PURIFYING THE CHURCH FROM SIN
PURIFYING THE CHURCH FROM SIN Copyright 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE. Š Copyright, 960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We know there will be no sin in Heaven, in Paradise, in the Kingdom of God, in the new world of righteousness. Various explanations have been offered as to how the Lord will deliver His Church and the saved nations from sin. But what do the Scriptures teach about the purifying of the Church from sin?
PURIFYING THE CHURCH FROM SIN
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (II Peter 3:13—NIV)
I have written much concerning the fact that the new covenant includes deliverance from sin as well as forgiveness of sin.
Last Sunday night we were going through the twenty-fourth Psalm, a psalm for today if there ever was one.
We were discussing the part where it says "he who has clean hands and a pure heart" will be the one who is able to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place.
I said to the class, "The current Christian teaching is that it no longer is necessary to have clean hands and a pure heart in order to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place. We are saved by grace, meaning, we can ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place even though our hands are filthy and our heart is addicted to pornography."
Then I asked, "Is this what Jesus came to do, to make it possible for us to stand in the Lord's holy place with filthy hands and a filthy heart?"
A student spoke up and answered, "No, the Lord came to help us wash our hands."
She got A-plus with that one.
Early Monday morning something that James said came into my mind:
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8—NIV)
So we see plainly from the Scriptures that current Christian teaching concerning sin in the Christian life is terribly incorrect, destructively incorrect, abysmally incorrect.
Thanks to this episode the old fires began to burn again and here I am, writing once more on the problem of sin in the Christian life.
Whatever our view of the future is, whether it has to do with a "new earth, the home of righteousness" (as in our opening Scripture), or going to Heaven, to Paradise, or the Kingdom of God, we understand there will be no sin there. None of us would want to go to a paradise where people act the same as they do on the earth in the present hour.
Also there is that passage about the Church being without spot or wrinkle, and this unblemished state is certainly not by imputation!
We know somehow that Christ not only forgives us but in the future He will deliver us from worldliness, lust, and self-will.
The prospect of people living for eternity in a state of grace such that they still are immoral and violent, but God sees them as righteous, is not a happy one.
How would you like to enter the new Jerusalem, glad to be shed of the dread and pain of life on earth, only to discover jealousy, gossip, slander, immorality, lying, theft, drunkenness, witchcraft? Does that thought delight you? Probably not. It doesn't delight me either.
There are several ideas floating around that deal with the issue of sinful people entering a new world of righteousness, the Kingdom of God that is to come to the earth. All of these with which we are familiar are founded on the concept that the Christian salvation is largely restricted to forgiveness, that we are "saved by grace" meaning we will enter God's righteous world on the basis of forgiveness. This position necessitates some kind of viewpoint as to how, when, and where we are changed from forgiven sinners to new creations who are without sin, unless we are ready to believe that the only righteousness of the future will be that which is imputed to sinful people. Do you follow me this far?
Let's take a look at some of the current assumptions about how Christ will deal with the problem of bringing sinners into His righteous Kingdom, and then examine the solution presented in the Bible.
When we go to Heaven we will not sin. There is no sin in Heaven. We cannot keep God's commandments now but we will be able to once we die and go to Heaven.
When the Lord returns we will be transformed instantly from sinful creatures into lords of righteousness who will govern the nations. We will rule with Jesus.
We will continue to be pretty much as we are except that God will keep forgiving us through grace.
When we are raptured to Heaven we will pass before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then the Lord will forgive all our sins (if we have taken the four steps of salvation) and we will not sin any longer.
The first solution is as follows: When we go to Heaven we will not sin. There is no sin in Heaven. We cannot keep God's commandments now but we will be able to once we die and go to Heaven. The problem with this solution is that it is possible to sin in Heaven. In fact, sin began in the holiest part of Heaven, around the throne of God. Satan was one of the two cherubim that covered the Mercy Seat with their wings.
Sin is spiritual in nature. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against wicked spirits in the heavenlies. Therefore leaving our flesh solves nothing as far as sin is concerned.
