gen. 3:7). Gen. 3:16, 21
By Adam and Eve’s sins, sexuality and nakedness became a source of shame. This is due, in part, to the corruption of human nature. The pure expression of love between husband and wife was made impure by sin. Sin in the world was early on evidenced to have caused sexual indistinctness in societies widespread. Sexual distinction was commanded by God repeatedly as sexual ambiguity was and still is considered to be an “abomination” (Deuteronomy 22:5).
In Romans 1, Paul explains the steady descent into the chaotic madness that defined Cain’s descendants. Thus, all mankind who held “the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18) was marked by wicked patterns of thought and behavior. These people tended to go the way of the flesh because “they knew God”, yet “glorified him not as God” (vs. 21). Verse 28 reveals the root of the problem-the reason for base iniquity in any society. They chose not to “retain God in their knowledge”. God chose, then, to give them over to those mind-sets for which they so longed. In other words, when everyone but Seth’s righteous generation chose not to “call upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4:26); they were, in effect, emptying themselves of God and God’s ways-God’s gift of conscience (1 Timothy 4:1, 2) and filling up with all things base and evil. Romans 1:29 We live in a society much like Noah’s society.
When Jesus spoke of our day, He was also speaking of His day. He said the last days, or the last era, would be defined by hedonism not seen since “the days of Noe” (Luke 17:26, 27).
Sexual sins distort our created purpose. Likewise, our societal norms of sexually revealing clothing and gender ambiguity have created an atmosphere conducive to the uncontrolled sin we see around us each day. Lasciviousness, you will remember, is unbridled sensuality-license-uncontrolled open sexuality.We are called, by God to be a counterculture. We are not called out of our former lifestyles to live anew in Christ, only to go back in a fashion to partake of the lusts of the eyes common in the world. We must be different. Not for difference’s sake, but for God’s sake. For the sake of His commandments. Which “are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). His commandments are a yoke of freedom. We are united to Jesus. We are set free to be joined to Him (Matthew 11:28-30).
Lesson 7-Part 2-Active Modesty
1 Timothy 2:8-10; 1 Peter 3:1-5
It is both amazing and beautiful to consider the harmony in the holy Scriptures. Paul taught Timothy the same doctrines of inward and outward holiness that Peter shared with the Church in his epistle. Modest means decent and chaste when referring to outward dress and deportment. Modesty has to do with the way one dresses and carries himself or herself. Modesty is a principle that is both bound naturally to our conscience and one that must be taught. James 1:14-16
Modesty means clothing and adornment that is chosen and worn in such a way as not to indecently expose or reveal the body. Immodest clothing and adornments do just the opposite. They attract-either by carelessness or from a heart of lust-the eyes of others. This is why Paul and Peter both taught about a heart of modesty shining forth from inside to outside. Our hearts must be right!
Modesty will consider sleeve and skirt or dress or pants length, as well as necklines. Modesty will consider the tightness or form-fitting nature of clothing, as well as thinness or sheerness. A good way to think about it is, “could I worship in public in this without revealing anything immodestly?” or “can I raise my hands or kneel down modestly?” Sleeves should not reveal the chest when hands are raised. Skirts, pants, and dresses should be below the knee so as not to expose oneself to others while seated. Sheer clothing and tight clothing should never be used as a single layer, as it will be revealing to others. Necklines should always cover the chest fully, never revealing the least amount of cleavage-as cleavage is clearly suggestive. Suggestive clothing practices are the opposite of the definition of modesty.
These principles define modesty for us according to the Scriptural principle of covering ourselves fully. If we do choose to practice modesty and live modestly, we will be winning a pre-emptive victory over Satan’s advances. We can have authority over the enemy. We can shine forth God’s Spirit from within!