Not only is it true that passing into the spirit realm does not give us victory over sin, it is true also that it always will be possible for us to sin against God. Five million years from now it will be possible for us to sin against God. If this were not so we would not be sons of God, we would be puppets. Sin is always a choice and our ability to choose to disobey God will not be taken from us.
Even the angels will be able to rebel in the future, but the sons of God will judge and govern them.
What we are, we are. Death is not our redeemer.
When the Lord returns we will be transformed instantly from sinful creatures into lords of righteousness who will govern the nations. We will rule with Jesus. This idea is based on at least two passages:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52 NASB))
Both of these passages are referring to the change in our outward form, not in our inner nature. In fact, the verse that follows I John 3:2 (above) is as follows:
And every man that hath this hope in him [of being like Jesus and seeing Him as He is] purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:3)
This is the same exhortation as that given by the Apostle James. We must wash our hands. We must purify our hearts. We must purify ourselves with the grace God has provided, not the grace of forgiveness alone but the grace of purging and purifying through the Word of God, through the blood of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.
We must save ourselves by keeping the commandments of God, as Paul advised Timothy. We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
It is true that God has the power to remove the lusts of the flesh from us instantly. But that would leave us like Adam and Eve, without a sinful nature but helpless against the suggestions of the enemy and the enticements of our own self-will.
God has no intention of putting innocent, defenseless humans back into the Garden of Even. This would result only in another disaster. God's salvation is transforming us so we will always choose not to sin, as a result of the formation of Christ in us. But modern teaching has wrecked God's plan by telling us God does not see how we behave and keeps on forgiving us so we will go to Heaven when we die (thus accomplishing nothing whatever as far as the development of the Kingdom of God is concerned).
As to governing the nations, such a role is limited, by the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, to the victorious saints. This is God's Word and it cannot be altered by any means whatever.
Also it is obvious that if a believer is not able to gain victory over sin today through the Lord Jesus, he or she would not be able to govern nations of rebellious people. The thought of the silly believers of today governing the nations is ridiculous. Talk about star wars! We would have galactic confrontations as self-seeking, lukewarm believers exercised the unlimited cosmic authority and power of Jesus Christ. All of this while they were reclining at ease in their mansions and wearing their golden slippers.
So let us not be fanciful but realistic, and above all scriptural.
We will continue to be pretty much as we are except that God will keep forgiving us through "grace." Of all the ideas that are being presented today, this by far is the most horrific. This would mean a change in God and how He relates to people. It would be best had we never been born if such were the case.
Life in Heaven then would be exactly as in the churches on earth. I would not care to live in such a mess, I don't know about you.
In this instance the Bride would continue to be spotted and wrinkled, a gossiping, self-centered spiritual hag. But to Christ she would be Miss Universe, pure, beautiful, a perfect helpmeet for Him.
They say love is blind but the neighbors ain't. The angels would see what a wretch the Lord had got hooked up to but He would continue in delusion.
When we are raptured to Heaven we will pass before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then the Lord will forgive all our sins (if we have taken the four steps of salvation) and we will not sin any longer. How this mythology got started is beyond me. There is no passage in the Bible that states the Lord is going to carry His Bride away to Heaven. We Christians may emphasize our affirmation of the plenary, verbal inspiration of the authentic texts but we continue to preach doctrine not found in the holy writings.
We can take four steps or four hundred steps of salvation. But at the Judgment Seat of Christ we are going to receive that which we have practiced during our life on the earth. We are going to reap what we have sown.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NIV)
How many see in the above verse that all believers will be forgiven their sins and empowered to sin no longer? Raise your hand.
Dear Lord, are we having problems reading?
Every believer (we all) will be revealed before the Judgment Seat. There we will receive what is due us for the way we have behaved.
Do you see anything about all believers being forgiven?
Do you see anything about all believers being purified and empowered to live in victory?
Do you see any indication whatever that this judgment takes place in Heaven?
Do you see any evidence that this judgment will take place after we have been raptured from the earth?
The fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter informs us that the Judgment Seat of Christ began two thousand years ago with the house of God, the saints on earth and the saints in the spirit realm.
Some of us might conclude from what we have written thus far that it is uncertain how the Lord God intends to purify His Church, or even if He intends to purify His Church.
Let us bring the good news that God indeed is going to purify His Church and that He has a specific program, a specific agenda for so doing.
The program of judgment and deliverance is being emphasized in the spirit realm today. This is why you, if you are a disciple of the Lord, are having such trouble. You are being saved (delivered) by a baptism of fire.
There are four great types in the Bible that outline God's plan of redemption (forgiveness and deliverance from sin and Satan). The four types are the seven days of creation, the seven stages of the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle, and the seven feasts of the Lord. The four types agree with each other and portray the Lord Jesus Christ, the program for the redemption of the believer, the perfecting of the Church, and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Let us take the one we use most often, the seven feasts of the Lord, and apply it to our present discussion.
The first three feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, speak of our basic salvation experience, including the blood of the Lamb, repentance, water baptism, and the born-again experience.
The fourth feast, Pentecost, symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit.
The spiritual fulfillments of the last three feasts, the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles, are not known to the churches. We have not been here yet.
Today we are beginning to enter the last three aspects of the plan of redemption. God has been appeased concerning the guilt of our sin on the basis of the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. Now God is ready to remove sin from the heavens, from His Church, and from the nations of saved peoples of the earth, the "sheep" nations.
This is the first time since the original rebellion of the angels that God has gotten serious about removing sin. He is starting in the highest heavens, shaking them and casting down all rebellion. God will permit Antichrist to reach into the heavens and pull down part of the host—wherever rebellion is found.
God is ready to shake the heavens and the earth.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26—NIV)
God is angry because of sin and rebellion. He is ready to get rid of all of it.
"Seventy sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." (Daniel 9:24—NIV)
"To put an end to sin." "To bring in everlasting righteousness."
God has a program that will put an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness. Satan's shoulders will be pinned to the mat. The wrestling match will be over.
The last three feasts, the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles, tell us that God will declare war against His enemies. He will reconcile to Himself those who cooperate with Him. He will remove His enemies from them. Then He will settle down to rest for eternity in His purified Church.
The Lord began to teach me about this fifty years ago and I have been excited about it ever since.
Let's look at some Scriptures that speak of God purifying His Church.
When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, (Isaiah 4:4 NASB)
The "daughters of Zion," that is, the Church of Jesus Christ, will be purified by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning. There is no question about this, God will purify His Church by His own spirit of judgment. That which we never could do with the best of intentions God will perform by His power.
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, (Malachi 3:1-3—NIV)
As far we know, the "messenger of the covenant" is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ will come as a refiner's fire, as strong launderer's soap. He will purify the silver of our redemption and the gold of the Divine Nature that has been born in us.
He will purify the members of the royal priesthood.
Evidently John the Baptist was the messenger preparing the way for the greater messenger, for the New Testament speaks as follows:
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:10-12—NIV)
Jesus Christ will baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit and also with fire.
He will separate the wheat from the chaff, putting His wheat into His barn and burning up the chaff with fire that cannot be extinguished, that is, eternal supernatural fire. The reference is to the Lake of Fire.
Here we have the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles.
The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of the King to judge His enemies in the Church.
The Day of Atonement is the period of God's working during which the Lord separates the wheat from the chaff in our life and totally reconciles us to Himself.
The feast of Tabernacles portrays the bringing of the purified nature of the believer into perfect rest in God through Jesus Christ.
We have been at the feast of Pentecost, so to speak, throughout the present century. How many millions of believers have enjoyed the Presence and work of the Holy Spirit!
Now God is ready for the work for which all that has gone before is the foundation. God is ready to remove sin from His creation and bring in everlasting righteousness.
What is the plan?
The plan is to remove worldliness, lust, and self-will from a firstfruits of His Church. Then through their victory Satan will be cast down from the heavenlies.
At the coming of the Lord the victorious firstfruits will ascend the thrones in the air that have been vacated at the time Satan and his angels are deposed. (This is why we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. It is because the thrones that govern the earth are located in the air above us.)
As soon as the saints have been gathered to the Commander in Chief in the air the invasion of the earth will begin. Down through the clouds will descend the riders on the white war stallions led by the One called Faithful and True. The horses and those whom they carry move in the perfect will of God.
Faster than light will come the dead-living holy ones. They cannot be frightened or bribed. The armies of Antichrist will make a brief show of resistance and then will flee in disarray as the irresistible force of destruction engulfs them.
Soon the wicked are carrion, heaps of bloody flesh, food for the circling vultures. Earth never before has seen such carnage and never will again until the fire of God falls on the rebellious nations at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
This is a Jesus the churches do not know. This is the Lord, strong and mighty in battle, more terrible in His wrath and power than any conqueror of history.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalms 2:12—NIV)
The wicked that remain throughout the earth will turn white with fear when they hear the sound of the rushing of the chariots and see the army of the Lord leaping over walls and looking in at the windows. The meek will be saved in that day but woe to the hypocrites, especially the hypocrites in the churches. The destroyers of the earth will themselves be destroyed.
The army of the Lord will march until the earth has been purified. Then will nature rejoice. Then will the world be safe for little children.
For one thousand years the Lord and His firstfruits will teach righteousness to the saved nations of the earth, reconciling them to God, and also work with the weaker members of the Church who still need to be reconciled to God in their personalities.
At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age the nations will rebel against Christ, against the firstfruits (the camp of the saints) and against the nation of Israel that has been governing the earth in fulfillment of the promise of God. Fire will come down from God in Heaven and destroy those rebels.
Then the great white throne will appear. The earth and sky to which we are accustomed will be removed. On the throne will be seated Christ and His saints, for the Word of God assigns the judgment of men and angels to them.
The dead will be drawn from many places and raised to stand before God. The wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The wicked are defined by Revelation 21:8. The righteous will enter eternal life The righteous are described in Matthew 25, beginning with verse thirty-one.
Down from God in Heaven will come the purified, glorified Church. The Throne of God and Christ is in it. There is no sin to be found anywhere in the new Jerusalem, the holy city. It is holy in actuality, not by imputation.
The holiness is protected by a great wall. That wall is being formed today in the victorious saints as they resist sin.
Sin will be kept out of the new earth by the rule of the saints. It is a new world of righteousness. Sin has come to an end.
So we see there is a Divine program for the removal of sin from the creation. The Day of Atonement, the removal of sin, has begun in our day and will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Be assured that God is aware of every sin that takes place in His creation. He has given His Son as a sacrifice for sin, and that sacrifice is adequate to meet the needs of whoever will receive the atonement, the reconciliation.
Now here we are. We are forgiven. We love God. But in many instances we are bound with the love of the world, the love of money, the lusts of the flesh, and our own self-will, stubbornness, and disobedience to God.
On top of all this we have been told it is impossible to obey God in the present world and must wait for actual righteousness in our personality until we die or the Lord comes.
Is it any wonder the churches are in their current mess? In fact, many men of the churches who ought to be leaders and ministers are spending their time at night indulging their sexual fantasies on the Internet. There is not enough iron in today's preaching to deliver the saints from the moral filth on the Internet.
Now God is graciously sending trouble upon us. He is putting us in the pot and turning up the heat. The scum is rising to the top. Is that happening to you?
Probably so. Are you having enormous problems in your family, your job, your church? Cheer up. So are a lot of people.
As the pressures and deceptions increase, all kinds of impurity comes out of our personality. This is how God refines the sons of Levi, so to speak.
What do you do about the sins you now see in your personality?
Call the behavior by name. If you told a lie call it a lie. Describe it as clearly as you can. You are God's appointed judge and you must address the enemy.
Resolve that you want this evil gone out of your life. Reject the behavior as vehemently, as resolutely, as determinedly, as doggedly, as forcefully as you can. Yell at it. Condemn it to the Lake of Fire.
It is as this point that the issue is decided. If you waltz around the issue, not driving it from you, it will never leave. The spirits have to be persuaded that you mean business. If you are undecided, double-minded, or for one reason or another are not sure you want to get rid of it or even that you can get rid of it, you never will gain victory.
If you justify your behavior you are sunk. The sin will stay with you and accompany you to the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Many Christians can present a number of reasons why they cannot gain victory over their sins. None of their reasons are valid. The Bible tells us, Old Testament and New, that those who live according to the impulses of their flesh and mind, will die.
Sometimes victory over sin is presented as a target we shoot at, a goal toward which we press. We "ought" to do this or that. You will never get there with this attitude. The Bible does not command you to struggle endlessly with sin, it commands you to put it to death through the Spirit of God.
I heard one individual say that God leaves the demons in us so we will profit by struggling against them. It is true that our struggle against sin develops a conquering personality in us. But God wants victory, not a hopeless struggle in which you never are able to drive out the enemy.
The rewards go to the overcomers. There are no rewards assigned to the losers.
You must understand that God knows what is going on in your life, that God cares what is going on in your life, and that God has the power to help you. This after all is what faith is.
If you are weak, tender, and fearful in your heart, ask God for iron. More iron! More iron! We must have in our personality iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father if we are to be a member of the firstfruits that will rise to meet Christ at His coming.
If you do not have iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience in you, then pray for these. It is your Father's good pleasure to give them to you.
But if you are double-minded you will get nowhere at all.
Confess yours sins to God. He will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Then take up your cross and follow Jesus.
Whatever you do, do not become angry with the tool God uses to get at the scum in your personality. God often uses people to bring the sin in us to the surface. If you become angry and bitter against the tool God uses you will gain nothing from the experience. Instead you will nourish a root of bitterness in your soul.
Forgive everyone without exception. If you can't forgive, ask Christ to help you forgive. He will. He has the Virtue.
If you can't get the victory over sin, ask the Lord to help you. Ask! Ask! Ask! Ask! Get back up on your feet and ask again! Your crown is at stake. Do you think this is a trip to the candy store? The conflict of the ages is upon us. The spoils will go to the victors.
Pornography is on the rise throughout the world. It is a deadly addiction. Numerous Christians, including pastors, are in slavery to their own glands.
Come out of this thing! Pray to Christ for the iron to drive this devil from you! It will destroy all hope you have of being in the army of the Lord.
Do you want to hold up lust-filled hands to the Lord Jesus when you pray?
Do you want to destroy your family and your nervous system, and perhaps end up molesting your child, raping someone, or contracting genital herpes or AIDS? You will if you do not come to Christ and get deliverance.
Satan knows his time is nearly over. He is bringing in his most deadly weapons. He still is hoping he can escape the Lake of Fire. He keeps whispering to Christians "You shall not surely die. No matter how you keep sinning God still loves you and will forgive you."
Satan says this because he hopes the Father will relent and not cast him into the Lake of Fire.
Let me ask you a question. Do you think the Father will relent and not put Satan in the Lake of Fire even though the Scripture says otherwise?
Let me ask another question. Do you think the Father will relent and permit you to bring your sin into the Kingdom of God even though the Scripture says this is not possible?
Fearful judgment is soon to fall on the United States if the Christians do not begin to keep God's commandments. The Gentile holocaust is at hand. God's people have been told they have no need to worry because God would never let them suffer. This is totally unscriptural. The truth is, it is only through tribulation we can enter the Kingdom of God. Why is this? It is because in the fires of tribulation that which has us bound is removed so we can walk away unharmed and free.
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2 NASB)
The time has come. The time is now. God is looking throughout the ranks of Christendom for those who will leave all and follow Jesus through the Judgment Seat. God has the power to remove worldliness, lust, and self-will from us. Our part is to follow the Holy Spirit carefully each day. God's part is to remove the graveclothes.
Lazarus has been called from the dead but he is bound.
Will you be one of those who take a firm stand and renounce sin? All sin? You do not have to deliver yourself from sin. God has a program, a plan to rid His creation of sin and rebellion for eternity. It is an eternal judgment.
Would you like to be part of the firstfruits, a soldier in the army of the Lord?
Then tell Jesus about it right now.
He shall divide the spoil with the strong!